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Tell us about yourself.
Hello! I never know where to start with this! My name is Judith Crow and, by day, I’m a primary school teacher at a wonderful little school in the north of Scotland. I love my job, but something else I love (maybe even a little bit more) is writing. Random things about me? Well, I absolutely love weasels and all other mustelids, and one of my life’s aims was to see a walrus in the wild. I achieved this is 2018 when a walrus came to visit our little hometown on the Scottish coast. I was very lucky that I was part-time, so I spent nearly a whole day watching it before it swam away!
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I have always loved to write. My mum is an author and poet and, when I was little, she really encouraged me with my writing. Likewise, my dad is an avid reader, and he used to take me to the big library in town (we lived in a village) so that I could do a readathon with other keen readers my age. With this heritage, there was no wonder that me and all my siblings grew up to be writers.
When I think about Being An Author, it becomes slightly trickier. In some ways, I still see myself as being a writer rather than an author. I would say that I haven’t “wanted to be an author” all that long because, although I’ve always wanted to write, it’s only recently that I’ve started thinking about the possibilities which being a fulltime author would allow.
What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in?
I do read the same kind of genres that I write: young adult. I love how varied it is as a genre, which means you can be reading a horror story, then a romance, then a comedy, all in the same book! In fact, I read very little in the way of adult fiction – mostly only the odd classic (I LOVE Pride and Prejudice) or something which one of my siblings has written.
I do read some adult books, but they’re non-fiction, usually biographies or books about graveyards. I undertook a big project in our local cemetery as part of my Masters in Archaeology and I remain really interested in them.
Is your book for adults, young adults or children?
It’s not for children – there are some things in it which, as a teacher, I wouldn’t want my primary class to read. I place it as young adult, but there’s no reason at all why adults can’t read and enjoy it. In fact, I have tried to train myself to refer to it as “crossover”, that wonderful genre which Neil Gaiman has so mastered in many of his books.
It is a coming-of-age novel, but we don’t stop coming-of-age just because we hit adulthood: we’re learning all the time.
What is your current release or project?
Dance With Me is all about a world where folk songs come to life. My main character, Kelli, thinks that folk songs are wonderful and romantic, but she’s never stopped to think about how sad they are as well. She keeps swinging from one tragedy to another, until she realizes that it is down to her to save the life of someone she cares about. It’s really about her finding the inner strength to do just that.
Tell us about the key characters
Kelli is fifteen at the start of the book. She’s come from a wealthy but uninterested family and follows a stranger into a world where folk songs come to life. The book explores the different relationships which she develops as she finds adventure in this new world, both positive and negative relationships – they will all make her into the person she is at the end.
William is Kelli’s romantic interest. He’s a naval officer who comes from a lower-Upper Class background. Initially, he thinks he’s rescuing Kelli, but it turns out that they both need each other equally and neither one is going to be happy without the other. In fact, they both rescue each other at different points in the story, leading to an interesting dynamic between them.
Do you have a favorite scene?
Yes, I have a couple! One of them is the climatic point of the story though, so I can’t tell you about that one! The other is a chapter which was based on the song Lovely On The Water, which was recorded by Steeleye Span. It’s basically when Kelli and William get engaged, but it’s under a dark cloud as William is going off to fight in a war. Kelli runs off after William is gone and she meets up with the shuck, a giant black dog from English folklore.
What advice would you give a beginner?
Write because it makes you happy. Don’t aim for a masterpiece straight away. The most important thing is to be happy while you’re creating, because you’ll have plenty of opportunity to hone and tweak and perfect as you go through the redrafting and editing process.
Also, make a playlist on Spotify, iTunes, or whatever works for you. Anything that, when you hear, you’ll be immediately “in the zone”.
When Kelli follows the mysterious Tam Lane, she finds herself in a place where folk songs come to life. As she comes to terms with the world, she makes friends, uses her privilege to help others, and even falls in love.
But Kelli has forgotten the fates which await so many characters in the songs, and she soon finds herself surrounded by heartbreak. Determined to protect the people she has left, can Kelli change a fate which has been sung for centuries?
They left the inn as the church clock began to chime midday and completed their journey in relative silence. As they neared Arlen Manor, Kelli began to feel a strange sensation of being watched, as though a hundred pairs of eyes were following her wherever she went. Looking carefully, she saw there were sculpted birds in many of the trees: great, black, hideous creatures with round eyes which stared unseeingly and followed her as she passed them by.
“They are crows,” William explained. “Centuries ago, before it was Arlen, the castle which stood here was called Corbie. That’s just another word for crow. According to family legend, when a disaster is about to befall the men of the family, the crows of Corbie Castle can be heard talking to one another.”
Kelli felt a shiver stalk down her spine, and she was grateful when they left the woods and moved up the long driveway to the house, which was a picture of gothic splendour in the late afternoon light. She immediately had the feeling that this was the place she had been meant to find, although she could not explain where the idea came from. Climbing down from the trap, Kelli followed William to the door, and stood behind him as he hammered his fist against it.
Judith’s new book, Dance With Me, combines her love of folk music and creative writing, and finds her main character in a world where folk songs come to life. Her debut book, The Backwater, was a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2019.
When she isn’t writing, Judith is a primary school teacher who enjoys crafting and music, as well as being a generally doting spaniel owner.
Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Dance-Me-Judith-Crow-ebook/dp/B08GC86MG7
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