Lesson 451 – Good-egg Chris Bohjalian and The Night Strangers

A few weeks ago, New York Times Bestseller and Good Egg inductee to our flock: Chris Bohjalian was in our neck of the woods giving a talk and signing copies of his newest book – “The Night Strangers: A Novel” – at our local Barnes and Nobles. Being the crack investigative reporter I am, I asked him why “: A Novel” had been added to the title of this new book and he said that all his books have had that added since Midwives. The initial reason was that he didn’t want anyone to think Midwives was a technical book, so “: A Novel” became part of the title and has been carried forward to the rest of his books. Now you  know.

A Good-egg: Chris Bohjalian

Chris (who also wrote Midwives and Secretes of Eden, along with many others best sellers, and yeah, technically I should have added that “: A Novel” to all of these titles) has been a good egg since the first day I met him. A few years ago, I was asked to interview him for a newspaper article in preparation for a visit he was going to make to Nashua, NH to discuss his book Skeletons at the Feast – a One City, One Book choice for the Nashua Library.

Now here’s the amazing thing, Chris did that interview by phone for about 2 hours on a holiday answering every single one of my questions. I have to respect anyone who is willing to share his craft and experiences like that. Chris was also the first person I interviewed for our Good Egg series and once, again, gave freely (and humorously) of himself to the project. In fact, Chris’ enthusiasm for the idea helped the series hatch into something that has made our chickens local-school ambassadors of good literary works (who would have ever thought, but then the term chick-lit just begs to be used here.)

I listened to Chris at Barnes and Noble as he talked about his new book, paying particular attention to his researched fact that if an airplane is going down, the absolute worst place for your feet is to curl them under your seat. If, by chance, you survive the crash, chances are your seat will have collapsed onto your now broken-into-a-million pieces feet greatly lessening your chances of being able to escape.

Thanks to Chris, I no longer even sit at the movie theater with my feet under my seat, hey, we’ve been known to have a few earthquakes in the northeast.

The Nigh Strangers: A Novel is a ghost story. It involves an airplane crash into a lake (spoiler alert, unlike Captain Sully of the Hudson River fame, not all of the passengers survive in this case), witches, agitated souls, young girl twins, and a constant supply of some of the best sounding home-baked goods around. It’s a fast paced story that will keep you intrigued and guessing until the last page. I think the best part about Strangers is that it was inspired by a door to nowhere that Chris found in his basement when he moved to Vermont. Such an artist, who can take a single idea and then tease it to a complete storyline populated with complex characters and plot.

There is a series on Youtube (Path to Vermont) that has a 4 part series on Chris. It follows his writing day (started off in a most gorgeously lit, open writing office) and continues with what he thinks about his craft and community (and of course, the unbelievable story of why he and his wife decided to move to Vermont in the first place.) By the way when I told him that I envied how uncluttered his writing area was, his reply to me was simply that “it has to be.”

There’s a little something zen about Chris.

I have so much respect for Chris, he’s a talented writer who also looks out for his audience (check out his facebook page to just get a glimpse of how he interacts with his fans.) I’m so thrilled that our little chicken named Chris-Bohjalian is the namesake of a friend who is so prolific and successful and who continues to being joy to the world.

Thanks again for being such a Good-egg, Chris.

Our hen: Chris-Bohjalian, with The Night Strangers

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10 Comments

Filed under Good Egg Interviews, Literary-chicks

10 responses to “Lesson 451 – Good-egg Chris Bohjalian and The Night Strangers

  1. Kristy Donaghy

    Wendy,
    I loved Chris’s new book but be warned it is not for the faint of heart! Once again, his writing is so well thought out and carefully written,its very hard to put down!
    Kristy

    • Wendy Thomas

      Kristy,

      Chris’ book is intense both in theme and in action. It’s definitely a ride and as you pointed out well written and carefully constructed.

      Hard to put down indeed!

      Wendy

  2. A number of years ago I knew a couple slightly who were passengers on a airline plane that ran out of gas coming into Portland, OR and crash landed in the city. They both suffered broken legs in the crash, but otherwise came out in good shape. You just never know. Most people tend to be more fearful of flying than of driving or riding in cars, but statistics indicate that one’s chances of serious injury or of death are much greater while riding in a motor vehicle than while a passenger on an airplane. Not only that; if by chance you are in a motor vehicle crash and survive, tell the truth to the investigating officers. I went on a “ride-along” with a policeman who specialized in accident investigations. He explained to me that many people who survive motor vehicle crashes lie about who was driving, perhaps because the actual driver was drinking alcohol. He explained the ways in police can often determine who was actually driving. This is one of the reasons that fatal accidents often cause traffic to be delayed or diverted for hours; careful accident reconstruction takes quite a while, and Officer Santa often can tell if you’ve been lying. Drive carefully and don’t use alcohol while driving, and make sure your hens are carefully strapped in.

    • Wendy Thomas

      Modesty,

      I wouldn’t even start a car unless I and all of the chicks are buckled in. To do so, otherwise, is nothing short of insanity.

      Wendy

  3. Also, a little known fact is that most people (statistically speaking) survive airline crashes. The popular stereotype is of a plane falling out of the sky and everyone dying. Most airline crashes occur during take offs and landings, and most people on board survive. The most important thing to realize is that in such a crash, in most cases you MUST get out of the plane quickly because the biggest danger is the fire or explosion that comes a few seconds or a few minutes after the initial impact.

    Many people freeze in disbelief or waste time trying to retrieve carry-on luggage. If you are in an airplane crash and survive the initial impact, GET YOUR BUTT out of the plane (and the butts of your companions and children and chickens if they fly) IMMEDIATELY. Read Amanda Ripley’s excellent book THE UNTHINKABLE about how people react in emergency situations. She is a reporter for TIME magazine and studied the topic thoroughly. Our chickens tend to freeze and hide in the ferns when they sense danger; in this case you need to be smarter than a chicken.

    • Wendy Thomas

      In prepping for this blog post, I looked up some photos of Capt. Sully’s landing in the Hudson. If you look carefully at the photos, you’ll see several people holding luggage or briefcases. Don’t know whether they should be commended or pitied.

      Wendy

  4. Margie

    I saw Chris speak a few years ago for our libraries. He was so generous with his time and answers! And what a great speaker! Go see him if you get the opportunity!

    • Wendy Thomas

      Margie,

      Chris is not only an entertaining speaker but also informative. Definitely, if you have the chance to see him, do so.

      Wendy

  5. I’m reading the book right now and enjoying it very much.

    Thanks for the fun blog post about Chris Bohjalian. Something a little creepy: I read your post (earlier today) and found the tip about not keeping your feet under the seat very interesting (and useful). A little later I pick up The Night Strangers again, and within half a page of reading, this exact thing is mentioned!

    • Wendy Thomas

      Leeswammes,

      Hmm, that is a little creepy but I guarantee that you will NEVER sit with your feet underneath your seat during a crash. (and here’s hoping my theory is never proved.)

      Wendy

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