LW: Judith, please introduce yourself to our readers. How did you start writing in this genre and what drew you to it?
JR: I live in the Texas Hill country with my husband and our three little kittens. All of our children are out on their own so our time is pretty much as we choose it. Writing had always been my secret passion but although I worked as a journalist and wrote for several magazines I had to wait to begin writing fiction until I retired. My wonderful husband is my Number One fan, and very supportive. I always thought I’d write mysteries, because that’s what I always read. But after three months when I was still looking at the same three dumb chapters, I figured out I was doing wrong,. My introduction to the romance genre came when I read Cry No More by Linda Howard and after that everything changed for me. I finished my first manuscript in two weeks – of course it was so gawdawful I had to rewrite it about twenty times to submit it, but I felt so accomplished!
LW: You have an exciting new romantic suspense coming out - REDEMPTION. Can you give us a blurb about it? When is it coming out?
JR: REDEMPTION is built around a man named Ethan Caine, a mysterious, burnt-out warrior who has a murky background. Ethan is based on the friend of my son’s and the book was exciting to write. My heroine is a woman who has suffered unbelievably through a destructive marriage, the murder of her husband, and now the kidnapping of her son. Three months after the ransom’s paid, Jamie has still not been returned. When everyone else fails to find him, her only recourse is through Ethan Caine. As they search for Jamie together in the lush Quintana Roo jungle, barriers begin to fall and they wonder, with a successful rescue, can they each put their lives back together and move on together? As I wrote it, it was interesting to me to watch Lisa, my heroine, driven out of her shell by anger, become this very strong, very determined woman. And to see Ethan barely hope that this is the woman who can pull him back from hell.
LW: What was the "idea" behind the book?
JR: I’ve become really fascinated with Special Ops and covert operations. My model for Ethan Caine is someone I’ve known for ten years and one day just had the itch to put him in a book. When I started I had just his profile and one line. See if you can guess which line when you reads the book. I’ll send a pen and maybe some other goodies to everyone who sends in the right answer.
LW: You told me there are two more books in this series - what characters are you featuring in each book?
JR: In book Number 2 a woman from Ethan’s past arrives on his doorstep afraid for her life. With her is a child, who turns out to be Ethan’s. Killers are after them, and Ethan keeps the child at his home but gives the woman for safekeeping to Dina Brancuzzi, from REDEMPTION, a supposedly retired covert operation running fishing charters but doing black ops contract work for the government. This is his story.
LW: How did you present this series to your publisher?
JR: I sent the manuscript for REDEMPTION and when they bought it and it was released, I told my editor I had ideas for sequels,. She asked me to send them to her, which I did, and she wants me to write the next two books. So that’s very exciting!
LW: You also have a brand new book out in September. Tell us about this book and the series that's sprung from it!
JR: This is an exciting new genre for me – psychic romantic intrigue. The book is called ALWAYS ON MY MIND. I was asked to write it by the managing director of The Lotus circle, sister imprint to Ellora’s Cave. It’s an area I’ve always been interested in but never explored. The hero and heroine discovered in their teens they could communicate telepathically. They are very tight as friends, but suddenly that friendship turns into something much deeper. But Mark is in Delta Force and unwilling to make a long-term commitment while in the service, so Faith works very hard at writing successful political thrillers. Then Mark’s mission is leaked and almost all the men on his team are killed. He’s captured by the terrorists he was there to eliminate and his only contact with the outside world is through Faith. The story is about how she finds a way to rescue him. In the course of that, she meets the men of Phoenix, a covert agency doing contract work for the government and corporations. Now each of those four men will have their own book, and the women they find will have some type of psychic ability. The second book is called VISIONS OF DARKNESS, and my heroine, Mia Fleming, has precognition. I am very, very excited about this. The books are being released by The Lotus Circle, sister imprint to Ellora’s Cave.
LW: How did you get the idea for this series?
JR: The idea for the first book came from a song by the late Townes Van Zandt called, IF I NEEDED YOU – “If I needed you, would you come to me, would you come to me, for to ease my pain.” Lying in bed one night, with that song playing in my head, the story line just popped into my mind. Then as I wrote the book, the men of Phoenix became very personal to me and I thought they should each have their own story. The director agreed so we’re on to the next one.
LW: How do you like to write - are you a plotter or a pantser?
