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Golden Girl: Judy Nedry revives series with 'The Difficult Sister' (Q&A)

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Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Judy Nedry.

A former wine and food journalist, Ms. Nedry is the author of The Difficult Sister (Bookbaby; 2013)—available on Amazon in digital and paperback editions as of Saturday, December 7th—and first introduced her sassy, middle-aged protagonist Emma Golden in 2009’s An Unholy Alliance. Prior to turning her attention to fiction, she worked as a guest editor for Mademoiselle Magazine in New York City, was managing editor at Bullfrog Information Service, and also served as features editor for a bi-weekly suburban newspaper. She then spent more than twenty years documenting the growth of the Northwest food and wine industry, and has written two non-fiction booksOregon Wine Country and Washington Wine Country—on Northwest wines. Additionally, Ms. Nedry co-founded Northwest Palate magazine, which she edited for seven years. She makes her home in Portland, Oregon.

The Difficult Sister has already received a warm response from readers who have enthusiastically embraced the reemergence of Emma Golden. William F. Grady praised, “Judy is the best mystery author around at turning a phrase. Be forewarned: start this book early in the evening, so you have time to finish it before nodding off.” Further, Patrick Brooks noted, “This is a fun, believable story set in an iconic area of Oregon. Emma is developing into a character whom we want to follow on her next (inadvertent) adventure. A mystery of our time and therefore one we can relate to.”

From the publisher:

Set on the southern Oregon coast, "The Difficult Sister" follows amateur sleuth Emma and her friend Melody Wyatt as they search for Melody’s missing sister Aurora. Known as “the Bolter”, Aurora has burned her way through a plethora of husbands and lovers. At age 50, freshly reinvented by modern science, the she meets a man on-line and falls in love. She moves with him from Portland to the remote fictional town of Radnor. Within a few weeks, her emails and phone calls cease. Melody becomes further alarmed when her sister’s cell phone is answered by the man, who claims Aurora left him. She and Emma drive to Bandon, Oregon to look for her. In a novel where place emerges as a key character, the two women are swept into the miasma that is the southern Oregon coast—where the “haves” live in homes overlooking the Pacific Ocean on coastal side of Highway 101 and the “have-nots” live in 50-year-old single-wide trailers on the dark side of the highway. It is a place some folks go to cook meth, disappear into poverty, or just disappear.

Now, Judy Nedry intoxicates readers with her wisdom and wit …

1) What inspired you to write THE GOOD SISTER? How does fact influence fiction – and do you believe that setting can become a character?

The Difficult Sister's inspiration came from a newspaper article I read 8 or 10 years ago about a woman in her mid-fifties. She'd recently divorced and wasn't a bar fly or a church-goer and she didn't belong to the country club, so she went online. It didn't take too long to meet a guy who swept her off her feet. He lived in Montana, and within a few weeks she'd moved there to be with him. Eventually she stopped answering her phone and emails, so her sister drove over there to see what was up. The man said she'd left him and the sister found the missing sister's jewelry in a pawn shop. I never found out what happened, but it certainly got my attention!

I learned SO MUCH about being an indie writer with Alliance, and wasn't sure I wanted to do it again. But once you're an indie and you've got a series, unless you sold a stupendous number of books, nobody is interested. I had an agent for 6 months; she encountered the problem that this was the second book of a series, and had no success. So it was I'm IT again...and I really do love it. Once I start a project that is part of my soul, I really don't want to relinquish control of it. So for better or for worse, I will follow it through.

I've learned about social media since last time, and there are many more resources out there than there were four years ago. I have a following. And I am focusing on ebooks this time around. I expect that to take off once the reviews start coming out after the first of the year.

2) This is your second Emma Golden mystery. How did you find the process of writing it to compare to that of writing the first – and were there any lessons learned with AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE that you found particularly valuable this time around?

The process of writing this novel I did not properly address. It was easier at first because I joined a critique group. So I got through the first draft and was in pretty good shape. Then my boyfriend got lung cancer and subsequently died. That whole thing threw me off for a year. A lot of other stuff came up too, not to mention my determination to find an agent. So writing the second book was much easier, but getting it publishable/published took another three years. Unacceptable, but it's what happens when you deal with life on life's terms.

3) You have a group of first readers that vet your manuscripts. What are the benefits and risks of this – and how do you decide which feedback to take and which to ignore?

I definitely have a group of readers comprised of my book group, two friends who are really good writers, a critique group, and some other close friends, so the earlier versions of the book were manhandled by a lot of people. The critique group was invaluable in the early days. Once I had things in shape, the book went to my book group. That was the most fun ever! These are very intelligent and well-read women in their early 60s and they really gave me the business! But they loved the book! And, since they are in the range of my target market they were the perfect people to test this on. Then I showed it to you, and my retired homicide detective friend. And my daughter, who really was a line by line editor and came up with many great suggestions. At the end I let three or four friends read it just for fun and feedback. I went for all levels on this. And then I went through it a couple more times on my own, made little changes, and probably created more typos in the final edit than I removed.

4) The industry has changed a lot in recent years. How has this influenced self-publishing – and what do you see as being both the challenges and the liberties of utilizing this platform?

Yes, the industry has changed. As much as I believed I wanted to be traditionally published, this is a better fit for me. As I said earlier, I enjoy the process. I worked at editing magazines and seeing them through to publication. It's like a disease--or a calling, take your pick--and once you have it, nothing is quite as satisfying as doing the whole thing. I was able to choose and purchase rights to the cover photo and tell people how I wanted it to look. The process is more streamlined than it was four years ago.

The limitation of being self-published is that I do not have ready access to book stores. And I love indie book stores. Last time around, I lost money selling to them, and this time I'm not going to chase them with the exception of the one in my neighborhood. If the word gets out, people will find me online. And I am using the social media resources and indie book reviewers and other options much more easily and efficiently than I did four years ago.

5) Leave us with a teaser: what comes next – both for you and for Emma?

I am completely invested in Emma. Readers--my readers, 50 years and older who love mysteries--LOVE her. My next novel finds Emma on another quest in wine country, this time teamed up with a crazy Brit wine writer she met while she was still in the business. He is rumored to be former MI6, and certainly has the chops as Emma discovers as we get into the novel a bit. And, of course, he provides a lot of laughs as well as some righteous violence. She's actually a bit in love with him, probably because he is trouble!

***

With thanks to Judy Nedry for her generosity of time and thought.

The Difficult Sister is available in digital and print editions through Amazon and the author's website; the ebook has also been formatted for availability on any kind of reading device.

To learn more, visit JudyNedry.com.

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