Guest Author Interview: Jude Johnson by Cassiel Knight

 

Please join me in welcoming Champagne Book Group historical author, Jude Johnson. I have the pleasure of not only reading Jude’s work but working with her and her stories are as delightful as she is. Enjoy!

Tell us about your publishing journey.

First, thanks so much for inviting me over to See Jane Publish.  I was a voracious reader as a child and writing case reports became a huge part of my education, but I never expected to publish anything. I suppose it was my “mid-life crisis” that gave me the impetus to take the plunge and write a novel combining my love of history with my new-found interest in the Welsh language and culture. I’d never taken a writing class in college; still haven’t, though I’ve learned a ton from writing conferences and seminars. My first novel, Dragon & Hawk, was a labor of love to share fascinating bits of Arizona history with my cyberfriends and unfamiliar Welsh culture with friends here. Face to face meetings with editors and publishers at writing conferences earned my first batch of rejections, but as one Welsh proverb states, determination is a strong horse. Not being a terribly patient person, I independently published my novel. But independently publishing fiction is a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of expense. Most publishers don’t want to touch novels that have been already released in that manner. I was thrilled when Champagne Books decided to take a real risk and offer me a contract for that novel as well as any and all sequels. Dragon & Hawk came out in 2011, Out of Forgotten Ashes (Book Two) was released in April 2012, and Dragon’s Legacy (Book Three of the series) came out in July 2012. Champagne also published a historical fantasy short story of mine in 2011 titled Within The Mists.  I’ve since had a nonfiction collection of my research, Cactus Cymry: Influential Welsh in the Arizona Territory, published by Open Books Press, and I’ll have a story called “A Well Rounded Woman” included in 7 Dress Sizes, an anthology about learning to love and appreciate who you are no matter your body type.

I’m still learning my craft, of course. I don’t think anyone ever gets to a point where they can’t learn something new. I have a lovely editor at Champagne named Cassiel Knight (wink wink nudge nudge) who helps me spot repetitive phrases and character tics. It’s truly wonderful to work with someone who values a writer’s personality and voice enough to not only let it shine but help polish it into  potential brilliance. (Thanks, Cassie!)

Considering that I still work full-time in my profession as a chiropractic physician, I’ve been fairly prolific in my short writing career. Then again, I’ll do anything to get out of housework!

What’s the funniest thing to happen to you along your road to publication and what was the most exciting?

Funniest: Getting lots of emails and requests from Twitter that begin either “Dear Sir” or “I’m looking for Mr. Right–could you be him?” (Love those–uh, did you not look at my picture?) People seem to think I’m Jude Law… wish I had his bank funds!

Most exciting: My first live telephone interview with Roy Noble on BBC Radio Wales at 2:00 in the morning here–which was prime drive time in Wales. He’d read Dragon & Hawk and kept saying it should be made into a movie. (Hey, I’m open to offers.) It was such a thrill to have a total stranger enjoy my storytelling and tell his audience about it. That interview led to enough orders to sell out my first printing in six weeks.  As the Brits say, I was chuffed to little meatballs! (Which means Rather Ecstatic. Yep.)

What has been the most challenging thing related to publishing you’ve had to deal with on your journey?

Marketing, without a doubt. Getting the word out to potential readers is time-consuming and never-ending. I love meeting people in person, so I try to attend events as much as I can, too. I’m thrilled to be invited to speak at events like the St. David’s Day celebration set for March 2-3, 2013 in Los Angeles–if you’re out that way then, come by and chat!

Who is your favorite author, and what are you currently reading?

Oh mercy, I don’t think I have just one. I read all genres, depending on my mood. Classic seafaring tales by C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brien; sci-fi/fantasy by Neil Gaiman, Naomi Novik, and Gregory Maguire;; I’m trying to catch up with fellow Champagne authors T.K. Toppin, January Bain, Ute Carbone,  Joanne Renaud, and so many others. They are wonderfully talented folks and I wish I had time to read everything.

