Her website is: http://www.judynedry.com/
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m from the small towns of northern Idaho and eastern Oregon, and now live in Portland, Oregon.
I earned a journalism degree and wrote about Northwest wine, starting out as a freelancer when our children were small and I was at home and needed an outlet. Nobody was writing about it then, at least not with any regularity, and wine magazines liked what I sent them. I later co-founded Northwest Palate magazine and got more into the food writing as well. All too much fun to be believed. When I decided to write fiction – a lifelong dream, by the way – I created Emma as a person who, like me, found her own way in that industry and was successful.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
My first mystery novel, An Unholy Alliance, is set in the Oregon wine country just southwest of Portland. It’s a book I wanted to write for years, and finally in 2009 it was published.
The Difficult Sister is the second in the Emma Golden mystery series, and there was always going to be a second book. I’d planned to locate them in different wine regions, however this book sneaked up on me. It happened when I read an article in the Newberg Graphic about a 54-year-old woman whose husband left her. Lonely, she met a man on the internet. After a brief courtship she moved to Montana with him. Not too long after that her sister, announced that she was going to Montana to look for her because she’d lost contact and was concerned. I don’t know the outcome, but it didn’t sound good because the missing sister’s jewelry was found in a local pawn shop. I asked “what if?” and the book took off.
A lot of ideas for my stories show up first in the news media because the stuff there is weirder than anything I could make up, but is also rooted in reality. I want my stories to be plausible—therefore, no vampires, car chases or special effects. After the idea goes through my head, of course, it bears faint resemblance, if any, to the original idea.
How do you create your characters?
Great question. Sometimes I will see someone out in public or at a social event. For some reason that person’s physical aspect sticks with me…and then sometime later I actually have a personality in my mind that seems to fit that physical being and I get it down on paper. Then, I need to create a backgrounder for the character. This includes height, weight, birth date, where and how the character grew up, etc. It is a very detailed character sketch.
When I know this person I’ve invented well enough, I know how he or she is going to behave in certain situations, what she’ll say, her gestures, the type of clothes she wears. This is a very important step. If it isn’t done thoroughly I get hung up with the character later on in the book. In fact, I’m struggling with it now with my third book in the Emma Golden mystery series.
In The Difficult Sister, the character Melody is actually based someone I’ve known for 40 years. The way Melody looks, talks and dresses is just like how I see my friend. This is a departure for me, but in this story it worked beautifully.
It started with reading and how magical and precious that was to me from the get-go. Plus I always talked too much and liked to tell stories. I started writing a journal in 6th grade, and writing to friends after we moved from my home town. Because of my love of mysteries, I always wanted to write them. But I loved my years as a journalist too. They gave me access to information, adventures and experiences I otherwise would have missed out on.
I am inspired by stories of people who are bigger than life!
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I really like high quality black coffee and something sweet to give me a little blast into writing. I can’t write in the morning without first eating. I’m like Emma and Melody in that respect. I need my nose bag to keep going.
Music might be playing, but when I’m writing I don’t really hear it.
Where I write varies…basically wherever I can and whenever. I worked in a busy newspaper office out of college and once I focus, it doesn’t matter what’s going on around me. Mostly, however, I’m at the desk in my office or on the sofa with my laptop.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
Media, listening to stories. People talk and I’ve always been a sponge. The things real people do are crazier than anything I can make up.
What do you like to read?
I love really good biographies of historical figures and celebrities (“I’m Your Man”, “Just Kids”, Robert Caro’s series on LBJ) and spellbinding non-fiction (“Devil in the White City”, “In the Garden of Beasts”, “Unbroken”, “The Boys in the Boat”…). But I read and study the mystery and suspense genres. I can get lost in the stories, but I also am fascinated by how these books are put together. There also are wild jaunts into literary fiction. Basically, I will read anything with a good story.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
Write every single day. Some days the only thing I write is my journal. But I write. Every single day.
Be honest. Write what you know and what you believe in.