Author Jenny Milchman and Church Street co-owner Cal Morris discuss books.
Here’s the dream formula for an author event at a bookshop: Engaging author + good audience = great conversation. Sometimes, the reality doesn’t live up to what you’ve imagined, but Monday night’s conversation with author Jenny Milchman was the exception. We had a wonderful evening and a lively discussion — you might say we were living the dream.
Dreams are something Jenny (Can we call her Jenny? After Monday we feel like we’re on a first-name basis.) knows a lot about. It took thirteen years of writing for her to get her first book, the thriller Cover of Snow, published. But now that she has, and so many people are enjoying her book, it’s easy to see that she’s savoring every moment of being a successful author. That includes taking a long road trip/book tour with her husband and children. It includes stopping at small shops in Alabama to share her book with readers. It includes taking time to talk to everyone and make sure their voices are heard, and helping upcoming writers process their material. Jenny’s openness is refreshing and rare, and we loved having her at Church Street.
She told us a little about her writing process, and how she isn’t scared, even when she’s writing the scariest scenes in her books. “When I’m writing, I’m in control of the universe,” she said. “Some writers write to process the uncomfortable parts of life by putting them in the story, and some write as escapism. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with escapism.”
Jenny mentioned other writers whose work she enjoys, like Tana French, and said she’s loving the new book Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason. She listed Stephen King as a huge influence, and, when the conversation turned to literary heavy hitters, she defended King against critical darlings like Jonathan Franzen. “I’d put the emotional core of Pet Cemetery against anything Franzen’s written,” she said, leading the audience on a great discussion of King’s work versus the classics.
Jenny’s also a huge advocate for small bookstores like ours. She even got in this week’s Church Street Scavenger Hunt by giving away a free book that hasn’t even been published yet! We had a great discussion about the importance of buying local, and she’s a founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. She says children get something from a bookstore that they don’t get in other places, even the library (although we all agree that libraries are wonderful). “You’re taking possession of something that you have for the rest of your life,” she says about the benefits kids get from bookshops. We have to agree — that’s something special.