What’s coming up next for you?

In the immediate future: 7 Dress Sizes will be published in either December 2012 or January 2013 by Ring of Fire Publishing with my short story “A Well-Rounded Woman.” I’ll also have a short ghostie story set in Caerphilly Castle in an anthology with other Champagne authors that will actually be a free download.

In September 2013 watch for A Dangerous Dance, the first in a new contemporary romance trilogy, Save the Last Dance, to be published by Champagne Books. A young woman meets the soul mate/dance partner of her dreams–but there are two complications: her husband and his live-in fiancé…

Author Bio: Jude Johnson is a chiropractic physician by day, writer, history buff, and cat-herder by night. A lover of languages, she can swear in five tongues, but speaks passably in only three: Mexican border Spanish, Pub Welsh, and Southern Sweet Tea English. A husband and son have (so far) survived her charred cooking in Tucson, Arizona.

Website:          http://jude-johnson.com
Blog:               http://wordsthatremain.blogspot.com
Facebook:       http://www.facebook.com/JudeJohnsonAZ
Twitter:           http://twitter.com/JudeJohnsonAZ

The Dragon & Hawk series is available from Champagne Books, Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Blurbs from Out of Forgotten Ashes and Dragon’s Legacy:

Out of Forgotten Ashes

An 1880s marriage is rocked with the phoenixes born of ashes from a Welshman’s past…

A young man with his hair slicked flat against his head, slender and lean in a server’s uniform, approached carrying a silver tray of crystal glasses filled with light, bubbly liquid. He allowed each of them to choose then silently glided to other knots of guests.

Evan lightly touched his glass to Reyna’s. “Salud, mi corazón.

Iechyd da, fy ddraig Cymru.”

He smiled at their exchange of languages, always their private flirtation. He leaned in close. “I hope I didn’t embarrass you, love?”

Her voice purred low in reply. “No, but you were about to embarrass yourself, dear. That visit was all Huw’s doing, I suppose?” She tasted her drink without looking at him.

“Yes, yes. Quite right. He and Dylan. Terrible bad influences, the two of them. And faro only for me, swear.” He smiled at her and straightened.

“You should invite the Earps to your next soiree, James,” Ephraim Morse suggested. “That would be most entertaining, wouldn’t it?”

John Sloane laughed. “But would we dare play cards with the man?”

Kindall held up his hand. “No. I’ll have no slick-fingered gambling gunslingers or wanton women in my house. Julia would be horrified.”

“James, where is your lovely wife?” Mary Morse looked around the room. “Have we missed her?”

Their host sipped his champagne. “Julia will be down shortly. She loves to make an entrance, you know. Oh perfect, here she comes.”

The group turned, following his gaze. A dark-haired, lithe beauty in an emerald green gown descended the curving staircase, holding a small boy’s hand.

Evan looked up, smiling. Suddenly the room constricted to the size of a prison cell, the walls moving closer and closer with each breath. His heart flipped and leapt. Every trick he’d learned playing faro kicked in to compose his face into a pleasant, blank expression.

The woman descending the stair met his eyes. Hers flashed in recognition for barely half an instant. Never pausing, she looked away and continued down the stairs, calmly smiling, graceful. She stepped off the last riser. James Kindall came to her, kissed her left hand, and turned, beaming, to face the group. “Ladies, gentlemen, my lovely wife, Julia.”

Time stopped. As did Evan’s breathing.

Velvet Ass Rose. Mrs. Kindall is Velvet Ass Rose. From the Diamond Emporium Saloon in Tombstone. The Madam who had hired me to deal cards. My friend–and former lover.

Dragon’s Legacy

A Mexican-Welsh young man hoping to be accepted falls for a blonde who is far more manipulative than he suspects…

Iris poured two glasses of water from a glass pitcher on the counter and gestured for him to sit at the table. He set his own books on one corner and pulled a chair out for her. Once she sat, he slid into a seat and waited in bashful silence.

