I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is something so wonderful about the internet. It brought two people together across the pond to read each other’s work. Those that follow me know I write in many genres and author Judy Bryan and I decided to read and honestly review each other’s books. But I couldn’t leave it at that. I wanted her here to talk about Playground Politics and her writing. So welcome Judy to my blog everyone!
Judy: Firstly, can I thank Greg for inviting me to do this interview. I am so enjoying our online friendship - despite our different backgrounds, we have so much in common. Patchwork of Me is one of the best books I've read this year.
Now you have me all flustered, but thank you! Before we get into the book, can you tell us a little about you and your background?
Of course. I've been married to Paul for 28 years and we have 2 children - Chris (20) and Katie (17). Oops, can't leave out our border collie, Bailey. For the past 10 years I've worked for the UK National Health Service, giving physiotherapy to disabled children. I loved the job, but a couple of months ago I made the difficult decision to leave and concentrate on writing full time. It was one of those 'now or never' moments, sort of spurred on by the fact I'll reach the big 5-0 on August 30th!
I know making huge life-changing decisions is hard. I've had a few of those "jump now" moments too. Where do you get your ideas for the different women’s fiction books you have written? (BTW, she has more on the way to Amazon)
I always feel I'm on a mission! In Playground Politics I wanted to highlight how bullying makes people feel; in another of my books I wanted to show how hard it is for mums who have children with Asperger's Syndrome; and in my next one I wanted to talk about healing sibling relationships. I then wrap my story around these themes.
I'm really looking forward to those other books as well! I know some people find a man reading (or writing for that matter) women’s lit may seem odd, but I was really drawn into Playground Politics. I think no matter what schoolyard you are on, these things can happen. Why did you decide to set this particular story around that setting?
It's funny you say that because a male friend has just read my book and related the bullying to his office setting.
Oh wow! I love that! Very smart reader to make that change in his head.
I wrote the story because when my daughter was 7, a good friend became jealous of my new job, my new car and my happy marriage. She decided to start a campaign against me in the playground, spreading lies and rumours. Once the pain of what she put me through subsided a little (3 years later), I sat down to write about it. Everything that happens to the heroine actually happened to me!
I told you the divorce aspect hit me as I’m witnessing my dear friend go through one with her husband. And you really captured so many levels of it. Yet you are happily married. How did you dig to uncover this story?
Sadly, I witnessed the acrimonious break up of my parents' marriage 30 years ago, but other than that I think we absorb things friends tell us or that we see happening around us.
I love that it doesn't matter if you’re in England, the US, or wherever…these themes are universal. Do you want readers to walk away with a certain message from your book?
Most definitely! When the bullying was happening to me, I thought it was somehow my fault. If only I'd confided in someone and they'd told me it was the other woman who had the issues! I hope it helps anyone going through similar circumstances.
We also have something else in common as you mentioned your work for the past 10 years. You write children’s books for those disabled children. What are you plans for some of these books?
Oh, I just love writing for these children. They are definitely my harshest critics! When starting a story I get to know what they like to do and the names of their friends, and then I write personalised stories where they are the hero or heroine. These are too personal to publish, but I've written a series of picture books which I'm going to concentrate on once I've published my women's fiction novels. There just aren't enough hours in the day!
I'm right there with you in wishing we had more hours to get everything done. Can you tell us a little about the next adult book you will have coming out?
It takes a look at sibling relationships. Anna's drug-addicted brother makes her life a misery, but when he dies she needs to reconnect with him and heal their relationship. The story follows her journey and will hopefully be published in November 2012.
I really appreciate you taking the time to chat and answer some questions. I really hope all my readers will check out this wonderful book. You won’t be disappointed!
Greg, thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity to 'meet' your friends and fellow writers - it's been a real honour.
You can learn more about Judy at her website, follow her on twitter, and books can be purchased on Amazon or ask for your favorite indie store to stock it!