Jacquelyn Mitchard’s first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was named by USA Today as one of the ten most influential books of the past 25 years – second only to the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (but second by a long shot, the author insists that it must be said.)
The Deep End of the Ocean was critically acclaimed, won several awards, and was chosen as the first novel in the book club made famous by the TV host Oprah Winfrey, later transformed into a feature film produced by and starring Michelle Pfeiffer.
All of Mitchard’s novels have been greater or lesser bestsellers – and include The Most Wanted, A Theory of Relativity, Twelve Times Blessed, The Breakdown Lane, Cage of Stars, Still Summer, No Time to Wave Goodbye and Second Nature. Critics have praised them for their authentic humanity and skillful command of story. Readers identify because they see reflected, in her characters – however extreme their circumstances – emotions they already understand.
Mitchard also has written seven novels for young adults: Now You See Her, All We Know of Heaven, the trilogy of The Midnight Twins, Look Both Ways and Watch for Me by Moonlight, paranormal teen mysteries about identical twin sisters born on New Year’s Eve – one a minute before and a minute after midnight, one twin can see only events of the future and one can see only the past and its ghosts. Mitchard’s most recent teen series is the story of three teens who can never see the sunlight (not because they are vampires, but because they have the deadly genetic sensitivity to light called XP). They can and do see the secret landscape of the night – and one horrific secret in particular. What We Saw at Night premiered in January, 2013, and What We Lost in the Dark will follow in 2014.
She is completing her next adult novel.
Mitchard recently became the editor in chief of Merit Press, a mature Young Adult imprint under the aegis of F&W Media. To date, she has acquired twenty novels, six of which have enjoyed substantial critical acclaim. She is the editor of Steven Parlato’s ‘The Namesake,’ as well as the recounting of Shakespeare ‘Tempestuous’ and ‘Exposure,’ by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes.
A longtime journalist, Mitchard is a contributing editor for More magazine. With an MFA in Creative Writing, she has taught at Fairfield University and Southern New Hampshire University.
At the local coffee shop, Mitchard is best-known as the mother of Rob, Dan, Marty, Francie, Merit, Mia, Will, Marta and Atticus – and she can repeat those names in sequence in the space of two seconds – the wife of sturdy Chris Brent and the best pal of the extremely photogenic and handsome brown poodle, Dante.
They divide their time between a big Italianate house on Cape Cod and a villa on the Amalfi Coast (well, one can dream!) Mitchard does live on Cape Cod. She is the mother of the actor Marty Allegretti, as well as Dan Brent-Allegretti, a chef, and computer engineer Robert Allegretti. The rest of the kids are still thinking it over.
Her favorite color is periwinkle blue; her favorite fabric is viscose; her favorite holiday is Halloween; her favorite flower is freesia; her favorite word is “smite,” and her second favorite is “Massachusetts”; her lucky number is 119 (anyone who can guess where that comes from wins a signed book). Her favorite place on earth is Umbria, with Lahaina, in Maui, a close second, and Melbourne, Australia, not far behind. Her pet peeves are PhDs who cannot and will not learn the difference between “lie” and “lay” and family signs pluralized with apostrophes.
She still hopes that Dick Wolf can find it in his heart to let her appear on just ONE episode of any incarnation of ‘Law and Order,’ because everyone else in America already has. She still is willing to play the role of a murder victim – except one found by earth-moving equipment in a landfill – though she would prefer to play a judge, because she is judgmental, short and likes the clothes.
If you are smart, you will not play a game with Mitchard involving song lyrics. If PowerBall were based on this talent, Mitchard would by now own the Amalfi coast.
A native of the west side of Chicago, where she developed a pathological avoidance of golf and bowling, she is the daughter of a plumber and a mom who worked at the five and dime, the same mom also rode the rodeo and was as beautiful as a Hollywood movie star. That mom, a high school dropout, once said of ‘Anna Karenina,’ “There’s a book that takes all the fun out of adultery.”
Mitchard’s birthday is December 10, the same as Emily Dickinson’s – though a few years later. She wouldn’t mind winning the Nobel Prize on that day. She has one adored brother, a brother-in-law and three swell sisters-in-law, two nieces and three nephews.
Beyond reading everything she could buy or borrow (but she prides herself on always returning a book) she did not study writing until graduate school beyond the freshman elective at the University of Illinois in Champaign. She is deeply superstitious, and will not leave shoes on a table or walk on a different side of a fixed object from someone she loves.
When she wishes on the first star, her wish is always the same: to live to a great age, but to be outlived by all of her children.