It’s not often I meet an author who creates such vivid characters in a Midwest small-town setting that I feel like I’ve grown up and intimately know them. Such is the case for Judy Bruce and her Wind series. She’s got an uncanny ability to write mystery/suspense and I really enjoy reading her books. I begged and pleaded for an interview which she agreed to. It’s my great pleasure to introduce Judy Bruce. Take it away, Judy!
What is your writing process?
Mulling—that’s the start. I get ideas rattling around in my noggin, but they need time to come together into something coherent. With the Wind Series, I already have my location and many of the characters, so I need a central event—a cross burning In Fire in the Wind, and new, necessary characters.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I am definitely a plotter: I develop my central idea, write down plot events, characters, time of year, and just keep finding more ideas and writing these thoughts down on the stashes of paper I keep in easy access throughout the house.
First, I make a general outline based on a three-act structure, always remembering to put plenty of important events in the middle of the story. Meanwhile, I keep stirring my brain for more ideas as I complete outlines for each part. Part one and two will have a more complete outline, with basic ideas in part three. Dialogue gets added to each part as I think of them.
Then I’ll get the itch, and I’ll start writing, always adding ideas to other parts of the story. I’m a Baby Boomer, so I still use paper—lots of it. I’m very good at recycling, so that eases my conscience. I’ll push through to the end. I always feel a tremendous letdown when I finish, so I ease that by jumping right into my revising process.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Sometimes a name is important to the character, sometimes it’s not. My main character is Megan Docket, a short, strong first name and an ethnically-appropriate last name. Docket was also the name of the notebook brand I was using when I started the series. She’s a lawyer, and the name also has a legal meaning.
Other times, when I name someone, I’m just having fun—Melvin Poots is a retired minister as is Eldon Strumple, which I think sounds Dickensian. I’m not naming characters in a STAR WARS movie, so I need to keep names appropriate in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
My best accomplishments have nothing to do with writing—they involve marrying a good man and giving birth to two wonderful children.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I hope to be doing exactly what I’m doing now—writing.
What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
My least favorite part of this whole process is marketing. I just wanna write, ya know? I publish with a small press, so the marketing is my task. And if I’m marketing, then I’m not writing.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
Subjects that I wouldn’t want to write about include rape (it’s not my experience and I just don’t want to deal with it). Also, I don’t like child abduction, bullying, etc. I don’t write about things I don’t enjoy seeing, reading, etc. Reading the newspaper is bad enough.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
Fire in the Wind is the fourth book in the Wind Series. Lies in the Wind, a murder mystery, should be published in fall or winter of 2017. All eight books in the series have been written. I’ve also written a World War II story called Death Steppe—a Russian war widow is sent to the front as a medic where she meets an injured German officer. Things don’t go well.
Do you write naked? What is the biggest fib you’ve ever told? Have you ever been in trouble with the law? Have you ever gotten into a fight?
I guess I’m pretty boring because I don’t write naked, and I’ve never been in trouble with the law. I’m a generally truthful person, but because I write fiction, I’ve told thousands of lies, more with each book!
Do you drink? Smoke? What’s your vice?
Here again—boring. I don’t have any addictions. I don’t smoke. My mother died of emphysema, so that was never happening. I drink here and there—Saturday night is movie night in the Bruce household, so that means a glass of red wine and Reduced-Fat Wheat Thins! Yeah, I’m a crazy lady. Some great writers come from dark life experiences—mine has been pretty sunny, except for family deaths. So I rely on a vivid imagination and the persistent need to tell stories. I’d rather be an unsuccessful writer without demons. Have you ever looked into the background of Virginia Woolf? No, thanks.
What were you like as a child? Your favorite toy?
As a child, I responded to the fact that I had two older brothers. So I played baseball and G.I. Joes before I played Freeze Tag and Barbies with younger sisters. I recall a doll I loved, Bridget. She had hard plastic skin and a head that kept falling off. My dad used black electricians’ tape to hold it on. Later an uncle came up with a more durable solution—tar. I only remember carrying her around naked, but she must have had some clothes at some time. My daughter still has that doll in her closet, now with clothes.
What do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
Dreaming in character—I’ve done that many times with Megan, usually when I’m writing a first draft. It’s weird when I dream as Megan. The setting was always at my childhood home with my parents, now deceased, and a younger sister, also deceased. They’re pleasant dreams without much plot, but so odd.
