Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mystery Author of the Month, Jenny Milchman

I'd like to welcome mystery/suspense author, Jenny Milchman.
Jenny, where did you grow up? Did your childhood contribute to your desire to be a writer? 
I was born in Manhattan, and grew up in a suburb in New Jersey. I would say that the place I grew up contributed to the places I now write about in a paradoxical kind of way. Living outside an enormous city gave me a fascination with small towns and the closeness of the people who live in them, whether they like being that close or they don’t.
Where do you live now? Do you use that locale for settings in your novels? 
I live in another suburb, a little farther west, and I haven’t written about it yet. Small towns with dramatic topography—mountains, rivers, woods—consume me. My first novel, Cover of Snow, takes places in the Adirondacks. And my next novel begins in Idaho before traveling back to the Adirondacks. However, the novel I have kicking around for my third just might start out in New Jersey!

What inspired you to write your most recent novel?
The idea behind Cover of Snow was a question that grabbed me around the throat and just wouldn’t let go. What would make a good man do the worst thing he possibly could to his wife? Of course, first I had to figure out what that ‘worst thing’ would be, but once I did, I had a premise and an opening scene that persisted over many years and about twenty-two drafts. (Oy). Another way to describe Cover of Snow is with this log line: When her police detective husband commits suicide in the middle of a frozen Adirondack winter, Nora Hamilton must lay bare the secrets a town has always well as her own.

When did you “know” that you wanted to be a writer? 
My mom says that when I was two years old, I would tell her bedtime stories, and she would write them down. I just know that I always wanted to write. But practical considerations interfered and I went to college and graduate school to study psychology. I realized at some point that I couldn’t stop writing, but it’s good I didn’t know how hard it was going to be. It took me thirteen years to get published.
Name three of your favorite authors in the mystery/suspense genre. What makes them your favorites? 
Oooh, this is so hard. Winifred by Doris Miles Disney is one of my all-time favorite mysteries. I think it contains the best last line ever written. The others I’d choose are not strictly mystery authors. I think that Pet Semetary by Stephen King is as existential a horror story as anything by Camus. And ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson is absolute perfection as a short story that hides the reveal until the very end.

Jenny Milchman is a suspense novelist from New Jersey whose short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Adirondack Mysteries II, and in an e-published volume called Lunch Reads. Jenny is the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, and the chair of International Thriller Writers’ Debut Authors Program. Her first novel, Cover of Snow, is published by Ballantine.

Jenny can be reached at and she blogs at


  1. Cover of Snow sounds good, Jenny, and I admire your persistence. 22 drafts for the opening scene--oy is right! But it shows you're a writer who's dedicated to good writing.

  2. Pat, a big thank you for having me to your blog! And John, thanks for your very understanding comment. I really think that persistence is 90% of the writer's task. It can be hard to reach for. I came up dry more than once.

    1. Jenny,
      It's my pleasure! Can't wait to read your book!

  3. Jenny, I can't wait to read your book. What you didn't say and what I know about you is that you are tireless in your work helping others in their writing. I'm thrilled to have sat with you and been a recipient of your calm, sharing, and knowledgeable ways. Thanks for inviting Jenny over, Patricia!

  4. Jenny, Your book sounds riveting, and it's going on my TBR stack. It's interesting to learn a little more about those we follow. Theresa is right; it does seem like you're always helping others.
    Marja McGraw

  5. One heck of a good read. My review won't do it justice.

  6. Many of us are being favored by the opportunity to see and talk with Jenny in person as she and her family make their way around the United States on her marathon book promotion trip. If she appears within a hundred miles of you, GO to meet them. And,if you haven't already bought and read her novel, COVER OF SNOW by the time she comes to a bookstore near you, be sure and treat yourself to a copy there. (I had purchased and read the book before I knew she was coming to NW Arkansas.) Three cheers for Jenny and family!

  7. Wow, it's like coming home to family, being on Pat's blog. how great to see students, authors I've admired, reviewers, list members who Were There When, not to mention good friends. our words are an honor, Theresa, Marja, Kevin, and Radine. and given the fact that I am probably more nervous these days than I was before the book came out, I can't tell you how much it means when someone recommends reading it. The Writer's lot seems to be self doubt (I didn't capitalize writer; auto correct did, but it fits) and I am still at it. Seeing you all, on the road and on blogs like these, really helps.

  8. At the doubting, that is! anyway, thanks again, everybody. You are a big part of how I kept at it.