I’m so excited for this week’s interview with Pamela Skjolsvik whose debut novel, FOREVER 51 is the delightful story of an eternally menopausal vampire on a quest to become mortal. Below, Pamela talks about the strangest job she’s ever had, the remaining items on her bucket list, and the story behind the title of her book. Enjoy!
Pamela Skjolsvik has been published in Creative Nonfiction, Witness, Ten Spurs, The Moment, The Dallas Morning News’ Death Penalty Blog, Writer’s Digest and in the anthology Silence Kills: Speaking Out and Saving Lives. Death Becomes Us, which began as her MFA thesis at Goucher College, won second place at The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference and was an honorable mention in the 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Pamela has been interviewed on several podcasts (Death! The Podcast, The Drunken Odyssey and Dan Reads Books) and was featured on NPR’s Think with Krys Boyd in 2016. In March of 2020, Pamela founded the 2020 Quarantine Book Club on Facebook to assist debut authors affected by the pandemic. The book club now has over 1400 members and was featured on Fox 4 in Dallas and in Reader’s Digest.
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
The strangest job I ever had is when I sold my party bus business in San Francisco and became a Detention Specialist at the La Plata County Jail in Durango, Colorado. I have always had an interest in the criminal justice system, but if I’m being honest, I took this job more out of desperation than to fulfill a lifelong dream of working among inmates. (When I was in college in San Francisco, I did an internship at the Hall of Justice. I was young and naive and thought that one day I would help with criminal rehabilitation. At this internship, I read the inmate’s mail and scheduled calls with their lawyers. I wasn’t allowed to go to his cell, but I read a lot of Richard Ramirez’s, aka the Nighstalker’s mail. He got a lot of mail.) I only worked at the jail for four months, but I did publish an essay about the experience called “Build it and They Will Come.”
What was the first piece of writing you ever published or saw in print?
This is really embarrassing, but I used to proofread Ad copy for nine different phonebooks in the Four Corners Region. My boss needed filler for one of the books and asked if I’d like to write a one-page essay about phones, so I ran with it and wrote about people using cell phones in the bathroom and how ridiculous I found this practice. This was 2006. The next time I appeared in print was in the literary journal, Creative Nonfiction. I wrote an essay called “You Have the Right to Remain Silent.” It was about helping my incarcerated brother get treated for Hepatitis C.
Publishing a book is a bucket list dream for many people—are there any other accomplishments on your bucket list right now?
A few items on my bucket list, especially after the events of 2020 and being stuck at home are to travel and to have my book turned into a television series. I turned 50 in 2020 and was supposed to go on a Fjord cruise in Norway. That didn’t happen. The day after my book came out, a book to film agent reached out and now Forever 51 is being shopped as a series. When I was growing up, I often dreamed of walking the red carpet and accepting a golden statuette in a fancy dress. I know it’s a long shot, but there is no harm in dreaming big!
Tell us about the title of your book. What is the story behind it?
Forever 51 is just a play on the fast fashion store, Forever 21. I thought it was the perfect title to convey what the story is about, a woman who is stuck at the most undesirable age in American culture, and that it is humorous. My agent didn’t like it. He thought the book should have a more serious title, like The 9th Step, but I dug in my heels.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
Outside of reading and writing, my interests still land in the realm of the book. I make fancy boxes that usually house rare or fragile books, which allows me to be creative and work with my hands, something I love. I also repair dust jackets, torn pages, or rebind books. As you can probably guess, I love a physical book, but I am learning to appreciate the e-book as well as audio.
— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) April 14, 2021
WHAT THE REVIEWERS ARE SAYING
“Full of vampires with spray tans and menopause trying to twelve step their way to salvation, Forever 51 takes vampire fiction into terrifying new territory: middle age. A very funny, very bloody book about growing older and getting dead.” – Grady Hendrix, New York Times best-selling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
“In this must-read adventure, many states are crossed amid much horror and humor.” – Booklist”
Complex characters propel this diverting vampire tale.” – Kirkus Review
“At turns funny, sad, frustrating, and poignant, Forever 51 is a fast-paced adventure of personal transformation and discovery, and one that you can really (forgive the obvious pun) sink your teeth into.” – Bibliotica.com
“Forever 51 was a pure delight and full of sharp wit and clever snark from a fifty-one-year-old vampire trapped in perpetual menopause. The plot was unmatched in originality with curiously compelling storylines that amused and entertained while sucking me into a mysterious subculture that began to feel surprisingly real given the weirdness of the world we’ve been inhabiting during the last four years and especially the unholy, calamitous, and disastrous year of 2020.” – Booksandbindings.com
“If you’re looking for a trope-busting, smart and fun book for the vampire fan in your life–add this to your holiday season shopping list!” – Blunt Scissors Book Reviews
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