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