Today Judy Leslie joins me to talk about herself, her love of antiques, and how she became a writer.
Hi Judy, thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me. I have a few personal questions and a whole set of other ones. 🙂 Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans on that … Oops, nearly did. Nah, just kidding of course. Only questions to get to know you a little and learn a lot more about your book/writing.
That said, let’s get started with some personal stuff.
I know you were born in Southern California. Did you ever think about moving away from there, or have you?
I moved from Southern California to Seattle, Washington in the middle of my senior year of high school. I now call Washington State my home. I have also lived in Liege, Belgium and on the east coast of the US.
Seeing you are the child of free spirits, would you call yourself one too? And what is the most obvious trait you’ve inherited from either one, or both, your parents.
I am more comfortable with experimenting than some people, but I would not call myself a “free spirit”. I still have the same hang ups and fears as everyone else. I inherited my curiosity and artistic abilities from my father and from my mother an appreciation of style, presentation and cooking. From my step-father I developed an appreciation of literature, contemplation, and debate.
How did you ever get the idea of buying and selling antiques?
The previous owner of the antique shop was tired of being tied to the business and was desperate to sell. He made me a deal that if I could come up with $500 I could pay him off in payments for the rest of the inventory. There were living quarters behind the shop so I would have a place to live. I was young and knew nothing about antiques, but I thought they were cool, so I agreed to the deal. I ended up paying it off in 6 months’ time.
And am I right in thinking that the antique business sparked your writing genes?
No, I had been writing stories since I learned to maneuver a pencil. Owning the antique store just sparked my imagination to write about the past.
So it was just as well that it did or we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of reading your book.
Okay, now that we know a bit about you let’s get on with more writing related questions.
Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?
I would do my happy dance and then call my best friend and read her what I wrote.
Okay, sounds like you know how to party. But how do you work around those moments when the muse has gone and done a runner on you?
I listen to music and do research to get back into my story world. Writing historical fiction is a balance between learning about a particular time frame and weaving what you have learned into a story. I also try and take the pressure off by jotting in my notebook , “what-if” scenarios. These would just be a ploy to get my creative juices flowing again.
Right, you might just have a winning formula there.
But, if anything, what don’t you like about writing.
I don’t like sitting all day. My legs and butt get tired. I’m not exercising like I used to do. Also, my friends think I am ignoring them.
What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?
I am still figuring out the marketing end. I spend time every day researching and learning where and what to do. So far what works best for me is reaching out to people that are willing to help new authors. I am the tortoise in a world of hares. I don’t give away free ebooks, but I will put them on sale occasionally. I think it takes time to build a following.
How right you are. I always think time and patience are of as much importance to a new author as creative talent.
Tell me, when you’re on a roll, the muse is in the house and happily guiding your pen, what would seriously drive her/him away?
That is tough one. I’ve been known to write while on vacation with my husband. I think having to deal with lack of food. Sometimes I work until my sugar level drops and I go brain dead. Then the next day I can’t write.
What does your muse look like and does he/she ever play tricks on you?
My writing room is full of muse symbols. I have a handmade elf that sits next to my computer screen and some original art work on my walls. My favorite is the painting I have of Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) with her hands resting on top of a toadstool looking up as though she is listening to words of wisdom from caterpillar above. I also have a painting of a man in a top hat whose face is constructed entirely of words. I am a visual person and when I write it is as though I am on a movie set watching the actors perform. There I can move them around and replay scenes until I get them just right. If my muse pulls me off into a scene not right for the story I will still write it out and then put it in my file of great scenes I will never use.
Do you ever speak to your characters and do you get along all the time?
Of course. In the summer we sit outside together and have a cup of tea and discuss their ideas for the plot. In fact my protagonist told me she didn’t want me to write her husband as a heartless villain. After all he did have some redeeming qualities, and he loved her, he just had a peculiar way of demonstrating it.
Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?
I live on coffee, tea and peanut butter sandwiches.
Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!
My characters left on a trip together and didn’t invite me along. Apparently they think I am plotting against them. I told them I couldn’t help it, the story required that someone would need to be punished, but they still insisted that I act nicer towards all of them. Right now I’m doing my best to entice them back. So, you can see it isn’t my fault. They are deliberately putting me behind schedule with their little temper tantrum. I promise to have it resolved by tomorrow even if I have to go out and drag them all back one by one.
Hahahaha, I love that one. 🙂
But tell me, why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?
I know it sounds little crazy, but I have had an adventures life already with enough events to fill volumes. Now, I can play God and create a world and populate it as I choose. My imagination can take me places my body can’t or won’t. Who wouldn’t want to live in a story world and spend their days on adventures with their imaginary friends? It beats feeling powerless in the real world.
Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂
Here is a poem I wrote after I broke up with someone I once loved. Don’t tell my husband. It was before I met him.
She creeps over to the window seat. Heavy rains beat the street below, drowning out the sounds of the house.
She sits with her knees pulled up to her chin tracing the letters of his name on the window. It feels cold, numb, empty.
Her lover has gone away.
The window is beaded with droplets. A lone drop becomes too heavy and runs down the pane.
Her lover has gone away.
She sees her reflection in the glass, a shadow illuminated with a silver glitter of moisture beyond.
She traces a circle face to which she adds an upturned grin.
“Where are you? I need you.” she whispers; reaching out, to be touched.
His illusion is in one drop of rain. The others caught suspended in time.
Her hand stretches open wide across the glass, hoping to touch his from the other side.
The pane feels cold.
Her lover has gone away. She sees only a distorted reflection; her own image starring back at her.
Wow, thanks for sharing this. That is a rare and truly wonderful insight in who you are as a person. I think poetry comes from the soul and shows the inner humanity or a person.
I not only thank you for this great ending of our talk, but invite you to come back next Tuesday and talk about your book
For the Love of Ireland