Shippensburg alumna Jennie Giardine writes first novel


Jennie Giardine is an SU alumna who graduated in 1992 with a degree in English.

“Sex, drugs and suspense,” is how Jennie Giardine, a Shippensburg University alumna, described her first published novel “Opium Dreams.”

According to Giardine, “Opium Dreams” is an unconventional romance that “appeals to all” and one that is highly sensual and full of suspense with twists and turns leaving the reader constantly asking questions and wondering who is behind everything.

Set in London in 1883, “Opium Dreams” immerses the reader into the “underworld” or the unknown side of London during the Victorian era. Centered in Chi Ki’s opium den, this historical romantic suspense novel illustrates a Victorian woman named Alison who escapes the wrath of her drunken, abusive husband by sneaking out every night to go to the opium den after her husband has fallen asleep.

“As her [Alison’s] form of rebellion, she locks her door from the outside, then sneaks out and consorts with other men while her husband sleeps,” said Giardine as she described Alison.

“Opium Dreams” is Giardine’s first published novel which was released on Feb. 1, 2013. However, this is not her first book.

Giardine graduated from Shippensburg University in the spring of 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in English. She then earned a master’s degree in English in December 1993.

After earning her degrees from SU, Giardine served as a union organizer at Bucks County Community College where she organized the part-time faculty into the Federation at BCCC.

Photo by Courtesy of Jennie Giardine / The Slate

“Opium Dreams” Jennie Giardine’s first novel, is a historical romance.

Giardine held several titles from general officer of the faculty and staff federation at the Community College of Philadelphia, to writer and editor of the FSFCCP newsletter, to speaker and activist locally and nationally for the American Federation of Teachers Division of Higher Education.

Currently, Giardine continues to teach English composition at BCCC as well as the Community College of Philadelphia.

According to Giardine, her creative writing did not take place until she was 30 and a mother when she wrote her first book.

Giardine said her first novel was a good story, but a writer’s first book normally does not sell.

Writers normally shelve their first book. However, it gained enough positive feedback from editors to keep her writing.

Giardine said her motivation for writing “Opium Dreams” derived in part from her time at Shippensburg when she studied Victorian literature.

“I wanted to set a book in that time period,” Giardine said.

According to Giardine, her writing starts with an opening scene that helps her in order to find the appropriate angle for the story.

“I’ve found that a common theme in my writing is good people doing bad things,” Giardine said.

She said she likes to have characters who are not 100 percent good. Giardine enjoys writing about real people.

When it came to writing “Opium Dreams,” Giardine had to research opium, a narcotic that causes wild dreams. This is one of the reasons she titled the novel “Opium Dreams”.

In addition to opium causing wild dreams, Giardine said the title was, “a little in the metaphorical way as the characters have aspirations to have the opium give them the ideas to write well while on the opium.”

As for Giardine’s future literary works, her aim is to write sequels to “Opium Dreams” based on futuregenerations. As Giardine explained, the characters in the novel are told, “The blood of a man will curse you through generations.”

Giardine hopes to begin her first sequel in May, which will be set in the Prohibition era in the 1920s dealing with speakeasies and bootlegs.

Plans for a third novel are to be set in the late 1950s or early 1960s revolving around swingers in regular suburban communities.

Eventually, Giardine said she plans to return to her first novel which is set in the 1990s.

However, she said she wants to add an element of Wicca, a modern witchcraft religion, with a character who is witch-like or can see the future.

Giardine’s “Opium Dreams” can be found for sale on, on the publisher’s website at “Opium Dreams” is available in both print and electronic form.

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