Our conversation today is with Nebraska author Judy Bruce. She has a law degree from Creighton University and is author of the
forthcoming now published World War II novel, Death Steppe. But today we’ll talk to Judy about her current new release: Voices in the Wind:
Amid the desolate, windblown, harsh land of the pioneer, American Indian, and cowboy, a young attorney accepts a job at her imperious father’s law firm, which forces her to confront tragedies old and new, and leads her into a harrowing fight for survival and the transformation that brings forgiveness and a new perspective.
Along the way, my heroine, Megan, must deal with a crooked attorney, a tornado, lots of root beer, a blond stud, voices in the wind, heartbreak, a lunatic with a shotgun, delicious pastries, isolation, and lies. Ultimately, her greatest challenge is to forgive.
Writers-Editors Network: Judy, what inspired you to write this book?
Judy Bruce: On my way from my home in Omaha to a family vacation in the Rocky Mountains, we stopped in western Nebraska for a break. This area of the High Plains, with its ruggedness and relentless wind stirred something inside me. Yes, the Rockies are spectacular, but this feeling of yearning and eeriness stuck with me. I don’t think I can describe how my mind then jumped to the creation of the characters and story.
Writers-Editors Network: Do you plan on writing additional books with these characters or in this setting?
Judy Bruce: This is the first book in a series set in the Nebraska panhandle.
Writers-Editors Network: How do you write your novels — do you outline it first? Or just start writing to see where it will go?
Judy Bruce: Oh, I always write an outline and separate my notes according to a three-part structure. I know that I will veer from the outline, and the story will sometimes take its own direction, and I go with that. But the outline helps me to get where I need to end up. An outline also helps to remind me where I’m going, so writer’s block is not a problem for me.
Writers-Editors Network: What was your favorite scene to write and why?
Judy Bruce: There’s a life and death chase in the darkness across the rough land that was great fun to write. If anything, writing should be fun and exciting.
Writers-Editors Network: What was the biggest challenge in bringing this book to publication?
Judy Bruce: My first draft didn’t work, so I set it aside and went on to other writing. Then one day, a few years later, I knew just how to fix it. So I rewrote it. I found an agent, but she retired due to health matters. So I found a small publisher (Editions Dedicaces) on my own.
Voices in the Wind is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle formats. Judy’s website is JudyBruce.com and follow her blog at Hey Joood.
How she writes . . .
Judy Bruce: Oh, my writing is always better when I have a big mug of Starbucks Double Chocolate hot chocolate next to me. It has 3 grams of dietary fiber! And the cocoa beans are “ethically sourced.” I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good.
Writers-Editors Network: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Judy Bruce: I was working as an attorney-negotiator for an auto insurance company. when I needed to stop working full-time and stay home to tend to my profoundly autistic son. I was working part-time as consultant when it occurred to me that I ought to write down some of the stories I always had floating around in my introverted, middle-child noggin. So I came to writing late in life (I was forty).
Writers-Editors Network: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Judy Bruce: Aside from family activities, if I’m not writing, I’m developing my next story or revising the last one and dreaming of writing the next one.
Her advice for writers . . .
Study your craft—structure, characterization, plot, etc. And learn grammar! Agents and publishers expect it. (If you know grammar, you’ll be more successful at finding fun and creative ways to destroy it.) There’s a whole industry out there to help you develop storytelling. I’ve found Writers Digest to be a great tool.
Also, feed the storyteller inside you. I don’t like to read other writers when I’m writing, but movies can stir ideas. And don’t limit yourself to one area —explore comedy, war, Japanese anime, classic Hollywood, action, foreign, anything, even if it isn’t your area of storytelling.
The question Judy wishes interviewers would ask her about this book: Do you buy into your character?
Judy’s reply: Mmm, no, but that’s hard to answer without giving too much away. She’s a young attorney and she considers herself rational, but she has an “otherness” about her. Much of that evolved in the writing of the book, and continues to develop in subsequent stories. It comes from her yearning, the haunting land she loves, and that crazy wind… Wait, I just thought of something—maybe being around someone who’s different, my autistic son, made me think about someone who’s otherwise very normal, but has something unusual about her. Whoa, a little bit of personal analysis here. I’m wondering whether to keep that last part. Gotta go think about it. Okay, I guess I’ll keep that.