It’s been 20 years since Jacquelyn Mitchard’s first novel, “The Deep End of the Ocean”, was picked as the first selection for Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club. At the time she was a young widowed journalist.
“My life’s been nothing short of crazy,” she said.
Mitchard visited the Southwest Regional Library to share stories and advice with an intimate crowd as a part of the WORDSLINGER series.
“For the past two years in the fall, we choose a theme for a series,” said Jennifer Demas, the library’s digital communications specialist. “We try to do events featuring known and unknown writers at four different locations.”
“The candidates have opposing stories, some based on what the voter wants to hear,” she said. “If you use a story, you can usually get people on board with you.”
She added that her success came from her ability to write a story for the reader.
“I’m writing the story for you,” she said while looking at a fan in the crowd. “If the reader doesn’t grab the writer’s hand there’s no dance.”
Mitchard went on to share three stories about her personal life, one including her interactions with Oprah. She laughed about how she thought her initial calls from Oprah were pranks.
“That’s why she’s Oprah Winfrey . . . and I’m not,” she said.
This led her to a personal conversation about her recent financial troubles.
In 2009, she discovered that a financial advisor, hired by her husband, stole millions of dollars from her personal finances. This left the then 64-year-old mother of nine on food stamps.
“All my money was gone,” she said.
Mitchard added that she was from a blue-collar family in Chicago so this was not the first time she endured poverty. She just never thought it would happen to her at this point in her life.
“It was devastating,” she said. “My husband still apologizes . . . Almost everyday.”
She then added that Oprah was the one to point out that this was a driving force behind her last book, Two if By Sea.
“The story is about a man that loses everything,” she said. “I never thought about it in that way until then.”
The conversation ended with questions from the crowd and a book signing.
For more information on Fort Worth Public Library events, visit their webpage.