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July 8, 2010

Jenny Meyerhoff: Fact or Fiction?

Posted by Marisa Emralino

Jenny Meyerhoff photo_credit Mindy Garfinkle.jpgQueen_of_Secrets cover.jpgStopping by for a visit during her blog tour is Jenny Meyerhoff, author of the newly released QUEEN OF SECRETS.  Below, she answers a popular frequently asked question about the autobiographical elements in her writing, and recalls a personal high school experience that inspired a scene in her novel.

One thing that readers always ask me is, “Is your book based on your own life?” And the answer is always the same. Yes. And No. No, because my books are not autobiographical; they don’t tell a complete story including only characters and events from my own past. Yes, because as a writer, how can my books not contain pieces of me, my thoughts, observations and, of course, some of my most embarrassing moments?

When I was in high school, a friend of friends asked me to his prom. Because of the way he asked me I assumed he was asking me as a friend, and that we’d be hanging with our mutual friends both for the prom and the after prom. Throughout the limo ride to the prom, the dinner and the dance, nothing at all happened to challenge these assumptions. We had a blast all dancing and hanging out together. After the dance was over, the limo took us to the Holiday Inn where I expected we’d all go up to our shared room, watch TV and crash together in the beds and on the floor.

What can I say? I was naïve.

There was no group room. Each couple had gotten their own room for the night and I had agreed, it seemed, to sleep in a hotel room with a guy I barely knew. A really, really nice guy, I will add, but a guy that I did not have romantic feelings about. I had no idea what he was expecting, and I really did not want to have the awkward moment when our different visions for the rest of the night bumped clumsily into one another. So what did I do?

My date went into the bathroom to change, and I got in bed and pretended to fall asleep. When he returned, he called my name a couple of times, but I was a master of fake sleep breathing and didn’t respond. He watched TV for a while and then I don’t know what because I really did fall asleep. I have no memory of the next morning. Was it awkward between us or friendly? I guess I’ll never know.

It doesn’t matter though, because it was the night before I needed to draw upon to write a scene in QUEEN OF SECRETS. It’s a little bit the same and a little bit changed, because my books aren’t based on my life, but they do come from my life.

-- Jenny Meyerhoff

If you haven't already, check out the QUEEN OF SECRETS book trailer here.  And don't forget to visit The Compulsive Reader tomorrow for the next stop on Jenny's tour!