Author will speak on Oct. 29
By: Jan Engoren
Jnny Milchman, 51, master raconteur and author of psychological thrillers, will be appearing virtually at Murder on the Beach Bookstore on Oct. 29 to talk about crafting suspense novels and to discuss her fifth and latest novel, “The Second Mother.”
The book weaves a tale of suspense and intrigue, all dreamed up from her vivid imagination.
When the heroine of Milchman,’s novel, spies an ad for a teacher needed in a one-room schoolhouse on a remote island in Maine, she thinks that’s the perfect opportunity to escape her current life and start anew.
What the heroine, Julie Weathers, doesn’t realize is that that benign beginning will have a profound effect on her and her life.
Milchman, who won the Mary Higgins Clark Award in 2013 for her debut novel, “Cover of Snow,” and whose subsequent novels, “Ruin Falls,” “As Night Falls” and “Wicked River” were all Indie Next picks, will be interviewed by local mystery writer, Elaine Viets.
Viets, a South Florida resident, and an award-winning mystery writer, is author of the “Angela Richman, Death Investigator,” “Dead End Job Mystery Series” and the “Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper” series.
“Jenny writes with insight and emotional depth,” Viets said. “It can be difficult for women to break into the thriller genre, but in her latest novel, “The Second Mother,” Jenny has created an eerie, claustrophobic atmosphere on a small island off Maine.”
“I look forward to discussing suspense thrillers with her, and to learn the tricks of this trade,” she said.
The book is published by Sourcebooks, a division of Random House, and the largest woman owned trade book publisher in North America.
Joanne Sinchuk, manager of Murder on the Beach compares Milchman to Samantha Downing, (“My Lovely Wife”) Greer Hendricks, (“The Wife Between Us”) Alafair Burke (“All the Day and a Night”) and the bestselling queen of suspense novelists, Mary Higgins Clark (“Where Are the Children?”).
“Jenny Milchman is a great suspense writer,” Sinchuk said. “We are happy to be doing a Zoom event with her in October.”
Growing up as a horror fan Milchman loved reading Stephen King, Ira Levin and William Peter Blatty, author of “The Exorcist.”
She respects King for his mastery of characters.
“They become living, breathing people,” she says, aspiring to do the same with Julie Weathers and her other female protagonists.
She also admires psychological crime writer Ruth Ware and Koren Zailckas, her all-time favorite, and author of the “The Drama Teacher.”
Writing what she calls “whydunnits” instead of “whodunnits,” Milchman says the ‘why’ comes naturally.
“The writing is the fun part,” Milchman said from her home in the Hudson Valley of New York state. “The business part – not so much.”
“I’m always wondering what would happen if…” she said. “If something goes wrong, if the lights go out, if somebody dies in front of me in the supermarket line ….what if…”
“Ideas come to me,” she admits. “It seems like the story is taking place in a parallel universe where I can watch it unfold like a movie. I just sit back and watch what happens.”
“I don’t know the ending until I write it,” Milchman said.
It seems as if she’s channeling something unknown. Like many creative people who have expressed a similar thought, she’s not clear where her inspiration comes from.
“Sometimes I think my computer screen is a portal to another world.” she joked.
Milchman calls her genre “psychological suspense” novels featuring women heroines and always ends her book on an upbeat and positive note. It’s no coincidence that Milchman studied psychology and worked for a time as a children’s psychotherapist.
Her friend and fellow novelist, Kalisha Buckhanon, author of the critically acclaimed “Speaking of Summer” said, “Jenny is a master of storytelling on both the interior character and exterior plotting levels, writing women in dark or complex ways few can achieve well.”
“When you add that to her industry leadership and reader commitment, it’s quite remarkable to see authors like her still exist,” she said.
Now an established author and mentor to aspiring writers, Milchman almost didn’t get her first book published.
It took years of perseverance and tenacity to get an offer after banging on doors for 11 years.
What advice does she have for other aspiring novelists?
“Don’t give up,” she said. “Knock on every door and if you have to, break a few windows.”
Although she didn’t break any windows, Milchman got her big break by networking, and says she is always willing to return the favor by offering advice or helping others make connections.
“Just because you hear ‘no’ doesn’t mean ‘no.’ One day the world will be glad you didn’t give up.” she added.
For “The Second Mother,” Milchman said, “I hope everyone can find something in this book that they can relate to. There is a sense of grief and loss in the book but also a sense of hope and connection to the future.”
“Believe in things you love; if you love them enough, others will too,” she said, adding, “I live by that.”
Small Town Life, Big Town Suspense. Suspense novelist Jenny Milchman reveals her secrets of building suspense as she is interviewed by mystery writer, Elaine Viets. Admission is with purchase of the book, $16.99. To register, call 561-279-7790 or email firstname.lastname@example.org