New York author stops on Sanibel
Before Jenny Milchman became a published author a few years ago, she practiced as a physiotherapist for 11 years in a rural mental health clinic, which led to ideas for some of her first stories.
“While I was practicing in this rural mental health center and seeing these very extreme cases, I specialized in treating children. I saw this little 5 year old. Her mother brought her in because she just killed the family pet,” she said. “I did group therapy in a tiny little space. One of the patients took out a gun because she wanted to end her life when all of her dear friends were around her.”
Those experiences made her feel as if she was living in a suspense novel.
“I remember it hit me like a hammer. If you want to write, you write the kind of books you curl up with at night,” she said. “For me that was crime fiction. Those were physiological thrillers and domestic suspense.”
The first book Milchman wrote, which she described as “unpublishable,” told a story about a young psychologist in training who encountered a very scary case of a 4-year-old who killed. That story got the ball rolling, pointing her in the direction of fulfilling a career path that she always wanted to pursue – writing.
“The ideas have always come, I think from essentially the same place. If you tweak the knob just a little bit and everyday life turns into not every day, how would you get your life back? I think that is what connects all of my books,” she said.
Her debut novel, “Cover of Snow” turned a long 11-year discouraging journey of getting published into a reality in January 2013.
“I feel like I gave up every day of those 11 years at least once, but certainly by the end of the 11, I was at the point where I wasn’t going to write another book,” she said.
The turning point for Milchman’s writing career occurred when an author stepped in and handed an unpublished manuscript to her editor.
“When I finally found out that the editor was going to take it, it was surreal,” she said.
When her agent called sharing that her book was published, she was cleaning the house.
“It went from no kids, to kids that really didn’t know what mom did, to the kids were so aware of what I did. They staged a parade with homemade flags around the house. The flags read ‘Mommy Gat Published,” she said smiling. “It was super sweet.”
Her love of writing remained after all the discouraging news because she loves diving into that one character’s life, her strengths and ability to take back the reins of justice of her life.
“The chance to be able to do that from one character to the next just feels like an incredible privilege,” Milchman said. “I’m there when they are finally triumphing and it’s fantastic to get to share. It doesn’t feel like my victory, it’s hers.”
Her third novel, “As Night Falls,” was published this year, sending Milchman, her husband and two children on the road for a book tour. The Hudson River Valley resident made a stop at MacIntosh Books Saturday, Oct. 17.
Although her first book tour took her on the road for seven months, traveling 35,000 miles, she did not want it to be any other way for her second and now third tour.
“Meeting face-to-face is phenomenal,” she said. “Something special happens in bookstores that really doesn’t happen anywhere else.”
Her latest book, she said is set in the same town that the previous two books are set in, which shares a clash of cultures.
“There are the old timers that have lived there forever because they have to, not by choice. Then there are these waves of people that come in all the time,” Milchman said.
“As Night Falls,” continue to highlight the old timers while introducing Sandy and her husband, who built a huge dramatic house on the cliff.
“I sort of sat down one day and wrote the first chapter about the prison break and it held my interest and I kept going,” she said.
Milchman is in the process of writing her fourth book, which she hopes will be released in 2016. She spends anywhere from five to seven days a week when she is not on a book tour writing.
In order to give the book her full attention, she finds a space where she can remove the rest of the world.
“It’s not that other people can’t come in the room. I really like it clutter free without my stuff around me,” she said. “The only world is the world of the book. The screen of my computer is a portal, whether it’s a prison, a glamourous house, or a police department.”
Milchman loves writing the first draft of her story because it feels like “flying.”
For more information, visit www.jennymilchman.com.
Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.