CHRIS: Today I’m interviewing local Idaho author Judy Hudson. Full disclosure, Judy and I are both members of a small critique group that is a splinter of the Idaho Writer’s Guild, and she lives just down the road from a grandma I haven’t seen in a few years.
CHRIS: With that out of the way, how are you doing today, Judy?
JUDY: Great! Enjoying signs of spring and the shenanigans of the humming birds that just returned for the season.
CHRIS: Can you give us a quick description of your new book, Tethered to Shadows: The Healing Journey of Six?
JUDY: I’ll be glad to. It’s about five ordinary women from various walks of life who decide to join a therapy group. They each are successful in their own way, but somehow tethered to a painful past. As they begin to unravel their issues and take steps to gain more control over their lives, the therapist is compelled to confront her own shame. The closer she gets to finding redemption, the more she realizes the cost may be too high.
CHRIS: I have to tell you. This is not my typical reading genre. I do find the characters, settings, and plot oddly compelling for a story with no lasers or dragons. The descriptions of despair and addiction in the opening chapters are visceral. What is your target market for this book, and why?
JUDY: While women in general will likely be the largest audience, I think men also are intrigued by the psychology of the characters—How did they come to be in this dilemma? What events shaped their characters? How do people overcome such tough times? Most of us can relate to a girlfriend, sister, aunt, or mom who has experienced similar challenges. In fact, one of the early reviews gave a man’s perspective, “… I thought it was a gal's book but became convinced it is a well written story which should appeal to readers of all genders. I enjoyed it and others will also.”
CHRIS: Your story is set in Juneau, Alaska. What is your connection or experience with that area?
JUDY: I lived in Juneau for nine years and still have a soul connection that is hard to describe. The beauty of Alaska is spectacular, of course; conditions often extreme. It takes a hardy spirit to live there and embrace the adventures. So I combined two loves—the resilience of people and the wonders of Alaska. (The salmon and halibut fishing are pretty hard to beat too!)
CHRIS: How does your experience as a social worker and counselor help frame this work? How often did you see these specific archetypes of patients over your career?
JUDY: I loved counseling people…helping them discover their own strengths and truths. It was inspiring to witness people moving from entrapment to freedom. One of my favorite treatment modalities was group therapy where participants experienced trust and boundaries, perhaps for the first time. So it was a natural fit for me to develop fictional characters with challenges and insights common to real people. I wanted to honor the courage and resilience of the human spirit.
CHRIS: Which of the characters do you feel most connected to, or identify with, and why?
JUDY: They each have endeared me in different ways, but Hannah is probably the one who grabs my heart and has me crying out to the computer screen. She’s a young Alaskan Native woman who is the encourager for everyone but herself. She’s blinded to the selfish intentions of others and is often harmed as a result.
CHRIS: This title is a work of fiction, but do you see it having possible therapeutic value? Who might benefit from reading this, and why?
JUDY: Absolutely. Just knowing that you’re not alone in your thinking or ways of coping can be therapeutic. But I suspect most of us can relate to the characters, if not their particular struggles. We learn from them and can understand ourselves better.
CHRIS: You self-published this title on Kindle. Did you pursue a traditional publishing contract, and why did you ultimately decide to go with KDP and Createspace?
JUDY: I met with three agents, each of whom invited me to submit my manuscript for traditional publishing. That was very encouraging. However, when I considered the contractual commitments versus the flexibility of Kindle and Createspace, I thought it advantageous to do the latter.
CHRIS: Do you plan on expanding distribution of this title to Audio or even a movie in the future?
JUDY: Definitely audio. The story certainly has the potential for a television series. I can see a new therapy group each season, the cast becoming as endearing as those on Bluebloods. But at this time, I am not pursuing that option.
CHRIS: You’re currently writing a follow-up to this book. Can you give us a little peek at what that’s going to be like?
JUDY: The second book continues with some of the key characters, but with a new therapy group. It explores some of the subtle effects of addictions on family systems. Also the humanness and shame associated with the perpetrator of harm. I want to show the power of cause-effect, and forgiveness.
CHRIS: Is this the first publishing experience you’ve had? What role do you see publishing playing in your life going forward?
JUDY: I edited and published an historic manuscript in 2007, a beautiful novel, White Wool and Yellow Gold, written by my grandmother. The setting is in the Owyhee Mountains of Idaho in the early 1900s. It’s a wonderful look at life in that era with believable characters, and a treasure historically. Her novel actually inspired me to write one of my own, and Tethered to Shadows is the first of three books in that series. I’ve also written a few historical short stories (and way too many technical papers in a previous career).
CHRIS: Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors that you wish you had known going into this?
JUDY: Oh yes! Get involved in writing groups and read about the craft of writing. There’s such a wealth of resources and support in groups like Idaho Writers’ Guild.
CHRIS: Thanks for agreeing, and taking the time to do this interview. I wish you the best of luck with this, and your future endeavors.
JUDY: Thank you so much, Chris. You have been a tremendous asset to me along this journey. And I am loving your present draft in the Blademage series.
Judy's book is on sale this week for 99 cents on Kindle. Download the preview, and give it a try here. Thanks!