The Next Big Thing: Jenny Milchman

To say that I'm excited over the upcoming release of Jenny Milchman's debut novel, Cover of Snow, is an immense understatement. I've preordered it, have the release date circled on my calendar, and am telling my friends and family to do the same. When I read about Jenny's inspiration behind the writing of this book, chills shot up my spine. So when she asked me to jump on The Next Big Thing blog chain, I was delighted. We  tweaked the chain a bit and began with a blog swap and added some of our favorite authors. Jenny's mum about her WIP, and that's okay, because she's already hooked this reader. Although we live across the country from one another, my wish is that one day, with her book in hand, I'll walk up to a table in a bookstore, and have her sign my copy.  If you need more incentive to check out Jenny's book, look what Louise Penny, New York Times bestselling author of The Beautiful Mystery, has to say:
“Heart-pounding, exhilarating, frightening, a terrifically suspenseful novel . . . Reading Cover of Snow feels like racing across a frozen lake.”

What is the working title of your book?
OK, first of all, let me state that I’m going to take some liberties with this very cool format, for a couple of reasons. The first is that I never tell anyone anything about a WIP until I’ve written the last line. Not even my first—and one of my best—readers, who is my husband. (This makes living together kind of difficult sometimes, like when I am muttering under my breath for hours at a time and won’t say what it’s about).
So, you might ask, why I am taking part in this blog-relay? Well, because a writer whose debut I loved asked me to—that’s Linda Rodriguez and I recommend you check out Every Last Secret—and then another mystery writer I love, Kathleen Kaska, author of the Sydney Lockhart series, and I decided to make it a blog swap instead. And also because my own debut is coming out in January, after a thirteen year journey to publication. It’s most of what’s on my mind these days. So if I tell you a little about it instead, maybe you will forgive me? OK, deep breath. The title is Cover of Snow.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea for Cover of Snow came to me when one question grabbed me around the throat and refused to let go. What would make a man do the worst thing he possibly could to his wife? And what would that thing be?

What genre does your book fall under?
My publisher is calling it literary suspense. Could also be seen as a thriller with elements of women’s fiction. The mixture made getting published harder than it might’ve been.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Anyone Hollywood wanted to cast! But in my way-back-where-you-don’t-even-admit-’em fantasies, I’ve thought of Julianne Moore or Ashley Judd for my protagonist, and Peter Saarsgard or Kevin Bacon for the “bad guys”.  And Harvey Keitel or Bruce McGill would make an awesome Vern (the police chief).

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When her police detective husband commits suicide in the middle of a frozen Adirondack winter, Nora Hamilton must lay bare the secrets a town has always well as her own.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My book is coming out from Ballantine. I’m represented by a wonderful agent, my third, whom I call my forever-agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It usually takes me 10-12 weeks to write a first draft, but Cover of Snow went through many iterations before becoming the book that’s about to appear. Maybe all of them do, but I hope for a few fewer years and fewer drafts next time! All told there were 22 drafts, which spread across a decade.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Well, books I love I wouldn’t dare compare mine to, and actually books I don’t love I still might not dare. But my publisher is using Gillian Flynn, Chris Bohjalian, and Nancy Pickard as comparables.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
When I was eight years old, a babysitter told me that he was going to commit suicide that night, and that I shouldn’t tell anyone his secret. I don’t know that I’d call that inspiration, but I’ve never gotten the incident out of my head. My babysitter lived. I broke my word and tattled to my parents, who called his parents, who discovered him lying in bed with an empty pill bottle beside him.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
If you like winter books, or books that take place in the mountains, Cover of Snow makes use of both isolating factors. I’d truly love to hear what you think—and maybe even meet you when I am on the road. Please see if I’ll be coming nearby by checking my website!

Jenny Milchman is a suspense writer whose short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, the anthology Adirondack Mysteries II, and in an e-published volume called Lunch Reads. Her debut novel, Cover of Snow, will be released in January.

Now for the Next Big Thing:
Debbi Mack, author of the Sam McRae Mystery series, will share her WIP on November 17. Visit Debbie at
Look for Peg Herring's interview on November 19. Peg writes the award-winning Dead Detective Mystery Series.
Peter Townsend, author of Ghostly Images, shares his interview answers on November 26.
What's your Next Big Thing? Leave us a comment and tell us what you're up to.

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