Interview with Jennifer Eremeeva

What do you read for pleasure?
The easier question is what DON'T I read for pleasure? I'm a big historical fiction nut -- I'm currently trying to write in that genre as well -- and I collect biographies of European royalty from 1838-1918. Anything that comes out on Russia is an immediate must-read, and I love to curl up with a good cookbook.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have an iPad that has both a Kindle and iBooks app. I prefer the iBooks platform. I also do most of my news reading on it via Feedly, which is a marvelous way to group my diverse areas of interest and get frequent updates.
Describe your desk
Desk(s) !!

I do most of my fiction writing at a library, and since I travel a lot, that might be the enormous Russian State Library in Moscow, which is very imposing and charmingly old fashioned at the same time. They have cool bakelite lamps and the original card catalogs. It's very quiet and serious with amazing views over the Kremlin. When I go there, I feel very serious and purposeful.

I also work in the Smith College library when I'm at my home in Western Massachusetts -- I work in the periodicals room which has solid oak library tables and incredibly tempting issues of all the newspapers and magazines in the world. It has great light.

Other libraries I've worked in over the past year and really, really enjoyed have been the Reykjavik National Library -- amazing views over the harbor; the London Library, where I was researching some things for my historical novel, a marvelously light and airy public library on Cape Cod, and the State Russian Library in St. Petersburg Russia, which was delightful.

Libraries are such treasures -- it's important to use them, lest we loose them!

At my home in Moscow, I have a smallish room that, unfortunately has glass panels looking into it. Not great for privacy. I have a large table and big Mac desktop. I keep my notebooks and folders on a lovely Koran holder I bought in Muscat, Oman -- I love looking at it. I try to make that the only thing on the desk, apart from three bottles of Mont Blanc ink. I'm a fountain pen junkie!

Finally, in Massachusetts, I work in the loft of my home at a standing desk -- pretty much the same set up as in Moscow: I find if I don't keep things fairly uniform, I get panicky.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm a devoted fan of Joanna Penn's The Creative Penn podcast -- would not miss an episode! I've learned so much from her books and interviews. I've done very well with Facebook ads and my growing e mail list. I'm trying different things on Instagram, which is an intriguing platform. I find Twitter doesn't work at all. I love to work with libraries and book clubs since that is really where my tribe is found, but while that is incredibly enjoyable, it is very hands-on.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Western Massachusetts on the campus of a small independent day school where my father was the headmaster. As I write in my book, Lenin Lives Next Door, it was in the library of this school that a found a book called Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie. Instant impact: I was hooked on Russia for life. I later majored in Russian Area Studies and now I live part time in Moscow.

Books were very important in my childhood -- my parents read to us a lot and the weekly trip to the library was a highlight. I can't say that I wrote from an early age, but the written word and the imaginary world were always important to me.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing e mails home when I lived in Russia -- I really enjoyed them and it helped to find my voice. I also used writing a lot in my professional career in travel, hotel management, and banking. So, it was always an area of strength but it wasn't until I was about 40 that I started to do it full time.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, Have Personality Disorder, Will Rule Russia is a history primer I wrote as a companion piece to my full-length book, Lenin Lives Next Door. I wanted readers to have access to a short, pithy, but comprehensive look at Russian history. At first, I imagined it would be part of the book itself, but it got way too long and so I gave it a life of its own. I think it has many uses: if you are reading a Russian novel and want to understand quickly and not in a lot of detail what was happening in the wider world, this book will be perfect. If you are visiting Russia as a tourist -- again, a great introduction. I love Russian history, which was my major in college and this was a lot of fun to write.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Necessity was the mother of invention in my case. I wanted to publish Lenin Lives Next Door in time for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and at some point as I tried to get it in front of agents, I realized there simply wasn't time. I was very fortunate to meet my publisher, Small Batch Books, without whom I could not have got Lenin out the door. They gave it a very thorough edit and fantastic interior and cover design. That investment paid off: Lenin Lives Next Door was short-listed for 12 industry awards and it has been very well reviewed.

I tried to educate myself as best I could about being an indie author and I fell in love with the job, the people, and the business. I like being able to make my own mind up about what direction I go in and I like the flexibility of being able to publish shorter works or switch genres. I'm planning to do a cookbook next, and then historical fiction. What traditional publisher would let me do that?
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I'm delighted to be able to turn over the very time-consuming business of managing multiple platforms to Smashwords. In under 30 minutes I was able to get my book loaded up and out the door -- phenomenal! Thank you for creating a business with authors in mind.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I'm finished for the day and re-read what I've written. #priceless
What do your fans mean to you?
HRH -- my "horrible Russian husband" -- who is the hero of my first book, says he can always tell when I'm reading an e mail from a fan. We start the day off by having tea in bed and kind of scroll through the news on our iPads. Apparently, when I get an e mail from a fan, I begin to grin like a fool and do a little dance. But seriously, when someone writes to me and tells me they are enjoying my work, it means the world to me! Writing, as you know, can be a very solitary business, so to be able to be in contact with the audience is quite remarkable! I put a mechanism in Lenin Lives Next Door to encourage people to be in touch and I plan to do that with its sequel.

Because of the great joy I receive from getting mail, I've started to be more proactive about reaching out to writers whose work I've enjoyed. Twitter is great for that, as is e and snail mail.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on a sequel to Lenin Lives Next Door, which has the characters in that book deal with the events in Russia from 2014-2015. It's proving a challenge to make funny and lighthearted, but I'm getting there. I'm also working on a small cookbook about Russian food, which uses a very different set of writing muscles.

I'm also a travel blogger -- I have a marvelous job for a delightful former employer, writing a travel blog for them and I do a lot of my own pieces. This is excellent because it gets me out of the house on gets my juices flowing, as well as helping me learn about new places and things. I do a lot of food writing, which I enjoy. Food is a great gateway into culture and history.

But I'm getting ready for a really big adventure in 2016, which is to plunge into historical fiction. Very scary, very exciting!
Who are your favorite authors?
Nancy Mitford and Leo Tolstoy.
And that's hilarious, because can you imagine how each would be simply mystified to find him/herself grouped with the other????
Published 2015-09-18.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 99,600. Language: English. Published: November 5, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Nonfiction » Travel » By region
Based on veteran American expatriate Jennifer Eremeeva's two decades of living in the Russian capital, LENIN LIVES NEXT DOOR knits together hilarious vignettes of cross-cultural marriage and expatriate life with sharp observation, colorful historical background, and engaging humor about the changing social landscape of post-perestroika Russia.
Have Personality Disorder, Will Rule Russia: An Iconoclastic History by a Recovering Russophile
Price: Free! Words: 29,640. Language: English. Published: September 18, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » History » Russian, Nonfiction » Travel » By region
Fans of Jennifer Eremeeva’s full-length book, Lenin Lives Next Door are sure to enjoy this further exploration of Russia’s soft underbelly in its companion piece on Russian history. Eremeeva’s unique fusion of humor and history, and inimitable writing style brings the riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma that is Russia into hilarious focus in this compact and highly readable primer.