Title: Fire in the Wind (Wind Series #4)
Author: Judy Bruce
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Fiction
The fourth story in the “Wind” series finds Megan outraged by a cross burning on her land, and she forms the Night Posse and then strikes back. Meanwhile, she is saddened by the tragic illness of her dear friend, James. After her new boyfriend is killed, she is jailed for his murder. Later she fights to the death in the darkness against an avenger. An undercover cop pursues her. When a dying James attempts to end his life, Megan is forced to act.
Mrs. N’s Review:
Life is never easy and fraught with pain. For Megan Docket, truer words haven’t been spoken. She’s still reeling from the murder of her unborn baby girl, the pain rendering her inconsolable.
Megan knows something is wrong and as she looks out onto her land, surrounded by friends and family, fire lights the sky. A fiery cross of hate on her property and anger burns in Megan’s belly. Who would do such a thing? The KKK haven’t been seen in her community so who’s behind it? It’s an omen, only Megan hasn’t any idea where to turn.
James, her dear friend and father-figure, is struck down with a stroke. If it hadn’t been for Megan sensing it, he’d probably be dead. As James recovers in the hospital, Megan must come to terms with James’ ill health.
Days before her divorce from Brian is finalized, men are swarming around her like bees to honey. There’s her current boyfriend, Zane, who is dealing with PTSD. Brian, her soon-to-be ex-husband, wants to come back, making empty promises. There’s newcomer Raz, an Arab Christian man, who makes Megan’s life more complicated (is that even possible). Then there’s Jay, a salesman who melts her insides with his sultry gaze. It’s raining men for Megan and she must weed through the platitudes to discover who’s honest and true. But when Raz is murdered after they have an argument and Megan is arrested, has her tormented past caught up with her? Only the Wind knows for sure…
I know I said this before, but this is Judy Bruce’s best book yet. From emotionally-charged life events to being arrested for murder, Megan finds herself at a crossroads between love and pain. Which path does she choose? Or is the choice out of her hands? An intriguing sub-plot and one that made me contemplate things.
The main plot is two-fold: quality of life after a stroke and racial hatred. Events such as cross burnings and discrimination based on religion/skin color are at the forefront of Fire in the Wind. Bruce doesn’t shy away from these societal issues and I, for one, am glad. She lays bare how hatred festers and is illogical. Beautifully written and I wish I could force hate groups to read this book.
The second part of the plot deals with quality of life after a stroke. James wrote in his will a Do Not Resuscitate order and made it very clear he didn’t want to live off of machines. Derek and Vonny are James’ children who are trying to deal with the situation as best as they can but don’t want to say good-bye to their father. Bruce creates an interesting scenario and while I don’t offer my personal opinion here, Bruce exposes Megan to all the conflicting emotions that comes with assisted death/suicide. It touched me so much that I cried. Yes, I was so immersed in the story, I couldn’t help myself.
Fire in the Wind is an unconventional mystery/suspense that I couldn’t put down. Plot twists kept me trying to figure out what was going on before it was revealed. I enjoyed Megan’s men troubles and found myself laughing out loud at a few lines. I can’t recommend this book enough! A must read!
“The hands still held me. Why was I bound to so much pain? They all hurt me – Dad, Mom, Bill, Brian, Zane, Beverly, James, Derek, Vonny, even Scottie. The people I cared about the most hurt me the most. If I gave Jay the chance, he would probably hurt me, too.”
My Rating: 5+ stars
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Judy Bruce is a novelist and screenwriter. In addition of her acclaimed novel, Death Steppe: A World War II Novel, three stories have been published from her Wind Series: Voices in the Wind, Alone in the Wind, and Cries in the Wind. Her next novel, Fire in the Wind, will be published in the spring of 2017 by Merriam Press, with Lies in the Wind to follow in the fall of 2017. Judy maintains a website at https://judybruce.com and a blog at https://heyjoood.com . She is a wife, mother, and sister residing in Omaha, Nebraska, and a Creighton University law school graduate. Her autistic son keeps her in touch with her quirky side.
Social Media Links:
Facebook: You can find her on her public Facebook site (try Judy Bruce 1481)