Area Native Debuts New Book
The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center will host a reading by author Jen Teachenor from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6. Teachenor, the former Jen Tabor, is a 1999 graduate of Piggott High School and the wife of burgeoning country music writer/performer Jamie Teachenor. She'll be reading from her first novel, "Beautiful Life" which was released this week.
For Teachenor, writing is not a new thing as she has enjoyed putting pen to paper since her days in high school. But, recently she chose to devote full time to the effort, ending 10 years as a special needs teacher. These days she spends more time writing, caring for her kids, Charlie and Lily, and supporting her husband in his growing career. Recently she spoke about the book, her family and the road she has traveled in her years since leaving Clay County.
"After I graduated from Piggott High I enrolled in Oakland City University in Indiana," she explained. "It was a great experience, it's a small university and I went there just to get my education--it's where I got my teaching degree."
Teachenor then began a career in teaching she found very rewarding. "I spent 10 years teaching, and with my minor in special education I had the chance to work with a lot of special needs kids," she explained. "I worked with a lot of different ages, and I found it to be really fulfilling. The kids I worked with can teach you so much about life, and how important the simple things in life can be."
As for her beginnings as a writer, she can trace it to a key moment and the influence of a longtime local educator.
"When I was in the eighth grade I had Miss Pam Morris as my English teacher, and she had us write a story which had two endings--an alternate ending," she reminisced. "I thought it was just the best thing in the world, turning in draft after draft and such--I just fell in love with writing stories."
She continued to write throughout her time at PHS, although not always sharing her work. "I wrote a lot of poetry in high school, things I would never ever show anyone," she added. "I continued to write in college, and when I became a teacher I found I could use stories as a way of explaining things to my students, as a tool for teaching."
But as the years passed, Teachenor noted she still yearned to write, leading to the recent project.
"The novel is an idea I had about eight years ago, but I thought--who am I to write a book?--and, who would read it?" But, the support she found at home helped her get the process started, leading to the completed work.
"But, it was Jamie who helped talk me into it and help give me the courage to get started," she explained. "And two years later I had a 400 page novel."
Of the process, she noted one thing was a bit hard to adjust to, "I was always used to seeing my husband's name everywhere, now it's mine--that's different." But, she was quick to add it has been positive, "it has been a great experience, it's been a little overwhelming seeing it through, but overall it has been great."
Teachenor explains the idea for the story depicted in her novel actually came from a video for one of her husband's songs.
"The idea for the story came about from a video Jamie made several years ago. At the time there were several "treatments" for the concept for this one song and one of them just sparked a thought with me," she explained. "This idea just kept rolling around in my head, and after eight years I just couldn't leave it alone."
She notes the story is a fairly simple one, and documents the life of the main character.
"I just realized everyone has something different going on in their lives, it's this power that we all lean on. Good or bad, we all have a life, and what we do with it is up to us--God gave us that," she offered. "I came up with the characters in the book first, not a storyline. And, they just spoke to me, guided me and told me their story," she continued. "I think it is amazing to see it from the character's point of view, not from just trying to follow a storyline."
Teachenor also commented on how the character she created for the book seemed to develop a life of her own. "This is a woman's life, and you have the chance to see things from her perspective. It's so interesting to see how her perspective as a seven year old girl compares to that of hers as a 17 year old. Or, as a 70 year old as she reflects back on what her life was and on all the years in between."
But regardless of the popularity of the first book, Teachenor is not resting on the laurels of her novel and has another one in the works. "
I'm currently working on a new novel, it's called "Strange Birds" but I've been a little lazy about it, so far," she said of the latest effort.
Teachenor added she always enjoys visiting Clay County, as she still has family in the Piggott, Pollard and Fagus areas. "I always love getting back around home and visiting, and I'm looking forward to the book signing," she added.
Beautiful Life is currently available in print version at www.jenteachenor.com and from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com It's also available as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, iBook and from any other site where digital books are sold.
Those wanting more information on the reading at the HPMEC, or any of the offerings of the museum, may contact them by phone at 870 598-3487.