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What are your favorite TV shows?
I watched every episode of “Foyle’s War” twice, and some episodes more than that. Then someone recommended “Midsomer Murders.” I’m sure that eventually I’ll also see all those episodes more than once just as I did with “Foyle’s War.” I’ve watched the first episode of “The Vikings,” and suspect that might also become a favorite. We’ll see. My parents refused to get a television until after my brother and I left for college, so I never got into the habit of watching TV. Often, I go several days without turning it on at all.
What’s your favorite meal?
Sometimes my friend and I get together, sit on her deck, and have a gin and tonic along with pistachios. Then we have Brie and pate. For dessert, we have pistachio ice cream. This is absolutely my favorite meal. It’s always accompanied by lively conversation, solutions to solve what’s wrong with the world, and what I plan to do when I become Education Czar. (My second grandson plans to be President of The United States, and he has promised to make me Czar of Education.)
When I was growing up in South Georgia, my favorite meal was fried chicken. Alas, the friend chicken we had growing up is no longer available. They’ve done something to the chickens and they taste nothing like they did! With the fried chicken meal went home made biscuits, candied sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, and blackberry cobbler made from fresh, wild, hand-picked blackberries.
If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?
I am writing a series of novels: Bucks County Mysteries. They will all take place in a tiny town called Goose Bend, located in Upper Bucks. There are two main characters. First, there is Jacob Gillis, a young attorney of thirty-one who returns to Goose Bend after a stint in Africa. He is an environmental attorney and hopes for atonement after burning down the town when he was a twelve year old. As you can imagine, there are some problems here and things don’t go as planned. Jacob’s godfather is Detective William Laskey, a dedicated bachelor (I believe it’s book four before you find out the story behind this), a Quaker, and Jacob’s surrogate father since Jacob’s father died when he was ten. There’s another “sort of” main character. Dr. Zuela Hay is a professor of Shakespeare and Jacob’s “honorary” aunt. My agent asked me to tone down Zuela because the was “too far out there.” He didn’t buy when I protested that she was actually based on a real person. Reluctantly, I toned her down.
Is there a writer you idolize? If so, who?
Jane Austen. I love her wit, her style, her . . . .everything! My favorite book is, you guessed it! Pride and Prejudice. I also loved Thomas Hardy, although I haven’t read his books in many, many years. I wanted to direct a movie based on Tess of the D’Urbervilles, but Polanski beat me to it. Mine would have been much better than his.
How did you come up with the title for this book?
A local attorney agreed to spend some time with me, answering several questions having to do with legal issues in the book. Although, Jacob is an attorney, my questions had more to do with the special prosecutor pulled in to try the murder case in the book. The attorney graciously spend two different mornings with me, answering my questions and making suggestions. At some point, he used the phrase “Once a bell is rung, you can’t un-ring it.” I knew immediately that Unringing the Bell would be my title. In the book, Jacob Gillis accidentally caused a devastating event in Goose Bend when he was twelve-years-old. He returns to town as a thirty-one-year old, hoping for atonement. When he is offered the opportunity to clear his reputation as a trouble-make, he jumps at it. Instead, he once again finds himself in trouble, only this time if he can’t figure out an answer to his dilemma, he’ll lose not only his career, but his reputation forever.
When Jacob Gillis was twelve years old, he burned down the town of Goose Bend, Pennsylvania. The fire didn’t actually consume the entire town – only two blocks of the four-block business section went up in flames – but when the folks in Goose Bend spoke of the incident, they persisted in saying that Jacob Gillis, abetted by his friend Charlie Garrett, burned down the town.
Jacob watched Laskey walk back to the Sequoia, his limp barely detectable, and for the thousandth time he wondered why his friend kept what had happened to his foot a secret. But there were some places Laskey didn’t go – formidable Laskey with his gruff manner and hard-muscled body. He was a private person and sometimes a grizzly bear, but he had a goose-down heart which he tried like heck to hide. But Jacob knew.
Laskey grasped the arms of his chair and pushed his feet hard against the floor to contain himself. For a brief moment, the thought had rushed through his head that a jail term for assaulting a DA would be worth enduring for the pleasure of smashing Inglehook’s head against his desk.
Laskey squared his shoulders, turned around, and looked Jacob in the eyes. “Don’t get yourself in a mess, Jake. Extrication isn’t always possible.” He started for the door.
“Give back the painting,” he called over his shoulder. “And Jake,” he paused and twisted around. “Don’t ever mistake pretty wrappings for the quality of the gift inside.”
Judy’s life took an exciting turn when she left her teaching job in Pennsylvania to be Head of Library at the Learning Center School of Qatar Foundation. She lived in Qatar for eight years, enjoying the experience of living in a different culture and traveling to exotic places during every vacation. Recently, she returned to the United States and lives in Lexington, KY. Judy has two children, Julia and Stephen, two children-in-law, Jim and Erin, and four grandchildren: Kyle, Jon, Karina, and Addy.
Judy’s first book, The Lady, was a finalist in the 2012 Amazon Break-out Novel Award. The first two novels of her Bucks County Mysteries, Unringing the Bell and Bride of the Wind are available March 1, 2018. The series is set in an imaginary small town in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Call me Mara, the story of Ruth and Naomi, is scheduled for publication in March, 2019.
In addition to writing, Judy’s passions include travel, tennis, elephants, and playing the piano.
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