Pam Jenoff – The Timeless Joy of Romance

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The Joy of Romance Through The Ages

Like the other wonderful Read a Romance Month writers, I am a huge fan of both Last Summer Final Cover imagereading and writing romance.  My books take on a particular spin in that they are historical, and usually set around war and strife.  My romances rise in a particular time and place, such as the Paris Peace Conference after World War II, the home front in the 1940’s or occupied Poland. 

Does this change things for the romantic elements of the story?  Well, yes:  the story arises in a particular historical context, which can sometimes affect how the relationship unfolds.  There are societal norms and conventions.  And the romance must survive not just the intersection of a woman and a man with lives and feelings and the complications that those bring, but also the monumental historical events that throw their worlds into upheaval.

Despite all of this, I LOVE writing romance in a historical context, and here’s why:  I get to take a woman who in normal times might have lived within the confines of a particular role and shake up her world, test her limits.  I get to put her in places that but for Kommadant's Girlhistorical events she might never have gone, and to meet the man she never would have met (or to see the one she already knows in a whole new light.) And by putting them through extraordinary circumstances. I get to bring them together with a deeper connection than would have been possible in ordinary times.

In the end, it is largely the same:  a girl and a boy trying to find their way to one another.  If I can make my readers see their own hopes and dreams in my character and root for love, now or a hundred years ago, then I’m happy.  Because after all, isn’t romance supposed to be timeless?

Pam recommends:

Fugitive Colors by Lisa Barr ( ) This is the story of painters in Europe during World War II, their desperate struggle to survive and create mixed with friendship, love and betrayal.

I also recommend anything by Kristina McMorris ( ).  Her new book The Edge of Lost comes out in November.

Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy. 

I was at Book Expo in New York in 2007 signing books when someone tapped me on the shoulder and told me that my debut novel, The Kommandant’s Girl, was nominated for the Quill award for best romance.  My editor and I were jumping up and down and everyone in the Mira/Harlequin booth was hugging us.  Months later, we all returned to New York for the televised award show.  I lost, of course, to Nora Roberts, but the moment learning of the nomination was quite joyous.

Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.

I always feel joy at the beach (where I am right now, working on vacation!)  Or the shore,

Vintage Atlantic City

Vintage Atlantic City

as we call it in New Jersey.  My dad’s family is from the shore and my grandmother lived there when I was a child, so it takes me back to a happier, simpler time in my life.  My bucket list has only one item: to be an old lady writing at the shore.

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

I lived in Krakow, Poland for several years and there is a trumpter that plays a call (the hejnal) on the main market square every hour on the hour.  Hearing that sound would take me back in time.

What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?

My Very Best Friend by Cathy Lamb.  It was such a heartbreaking story of friendship and romance and loss and just reminded me what I aspire to do as a writer.

And for fun, the joy of choice ~

Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp?) – trying for a little diversity! ;o)

Christopher Plummer.  I’m a big time fan of The Sound of Music.  Once I attended a conference at the Von Trapp house from the movie and had a ball writing in the massive library overlooking the lake. 

Pam is generously giving away  a copy of her latest book, The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach. (U.S. entries only, apologies to international friends.)

Pam Jenoff credit Dominic EpiscopoPam Jenoff is the internationally bestselling author of eight novels, including The Kommandant’s Girl and The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach.  She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children where in addition to writing she teaches law school.

Find Pam online:   |   Facebook   |   Twitter

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  • Christyna

    I really like the description of how you take a “modern” character and place her in a time period that have different societal limits and mores. It’s interesting to see what could happen. And maybe us as readers learn something about our limits, and how to break them, too.

  • Carol Luciano

    Pam, I’ve got your book on my TRL and can’t wait to read it. I’m a Jersey girl and just about everyone I know had grandparents or parents who lived down the shore. We all relate to the shore with so many wonderful mermories. 🙂 Thanks for the giveaway.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at ) aol (dot) com

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I enjoyed your essay.

  • cheryl c.

    Yes, romance IS timeless!

  • Sue G.

    Well I guess if you were going to lose, being up against Nora Robert’s is a pretty impressive thing!

  • Karen Mikusak

    I haven’t read any of your books yet, but I would love to win!

  • Diana Michelle Tidlund

    love all romance

  • catslady

    Historicals are usually my first choice and I’m looking forward to reading your stories.

  • Kareni

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about writing and for your book recommendations.

  • Sharlene

    Thanks for sharing book recommendations. I love your books, and look forward to checking out your suggestions.

  • jcp smith

    Another new to me author that I need to try.

  • Kathryn Trask

    Loved My Very Best Friend by Cathy Lamb too. I haven’t read your books – yet! Seen lots of good reviews too which alerted me to your books.

  • Really interesting your books! I’ll check them!

  • Sheila M

    Your books sound like they are placed in interesting historical times and places. I will try one.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    What an interesting concept to your books. You are a new to me author and I will be checking out your books. I would love to know more about the time you lived in Krakow, Poland. My mom’s parents originally lived in Poland before immigrating to the US back in the 1920s and I’ve always wanted to see where they lived. Thank you for your post.

  • Linda Henderson

    I am not familiar with your books but I will definitely be checking them out soon. I love discovering new to me authors.

  • Deana Dick

    You are a new suthir to me and I look forward to reading your books.

  • Molly

    I am looking forward to reading your books

  • Jennifer C

    I adore historical fiction and your books. Thanks for your rec of Kristina McMorrison, and I have Fugitive Colors to read soon. Can’t wait to read your latest!

  • Pamby50

    I look forward to reading your books. When you wrote that you lived in Poland, that brought back memories of my aunt. Her parents left Poland and never looked back. I could hear her speaking in Polish. When asked what she was saying, she would just smile. What a pistol she was.

  • Kai W.

    I haven’t read any of your books yet but I will.

  • Dawn Anderson

    Your books sound very interesting.

  • T. Rosado

    Early to mid 20th century are my favorite Historical romances to read. It was a time of strength and perseverance-building.

  • Angela H

    I am a fan of historical books so I am looking forward to reading your books

  • Diane Sallans

    I love stories at the beach – I’m at one now on vacation.

  • kirsten west

    Enjoyed your interview! Thanks.

  • Mary McCoy

    Love the memory of the trumpeter in Krakow!