“I don’t have any close family, Jamie.” She spoke in a flat monotone as if reciting a list of facts by rote, never meeting his eyes. “I grew up in Meadville, Pennsylvania. My father died when I was four, my mother when I was twelve. I was their only child. I lived with my great-aunt, who left me pretty much on my own—until she decided to ship me out here to her cousin’s house.” She drank some water, and turned the glass around in her hands before resuming. “You probably know Josephine Brawley Hughes, the great temperance crusader, Mother of Arizona Methodists—and all around Queen Puritanical Sourpuss?”

Jamie nodded and gulped his water, not sure if he should laugh.

“I couldn’t abide being told where to go, what to do, wear, see, or think—not after taking care of myself for so long. I enrolled at the University and applied for approved housing. Gertrude Dunbar was assigned also, so we share the rent.” She looked up at him then. “I’m glad she isn’t here right now. Sitting with you is nice.”

The window behind her painted a backdrop of variegated green, enriching the brown of her eyes. It seemed only natural to lean in and kiss her.

He’d never kissed a girl on the lips before. For a fleeting moment he thought he might miss and get her nose. But her lips were soft and moist, slightly cool from the water she’d sipped. He simply pressed his against hers, not really sure if this was the right way to go about it or not, but wondrous electricity tingled through him again. Blood pumped and surged into an immediate erection. He pulled away and blushed scarlet.

She reached a hand to his face and kissed him back, parting her lips to take his. He reciprocated, pressing a little harder, letting their lips cling before pressing again.

His pants were horribly tight. Everything throbbed between his thighs. He was grateful the corner of the table sat between them—he would be horribly embarrassed if she saw.

Iris pulled away and smiled. “Did you like that?”

The back door opened and a skinny dark brown girl with dark freckles entered with a basket of folded linens. She looked up and jumped backward, startled. “Miss! Lo siento—sorry! Didn’t know you was entertaining a caller.”

Instantly, the old Haughty Iris re-emerged. “Lupe, you idiot! First of all, always knock before entering your employer’s house and second, you should have collected the laundry hours ago.”

The girl nodded and scampered through the room into the hallway, averting her face and running up the stairs.

Jamie jumped to his feet, scraping the chair loudly on the wood floor. He hurried to slide his books from the table and hide the bulge in his trousers. “I should go. I have to study.” He smiled at Iris, but the girl he’d kissed had become the Ice Princess once more. “May I see you again before the holiday?”

Iris rose and led him to the door. “I don’t think so. You have studying and I—” She shrugged one shoulder and a devious smile curled the corners of her mouth. “I intend to have fun. You aren’t the only boy in town who likes me, you know.”

The door clicked shut as his jaw dropped. He stood on the porch for long minutes, bewildered.

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Posted on November 6, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thank you both, Maggie and Jessi. I have no idea how anyone could think I look like Jude Law (he’s much taller, which isn’t saying a whole lot) but perhaps they just see the name and take off…
    My characters are reflective of the real mix of people in the Territorial days. Reyna (the Hawk) is based on my maternal grandmother, so many of the recipes and rituals are hers. Evan is a composite of a couple of Welshmen I’d met, funny and stubborn and more emotional than one would think.
    Dragon’s Legacy has been nominated on Goodreads for one of the best books of 2012, so if anyone would like to vote (shameless self promotion, sorry) here’s the link:(It’s currently sitting at #135–yay!)

    http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/15604.Best_books_of_2012?format=html&page=2

    Like

  2. Loved the interview. I can’t say I see the Jude law connection in your looks. Maybe readers see the name and then see what they want to see when they look at you. What an interesting background you have, Jude. The books featured here also have unique characters, reflective of your language interests. Well done.

    Like

  3. Nice to meet you, Jude. Your books look so beautiful. I’ll be checking them out!
    I love that people have confused you with Jude Law. So funny.
    Great interview, Cassiel.

    Like

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