JR: A little bit of both. I start with an idea and much of the time will write some sort of synopsis, just so I don’t forget where I’m going. But otherwise I’m really a pantser, letting my characters take me where the need to go.
LW: Do you have a strict routine? How long does it take you to write one book?
JR: That depends. I can actually do it in one month if pushed and I put everything else aside – like eating and sleeping, LOL! - but two months is more realistic.
LW: What advice can you give unpublished writers? (beyond, never give up!)
JR: Definitely that. The other thing is figure out what kind of books you like to read-those are what you should write. I was so in love with the hero in Linda Howard’s CRY NO MORE that I wrote RUN FOR YOUR LIFE to create my own hero. Don’t be discouraged. Check the web for romance writers Yahoo groups. There are always helpful discussions going on. Find a critique group. You really need other input into what you right. And don’t let rejection letters get you down. We all have tons of them. Just keep on writing.
LW: What kinds of things do you like to do when you're not writing?
JR: That’s easy – read, read, read. Play golf. And from August through December I watch every football game eon television. I am the original football maniac. I take my laptop and sit on the couch, writing and watching two games at a time.
On the 23rd I’ll be blogging at the Killer Passion Blog and on the 24th I’ll be doing an author stint on ebooklove. I’m also running a contest through August 31 to celebrate the release in print of LOVE WITH A PROPER RANCHER, the first in a trilogy, and two weeks later, CUTTER’S LAW in ebook. Jump on over to my web site at www.judithrochelle/com and get the details and enter the contest. Lots of great prizes. Rancher, like REDEMPTION, is available at amazon.com and barnes&noble.com
I have also started a Yahoo group, just for announcements and for my readers to discuss my books. You can register at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/authorjudithrochelle/ And I’m running a contest there for signed books just for members of ther group. All you have to do is join.
Below is an article I wrote on Where Do Ideas Come From:
So many people ask me the question “Where do writers get their ideas? How do they come up with plot lines? With characters?” I used to ask the same question myself before the writing bug bit me, and I took all the suggestions I’d been given and figured out how to use them.
For one thing, always carry a notebook with you – big, small, tiny enough for a purse, it doesn’t matter. Just something to keep notes in. Say you’re in a restaurant having Shrimp Louie and a chilled glass of Chablis and the people at the next table begin arguing about wine. Okay, what if they are co-owners in a winery. One wants to sell, the other doesn’t. And if it’s a family winery all the more intense. So you jot down the gist of their conversation and maybe a word or two about the people themselves so you have character references.
Another good place to people watch is a mall. Every kind of humanity will pass before your eyes in the space of an hour. You can look at each one and play the “What If: game. What if that guy covered with tattoos is really part of a biker gang running drugs? What if the couple looking so romantic are actually married – to other people? What if the old woman sitting across from you is really a millionaire looking for someone to give money to, but her family is fighting it, trying to have her declared incompetent? Well, you get the idea.
Newspapers are a great source, too. Even letters to the editor. I read one in our local paper from a woman who had just moved to town and was renting a house, gone jogging and was caught in a downpour and a very nice man in a truck – with a dog – gave her a ride home. From that I came up with the idea for a romantic suspense about a woman who returns to her hometown after leaving it twenty-five years before. No one knows her after all this time. She’s changed her name, she’s a true crime writer and she’s back to solve the mystery of her sister’s murder.
You can even steal a little bit from television. I watched an episode of CSI in which a couple left their dead baby for the police to find and faked a kidnapping. The baby was actually killed by their five-year-old child. It was an accident but they didn’t know what to do. Okay, here’s where the “What If” came in for me. What If a family had a child that was really a bad seed, had would they find a way to remedy the situation? Watch for ECHOES OF THE PAST, out in May from Triskelion Publishing, to find out how far I took the “What If” game with this one.
When something triggers an idea in your mind, pull out that little notebook and jot it down. You never know how you can flesh it out at a later date. Describe people you see who fascinate you, places that might make good settings for stories. Anything that you find interesting, someone else will like, too.
But the most important thing to remember is that ideas come from YOUR MIND. So give your imagination free reign. Nothing is too absurd or off the wall. New York Times bestselling author John Lescroart said, “If you write a page a day, at the end of the year you’ll have a book.”
So start watching what goes on around you and putting those ideas down. Maybe at the end of the year you’ll have finished your book.
LW: Judith, thank you for spending the time with us today! Good luck with your new series. Again, anyone who wants to check out Judith's website for book or contest information, visit