Today I welcome author Judy Strick to my blog. Her book, Kingdom Come, CA, was released earlier this year.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I started my professional life as an artist, first studio, then commercial. I had never dreamed of being a writer, but I wanted to illustrate children’s books, so I started writing stories to have samples of my work, which led to screenwriting, which ultimately turned to fiction, and that was if for me. I’m hopelessly addicted to the telling of tales in the format of a book.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
I think, especially in fiction, one’s personality is there- in the choice of words, in the voice of the storyteller, in the subjects one chooses to explore. I start out with no plan whatsoever of self- revelation; and yet I can’t avoid it. It creeps in, unbidden, and before I know it, I’ve tapped into some facet of myself I had no intention of disclosing. Words, like dreams, are metaphors.
What fuels you as an author to continue to write?
I love the process, finding myself at a level of consciousness where the story begins to write itself- the closest thing to a dream state I think. I love to dream. For me the real payoff is the problem solving, which is perhaps the real payoff in any creative endeavor. The Ah Hah! Moment- as good as sex.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I’m incapable of following a market-shopping list much less an outline. I start with a spark- a name, a title, a setting, and I follow the story- often winding up in places I never expected to be, with characters I wind up knowing intimately, and usually loving- even my bad guys, even my locales.
Please tell us about your current release.
Kingdom Come, CA is hard to pigeonhole. It’s character driven, with a strong plot- a hybrid creature; a psychological thriller, with a hint of the supernatural. The tale unfolds in a tiny mountain town in California, a town with a colorful and motley cast of characters including a dead cowboy movie star and a preternaturally smart dog named Tonto. It’s the story of the unexpected and healing love that develops between two unlikely friends: Finn, a six year old schizophrenic boy, and Ruby, a forty year old reclusive surrealist artist. It’s a book about a secrets and the price paid therein. It’s about love and trust, and it’s also a story that questions the definitions of reality
Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?
Everything about this book changed as it went along, except for the first chapter, which has remained, as-is, from the first draft. I had begun the book as an exploration of the way our body affects who we are. My original character had scars that altered her existence and isolated her, kept her dressed in a burka hiding from the world. The setting was original in Van Nuys ca., not the remote fictional village of Kingdom Come. The characters came of their own accord – Charley Waunder- the sexy town sheriff, Evangeline an herbalist guru; an agoraphobic mother and a father who became a Hassidic Jew. The McCord family arrived of their own accord as Ruby’s unwelcome neighbors, Finn the boy was not on my radar in the beginning, nor was Tonto, the dog. And Ruby is not a character who would ever dream of wearing a Burka. I can only liken the evolution of the story to a bag with a few dried kernels of corn that, when heated fills the available space with popcorn.
Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?
I have an office in my back yard. It used to be my studio. It’s surrounded by trees, and it always makes me think of the dream playhouse I had longed for as a child. My 2.5 dogs always hang out with me when I’m writing. It’s very lovely to be working around dogs and trees.
In this compelling psychological thriller reminiscent of The Picture of Dorian Gray, reclusive artist Ruby Wellman retreats to rural Kingdom Come, California, a small town, 21st century Brigadoon. Ruby, who still suffers from the effects of a childhood tragedy, quietly focuses on her surrealist paintings and keeps locals at arm’s length. When six-year-old Finn McCord moves in next door with his contentious parents, Ruby is pulled into the boy’s disturbed and dysfunctional world. Finn talks only to animals and imaginary friends. Ruby, who communicates through her paintings which nobody sees, immediately identifies with the boy and sees parallels to her buried past. As the boy’s visions become more vivid and he further withdraws from the world, Ruby’s paintings and Finn’s dreams collide in an unexpected explosion that both heals and reveals old secrets and wounds.
In Kingdom Come, CA, author Judy Strick paints a compelling world of engaging characters placed in a rural setting, Readers will find a deeply satisfying work of literary fiction that leaves them questioning everything from their own responses and interactions to the very way they define reality. Ruby and Finn are joined by a cast of colorful supporting characters: from Ruby’s divorced and broken parents to the worldly and sophisticated Hannah and Mischa McCord. They are a curious addition to an eclectic collection of Kingdom Comers that includes an herbalist guru, a ruggedly handsome jack-of-all-trades part-time sheriff; a dead ‘40s cowboy movie star, a dog named Tonto, and the Wizard, Finn’s new best friend. Strick populates her novel with rich, engaging personalities, developing them fully to beautifully capture the complexities of the human condition. The world that she creates may delve into the mystical, but it is securely affixed to a reality that is made all the more familiar by the three-dimensional characters who inhabit it.
About the Author
Judy Strick is a native of Southern California. She holds an MFA from Otis Art Institute, and in a former lifetime was a fine artist and then a toy designer. She studied screenwriting at AFI and fiction writing at UCLA, and has spent the last 10 years honing her novelistic skills. Kingdom Come, CA is her debut novel. She lives in Los Angeles with her 2.5 dogs.
Kingdom Come, CA can be purchased on Amazon.