Well, this is a first for Southern Sassy Things! Today, I've got special guest Judy Christie here to talk about her newest book in her Green Series, Rally 'Round Green. It's a semi-book, semi-character interview, but it's all Southern....which means Judy will fit in just fine around here. :o)
I've not yet had the pleasure of reading Judy's novels (although several are in my TBR stack), and this series sounds like it's right up my alley. Is it just me, or does it seem like the whole state of Louisiana is being featured this week? *grin* Oh, well...that's okay. We like all our Southern neighbors here!
Take it away, Judy! :o)
The town of Green, La., survived a tornado, but now it faces a new storm – a threat to the school. Newlyweds Lois and Chris want to return to a normal life, but more threats loom. There’s always a lot going on in Green, from marriages to tornadoes to the current effort to keep the school open. Lois, Mayor Eva, and a group of Green School graduates unite to fight, with surprising – and unexpected -- results.
How did you 'meet' the character of Lois?
I was a long-time newspaper editor and I’m a southerner. I thought it would be interesting to plop a big-city journalist down into a little Louisiana town and see what happened. Observing people around me for years, I watched Lois take shape. At first I wasn’t sure if the Green stories would be in first-person or third-person, but Lois convinced me that her voice was strong and clear. So, first-person they are!
I wrote a profile of Lois before I started the books, so I knew a lot about her as the series got under way.
How has Lois changed over the course of the series?
Outwardly, her life has changed in many ways. She’s married and lives out in the country in a house that is being remodeled. She’s led her little newspaper to greatness, despite many challenges. Inwardly, Lois is much more certain now than she was when she moved to Green and her faith continues to grow. She’s much more content.
Lois changes people, and they change her – which is one of the things I love most about the town of Green.
What kind of research did you do in creating the Green series?
Much of my research is “sponge-like.” I carry a notebook with me at all times and soak up details. For “Rally ‘Round Green,” I studied small-town schools that have been closed and interviewed a friend who had lost her school. One of the oddest things that happened while writing “Rally ‘Round Green” was that the story came to life where I live. I’d written a scene about a community meeting where passionate citizens were fighting to save their school and then I attended such a meeting for research. I felt like I was sitting in the Green High gym.
I was a journalist for twenty-five years, so I know lots about newspapers – from how the newsroom refrigerator looks to how the pressroom smells.
What was the most difficult thing about going from non-fiction to fiction?
Making things up! As a non-fiction writer, I try to offer readers practical and inspiring tips, based on facts. I interview lots of people and gather information.
As a novelist, I want to encourage and entertain readers, offering ideas through stories. So, I sit down at my computer and daydream. “What if this happened? Or that?” I have to concentrate harder for longer periods of time to invent characters and places, but it certainly is fun!
I didn’t write my first novel until I turned 50. It was my birthday gift to myself, and I committed to write a novel before I turned 51. So, I sat down and stared at my laptop for a while and started typing. That was four years ago, and my fourth novel just released. I’m still amazed!
I have kept a journal since I was nine and have all of them. For many years I was a journalist and wrote or edited daily. I love putting words together and consider it a wonderful gift from God. I also love to talk!
What role does your faith play in creating stories and characters?
I believe each of is created to do something with our lives and that we are to slow down and enjoy each day more, using our gifts. I try to weave that into each book I write. I trust God to guide me in my daily life and to help me take the best next step, whatever that might be. I pray every day – including about my work and how God wants me to use my time and energy. When I invent characters, I consider how that process would look in their lives – and what the outcome might be.
What was the first thing you ever wrote?
A diary entry in a little red book with a lock and key! I was also the editor of The Barret Banner in elementary school. My first column was about the new school library.
What's the perfect writing environment?
Somewhere quiet with a nice view! Some writers love coffee shops or their living rooms with lots of activity, but I like a quiet spot with few distractions when possible. My most enjoyable writing has been done at Camp Slower Pace, a little fishing camp on Lake Bistineau in north Louisiana. However, I also love to write on the Kitchen Couch at our house or in my wonderful little office, which I call my writer’s cottage.
What would you like your readers to take away from their trip to Green?
As a reader, I’ve realized we take different things from stories depending on where we are in our lives – and I believe God can use a story to help us in different ways at a particular moment. As a writer, I hope readers find encouragement. Lois Barker Craig, the protagonist in the Green series, changes the world around her, and I hope Rally ‘Round Green readers will realize that one person can make a difference in this crazy, wonderful world of ours.
For more info on Judy, see www.judychristie.com. Judy loves to chat with readers at www.facebook.com/judychristie and www.twitter.com @judypchristie. For free Hurry Less Worry Less tips, visit her weekly podcast on iTunes. She also enjoys visiting with book clubs via Skype or telephone!
Thanks for stopping by today, Judy! Don't be a stranger now! :o)