American novelist Chris Bohjalian almost didn’t become a writer. Now the author of nineteen novels, including bestsellers Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls, he proves that your dreams are possible, no matter how many people say that they aren’t.
Bohjalian’s interest in literature started at the age of thirteen as a result of two life-changing events. He and his family moved from New York to Florida, causing him to lose several friends. While in Florida, his orthodontist advised him to wear a headpiece “that looked like the business end of a backhoe.” The instrument wouldn’t allow him to speak. This left him with no opportunity to make friends, so he instead spent his time reading. Eventually, this fueled his interest to become a writer.
He attended Amherst College, where he further developed his writing skills. He applied for a writing seminar but was rejected by the writer-in-residence telling him to “be a banker” instead. This rejection did not stop him.
After college, Bohjalian worked as an account representative for J. Walter Thompson in New York. Following an incident in 1986, he and his wife decided to move to Lincoln, Vermont.
It was in Vermont that Bohjalian continued to work for his passion. He wrote weekly columns in local newspapers. He has written for the Burlington Free Press since 1992 and has been published in magazines like Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, the New York Times, and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine.
In 1988, Bohjalian launched his novel-writing career with A Killing in the Real World. His third novel, Past the Bleachers, was adapted into a television movie by Hallmark in 1995.
Bohjalian became even more popular upon publishing his fifth book, Midwives. The novel follows a Vermont wife who goes through a legal battle after one of her patients dies. The novel rose to popularity after being chosen by Oprah Winfrey to be part of the October 1998 selection of Oprah’s Book Club. It then became a New York Times and USA Today best seller and was adapted into a Lifetime television movie. Midwives became Bohjalian’s most successful novel.
In 1999, The Law of Similars was published, the story of a widower who dates a woman who practices alternative medicine. The novel was inspired by Bohjalian’s personal experiences visiting a homeopath in an attempt to cure his cold. The novel also made the New York Times best seller’s list.
Bohjalian wrote a few more novels following this back-to-back success, including The Double Bind (2007), Skeletons at the Feast (2008), Secrets of Eden (2010), The Night Strangers (2011), and The Sandcastle Girls (2012).
As a writer, Bohjalian often focuses on specific issues and historical events, which he skillfully uses not only as settings of the story but also as plot drivers.
His latest novel, The Sleepwalker, was published earlier this year. The novel is a thriller about a woman whose sleepwalking develops into something sinister: her own disappearance.
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