After some communication issues were resolved and Jenny dauntlessly survived our Skype trial to continue talking with us by phone, we learned a number of fascinating facts about both the story – and Jenny!
Jenny shared her writer’s journey with us, and the 11 years she had to keep the faith that publishing her book was worth pursuing. She had just about given up, when (through her very cool Writing Matters literary series – see more below) she spoke with MAF and mystery mega-star Nancy Pickard about her book and Nancy asked to see the manuscript. Nancy recommended it to her agent – and a new mystery star was born! Cover of Snow, earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, as well as praise from the New York Times, San Francisco Journal of Books, the AP, and many other publications. It was an Indie Next and Target pick, won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for best suspense novel of 2013, and was nominated for the 2013 Macavity and Barry Awards for Best First Novel.
Jenny also shared the unique way she, and her entire family (kids included!) have gone about promoting her books. Being a “face-to-face gal”, she wanted to get the chance to physically connect with her readers, so in 2013 she went on a 7 month road tour, visiting over four hundred bookstores, libraries, book clubs, schools, and other locations across the country. During that time she and her husband car-schooled the kids and worked remotely. She still considers the tours the most fun she has experienced, saying in another interview “Drive up to a bookstore, be welcomed by someone who has devoted his or her life to books, have a delicious latte, then walk into a room and talk to one person or three hundred about the stories that compel us. What could be better than that?”
Talking to Jenny for even a few minutes we discovered she is truly passionate about writing, and the social importance of story, which she can view through her trained therapist eyes. This thoughtful aspect comes through in the question she answers about “what makes a good man do a very bad thing”. We learn the truth about the death of Brendan and the terrible secret that weighed him down through the determined efforts of his wife Nora, the main protagonist. We spent a good space of time talking with Jenny about her superior creation: the mother-in-law from hell, Eileen, and how despite herself, we still felt some empathy for her. One of the many marks of how skilled a writer Jenny is. We asked what happened to Eileen, and if she turns up in any of the other books. Jenny mentioned she has some small mention in one of the books, but that the series shifts focus with each book. She also talked to us about the freedom for a writer in creating her own fictional town – based on a real town she knows in upstate New York.
At this point, we simply ran out of time – at which point Jenny made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. She is reserving some time specifically for our group at her upcoming signing on Wednesday, July 15th at 4:30 at Barbara’s Bookstore in Burr Ridge at 800 Village Center Drive. (Click here for this listing on Jenny's website.) The group instantly agreed! (We are no dummies!) Patricia has mentioned getting coffee afterwards if folks are interested.
Writing Matters, is a literary series that Jenny founded, which attracted guests coast-to-coast and received national media attention.