Writer Interviews – Jenny Milchman

Posted by on April 21, 2014


I’m thrilled to have Jenny Milchman on my blog today.

This writer defines success for me. She worked had and never gave up. And if you think it was all a matter of luck, I’ve posted a video below that shows exactly how she created that luck.

If you are as anxious as I am, you can pre-order her new book today here on Amazon like I did or wait to buy it tomorrow on its official release day.

Welcome to Jenny! Here she is in her own words:


1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?

Well, there are really two schedules. One “in the best of all possible worlds” one and one that is cobbled together between other writing obligations, time spent online, household chores, wandering about in a tangled yarn ball of nerves…But there’s the ideal one. I get up and first thing in the morning sit down at my machine that has no internet access. I write for three or four hours, breaking for breakfast and tea and lunch (I eat a lot). By the end, I have about 2000 words. There are also various compulsive rituals associated with this—like the tapping of a special piece of wood—but if I share too many of these, you’ll think I’m even crazier than I already sound, given the multiple meals in one four hour stretch.

2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?

Remember the crazy and the piece of wood? I’m knocking right now. Because—shhhhh—the WB word has not happened. For me, a novel is less something I create and more something already there, that I dig out and put on the page. When I’m writing, it’s like something else is doing the work for me. I’m channeling, not creating. At least that’s how it feels. So a block just hasn’t come up because a block is between you and yourself, isn’t it? The way it works for me is if I’m open to the story, what has to happen just somehow comes. [pause] Crazy, remember?

3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?

I have been very influenced by Hooked by Les Edgerton, Writing the Breakout Novel by Don Maass, Albert Zuckerman’s Writing the Blockbuster, and for insight into the master, Stephen King’s On Writing.

4. Who do you read for fun?

Every single writer on the back of my first novel who gave me a blurb—I went down the list of my favorite authors and asked—plus Stephen King, Tana French, Sophie Hannah, Andrew Klavan, Kate Atkinson, and Jodi Picoult. Recent discoveries include Gregg Hurwitz and Richard Lange.

5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.

I wanted to be a writer since before I could write, according to my mom. I would dictate bedtime stories to her at the age of two (she wrote them down). I remember at age five having a kindergarten teacher who bound each student’s story so it looked like a real book. I can still see the blue-flocked wallpaper I chose for my cover. The first adult novel I wrote, with an idea for getting published, was in 1998. It would be fourteen years before I ever sold a book.

6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

See above. Fourteen years. In other words, if you want to be a writer, if you can’t not be a writer, then write. Let the story take you, let the water come and carry you away as Van Morrison sings. Don’t stop writing. People will tell you your writing isn’t good enough. They will be right. That’s okay. Write it again. Write it better. Keep writing. Keep listening to feedback and improving your writing. If you do, then one day, you will have something that’s better than good enough. And you will be a writer.

7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?

I don’t think it’s one trait, I think it’s a constellation of them, but probably the most important thing is having many stories to tell.

8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?

Dumplings. Definitely dumplings. I like sweets, too. And tea.

9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?

There are others, for sure, but the book that came to mind is Cujo by Stephen King—a perfect domino row of a tragedy, on a par with Shakespeare, in my opinion—and ‘Witness’ with Harrison Ford.

10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?

Well, one thing maybe. I go out on very long book tours—this current one is 4 months and 20,000 miles—and I’d love it if your readers wanted to come out and find me along the way. Details at: http://jennymilchman.com/tour/over-the-falls-2014

Jenny Milchman’s journey to publication took thirteen years, after which she hit the road for seven months with her family on what Shelf Awareness called “the world’s longest book tour”. Her debut novel, Cover of Snow, was chosen as an Indie Next and Target Pick, reviewed in the New York Times and San Francisco Journal of Books, and nominated for a Mary Higgins Clark award. Jenny is also the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day and chair of International Thriller Writers’ Debut Authors Program. Jenny’s second novel, Ruin Falls, just came out and she and her family are back on the road.

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