MEET JUDI GETCH BRODMAN

Judi’s software consulting work has taken her all over the world even out to the Marshall Islands where she flew to work each day.  Her bookshelves are filled with photographs and journals that capture her experiences and feed her imagination as she writes.  But her roots and true inspiration come from New England, in the mountains of Vermont and by her childhood beaches of Wellfleet on Cape Cod. 

In 2011, Judi began her writing journey with three published travel articles on Ireland, "The Many Faces of Ireland," followed by a short story, "Safe Harbor," published in July 2012.  Then, inspired by the death of her sister in 2015, Judi wrote and published two children's books, "Fiona - the Lighthouse Firefly" and "Fiona the Firefly - LOST!"  Both titles are available on Amazon and the proceeds from them feed a scholarship fund for students studying Business and Technology that Judi set up in her sister’s name.  

In her spare time, Judi is a professional watercolorist, reads, walks, gardens, and enjoys family and friends.  But wherever she is, her characters and their magical worlds fill her mind. 

Judi has been involved with writers’ groups for years, has taken Creative Writing at FAU, and has worked with authors in workshops whenever possible. She’s also an editor for Wiley’s technical magazine, Journal of Software: Evolution and Process.

Her debut novel, "She’s Not You," which is a mystery with a splash of romance, has received excellent reviews.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK.

My book published in October is called “The Looking Glass Labyrinth.”   It’s a unique piece for me – a time travel historical romance.  For some reason, it’s been in the back of my mind forever.  And who doesn’t like a tale of a sea captain and his lady – actually his ladies who are both named Rachael.

I usually have two and sometimes three manuscripts going at the same time, but let’s talk about “She’s Not You” because it will be a series.  It was published in April of this year and has received five-star reviews.

Jamie Jansen, an orphan since sixteen, is the main female character who returns to Oyster Point to clean out and sell her inherited Cape Cod cottage.  Her homecoming is marred by the discovery of a woman’s body during her morning run along the beach.  This is where she meets Oyster Point’s Chief of Police, Jack Hereford huddled around the seaweed encrusted form.  We have to wonder if this meeting is destiny, chance or orchestrated by Jamie’s dead relative? 

Anyway, as Jamie settles into her life on the Cape, an unknown male with camera in hand shadows her everywhere – on the beach, around her cottage, even at Jack’s sister’s house.  She makes a vow to confront the stalker and keep him from forcing her to live in fear.  She and Jack devise a plan to entice the suspected stalker out into the open.  The scheme backfires and Jamie’s gone….  LOL, you’ll have to buy the book to find out what happens.

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE FOR THIS BOOK? 

Funny about titles… they either come easily to mind or you’re still searching as you are about to submit the manuscript to the editor.  In the case of “She’s Not You,” when I was writing the beginning chapters, I was listening to the radio and heard Elvis Presley’s version of the song by the same title.  The lyrics just fit the story so perfectly.  At one point, as I was writing, the murderer actually said those words and when he did, I knew I had a winning title.  Jamie and Jack’s series will all have Elvis Presley titles – if I’m lucky.  Number two already has a title.

 “The Looking Glass Labyrinth” title just came to mind and was perfect.  The current manuscript that I’m working on is almost a complete draft and still has no title… LOL… we’ll have to see what surfaces.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK? IS IT PART OF A SERIES?

I’m not sure that I was inspired to write this book. I wanted to write a mystery with a male and female character set on Cape Cod.  The rest of the story just evolved over many many drafts.  Jack and Jamie complement each other so well, yet they have totally different backgrounds.  They are the perfect team to set loose solving cold cases.  So yes, “She’s Not You” is the first in a series, “the Oyster Point Mysteries.”  I’m working on the next one…a thriller once again with Jamie caught up in - well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see what mess she finds herself in.

My newest book, “The Looking Glass Labyrinth,” might also end up being a series as well.  Kayla and Dennis may be a great fit for a 19th century meeting?  Who knows…. 

HOW MUCH OF YOUR BOOK IS BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES OR THOSE OF SOMEONE YOU KNOW?

I think we all write a bit of ourselves into our stories.  When you’re writing a heart wrenching scene, you have to place yourself in it and reach back for the times that something similar happened to you or someone you know.  In “She’s Not You,” the chapter where Jamie loses her parents brought me back to when I was young and my father died.  I felt pain, sadness, denial, and anger… all these bubbled to the surface.  It’s draining to write those scenes, but if you’re not authentic, readers won’t identify with your character.  I had a reader ask me how I wrote that scene.  He said that it had brought him to tears because he remembered how he felt when he lost his son.  That’s how you as an author connect to your readers.  In my newest book, the house that’s the centerpiece for the story is based on a house that I stayed in.  It was of the same vintage with servants’ quarters, warm parlors and living rooms with tall windows, and large fireplaces so I could close my eyes and walk through the rooms.

WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH WENT INTO WRITING YOUR BOOK?

