INTERVIEW: JUDITH GRAVES

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome back Judith Graves, who visited with us last month to talk about her new release Second Skin and to share with us about her blog tour which is going on right now. Her stops can be found here.

This month, in addition to her blog tour, Judith has another release—her short story “Strangeways Versus the Wraith” appears in Spirited, an anthology edited by Kat O’Shea and published by Leap Books.

“It features wickedly talented authors such as: Maria V. Snyder, Candace Havens, Shannon Delany, Dawn Dalton, Kitty Keswick, Jill Williamson, Halli Dee Lilburn, and more!” she told me. “Proceeds from sales of Spirited go to 826 National, a literacy-based charity. Spirited is available now via ebook (Kindle and Nook) and will be offered in paperback format on March 24, 2012.”

“Strangeways Versus the Wraith” is the introductory story for her Strangeways series, a steampunk ghosthunter prequel to the Skinned series, set in New York City in the Gilded Age. There are cross-over characters in both series. The first novel for this project, Strandeways Versus the Blood Brothers will be released in 2014 with Leap Books as a six part e-serial.

Judith does tone of research for her books, though she told me she wouldn’t say it was in-depth or scholarly by any means.

“I tend to flip through a million resources, online and print, watch films, listen to music, and then jot down the tidbits that speak to a specific story. At that point I’ll take my research, the mythology, historical facts, location details and mish-mash them together with my own imaginings – creating new worlds and creatures,” she explained. “I luvs the research and can easily be lost in it for hours. I have to be strict with myself and limit research binges in order to keep up with my writing schedule.”

Initially, Judith was a die hard PRINT ONLY reader; however, once she started reading blogs, scripts, etc., online, it was easy for her to transition to e-book format. She doesn’t own a dedicated e-book reader, but she has downloaded the Kindle app on her MacBook.

“Over the last year, I’ve read about twenty e-books in total and read about three to four print books a week,” she told me. “So I’d now consider myself a casual e-book reader. As an author, I see the benefits of having my material out there in any and all formats. It’s kind of a fantastic time to be a writer. We have options!”

“Do you use a pen name?” I asked. “If so, how did you come up with it?”
“Yup. Early on I decided I wanted all my paranormal fiction to fly under one banner. I’d been reading other author blogs and knew how much of my own marketing I’d be doing if I was ever published. As I write in a bunch of different genres, I wanted a focused online presence and after talking it over with another writer friend who had also elected to work under a pen name – I decided to go for it. During a six-hour road trip, my husband and I generated a list of potential names. I wanted something with a ‘Penny Dreadful’ feel, dark, gothic, etc. After narrowing it down to a top ten list, we settled on Judith Graves. My husband is very supportive and often helps me lug in my laptop, books, etc, for author visits. He takes it in stride when he’s introduced as Mr. Graves.”

Judith told me that a lot of authors have taken up the challenge of writing for youth and to meet the demands of increasingly demanding readers. When she was growing up, there was a lack of YA titles which caused a gap in the market—a gap publishers are eager to fill. She doesn’t see this wave crashing any time soon.
“When you think about it, young adults are the perfect market, they enjoy series fiction, movie and video game tie-ins, they have their own funds or may be spending their parents’ money – but the point is…they’re a naturally reoccurring / potentially endless crop of consumers. Titles that are published individually over a five year period, can be repackaged and sold to a whole new crop of readers as they reach the right age group, plus by then that author may have several other books or series published – which they will discover as well,” she explained. “And the fact that publishers are also ensuring they produce titles at a variety of reading levels across the spectrum means that we’re now catching readers who may have missed out in previous generations. This just can’t be a bad thing. The more kids we have reading – the better.”

“How much of your writing is based on your own experiences as a child or teen?” I wondered.

“None of the cool aspects of my characters are from my own experiences. I’ve never fought a werewolf, kissed a vampire, spellcast, travelled through time, hunted ghosts or had any other interaction with monstrous beasties. But I do know what it feels like to be the new kid, the outcast, (my dad was in the military and we moved around a lot), to wishing you were adopted and therefore had an explanation why you were the opposite of your entire family, and then to wish you never had to grow up and move away, or to finally find a core group of friends, to be accepted, to fall in love, to be rejected and find the nerve to do it all over again. Under all the supernatural elements of my stories, those feelings and the complications of being a teenager – of finding your place – (hoaky moment warning) and finding yourself – are the experiences I draw upon.”

Judith told me that working as a library technician in a school has helped her when it comes to writing YA books, as has the fact that her husband is a high school social studies teacher and basketball coach. They work with kids every day—getting to see the trends, hear the new lingo, and witness the social challenges.

“Even with that exposure, the pulse of today’s youth is rapid, and fickle,” she told me. “Often by the time I catch on to a new trend or phrase and incorporate it into a draft – it’s old news. There’s much to be said of the advice to not incorporate a ton of current popular culture references or terms into your work. You can date yourself very quickly.”

Finally, I asked, “Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?”
“As a singer/songwriter, music and words have always functioned together in my little world. And yet, music can make me feel things that words can’t. Listening to music that makes ME feel, helps me to write what my CHARACTERS are feeling. I consider music part of my research and am ready, willing and able to spend hours on iTunes or filtering through my CD collection for songs that relate to different projects. I create playlists for each and within a playlist I’ll have songs that help me to tap into specific emotions – haunting ballads, quirky love songs, dark industrial tunes, or movie soundtracks such as Lord of the Rings for writing battle scenes,” she said. “I rarely write without music. If I do, it’s when I’m working on edits or blog posts. But when I’m in first draft mode – it’s targeted tunes all the way.”

Watch the book video for Spirited:

and Strangeway Versus the Blood Brothers:

About the Author:

Judith reads as much as she writes, devouring at least two books a week. She loves heated debates over character motives…she’s been kicked out of several book clubs for just this reason. With her faithful sidekick at her feet–that’d be, Willow, a yellow lab–Judith remains unfazed by book club drama and is furiously writing more paranormal stories. Which hopefully, you’ll read.

Working in a school library, Judith is surrounded by children’s and young adult literature (there’s no escape!). She fosters the joy of reading in students and staff at her school. She helps out with the school choir and drama club. If it has to do with words or music, Judith is around. A singer/songwriter for more than 10 years, Judith often writes songs about her characters–since they are beasties of the night, this makes for interesting listening.

Find her online at:

Website: www.JudithGraves.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/judithgraveswrites

Twitter: http://twitter.com/judithgraves

Haunted houses. Haunted hearts.
And a past that refuses to die.

Leap Books summoned best-selling paranormal and dreadfully talented debut authors to conjure up Spirited, a haunting collection of 13 tales guaranteed to keep you up all night.

Get entombed in stories of Egyptian treasures, shudder at tales of malevolent spirits, and become enthralled with the adventures of witch-hunters, ghost seekers, and lost souls. From steampunk to cyberpunk, our collection spans past, present, and future hauntings. One story actually leaps off the page with 3-D augmented reality.

With this celebration of things that go bump in the night, Spirited authors hope to slay the specter of illiteracy that plague our youth. All proceeds from Spirited will be donated to 826 National, a non-profit organization that offers free after-school tutoring, workshops, and in-school programs because “strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.”

Go ahead. Turn the page if you dare. We won’t tell if you sleep with the light on. Because after all, there’s no rest for the wicked.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for taking the time to share with us today. I wish you well on the tour and look forward to reading these awesome stories.
    dz59001[at]gmail[dot]com

  2. Great post and insight. Especially love how the research is done…it’s like filling your creative well, then dipping in as needed as you write the story. Thanks for this!

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