Elizabeth Chats With…Sally Jenkins
My guest this month is an author and speaker. She has written two psychological thrillers, many short stories and articles plus non-fiction books on public speaking and self-publishing. I met her, as with so many of my writerly friends and colleagues, at the Writers’ Summer School at Swanwick. I’m delighted to be chatting today to Sally Jenkins.
Hi Sally and welcome. Let’s start by taking you back to your childhood. What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?
As a teenager I loved modern languages and studied French and German to A’ level. I started a degree in Modern European Studies at university but didn’t get on with it and switched to an Economics degree (which I completed successfully but have never used) at Christmas in the first term.
PE was the lesson I wanted to avoid – especially hockey in the mud!
If you had to escape from a fire, what three things would you take with you?
The password for my Dropbox account. My life’s literary works are backed up in the Dropbox cloud and as soon as the insurance company provides a new laptop, I want to get back to work!
Family photographs – especially the older, non-digital ones, which won’t be in the aforementioned cloud.
My reading glasses – all paperwork will be impossible without them.
Talking about yourself, how would you finish the sentence “not a lot of people know…”?
I have been a church bell ringer since I was 14. Ringing is a great thing to be involved in because it provides both mental and physical exercise along with teamwork and camaraderie. I’ve missed it during lockdown!
Where is your favourite place on earth — and why?
Madeira. Until Covid came along, we’d holidayed there each March for about six consecutive years. The island offers lots of great walking along the lavadas (mini canals that are all over the island), along the seafront and in the mountains. The climate is warm (but it does rain!) and everywhere feels really safe.
How do you relax?
After sitting at the computer all day for both the day job (I work in IT) and writing, I like to relax by moving. This could be any form of exercise from walking, swimming, yoga and I’ve even been known to do the odd Park Run
If you could change one thing about yourself or your life so far, what would it be?
I wish I could’ve been more of a risk taker! I’ve always ploughed the conventional furrow and I wonder where I might have ended up if I’d allowed myself to go ‘off piste’ a little bit more.
Watch a film, go to the theatre, read a book or talk to friends — which would you prefer?
Covid has taught me that it’s contact with people that’s most important, so I’d choose talking to friends. If you’d asked me the same question 12 months ago, I would have chosen theatre because at that time I took contact with friends and family for granted.
What would you have printed on the front of your T-shirt?
Live Your Best Life Now – The Future Might Never Come
What is your biggest achievement in recent years?
Conquering my fear of public speaking. In 2013 I was one of those people who fear public speaking even more than death and then I joined a Speakers’ Club. It was life-changing. Speakers’ Clubs give the opportunity to practise short speeches in front of a supportive audience and this did wonders for my confidence. When my first novel was published a couple of years later, I was brave enough to start speaking to community groups like the WI and Probus about my writing. In 2018 I was amazed to reach the national final of the Association of Speakers’ Clubs speech competition. I then went on to write Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners which contains everything I know about conquering fear, crafting a talk and delivering it well.