Well, I have to confess that “She’s Not You” took very little research since I spent summers in “Oyster Point” as a kid and still spend time there.  I did research on Billings Island, a real island by another name.  I knew some of its history, but since the intense part of the story takes place there, I wanted everything correct.

For my newest book, “The Looking Glass Labyrinth,” I did more extensive research since part of the story takes place in 1804.  I studied what women wore, what they studied, how they were treated, what the men wore, what trading routes they took at that time and what they traded.  

The other book that I’m working on takes place in Paris and Boston.  I rented an apartment in Montmartre, but I’m still checking my facts to make sure that I remember everything correctly. 

WHAT CRITERIA DID YOU USE WHEN SELECTING THE COVER FOR YOUR BOOK?

I wanted a cover that conveyed the story and since dead women were washing ashore – the cover with a floating woman fit the bill.  For "The Looking Glass Labyrinth," an antique hand mirror was perfect since the story revolves around the mirror as a portal back to 1804.

WAS THERE A MESSAGE IN YOUR BOOK THAT YOU WERE TRYING TO CONVEY?

Well, as writers I think all our stories have a message… usually I start with a somewhat damaged character.  Actually, both characters (Jamie and Jack) were a bit damaged in “She’s Not You,” but especially Jamie, my female character.  She had endured so much hurt and loss.  Because of her experiences, she had shut down her emotions.  But as Jack soon realized, her emotional fragility belied her inner strength and courage.  We see her transformation at the end.  I like stories of redemption and unexpected character growth and change.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOUR BOOK?

Truthfully, nothing.  I love the characters, the setting and the tenseness of the story which is why I have to take these characters on more adventures.

IF YOUR BOOK WOULD BE MADE INTO A FILM, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY THE LEADS?

I think Bradley Cooper would be great as Jack.  Perhaps Jennifer Lawrence could play Jamie.  Since I’m a Bradley Cooper fan, he could play Nathaniel in “The Looking Glass Labyrinth”!  Rachael… ???  Have to think on that one.  I’m not a great follower of Hollywood stars.

WHEN AND WHY DID YOU BEGIN WRITING?

I’ve always written… for my college newspaper, in travel journals  as well as technical journals in my career, so writing came naturally – or so I thought.  Technical writing is “passive;” creative writing is “active.”  Therein lies the very big difference.  I began writing fiction years ago because I felt that I had a few stories to tell, but telling them well, making them interesting and having them come alive was the challenge. 

WHEN DID YOU FIRST CONSIDER YOURSELF A WRITER?

Great question.  I’ve heard you are a writer as soon as you put “pen to paper” but you become an author when you’re published.  So I guess I’m an author at this point.

DESCRIBE YOUR WRITING STYLE.

Interesting…. Might be easier to describe what I don’t do first.  I don’t outline my books; I let my characters take me through their adventures.  In my mystery series, The Oyster Point Mysteries, I research a crime or series of cold cases that appeal to me.  Once I pick an intriguing one, I begin to write.  To me, it’s interesting to figure out what pitfalls characters might fall into, how to extract them and solve the cases.  I hope that my characters are full and fleshy; I describe settings and scenes so the reader can hopefully place themselves there and feel the breeze, taste the salt in the air and even smell the brownies that my character makes.  I can’t wait each day to see what my characters have in store for me.  And I do write every day.  Most of the time the characters take an unexpected turn and I just follow them.  Some mornings I wake up and the characters are solving the story problem that I had the day before.  I write a draft, but go back and read what I wrote yesterday and correct it before moving on.  But when I finish, it’s still a draft.  I read and rewrite many times before I’m ready to submit it to my publisher.  It has to be as good as I can make it before I hand it over.

WHAT IS THE HARDEST LESSON YOU HAD TO LEARN AS A WRITER?  

Ha ha ha… to write well.  Sounds funny doesn’t it, but it’s true.  We all think that we have the great American novel inside, and many of us might, but we have to learn to write it such that our audience loves the story, loves the characters and wants them to survive and maybe even conquer their foes or demons.   If you desire those feelings in your reader, characters can’t be cardboard one-dimensional people.  Making them three-dimensional isn’t simple.  They have back stories, fears and desires… just like us.  Not an easy task.  

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A WRITER?

As with all writers, finding the time to write, and then time to promote the book, attend book signings and book clubs, etc.  They are all fun activities, but most of us would rather be writing.

NOT INCLUDING FAMILY, WHO SUPPORTED YOUR EFFORTS TO BECOME A PUBLISHED AUTHOR?

Other than family and friends, I’d have to give credit to my writers group.  I learned so much from reading each member’s pieces and welcomed their comments about my writing.  They encouraged me to continue writing and helped me learn the ins and outs of writing well.

WHO WAS YOUR FIRST PUBLISHER AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THEM?

Well, I self-published two children’s books after my sister died in 2015.  But that’s a story for a different time.  My publisher now is Solstice Publishing.  I learned that my job is definitely not over when I submit my manuscript.  There is editing, proofing, more editing, more proofing and finally marketing.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR NEW WRITERS?

