Thursday, July 9, 2015

Jenny Milchman

Jenny Milchman's new novel is As Night Falls.

From her Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

This novel is really like the threat of a razor against your throat--tight, suspenseful and terrifying. What sparked the idea? (I always think there is something that haunts an author and leads to a book.)

I do, too, Caroline—I call those genesis novels. Ones that have a clear creation story. I’m writing one now, in fact—my fourth book. It came to me at such a distinct moment in time, with such a specific trajectory, that I get goosebumps when I imagine telling the story-behind-the-story on tour. And actually, come to think of it, I know the origins of both my other published novels as well.

But not As Night Falls. This book is an enigma to me, and always has been. I can’t remember when or why I began telling the story to myself—a process that has to take place before I sit down to write. I have no idea how those two prisoners appeared to me, and still less how I came up with the reason they would invade my heroine’s home.

Here’s what I do know: This book seemed to write itself. Scene after scene, like a row of dominos, falling into place. It felt effortless. (Well, until the revising anyway. But that’s for another question). Although the story takes place in one night—about eight hours—there is a novel-within-the-novel that flashes back four decades before catching up to the present day at the end. And I was deeply inspired by one book when fashioning this part of the novel: Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin.

I was working as a psychotherapist when I read Shriver’s Orange prize winning tale, and I specialized in treating children. I remember feeling that Shriver got the process so exactly right—she brought to fictional life a dynamic I was seeing again and again in reality. In short, kids look to parents to put a lid on their natural aggressive impulses, and when parents turn a blind eye...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Jenny Milchman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Cover of Snow.

The Page 69 Test: Cover of Snow.

Writers Read: Jenny Milchman (May 2015).

The Page 69 Test: Ruin Falls.

My Book, The Movie: Ruin Falls.

--Marshal Zeringue