I still cannot get over the fact that I was able to talk with Jenna Blum the best selling author of Those Who Save Us. It was just a ton of fun to talk with her and learn more about her writing process for the novel, along with some things about herself.
Today I’ll tell you more about our Skype time that dealt with how Jenna wrote the novel, and interesting fact about the novel, and some things about herself!
I wrote in yesterday’s post, The Fun and Amazing Jenna Blum Part 1, about how the novel began and that it took her 10 years to finish. What I didn’t tell you is how a story comes to Jenna and that she wrote the story in two separate parts. Jenna told us that she is like a “medium” when it comes to writing. She has to wait for the story to come to her, and constantly ask questions about what a character should do or what comes next. When writer’s block strikes, she continues to ask herself the same questions over and over again while taking her lab, Woodrow, for constant walks.
Here is an excerpt from her blog, and it is exactly what she told us:
“When I was writing THOSE WHO SAVE US, I think I might have had it somewhat easier in that books were still my primary research source, as opposed to the Internet, which can lead one down such endless paths (and who knows what’s true?). I also incorporated emotional details from interviewing Jewish Holocaust survivors for the Spielberg Foundation–and for visceral detail watched every movie I could find about the era, and listened to German music and took German classes and baked everything that appears in the novel! so I would know as much as possible what it felt like to be my characters from the inside out. I did stop short of sleeping with an SS officer, however.
The sum total of this was 10 years’ worth of research; for my second book, I did the same.
My organizing principle is like Hemingway’s tip of the iceberg theory about writing: I know 90% more than what made it onto the page. And knowing that invisible 90% is what helped give me the confidence in my characters and their situations. I believe that confidence resonates with readers; you’re not showing it off to them, but they feel it by osmosis.”
The first part of the story she wrote was Anna’s story. Anna’s story takes place in the past during WWII. This part of the story only took her 6 months to finish. Anna’s story “came” to her quite easily. Trudy’s story (which takes place in the present); however, took her 2 1/2 years to write. Jenna told us that Trudy’s story was a pain to write, and she made a few changes to it while writing. She then went back and put the stories of the two women together; rotating between past and present throughout the novel.
One of the main questions our book club had for Jenna was: Why wouldn’t Anna tell Trudy who her real father was? The answer to that question is a simple one. “Trudy was asking Anna the wrong questions.” Not once during the novel did Trudy directly ask Anna who her father was. If she had, “Anna would have set Trudy straight.” Had Trudy asked the “right” question, she would have had a different life and relationship with her mother.
Now on to a few fun facts about the fun loving Jenna Blum!
Jenna has a wonderful boyfriend, Jim Reed, who loves to “Skype bomb” while wearing a large Viking helmet. This helmet was a birthday gift from Jenna, because, “That is what he should have for his 50th birthday.” Mr. Reed is an amazing photographer of weather and it’s productions. I have seen quite a few of his pics on Jenna’s Facebook page and they are beyond amazing! I have also posted one of his pics below…Pretty amazing huh!?!
I remembered to ask Jenna one of my main questions for her right before we hung up…I was not thinking very well that night, and just about forgot this question: What is your favorite book or books? Jenna has 3 favorite books that she tries to reread every year, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, The Stand by Stephen King, and Gone With the Wind. Honestly, these were the last books I would have guessed to be her favorites, and it was so neat to learn what she loves to read.
Jenna also listed several other books that she has recently read and loved. One book she talked about for a bit was Molly Ringwald’s latest book, When it Happens to You. I’ll be reading this story very soon!!
The only other question I asked Jenna was if she was working on her 3rd book yet, and I was sweating buckets asking that question and praying I didn’t offend her by asking. Thankfully she laughed and told me it was fine to ask. She is currently in her “good” place when it comes to writing a new story. Jenna has begun reading short stories again, and that is her “sign” that she is getting back into the writing mode again. So, for all of you who are out there waiting, keep on hanging in there!! It will come!!
Oh!!! How could I forget!! Those Who Save Us will be turned into a movie!!! Jenna just submitted her screen play for the story to the producers!! Yea!!! I cannot wait to see it on the big screen! Huummm, wonder if they will need any extras from North Dakota for the movie?
I had the most wonderful experience and time Skyping with Jenna Blum. She was a ton of fun, and she took her time to talk to us for hours! Here is a link to her website where she answers other commonly asked questions: Jenna Blum. I highly recommend you check out her website and learn more about her and her writing!!