This weeks Author of the Week is Judith Pettijohn McConnell, this is rather a relief we finally got to do the interview! I think Judith and I chased each other all over email, lol. It was a huge joy to interview Judith and I hope you all enjoy her interview as well!
Hello Judith, how wonderful to finally get to interview! Let's start with you telling me a little about yourself.
I live in a Chicago suburb near my real estate broker daughter, son in law and grandchildren. My son and his wife live near Sacramento where he teaches first grade; especially teaches his students to love to write and they are good at it. I enjoy spending time with my friends, family, including my cousins; while not writing which is most of the time. I delve deeply into genealogy and play Scrabble whenever possible. I have actually played against myself when no opponent is available.
What got you into writing?
Okay, I started at age six, my handwriting evolved to print form now and wrote notes or verses on the inside of greeting cards to my Grandparents (as I lived with them). Mostly, because Hallmark doesn’t ever say what I want to say the way I want to say it.
That's so sweet. What’s the main thing you love and hate about writing?
Truly, love everything about writing. Marketing not so much.
Who is the worst villain you’ve ever written, and why?
As – so far – I write only creative nonfiction villains are not an issue. Though, I do recall a writing professor saying, “Even many murderers love kittens,” which is to encourage us to not ever write an all good or all bad character. Makes ultimate sense.
That is an extremely profound quote. What is next on your list to write/publish?
This might take a while (double entendre not necessarily intended - or maybe). I have been working on Dressing Up – Growing Up somewhat a fashion history from the early 1940’s until now. I've been writing posts, too, on my Truth Behind School Boards blog which I’ll likely combine into a more serious than usual book.
Finally, for now, Little Miss Marker Could Have Been Me. Ask anyone if they know what a Mailer is and the response is almost always, “Something that comes in the mail?” Probably. But years back ‘Mailers’ worked for news organizations tying bundles of papers to load onto trucks to be distributed throughout a city. I researched this for years, no doubt prompted by my father being a Mailer. I know this is the book I must finally finish because otherwise this important, fun and fascinating rather Damon Runyonesque occupation will be forever lost to history. Wikipedia provides four lines and even the marvellous musical ‘Newsies’ mentions Mailers not at all.
Who is your favourite author, and why?
It has to be Dorothy Parker. Think early 1930’s and New York’s Algonquin Round Table where she amidst other brilliant writers of the day meet nearly every day, oft times most of the day. Badinage, Bon Mots – gratefully many of which are written about – creativity, cocktails and fun.
Parker, so creative at her craft is a sensational satirist, writer of superb short stories and poetry, and with her wicked wit writes riveting reviews which make me laugh every time. Quoting from a recently revealed book review she writes, “. . . a success that comes only with great skill.” It isn’t about her but might well describe her. Something I aspire to. Within a book of totally various themes, as Parker alone emerges throughout I'm wondering whether she might be my muse.
She sounds like she inspires you very much. Who encouraged you the most to write?
Probably, inadvertently my Grandmother. Here’s why: The desk at which I write is the dining room table at which I grew up. Then, adjacent to the windows through which one sees the many trees in our large front yard. I am disinclined to eat very much, sometimes nothing at all, so my Grandma often told me that I must remain at the table until I finish my dinner. Okay, I say. Because I know she will retrieve me at bedtime and in the meantime, I observe the richly coloured leaves during fall, then inches of snow upon the bare branches; springtime buds, then blossoms appear. Summer – perfect. The yellow and purple irises bloom between the walkway and picket fence. I think the purple ones are orchids.
My imagination took over throughout the years. I write stories and rhymes in my mind and just occasionally transfer these to paper when I remember. Beyond I write more. And more.
That also sounds awe-inspiring, I can imagine the scene in my head. Are you as avid a reader as a writer?
What’s your favourite genre?
When I am much younger Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen and other talented storytellers delight me as do biographies. Since my major is Political Science, currently I read politics, presidents and any related history best hold my interest (and line my many bookshelves). Reading about writing and what writers do, too.
Do you listen to music when you write? Or can’t you stand background noise when writing?
Apparently I am able to ‘stand background noise’ inasmuch as my small desktop TV plays C-Span continually throughout the day often along with my within reach Bose from which CD’s play the music of Cole Porter, Gershwin, Rogers & Hart, Gordon Jenkins’ Manhattan Tower (which I review in Neither Rhyme Nor Reason Exactly), Marvin Hamlisch, Gretchen Cryer who writes and performs ‘Getting My Act Together and Taking it On the Road’ and others. Why? Because I love lyrics, music too. Seems I’m able to tune out when focusing on writing. Must be a Gemini thing.
I'm a Gemini too! If you could interview any famous author who would it be and why?
There are three: Ron Chernow, David McCullough and (as a writer) Newt Gingrich. The first two write biography brilliantly and Newt knows a lot.
Tell me a secret that none of your fans know!
Detest socks of any colour even during winter, sometimes like to cook and am quite good at wallpapering. Shhh. Re fans, just now there are too few of you. It’s true. Let’s work on this. Sincerest thanks.
I'm sure fans will come, Judith! Tell me what your main character would say about you!
Sometimes my main character is me, other times ornaments on a Christmas tree. My children, too, often appear and both would say I’m patient and fair.
Finally, any words of advice?
Write, in your voice, what you care and know about. It’s easier that way. Write honestly, always.
Thank you, Judith, for talking with me today, it was such a pleasure! To keep up to date with Judith please follow her on the following links,
Author Websites: https://judithpettijohnmcconnell.com
Author email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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