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I told you about Legacy: An Anthology about a month ago at the beginning of the book’s tour. I was honored to bring you an author interview with Paula Young Lee and today the book tour wraps up with my author interview with Jenny Milchman. Jenny is the author of suspense thrillers Ruin Falls, Cover of Snow and As Night Falls releasing this year. She also wrote one of my favorite stories in the anthology, 2 Kinds of Legacy, an introspective on what kind of legacy we leave with our actions.
It’s my pleasure to give you Jenny and her thoughts on Legacy.
1. What does the idea of “legacy” mean to you as an author? What legacy do you hope to leave?
I struggled a lot with this question when Allison and Adria came up with the idea for the anthology. What is legacy anyway? What does it mean? Webster’s defines it as: “something that has come from a predecessor the past.” There’s an ad on Hulu about small businesses. The small business owners all say that their new ventures are “the legacy [they] want to leave.” So is that what legacy means? A labor of love that we hope will endure beyond ourselves? In the end my definition came to me not in words—oddly for a writer—but in an image. I saw myself as a young girl, lonely, ostracized by other kids, going into a library, picking up a book on a shelf, and losing myself in it for a spell, away from all my troubles. I realized that I write books because I want to leave the same sense of possibility between pages for readers…that they can go somewhere and forget about the world for a while as they slip into one I’ve created.
2. Was it a challenge to be given a theme to write about and then have to come up with a story corresponding to that theme?
It was until that image came to me. After that, the words flowed as they do during the best writing times. Like water, like silk. I wasn’t creating so much as living. Or reliving. You see, my story wasn’t fiction—it was a memory about myself as a sixth grader. And that turned out to be the hard part really: going back to such a troubled time. It was empowering too, though. I’d come out of that time, grown from it, and now hopefully I could pass on a little of the lesson I’d learned to readers who might have kids struggling with the same thing.
3. Can you give us a few clues about the subject of your story?
I’ve probably already done that! But a few bullet point words might be:
4. As an author, what inspires you?
Great books. When I’m reading something by a truly talented writer, I can practically feel myself stretching. Movies serve this purpose too. But also just life. All the emotional moments—my son sinking his first basket, my daughter walking off down the road with her best friend—get picked up and dragged through the river in a huge net. Then when I sit down to write, pieces bubble up to the top, get translated somehow, and reworked in fictional form. I always tell other writers that no matter what happens, good, bad, weird or ugly…it will enrich your work.
5. What are some of your favorite books and authors? How have they shaped your writing?
I can never answer this question! I know I will leave someone great off. But I’ll say that my #1 most inspirational author is Stephen King. I think he is a master of character, and he can have someone walk onto the page for a single paragraph whom the reader will never forget. King also gets those emotional beats I was talking about before. That has definitely inspired me. And authors who have penned some of my favorite books this year include Michael Koryta, Gregg Hurwitz, and Shane Kuhn.
6. Give us one memorable, inspiring or funny moment from one of your book tours.
I walked into a bookstore in Goshen, Indiana and one reader showed up for my event. Never mind; I was—and still am, relatively—a new author and I enjoyed the heck out of talking writing and fiction and life with this guy. We closed the bookstore down, in fact. Which is why it made me especially sad when he didn’t buy a book. I didn’t mind so much for my own sake, but the poor bookseller had been there two hours, even stayed open late! As we stood by the door, I spotted a book I had mentioned during our talk and pointed it out. The man bought it, so whew: conscience absolved for the bookseller.
Then the man turned to go. And before he did, he told me two things. First, he wasn’t buying my book that night because he already had three copies. One to read, one to loan, and one to keep pristine.
And two, he needed to hurry because he had a three hour drive home.
Now, if I told Mr. Bertelsmann, owner of Penguin Random House, way off in Germany (I think he is) that my marketing plan was to go to a small town in Indiana because there I would find a reader who considered me worth driving six hours for…well, that probably wouldn’t add up dollars and cents-wise, would it?
But it sure made dollars and sense. It was a moment that money had nothing to do with. A moment of the heart.
And that’s what book tour has been, all 11 months and 55,000 miles of it so far, and that’s why come June, we’re setting out again.
Come see me!
About Jenny Milchman
What a great story about her book tour stop in Indiana and what a devoted fan who came all the way to see her. A true testament to his love for her books and the impact Jenny’s writing had on him. I’m so glad some of my favorite authors are so easily accessible. We have two great indie bookstores within an hour of my house and hopefully I can see Jenny when she’s in NC in October. I need to get to reading her books, I love good thrillers!
Well, what are you waiting for? Grab your copy of Legacy and help out the literacy effort and hooking kids on the joy of reading! I’m raising three readers and love sharing good books with them. I wish every kid had their love of reading.
What will your legacy be? Be sure to pick up a copy of Legacy, proceeds go to benefit PAWS For Reading!
This post linked up with Literacy Musings Monday .