Jaime Primak Sullivan: How I Write

Jaime Primak Sullivan discusses writing her memoir "The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl: Adventures in Life and Love in the Heart of Dixie," and more in this interview.

Jaime Primak Sullivan
Jaime Primak Sullivan. Photo by Beau Gustafson

Jaime Primak Sullivan may have become a first-time author with her memoir, The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl: Adventures in Life and Love in the Heart of Dixie, but the book is far from Sullivan’s first creative endeavor. She’s also written and sold film treatments, two of which are currently being developed into movies, and she’s also the creator of the wildly popular daily video series Cawfeetawk. In the series, Sullivan focuses on many aspects of personal growth, including love, friendship, family, and work, and shares her insights with the large and supportive Cawfeetawk community.

Though she previously ran a successful public relations company for years, Sullivan may be best known for starring on the Bravo reality show Jersey Belle. The show followed Sullivan’s adventures as a New Jersey native living in Alabama. When the show ended, a strong fan base still clamored to connect with Sullivan; hence, she started Cawfeetawk.

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As the Cawfeetawk audience grew, people asked to know more about Sullivan’s life. Working with co-author Eve Adamson, Sullivan decided to write of her experiences as a Jersey transplant who moved to Alabama to be with the man she loved, chronicling both her challenges and her joy. The resulting memoir’s tone matches the same down-to-earth, candid style Sullivan exudes in Cawfeetawk. It’s a style that creates a connection with the reader, as if it were a conversation between close friends.

Sullivan is already at work on her second book, a novel.

A natural storyteller

I’ve always been a natural storyteller, but for a long time it was typically more verbal than written. I did some creative writing in college. Then I starting writing things for clients as a publicist. So I dabbled in writing, and then five years ago I started working on a horror film. Fear Followers was the first film treatment I sold, and it is currently in development.

Putting it all out there

I just told my truth, and I also got people’s permission. My husband was the first person to read the manuscript and thought it was great. It was like going through memory lane together.

Doing what comes naturally 

My gift is being able to come up with commercial concepts. I’m able to pick an audience and give them what they want. I usually write a nine- to 15-page treatment that tells the story I want to tell.

Working with a co-author

I worked with Eve Adamson, and she’s one of the best writers in our business. I learned so much from her. I knew the stories, and she knew the structure. She told me I was a vivid storyteller, and she didn’t have to pull a lot out of me. She would come to Birmingham to meet with me and go over the structure. Then she would send pages to me, and I would edit them and send them back. It was truly a collaborative effort.

The journey

When you’re writing, you want so desperately to get to the finish line, but there has to be an arc. You have to take people on a journey. You can’t leave things out for the sake of the finish. You’ve got to put in the work and tell the whole story. The focus for the book was about finishing a story and not so much about a word count.   

Next up

I’m working on my first novel, which is my passion project called John 3:16. It’s a medical thriller. I’m also writing the treatment for the film.

 

Allison Futterman is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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