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.
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.