1. Judith, tell us a few things about yourself.
I’m a diehard romantic-always have been — and it’s definitely why I wanted to write an epic burning love story for myself as a reader. The Angel Connection represents my own longings and fantasies, yet it also evokes a shadow side of myself that is drawn to the drama of tragedy. I believe I’m an “emotional intuitive” and can divine what someone is thinking and feeling though no words are spoken. I tend to take on others’ emotional pain, often to my own detriment. But I think the combination of emotion, imagination, empathy and experience make me a good writer. I’ve lived many lives in this one life! Musical comedy performer, nightclub singer, major market TV journalist, non-fiction author, poet, producer, syndicated film critic, playwright, voice-over artist, Teaching Artist, yoga instructor, television/film actress, and now novelist! Everywhere I look, I see human drama unfolding, and immediately start making up a story about it. It often drives my friends crazy.
2. Who is your favorite author?
I always seek out new books by Anita Shreve and Sue Miller. I like family drama and character driven stories, with details about daily life woven through the threads of the main plot. Anita Shreve has a way of drawing the reader in, and I’ve usually liked the characters and situations she’s created. Fortune’s Rocks was a favorite of mine. Sue Miller first drew my attention years ago with The Good Mother. It was a story about a woman who lived with her lover and toddler son. An innocent encounter in the bathroom snowballed into accusations of child abuse. The story unfolded in pulses of realizations and revelations that I found compelling. Since that first encounter with Sue Miller, I always await her next release. I also enjoy Barbara Delinsky, Jodi Picoult and Nora Roberts, when I’m in the mood for an easy breezy snuggle-in read. I’m a fan of women writers.
3. What are your hobbies?
I’ve been swimming laps for 40 years, and the meditative quality of swimming has been a fulcrum of writing epiphanies, a place of working out plots and developing characters. A pool is a great thinking place! Yoga has been an important part of my life for twenty years. I became a certified yoga instructor in 2001, though I no longer teach. Physically, spiritually and emotionally, yoga is the gift that does keep on giving. I consider myself a “Sunday” painter. I’m still waiting for my own specific style or technique to reveal itself. But there must be the soul of a painter implanted in my DNA or I never would have been able to write the descriptions of my characters’ feelings and approaches to their Impressionist painting in The Angel Connection. I also enjoy local history and the outdoors, and love to sing — anything from doo wop to jazz classics to musical comedy.
4. What inspired you to want to write The Angel Connection?
Disillusioned by career reversals and my recent divorce, I pulled up stakes and moved to a tiny historic village in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. There I was captivated by the exquisite beauty of the landscapes and the history of the local Pennsylvania Impressionists, Additionally the mystically charged area continues to inspire artists and writers of all genres. I was one of them. My muse compelled me to write the quintessential love story. It would be the book that I wanted to read!
Considering that it took 17 years, I would answer yes! Initially there was only one story. It took place in 1895 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and focused on the forbidden love affair between Evangeline, a minister’s wife and mother to a toddler, and Daniel Duvall, a local Impressionist painter. Later I revised the book to include a parallel story about another love affair-one that takes place a century later in the same location-even the same house! Matching the events, timelines and mysterious circumstances that link the two women was excruciatingly difficult, but I believed in my story and characters, so I persevered.
6. Can you summarize the book for us?
The Angel Connection is a romantic thriller that straddles two time periods: 1895 and 1996. Set in the natural wonder of historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania, it tells the parallel stories of two intensely creative women, separated by a century, yet equally conflicted by the desire for artistic fulfillment and true love and the obligations of family and home. These deeply flawed heroines are mysteriously linked by a long buried secret. In 1895, in the village of Milltown, Evangeline Laury is the minister’s wife and mother to three-year-old Willie. Evangeline longs to be a great painter like her idol Mary Cassatt, but family obligations, a domineering husband and social mores constrain her. That is, until she’s inexorably drawn into a passionate forbidden affair with a renowned local Impressionist painter, the seductive Daniel Duvall. Now the stage is set for tragedy. A century later, Morgan Reed, a divorced, out of work TV journalist estranged from her son, impulsively moves into the spooky old rectory in Milltown. Unsettling events convince her that the house is haunted. When her handsome enigmatic neighbor Victor Cenzo partners with her to make a documentary about the local Impressionist painters of the previous century, Morgan’s research uncovers shocking similarities between herself and the focus of the film, a woman painter mysteriously linked to Daniel Duvall. Soon her sullen son Chad is back in her life, creating an awkward triangle with Victor, who is now her on again-off again lover. As work on the project intensifies, Morgan’s life seems to be spinning out of control. Events both miraculous and unpredictable converge, leading to a stunning conclusion of karmic retribution.
7. What are your future writing projects?
I’m two-thirds through a new novel called How the Property Lies. It’s a modern murder mystery whodunit — and like The Angel Connection — is set in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It’s about the discovery of skeletal remains on the estate of a famous actress, now in decline from Alzheimers. The detective assigned to the case is her goddaughter and namesake, Rennie Hutchins. Rennie’s parents are the caretakers of the estate and the actress. As her investigation intensifies, Rennie is soon convinced that one of her family members committed murder almost forty years ago. Her dedication to justice is profoundly challenged by her desire to protect her family-three beloved people in the sunset of their lives.
8. How do you divide your writing day? Are you a full-time writer?
Though highly disciplined, I have the luxury of deciding when I feel like writing. Though my stories are always brewing, I allow them time to develop in my psyche until they begin to yell and shout: “Write me!” Then I commit myself to the actual writing of the story, beginning with lots and lots of notes and flowcharts and character portraits and plotlines. On the other hand, I’m currently working on a screenplay with my screenwriting partner, and our scheduled meetings always result in accomplishing a few pages. This kind of writing-with a partner-is a playground for me. We laugh and cackle ourselves silly. Just plain fun and a welcome respite from the solitude of writing alone.
9. Any tips for aspiring writers?
Yes! Join a writing group!! Get together with a small group of like-minded writers whom you trust and who are knowledgeable about how to critique in a constructive way–that is, without leaving you curled into a fetal position vowing never to write again. The other thing is you must be in love with your characters, their world and their stories. Write the book you would love to read! And never give up even if it takes you seventeen years!
10. Could you share your website with our readers?
Thanks so much for inviting me! I love to revisit the birth of The Angel Connection!