I’m so delighted to introduce you to Jeanette Pope, one of the newest members of Derby Rotten Scoundrels, the Ohio River Valley chapter of Sisters in Crime. Below is what she shared with me about her life and her work:
I am the oldest of six children, born and raised in the West End of Louisville, Kentucky. When my friends and I reflect on our youth, we often refer to our time in the West End as “the good old days.” In many ways, it was a respectable and safe place to grow up.
Looking back, as a developing teen, I was often called the ‘ring leader’ because I was the one who dragged my best friends and sister off to enter talent shows or had them sit quietly while I taught various concepts in play-school and/or insisted that they listen to my latest imaginary story.
I know you’ve been a long-time educator. When did you first realize you wanted to write as well?
The situation is actually reversed. From the age of ten, I’ve always dreamed of becoming a writer. My to-go-to tools for writing were spiral notebooks and (blue ink) Bic pens. I wish I still had some of my earlier creations. The passion for writing was so strong I often felt an urgent need to get the characters, plots, and settings down on paper as soon as they came into my mind.
At nineteen, I wrote four stories that I cherish, even to this day. Every so often, I’d take them from their sacred place and add to them. I didn’t know how to get them published and I never thought any of my manuscripts would be published, but still, I had to write. At my retirement party from teaching, one of my friends put in my bucket list container, “Write that book!” So I did.
Tell us about your book(s) and the inspiration behind them.
DOUBLE TRIANGLES is the first of the four manuscripts that I mentioned above, to be published. I was over the top thrilled about this accomplishment, even more so when the readers loved it and were begging for the sequel to be written and released.
The inspiration behind writing this novel is the current violent and crime conditions of the West End of Louisville. Through this book, I wanted to show how nice and safe the area was during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s (except there’s a murder in my book).
Forgiveness is a huge factor throughout the story, as well. Often people hurt each other (intentionally or through misunderstanding), and never resolve these issues, leaving the wounded bitter and deprived of a happier life.
What are you working on right now?
At this time, I am working on a short story, AUTHENTICA, and the sequel to DOUBLE TRIANGLES – DESPERATE ANGLES. Both of the manuscripts are finished and being edited.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real-life?
All of my plots are original. I like to think of situations that are unique and unlike those of other authors. The plots and ending to my stories must be twisted and jaw-dropping.
Some of the settings are real-life, but the characters are fictitious.
Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser? Or something in-between?
I am definitely a plotter. When I start to write, I already have the plot in mind. Then I make an ongoing outline and timeline to work with as I am creating the story. As it unfolds, I add an audience question and answer component to check the comprehension of drama. Although if asked, I can come up with a story on the fly.
Any special time of the day or night that you prefer for writing?
Yes, I love to start writing at 6 am in the mornings and force myself to stop at noon.
Any favorite authors or book that has inspired you?
In the beginning, I was inspired by Harlequin Romance novels. I would compare the excitement I felt after reading the romance novels, to the thrill I got from reading my four manuscripts. I have to admit, there were times when I’d think, “I can do better.”
Some of my inspirations came from authors Jackie Collins, Danielle Steel, and Norah Roberts.
You’ve been collaborating with a small group writing Iced at the Easy, a mystery play with a premise you created. What’s that experience been like?
First, I am very humbled and delighted that the group thought my premise was interesting enough to be developed into a Derby Rotten Scoundrel play. I’ve found this experience very exciting and rewarding. It is amazing to see all of the great talents working together to shape the storyline. Our collaboration has been a beneficial and productive experience for me.
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing? Any special interests or hobbies?
Only a few people understand this, but I also love to teach. I’ve retired from Jefferson County Public Schools but I return each year to tutor students in reading and math. My main goal is to teach students how to understand and retain the content of the subject area in which they struggle.
Music, video games, and reading are the things I do for entertainment. But the ultimate enjoyment is watching mysteries on Britbox. I love looking for clues to find the murderer.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or questions I didn’t ask that you wish I had?
The first play I wrote was in 1983 at Jefferson County College. It was entered into a playwriting contest, and to my surprise, it won. My play, IT’S IN THE BAG, was produced by the drama department and it ran for three nights. Seriously, I was overcome with so much jubilation. I can feel the sensation from the experience to this day.
I hope that I can become a successful novelist and be as helpful to other new writers as The Derby Rotten Scoundrels has been to me.