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Beyond the Books: Interview with Jenny McGill, Author of Drama & Diplomacy: In Sultry Puerto Vallarta

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Jenny McGill is represented by the interviewer's Pump Up Your Book Promotion, a public  relations agency specializing in online book promotion.

Although the American flag is given the highest respect, diplomacy takes on a new meaning as the author slips and slides through the darker side of consular work on foreign soil. This is the premise of Jenny McGill’s new book, Drama & Diplomacy: In Sultry Puerto Vallarta.  We interviewed Jenny to find out more.

Thank you for this interview, Jenny.  Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

In my mind, I’ve probably been writing since I was in lower-school.  I used to dream I had written something, but upon awakening, I couldn’t remember what I had written.  I wrote articles for my high school newspaper.  On my first job as a secretary for an insurance company, I was responsible for writing an in-house weekly newsletter to boost the morale of the door-to-door salesmen.  My boss chastised me for using the word ‘beautiful’ in a newsletter directed to men! This is my first published book, but I have written occasional articles for newspapers in Mexico, and I currently contribute a monthly article to Mexico’s biggest English e-zine, Mexconnect. 

Do you write full-time?

That depends.   Apart from my daily household chores, I write almost every day, and then I may take a break for a few days and communicate and interface with friends.

At what point in your life did you make up your mind you were going to become a published author?

About two years ago, in 2006.

Was there anyone in your life that you can give credit to helping pave the way?

My husband liked how and what I wrote, and he encouraged me in every way, even to making the bed and cooking a few meals from time to time.  Very few people knew I was writing a book, but those who did encouraged me to keep plugging away.  The Senior Editor at Mexconnect offered me her shoulder on several occasions.

What was your favorite book to read as a child?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

What is your favorite book at the present?

I’m still savoring Linda Ellerbee’s Take Big Bites, and eagerly awaiting her next, which will be set in my old neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta.  I’m thoroughly enjoying Pat Henry’s By the Grace of the Sea: A Woman’s Solo Odyssey Around the World.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

Drama & Diplomacy: In Sultry Puerto Vallarta is an anecdotal tale of the dirty side of consular work in a foreign country.  It covers what the State Department likes to refer to as the four Ds:  Destitute, Detention, Disappearance and Death.  I added some choice ones of my own, such as Dope, Darling Babies, Dames on my Path, Dios Medicine Men, among others.

What was the inspiration behind your book? Why did you feel a need to write it?

To get some of the pain out of my emotional system and to let the public know what actually goes on in consular offices around the world.

What kind of research did you have to conduct to write your book?

None.  I relied on my memory.

What message are you trying to convey in this book?

We must try to see a positive side to our lives and to show the taxpayer his money is not totally wasted on foreign soil.  

Where do you get ideas to write your books?

I get my ideas from personal experiences.

How do you deal with rejection?

I play ‘poor me’ for a bit, and then I get up out of the sand, dust myself off, and strike out again.

Do you write mainly by day or by night?

Generally, I begin writing about four o’clock in the morning, and take a break at nine.  I do not have a disciplined writing schedule, but I usually write between noon and two o‘clock and I don’t write in the evenings.

Do you ever get writer’s block and what do you do when that happens?

Take a walk, listen to the birds sing, and try to draw inspiration from the Universe.

Do you have an agent?  What were your experiences finding her/him?

I don’t have an agent.

How long did it take your book to be published from the time you submitted and was accepted to the time it was finally released?

I spent six months in the writing process, but I self-published. Cover design, official paperwork and printing took another five months. 

Do you blog?  If so, what can you tell my readers about the advantages of blogging as a useful tool in book promotion?

I blog, but I am a newcomer to the blogging world.

Do you have a website?  Do you manage it yourself or do you have someone run it for you?

My webpage is MJM McGill and I don’t have the slightest clue as how to manage it, as my webmaster constantly reminds me.

How do you deal with a bad review?

So far, I’ve invited him to come by and have a cup of tea with me, but he has declined.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a historical novel set in the 1860 mining days in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Jalisco, Mexico.  While visiting a nearby ranch, I found an antique trunk with the portrait of a beautiful woman painted on the inside lid, and her descendants have contributed untold inspirational and factual accounts of her life.  Apparently, she was an excellent cook so I’m including some of her Mexican recipes.  I’m hoping to be able to go to print in late spring of 2009.

Thank you for this interview, Jenny!  Do you have any final words you’d like to share with my readers?

If your fingers tingle and your thoughts yell to be read, write.  You don’t have to be published, but it is an exhilarating feeling.  Since Drama & Diplomacy hit the stands, many of my friends have said, “If you can write, I can write!  I have a story to tell, too.” I offer my support and encourage them to do so.  In a recent writer’s workshop I attended, a leader made the comment, “There are no competitors in writing, only conspirators.”

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