The Works of Jayne Pupek

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Richmond, VA, United States
Jayne Pupek is the author of the novel "Tomato Girl" (Algonquin Books, 2008) and a book of poems titled "Forms of Intercession" (Mayapple Press, 2008). Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals. In addition to her own writing, Jayne freelances as a ghostwriter, editor and mentor. A Virginia native, Jayne has spent most of her professional life working in the field of mental health.

Contact Jayne

To contact Jayne, email


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read!

Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982. The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. People challenge books that they say are too sexual or too violent. They object to profanity and slang, and protest against offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups--or positive portrayals of homosexuals. Their targets range from books that explore the latest problems to classic and beloved works of American literature.

Read more here.

What a Neat Story

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Obama 240--McCain 200

CNN updated its electoral map. Read the article here.

Interview at Emma Larkins

Emma Larkins interviewed me today on her blog. Read the interview here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Review at Pajiba

Tomato Girl was reviewed by Jennifer McKeown at Pajiba

Interview and Book Giveaway

Check out today's Interview and Book Giveaway at Cindy's Love of Books. Cindy also recently reviewed Tomato Girl. Read her review here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama on the Economy

Interview and Book Giveaway

Read a recent interview at Breaking the Spine, and while you're there, enter to win an autographed copy of Tomato Girl!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Jill Pinheiro recently reviewed Tomato Girl for A'nE Vibe. Jill has also asked to interview me on her blog, Breaking The Spine. I'll post details when we have them.

Julie McGuire reviewed Tomato Girl at The Internet Review of Books. I was also delighted to review the novel, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, for this month's issue. Read my review here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Poem at Thieves Jargon

My poem, "Elegy for Leo," appears in the new issue of Thieves Jargon. Read the peom here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Book Giveaway

Meg Waite Clayton, author of the moving and delightful novel, The Wednesday Sisters, is hosting a book giveaway on her 1st Books blog. The winner will receive an autographed copy of my novel, Tomato Girl, and an autographed copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin, just released in paperback. To find out how to enter--and how to also win a copy of Meg's book-- see her blog.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Faster than Kudzu: 3 Questions

I'm absolutely delighted to be a guest at Faster than Kudzu, the blog of bestselling novelist and fellow Southerner, Joshilyn Jackson. I admire Joshilyn's work and have her latest novel, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, on my bedside table, which I plan to read as soon as I finish the draft of my novel. Read my answers to Joshilyn's questions here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wordy Birds

Wordy Birds

A Weekly Radio Discussion About Books & Ideas Hosted by Liz Humes on 97.3 FM WRIR.

Liz Humes interviewed me for her weekly program, Wordy Birds. Liz and I met at Stir Crazy to record the interview. She is a delightful woman and made the experience so much fun. The interview is scheduled to air soon. Will update.


Come join me to discuss my debut novel, Tomato Girl! I'm available from September 3-17th on both GoodReads and LibraryThing. I'm happy to answer questions about my novel, or about writing in general. I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 1, 2008


Valerie Fox interviews me for PRESS1.

We Dream Colors:
An Interview with Jayne Pupek

We dream colors
while sleeping in the curl
of an egg.
—from “Myth” (Forms of Intercession)

Blues tend to fade without dissolving.

—from “Withholding” (Forms of Intercession)

Jayne Pupek has published two books in 2008. Tomato Girl, a novel, is just out from Algonquin Books. Forms of Intercession, poems, was published this year by Mayapple Press. Both her poems and the novel tell stories that possess the strange inevitabilities of dreams and myths.

Tomato Girl begins with a prologue in which the narrator recalls a time long past, and the macabre image of a dead infant. From this riveting and dramatic start, the novel proceeded to engage and to move us. In the remarks that follow, Pupek shares with us insights into the characters in Tomato Girl, her writing process, the impact of her career as therapist, and other fascinating subjects.

Valerie Fox: The short, titled chapters/sections in Tomato Girl work well to highlight imagery and to establish the trajectory of story. How and why did you decide on this style?

Jayne Pupek: I began writing Tomato Girl more or less on a whim. Until then, I had written very little fiction other than short pieces, or “flash fiction,” which were often more like prose poems than actual short stories. My writing focus has always been poetry, and I think the need to title each chapter is purely reflective of that. Typically, each poem in a collection is titled, so when I began writing Tomato Girl, the chapters just seemed incomplete to me without a title.

Read the complete interview here.


My poem, "Before She Dusts" appears in the new issue of Kaleidowhirl. This is my first appearance at Kaleidowhirl, and I'm thrilled to be included there!

Thieves Jargon has accepted my poem, "Elegy for Leo." I'll post a link when the poem appears. This is one of my favorite lit 'zines, and I'm honored to have work accepted there again.


Kate Evans reviewed Tomato Girl in Quarterly Conversation.

From the beginning of Jayne Pupek’s Tomato Girl, we are plunged into a dark world. In the first few pages of the novel, 11-year-old narrator Ellie Sanders reveals that she is living in the aftermath of abandonment. Her father has been gone for some time, leaving her with a mother whose “nerves are wound tight as a watch.” This is a self-destructive mother who digs at her wrist with a pencil until it bleeds, a mentally ill mother who, in a detail that makes the skin crawl and keeps the pages turning, “keeps Baby Tom in a jar.” The understated way Ellie offers up such ghastly details reveals that she has become acclimated to a horrific world, and this acclimation’s toll is central to the book.

Tomato Girl—with its brutal violence, mental disease, incest, grotesqueries, degeneration, and supernatural elements—is well-rooted in the Southern Gothic tradition. Like Carson McCullers, Pupek features a girl as witness to the madness around her. The madness is not only personal but social—like any good Southern Gothic novel, this book incorporates a critique of the madness of society. One of society’s madnesses dealt with here is racial bigotry. Clara, a “colored woman,” is Ellie’s friend, even though Ellie is warned not to enter Clara’s neighborhood. Especially revealing is that Ellie’s friend, Mary, is the most vocal arbiter of the racial divide. When Mary says that a “white girl isn’t safe in a neighborhood full of colored boys,” we can hear the voice of a child who has been carefully taught racism. Ellie’s internal response (”Mary doesn’t understand that when you need somebody the way I need Clara, you don’t care two sticks what color skin they live in”) sets up one of the novel’s many layers of conflict.

Read the entire review here.