Jenny Milchman was one of the first "real" writers I met, as I started down this windy literary road. She was one of the first people to tell me I, too, was a "real" writer, that to be a writer you need only write.
That was a stellar moment in my early career. I have since been grateful that I was (for once) brave enough to reach out to a stranger, because Jenny's been a solid cheerleader, friend, and compatriot.
Oh...and then I read her book.
Cover of Snow released in January, and it's quite a ride. Set in snowy Upstate New York, we meet a wife facing one of the most tragic circumstances a wife can ever face...and her journey afterwards takes terrifying twists and turns in a frozen little town in the dead of winter.
I made the mistake one day of sitting down with Cover of Snow one afternoon when I had five free minutes...thirty minutes later, I was still reading and Zoe and I were late for an appointment.
Jenny and I will be talking together, along with Tina Whittle, at Blue Bicycle Books on Thursday (April 11) from 5-7 p.m. and I truly hope to see you there!! And in the meantime, she was kind enough to stop by the blog for a chat. Enjoy!
LR: First off, congratulations on the release of Cover of Snow! I know it’s been a long and incredible journey for you. For readers who are also writers, would you mind talking a little bit about that road, and the path that led you here, to the Cover of Snow book tour?
JM: It took me over thirteen years to get published, and there was a great deal of let-down, heartache, and desolation along the way. Cover of Snow is my debut novel, but it was the eighth one I wrote. I was lucky enough to work with agents from the time I first started writing—although what I was writing were overlong, unpublishable manuscripts—but once an agent interests an editor in your work, the editor has to get the whole house behind your book, and I was stuck at that stage for eleven years. I had fifteen almost offers, and at a certain point I said to myself, “Well, published authors write a book a year, so that’s what I’m going to try to do.” During that time, the biggest thing missing for me wasn’t the validation of being published, or any money I might have made—it was the joy of having people read my work. Stephen King says that a story unread is like an unclosed circle, or words to that effect. That lack was very painful for me. So I knew that if I ever finally made it to the point of having readers…well, I wanted to go out and meet them. And get to say thank you. We’ll be on the road for seven months and 40,000 miles.
I frequent the mystery listserv, DorothyL, and a more avid group of readers you couldn’t hope to find. When I floated the idea for Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, bloggers on the listserv spread the word. My husband designed a poster, a website, and bookmarks, and we designated the first Saturday in December as Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. This would coincide with holiday gift giving, hopefully giving people the idea that books make great presents. Just two weeks later, 80 bookstores were celebrating. That summer, we loaded the kids in the car and drove cross-country, visiting bookstores and trying to get the word out. The third annual TYCBD was celebrated by more than 500 bookstores in all fifty states.
JM: Well, I don’t outline, but I do usually have a sense of certain highpoints. I think in terms of Robert McKee’s book, Story, which talks about the beginning, middle, end, and two turning points along the arc, where the story is sent catapulting into a whole other direction.
JM: Oh, wow. Good one. No childhood character, I don’t think. But as an adult…it’s Jack Reacher. Apologies to my hubby. But he has a fair amount of Reacher inside him.
JM: Witness. A Simple Plan. No, Misery or Stand By Me. Rob Reiner, please come out of retirement and offer to film the movie version of Cover of Snow!
LR: Favorite band and/or album?
Thanks, Jenny, for dropping by, and I can't wait to hang with you again! And if you want more info about Jenny in the meantime, drop by her web site and say hi!