Interview with Jenny McGill, author of DRAMA & DIPLOMACY

Jenny McGill grew up in the Deep South in Mississippi. After schooling she moved to Dallas where she met her husband, Howard. Their love of Mexico brought them to an early semi-retirement in 1973 in Puerto Vallarta.

Jenny and Howard, moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 1973. She was appointed consular agent by the U.S. State Department in 1982 and spent fourteen years in that position.

Upon retirement, the McGills sought out the tranquility of the western Sierra Madres in the small village of Talpa de Allende, Jalisco. There she devotes her time to writing, promoting local artists and gardening. She says, “My love of robin-egg blue skies, breath taking sunsets that only God could paint, and music, which falls softly on my ear, is reason enough to be in Mexico.”

You can visit her website at www.mjmcgill.com.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Jenny. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I was born and reared in the Deep South; Mississippi. I flew with American Airlines as a flight attendant. That was back in the days they were called ‘stewardesses’. I worked the Mexico CityDallas flight frequently and fell in love with the Mexican music, culture and countryside. And then I fell in love with a Texan who loved Mexico as I did. While living in Dallas, I was an organizer for the Host Family Program of the Dallas Council of Foreign Affairs. We entertained visiting foreign medical, dental and law students in our home and tried to introduce them to our local customs.

We retired early to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where we lived twenty-five years. I taught English as a second language in the public schools and directed my own language school. For fourteen of those years I served as consular agent for the U. S. Department of State.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Drama & Diplomacy: In Sultry Puerto Vallarta is comprised of vignettes describing some of the work of a consular agent. You would be surprised at how many people don’t know what our Foreign Service workers do abroad. There is much more to it than ‘cutting ribbons’. A senior consular officer once told me the Department of State refers to consular agent work as dealing with the four Ds; Death, Detention, Destitute and Disappearance. I wanted it to be an educational tool for the public.

What kind of research was involved in writing Drama & Diplomacy?

There was no research. Although I never intended it to be, the book is a memoir so it was a matter of recalling the incidents.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

My only suggestion was that the Mexican and the American flags be included.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Except for ‘sticky paperwork’ in a foreign country, it has been smooth sailing since I self-published.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

My contract was with a printing company, not a publisher. That took six months.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I think an agent is very important if a writer is seeking a publisher. I don’t think many publishing houses will look at a manuscript from an unknown writer unless it comes through an agent.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I’m working on one now that will be a historical novel based on fact. It is set in the mountain region of Jalisco, Mexico around 1860. I have to do some research on this one, but so far, it has been easy for me.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I find that about 4:00 a.m. is a good hour for me, I usually get in about four hours, take a break, and come back to the keyboard around noon to write two or three hours more. I never write at night and I don’t write every day either.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A good public relations firm that deals in promoting books.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

In my case, I don’t think I would have sold many books had I not self-promoted. I write a monthly column for the biggest English e-zine in Mexico, Mexconnect. Drama & Diplomacy received a favorable review there. I also received favorable reviews from various Mexican newspapers and I had the good fortune to be invited to do several book signings in Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. I’ve recently started blogging

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

If you don’t want to self-publish, I would search for a good literary agent. I think there is a book in all of us. I’ve received so much encouragement from great people over the years. I’m seventy-two years old. Drama & Diplomacy is my first published book. I’m getting started late in life, but writing has become a passion with me. I encourage all budding writers to write your book!

Thank you for coming, Jenny! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

My web is www.mjmcgill.com My blog is Jenny in Mexico at http://www.jennymcgill.blogspot.com and Drama & Diplomacy is available on www.amazon.com

Thank you for inviting me to be with you today. Saludos de sunny Mexico.

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