We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Coburn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I have taken some pretty big risks, but only realize that they were risky — some might say reckless — in hindsight. I moved to San Diego in 1988 with $40 and no job. I desperately wanted to work at Planned Parenthood and gave up other opportunities to do so. I also bought a house with a guy I was dating after only six weeks. (We’re celebrating our 30 anniversary together this year.)
I don’t really think much about risk in the moment. I know that I want something and I have a very strong drive to get it.
I want to be very clear that not all of the risks I’ve taken have paid off. I am a frequent failure and am kind of OK with that. I’ve written books that have been published and others that never got off the ground. I’ve been fired from a job. A Hollywood director once called me to audition for his movie and I sucked big time. (So when you don’t see me in Jerry Maguire, you should know it’s ’cause I took a risk and blew it.)
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I write books I want to read myself. A few years ago I heard about the Nazi Lebensborn breeding program and couldn’t wait to read the historical novel about it. Unable to find one, I decided to write it myself. I have mad respect for historical fiction writers because wow, you have to research everrrrrything — not just laws, customs, technology, but if men buttoned or zipped their pants. It was fascinating research and I wish I’d been taught history this way in school because I was engaged in a way I had never been before.
This will be my seventh commercially published book. How did I overcome challenges? Really, it’s just a matter of knowing that you’ll get knocked on your ass a few times, and being willing to readjust the plan, get back up and keep going.
The lesson I’ve learned is that there is no secret combination to the safe. There’s no magic password or shortcuts. Butt in chair, study the craft, write the draft, rewrite the draft, and keep doing the work.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A nice walk through Balboa Park, then to Sushi Ota and a gondola ride in Coronado. Extraordinary Desserts for dessert, please! Next day rent a speed boat around SD bay and head to City Heights for Ethiopian Food at Red Sea. Drive up to North County for a show at the North Coast Rep.
Thursday night we MUST head to the Whistle Stop to hear stories at So Say We All’s VAMP show. But first, dinner at Eclipse Chocolate.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am head over heels in love with Reality Changers, a nonprofit that supports low income high school students in becoming the first in their families to attend college. I have been a tutor there for six years and am continually inspired by how willing the students are to take risks, out themselves out there, and go to college.
Website: jennifer coburn.com