Sally’s debut “The Little Museum of Hope” is out in the wide world and with her being new to Ruby Fiction I just had to find out more.
Welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” Sally
What inspired you to write “The Little Museum of Hope “
Ten years ago, I read a newspaper article about the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb. It’s a place where visitors can leave objects associated with their failed relationships.
Little Museum of Hope is a fictionalised version of this Zagreb museum but moved to the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham in the UK.
Donating an object to the Little Museum of Hope helps people to escape past turmoil and to move on positively with their lives.
Wow, I kinda want to go there now after clicking the link!
If you could go back to when you first started writing what one piece advice would you give yourself?
Grow a thick skin to weather the rejections (everyone gets a lot!) but if an editor/publisher/agent takes the time to give feedback (negative or positive), take it on board and seriously consider acting on it.
What would you say to someone who wants to write?
Write only because you enjoy the process – it’s unlikely you’ll ever make any significant money. Non-fiction, especially magazine articles, presents the easiest way to get published. Fiction is a much harder market. Having said that, seeing your words and your name in print will give you a massive high, better than any drug or illicit substance!
If you weren’t writing what would you be doing?
If I didn’t write at all I’d still need a creative outlet so I’d want to learn how to paint or craft or cook. I’m not brilliant at any of those things but I do like to have an end product from my endeavours. I can’t imagine a life where I didn’t create anything.
How did you deal with rejections when you started out?
My writing career started with articles and short stories for magazines and I got a lot of rejections or no reply at all. Each negative response hurt but because these pieces, unlike a novel, hadn’t taken months or years to write, it was easier to pick myself up and try again.
It was many years before I felt confident enough in my writing ability to risk attempting a novel and the onslaught of rejections that would follow.
Over the years I have become more thick-skinned and more savvy about the publishing industry – you can have the best novel ever but if it doesn’t land on the right person’s desk at the right time it won’t be published.
There is a certain amount of luck, as well as skill, needed to be a successful author.
What made you decide to submit with Ruby Fiction?
I loved the idea of the tasting panel where real readers get the chance to choose which books should be published. Generally, it’s the publishing professionals who dictate which books will be a success but, in my opinion, it makes absolute sense to let readers give their opinions. Needless to say, I was delighted when Little Museum of Hope got the thumbs up!
Which authors inspired you to write?
Several authors inspired me to read and, therefore, indirectly to write. Enid Blyton got me into reading as a child – I loved Malory Towers and The Famous Five.
As a teenager my friends and I devoured the early Jilly Cooper novels: Imogen, Emily, Prudence, Octavia, Harriet and Bella.
Nowadays I read a lot of crime, thrillers and general fiction and I’m particularly enjoying Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters’ time-slip series. All my favourite books are easy to read stories featuring characters who matter to the reader. And that is the type of book I try to write – a tale that will have the reader hooked from page one and transport her into someone else’s life for a few hours. Hopefully the reviews for Little Museum of Hope will bear that out!
Who would you want to play the main characters in your book if your novel was optioned for tv / film?
55-year-old Vanessa is the main character in Little Museum of Hope and she starts the museum to counteract the depression around losing her job and her husband leaving her for another woman. Within the museum is the Mended Heart Café where Vanessa listens empathetically to donors telling the stories behind their donated objects. When I was writing Vanessa, I had in mind a younger version of the actress Brenda Blethyn, who plays the TV detective with a heart of gold, Vera.
Do you have any writing routines or rituals, if so what are they?
I fit writing around two part-time jobs and running two reading groups so mostly it gets squeezed into the cracks in short bursts. Morning is the best time for me to write, before the rest of the day’s activities press in on me. The London Writers’ Hour gives me a discipline that I might otherwise lack. This is a virtual, hour-long writing sprint held each weekday on Zoom and it’s free to take part. There are four sessions across four time zones.
The UK hour is 8am to 9am but you can join in with any of the other sessions too.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I signed to Ruby Fiction with a three-book contract.
The next two novels are, like Little Museum of Hope, uplifting commercial women’s fiction and are currently with the tasting panel. Fingers crossed they get a positive reaction from the readers too! Until then I don’t want to say too much, in case I jinx them.
More About Juliet Archer
Sally Jenkins lives in the West Midlands with her husband. When not writing and not working in IT, she feeds her addiction to words by working part-time in her local library, running two reading groups and giving talks about her writing. Sally can also be found walking, church bell ringing and enjoying shavasana in her yoga class.
@sallyjenkinsuk Sally Jenkins Author
A jar of festival mud, a photo album of family memories, a child’s teddy bear, a book of bell ringing methods, an old cassette tape, a pair of slippers …
These are the items that fill the exhibit shelves in Vanessa Jones’ museum. At first glance, they appear to have nothing in common, but that’s before you find out the stories behind them. Vanessa’s Little Museum of Hope is no ordinary museum – its aim is to help people heal by donating items associated with shattered lives and failed relationships, and in doing so, find a way to move on, perhaps even start again.
The museum becomes a sanctuary for the broken hearts in Vanessa’s city, and she’s always on hand to offer a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a listening ear. But could the bringer of Hope need a little help moving on herself?