Join writers groups; take Creative Writing courses or workshops with authors whose writing you love.  Work hard… writing is not easy – good writing is very difficult.  And by good writing, I don’t mean using ‘big’ words.  I mean writing so your reader can’t put the book down.

WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS?

I read Nora Roberts and Mary Higgins Clark.  I’ve always enjoyed them because they write exciting mysteries.  Sometimes Nora Roberts authors a book with three characters in it; then the next two books are written from the perspective of the remaining two characters.  Interesting storytelling.  I also love Heidi Jon Schmidt’s writing.  I loved her work so much that I took an on-line workshop with her and she pushed, yes pushed me to write so much better.  I read other authors just for pleasure, but these ladies always inspire me to write better mysteries.

WHAT ARE YOU READING NOW?

Mary Higgins Clark’s “All Dressed in White” and Kurt Willinger’s “Getting Even.”  Kurt’s a friend and has written a number of books, most of which are concentrated in the WW II timeframe.

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?

Now I could go on and on about this.  What makes me cry – loss.  I’ve lost so many family members, friends and pets.  Sometimes you wonder if the tears will ever stop.  My father died when I was young and I still get misty thinking of him.  Stories about abused children and animals, the death of my beloved dog, Sadie.  Happy times make me cry… weddings, new born babies, hugs from the kids, someone saying “I love you,” Hallmark card ads, music that brings back a memory.

IF YOU COULD MEET ANYONE WHO EVER LIVED, PAST OR PRESENT, WHO WOULD THAT BE?

Marie Curie.  I’m a scientist by education with degrees in Math and Physics, and an advanced degree in Computer Engineering.  I know how hard it was for a woman ten or twenty years ago to be taken seriously in the sciences.  I would love to talk to her about what it was like for her.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOWS AND MOVIES?

I’m not a big TV watcher… rather spend time with my characters or my family.  But after saying that, I love to watch sports – football, baseball and hockey.  Even though I played basketball, I don’t find it entertaining to watch.

WHAT KIND OF MUSIC TOUCHES YOUR SOUL?

I love country music.  To me the songs tell a story and I love that.  I also listen to music from the forties.  I know, weird, but they again tell stories, share feelings.  Some music from the sixties touches me as well… I love the harmony of the groups from the fifties and sixties.

WHAT DO YOU WANT WRITTEN ON YOUR HEADSTONE?

A woman with a big heart and a warm soul who loved family and friends with everything she had.  A Renaissance woman who feared nothing and tried it all.

A small, isolated fishing village on the tip of Cape Cod, a place where the town’s jail has one cell with a broken lock and the police force consists of the Chief and two deputies, seems an unlikely spot for dead women to be washing ashore. And yet, so far this summer, two bodies have been discovered on the morning tide, both resembling each other and Jamie Janson.

 

Jamie returns to Oyster Point to clean out and sell her grandaunt Pita’s Cape Cod cottage, a place filled with family memories – when there had been a family. Her homecoming is marred by the discovery of a woman’s body during her morning run along the beach. Huddled around the seaweed encrusted form is a group of men, including Oyster Point’s Chief of Police, Jack Hereford. Is their meeting destiny, chance or orchestrated by Pita? Jack soon realizes that Jamie’s emotional fragility belies her inner strength and courage – unspoken qualities by Pita when she asked him to watch over Jamie. That deathbed promise will turn out to be the toughest part of his job and maybe the best part of his life.

 

As Jamie settles into her life on the Cape, an unknown male with camera in hand shadows her everywhere – on the beach, around her cottage, even at Jack’s sister’s house. With her life spinning out of control, Jamie’s visions resume, dreams she hasn’t had since her parents were killed when she was sixteen. Making a vow to confront the stalker and keep him from forcing her to live in fear, she and Jack devise a plan to entice the suspected stalker out into the open. The scheme backfires and Jamie’s gone….

An unheeded warning from her best friend, an estate sale at a “haunted” crumbling Victorian, a painted woman whose sparkling blue eyes follow her every move, a cracked discolored mirror that reflects another’s face, and mysterious words that materialize in a diary – all these events create a vortex through which Rachael Corbet is sucked back to 1804 and into Lady Rachael Johnston’s body. Why? Lady Rachael’s written words are quite clear, “You can and will save my captain.”  Impossible – the man has been dead for centuries, shot and killed right here in this house.

 

Trying to escape what she hopes is a dream, Rachael runs directly into the arms of Lady Johnston’s returning sea captain and totally understands why Lady Rachael desires to keep him alive…he takes Rachael’s breath away with his tenderness, strength and thoughtfulness.

 

Is she falling for a man who died centuries ago? She would have to change the past to keep him alive. Yet history has a way of repeating itself. Unscrupulous rogues, including Lady Rachael’s pathetic brother, attempt to abduct her for her inheritance. A shot is heard; Nathaniel shouts for Rachael to run; she turns to flee and then, in an instant, chooses to alter history. If she saves him, will she give him up? Will she return to her pathetic life or choose to stay with the sea captain she loves?

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