Note: Jenny Milchman’s debut thriller, Cover of Snow, was published in 2013, chosen as an Indie Next and Target Emerging Authors Pick, and nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark award. Jenny’s next novel, Ruin Falls, will be out in April. She and Julia Spencer-Fleming and Charles Salzberg will be speaking at Longfellow Books in Portland on Thursday, January 23, at 7 p.m.
As I write this, it’s the thick of winter, snow coming down outside, and I am preparing for a little getaway. To Florida, you might think? Some place warm to share off the January doldrums? Well, doldrums will almost certainly be shaken off, but it won’t be because I’m in the tropics.
It’ll l be because of a whole other kind of warmth – the warmth of the mystery community.
Along with mystery author Charles Salzberg, I’ll be venturing to Maine in a few days. We will be joined by still another mystery author, Maine’s own Julia Spencer-Fleming, at the wonderful Longfellow Books in Portland.
Why are we hitting the salty roads and convening in the North Country during a rather inconvenient time of year? Well, to explain this impromptu party I have to backtrack a bit.
My debut novel came out last year after a very long road to publication. There was heartache and disappointment along that road, near misses and lost chances. In the end, it took me thirteen years to get published, and it happened because a member of the mystery community reached out and extended a hand.
The torture, um, I mean, process that I went through showed me that the mystery world is one of the warmest, welcoming ones there is, and also that we are stronger when we stand together. After my novel came out I it the road and went on a 7 month/35,000 miles book tour, family in tow, to meet many of the writers who had helped and inspired me along the way.
But I never got to Maine.
And I never got to sit beside Julia, who, in addition to writing a dark, thrilling series with one highly unconventional sleuth and one only slightly more conventional one, also happens to be as funny as a stand up comedienne.
Nor did I get to give a talk with Charles, who mentored me during many of my long, dark unpublished years, and whose books inspire me still.
But that still doesn’t explain how we got to Maine., After all, we could have asked Julia to come south and meet us. Being Julia, she might even have done it.
Remember when I said that the mystery writing world is a warm and welcoming one? This extends even beyond authors. A few months ago, I was giving a talk to writers at a conference, and I met someone whose books I bet will be carried at Longfellow before too long. A hopeful writer with a book she was about to pitch.
In the midst of her nervousness and excitement, Portland resident Brynne Betz said to me, “You have to come speak at my local bookstore! It’s a gem.” I smiled and said I’d love to. Maine is one of my favorite states, after all. Yes, even in winter.
Getting published takes perseverance and it also takes follow-through. That’s one of the things I learned during the thirteen years I traveled. So when Brynne wrote a few weeks after the conference to say she had arranged everything, her chances for success kicked up a few more notches in my mind.
Follow-through and perseverance. That’s why I’m coming to Maine. I suspect that’s why Charles and Julia will be there, too.
And we very much hope to see you.
Julia Spencer-Fleming is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery series. She has won the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Dilys, Barry, Nero and Gumshoe awards. She has also been a finalist for the Edgar Award.
Charles Salzberg’s new novel, Devil in the Hole, is based on the notorious John List murders. He’s also the author of the Henry Swann detective series; Swann Dives In; Swann’s Last Song, which was nominated for a Shamus for Best First PR Novel; and the upcoming Swann’s Lake of Despair.