Post #71 – Women’s Memoirs, Author Conversations – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler
Memoir Author Interview with Jenny Lynn Anderson
Women’s Memoirs is pleased to introduce Jenny Lynn Anderson, author of Room 939: 15 Minutes of Horror, 20 Years of Healing. Jenny Lynn shares the background of how she decided to write about her story, one that she had kept buried inside her for many years.
Women’s Memoirs: Jenny Lynn, you endured an experience in your life that all women fear. When did you decide to write about that 15 minutes?
JENNY LYNN ANDERSON: “I never thought I would have the power to write a memoir about my sexual assault. But indeed, I did discover I could release my story, and the more I wrote, the more I healed. And the journey has been cathartic.”
Women’s Memoirs: Can you give us a little more background on your decision to write?
JENNY LYNN ANDERSON: How many people have you met in your lifetime who say they have a book they want to write? Perhaps a romance novel. A thriller. A mystery. For me that moment arrived in the early 1990s when I wrote a children’s book, hired an agent in New York City, blabbed to all my friends about my project and in return got nothing but a file cabinet full of rejection letters.
I decided I was quite content sticking to my journalistic writing as a public relations practitioner. Press releases. Brochures. Annual reports. As a recorder, I’m a purist at heart. I remain devoted to the rigidity of the inverted pyramid. I was taught by editors over the years to be rid of fluff. Keep it simple. Embrace the concept of “less is more.”
I remained a Puritan journalist until I began writing “Room 939: 15 Minutes of Horror, 20 Years of Healing.” It was then, as I brought my voice to the page, I found myself sharing rather than reporting. This was not news but an account of a tragedy that occurred in 1990 when I was held at knifepoint, robbed and sexually assaulted in a downtown Atlanta hotel. Having locked this terrifying experience deep inside my soul for two decades, details, emotions, and memories rushed from this dark abyss as I began gathering in the rush and taking control of what was for that moment a torrential hemorrhage of those fifteen minutes in 939.
Women’s Memoirs: Writing a memoir often changes the author in some way. In what way do you think that the process of writing influenced the person you are today?
JENNY LYNN ANDERSON: Strangely enough, I wrote the last chapter of the book first. Then sketching a table of contents, I began developing chapters as they came to me. I decided before I began writing, I would approach the project with the objective of being as transparent as possible. At the age of 48, I decided I had nothing to lose. If I was ever going to break the chains of bondage from the man who attacked me, it would take a leap of faith on my part. I would have to put myself out on a limb. Step out of my comfort zone. And that’s exactly what happened. Within 11 months I had completed the book and discovered through writing about this life experience I was a survivor, not a victim. It empowered me to expose my hidden fears. I felt liberated for the first time in 20 years.
Women’s Memoirs: Jenny Lynn, thanks for letting us know how healing writing was for you. I wonder if you have any advice or thoughts for our readers who are engaged in writing their memoirs.
JENNY LYNN ANDERSON: My greatest advice to writers who are shaping and sharing their tragedy for the public, is to listen to your heart. Above all else tell it like it is. Be true to yourself. Do not worry what others might have to say about your narrative. Instead, think constantly your story, life, and message might move others to begin their own healing process.
About JENNY LYNN ANDERSON
During her 25 years as a corporate journalist, Jenny Lynn Anderson established and maintained a highly respected reputation for her evocative reporting. Now as a first time author, the responses to Room 939: 15 Minutes of Horror, 20 Years of Healing are of the same acclaim – her story is captivating and detailed, keeping the reader soundly charged with her journey.
A 1985 graduate of Georgia Southern University, majoring in Public Relations, Jenny Lynn resides in Statesboro, Georgia with her husband, Mark and daughters, Morgan and Allison. Currently, she serves as a public speaker and private consultant in the areas of marketing and public relations.