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May 5, 2023

Booking Up Baby

We are kicking off this year’s Mother’s Day Author Blog series with Joshilyn Jackson, the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels, including her newly released psychological thriller, WITH MY LITTLE EYE. Joshilyn and her brother were voracious readers growing up. Their mother happily took them to the library and let them borrow as many books as they were allowed. Joshilyn credits her mom with helping to shape her into the reader and writer that she is today, which started when she was just a newborn. These days, their bond is as strong as ever, thanks in part to their shared love of books.

I grew up an Army brat, and we moved almost every year. I was a weird kid, and I often had a hard time finding my niche. With every move, I was again “the new girl,” too obsessive and unfashionable to be considered cool, always talking too loud and in the wrong accent. But I was blessed with a mother who would find our new town’s closest library branch even before she found us a grocery store. Wherever we landed, Trixie Belden, Conan the Barbarian, Ann(e) Shirley and Bilbo Baggins would be at the branch to greet me. The whole family went to the library every Sunday after church, and she always let us check out the maximum number of books.
We had to use the library because my brother and I read so quickly and insatiably that we could not afford everything we wanted to read, but even so, my house was full of filled shelves. My mother insisted that “Books” needed a line in our tight family budget, and she set aside money for them alongside other necessities like milk and electricity. The movers quailed every year when they saw how many heavy book boxes had to get onto the truck.
Even when I was a newborn, long before I began to have my own literary infatuations, my mom was shaping me into a writer. The sound of her voice soothed colicky, jaundiced me, so she would read aloud from whatever book she currently had on her nightstand. I heard passages from books like TENDER IS THE NIGHT, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD before I so much as spoke my first word.
My mother and I remain close to this day, and our shared love of books is one thing that binds us. We “buddy read” and recommend things to each other constantly. As a writer, I see a mirrored version of my relationship with my mother appearing in book after book. My new novel, WITH MY LITTLE EYE, is a thriller, with a tense plot involving a stalker and a romantic love triangle that might turn deadly. But I think the beating heart of the book is the relationship between the narrator and her 12-year-old daughter, Honor. When Honor is in danger, Meribel turns into a tiger. While these characters are not me and my mother, I see her unwavering protective love as a presence --- perhaps even a character in its own right.