Monday, June 26, 2017

World's TOUGHEST Author Interview: Judith Lucci

Some of the toughest questions anyone could ask of a novelist allow you, the reader, a chance to get to know your favourite authors even more. Not for the faint-hearted!

My victim this week is:

Judith Lucci

Judith's Bio:

Hi Everyone, I’m Judith Lucci and I write medical thrillers and crime. I’m a nurse with a doctoral degree and I have seen hundreds of patients, saved lots of lives, taught thousands of nurses and written and researched a bunch of stuff. I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I love my family, painting, writing and all things canine. I think my greatest strength as an author is using my medical knowledge to create unique ways to kill people. Anyway, thanks Eric, for inviting me to do the World's Toughest Author Interview.

Amazon Author Page:
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and now the hard bit:

1. Describe any strange writing habits or a sequence of things you always do before clicking away at the keyboard. 
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Wow, I don’t know if I have any truly weird habits. I do, however, have a few compulsions that must occur each day before I start to write. I complete my morning chores (tidy up, feed the dogs, wash dishes, water plants), have at least two cups of coffee, and complete my book marketing for the first part of the day. All in all, I don’t want any interruptions when I write and I want nothing hanging over my head. I generally write from nine in the morning to noon and paint in the afternoon.

2. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I learned the power of language (and discipline) when I was a little girl. My sister and I, even thought we’d been told not to do so, raided the deep freezer in a storage house outside. We wanted popsicles (well, it was hot outside, what can I say?). Of course, my father had expressly told us not to open the freezer without a parent but we didn’t listen. We left the freezer door open and most of the frozen food spoiled. I can still remember my dad saying, “I told you to get permission,” just before he spanked us. That’s when I learned to listen, that’s when I figured out that language… voice, and tone… had lots of power.

3. Define what literary success means for you
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My measure of literary success means I've written several series of good books and have a bunch of loyal followers who anxiously wait for the next book. I think I've achieved this with my Alexandra Destephano medical thriller series and am on my way to being successful with my Michaela McPherson crime thrillers. Writing is a pleasure and I'm not writing for the money. I would, however, like to make the USA Today Best Sellers list just once - because consumers consider placement of that list a testament to successful writing. I hope my boxed set of my first three medical thrillers, Crescent City Chronicles, will help me get there in a few weeks. Of course, those of us who write books know better.

4. What is your least favourite part of the publishing / writing process and why?

My least favorite part of the writing process is editing, actually proofreading. Editing is hard for me because I don't see my own mistakes. Since I read my manuscript so many times, I no longer see errors. And, I’ve found that when I correct errors, I often make more errors. It’s a vicious cycle. My books are reviewed by five or six people and several professional editors before they are published. And, there are still mistakes… it’s a fact of life. But, I must say, I see many errors in books published by traditional publishers!
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5. If you could time travel, what would you do differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult?

Wow… time travel. If I could time travel and do something differently I probably would've entered more writing contests and written short stories instead of presenting with a full-length novel. I’ve spent most of my life writing academic papers. Of course, that was my life’s work and my scholarly contributions to my profession are significant. I’ve published several textbooks and numerous scholarly articles. As a result, I want to write as much fiction as I can as a “senior citizen” (I personally like the term “older person”) I think I'm typical of many Indie writers who never had the time to write earlier in life.

If I could time travel, I would definitely live in the Southern U.S. before the Civil War. I deeply embrace the southern culture and am a typical Southern woman. ("Hi Y’all. Want some grits?") I would be like Scarlett O'Hara – or the other heroic women of that time - who managed farms and plantations without ‘menfolk’. I’d probably start a Confederate Hospital in the ballroom of my plantation, or I would be part of the underground group that smuggled slaves up North. I’ve always taken risks in my life and have done what people said I could never do. Just tell me I can’t do something and trust me, I’m on it.

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6. Is there a character in your books, protagonist or antagonist, whose story you would like to rewrite, and why?

I regret killing Mitch Landry in book one of the medical thrillers. People have suggested that he ‘reappear’ or have a twin brother, the stuff of which soap operas are made, but, unfortunately, Mitch will remain forever dead. I never wanted to kill Mitch but I had an agent in those days and he told me too… and unfortunately, I listened.

7. How would you describe your writing style, and why?

I write rather informally. My books are filled with dialogue and my plots are character-driven. When I wrote my first book, Chaos at Crescent City Medical Center, I was constantly getting turned down by publishing houses because my dialogue was considered 'robotic' and my characters were considering 'stiff and stilted'. Of course, back then I was an academic writer and researcher and had only written for the academic press. The transition to writing for the popular press was significant and it’s taken years. I'm always getting emails about whether or not Alex is going to remarry Robert or whether Alex and Jack Fran├žoise, the New Orleans Police Commander, could be a couple. It's pretty funny when I think about it but honestly, I feel like my characters are parts of my family. I don’t like it when they’re hurt or upset.

8. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

I'm not sure what I would give up to become a better writer. In fact, I'm not sure what I would give up to become a better anything. At this point in my life, I’m satisfied with my life, self-actualized in most things, and happy that each book I write is a little bit better than the one before. What I do need to do is figure out how to reward and motivate my street team and how to market more effectively. Writing, editing and marketing my books is the hardest thing I’ve ever done… and I’ve done a bunch of stuff.

Eric has given me permission to add two questions to this World's Toughest Author Interview, so here goes:

9. Why in the world, in the waning years of my life, am I spending 8 to 10 hours a day writing fiction?

The simple answer is I don’t know. I never planned to write novels when I retired. I'm not sure when the desire to write began. But, one day, I simply decided I was going to write a book. I wrote my first book, CHAOS at CRESCENT CITY MEDICAL CENTER during the Blizzard of 1995 when I was snowed in at my farm for three weeks. I sent my novel out to dozens and dozens of agents and it was always rejected. Then, my personal life changed rather dramatically and I moved to New Orleans to assume a full professorship at LSU in New Orleans. I didn't write for 10 years. Five years ago I was cleaning out my basement and I found a hard copy of Chaos at Crescent City Medical Center, in a drawer. I read it and decided it was pretty good. So I rewrote it, changed beepers to cell phones, Clinton Care to Obamacare, and published it. Seven novels later I'm still writing and I love it. I suspect I'll continue to write until I die. When I'm not writing, I paint, teach art classes and hang out with my family and five dogs.

10. How has writing changed me?

The worst part of writing for me is that I have become reclusive. This is a huge change for me because I've always been gregarious and surrounded by people. In January of 2016, my friends ‘staged an intervention’ about my reclusiveness. The truth is I am reclusive. Anyway, to get them off my back, I meet friends for lunch at least three days a week and participate in several organizations. Truth is, I've never been lonely since I retired. I've got my family, my dogs and my characters. I understand why authors become reclusive. We have our characters in our heads all day long and we talk with them. Consequently, I’m never lonely; Besides, I can manage my characters control them - what they say, what they do and how they feel. I certainly have never been able to do that with my friends or family!

Well, that's about all I've got for the World's Toughest Author Interview. Thank you, Eric, for reviewing the rantings of this half-crazy, reclusive dog lady.

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Thank you, Judith, for your awesome and heartfelt answers. For readers of superb Medical and Crime Thrillers, the boxset of Judith's first three books in her Alex Destefano series has been released June 26th (CRESENT CITY CHRONICLES). Don't miss it! And there's more. Book Five in the series, EVIL, where the serial killer St. Germaine's identity will be revealed, will be out soon. I've been waiting for this one for a while! You can pre-order now too!