I went to full time stage school from the age of 11 studying in the same class as Barbara Windsor and Shirley Eaton. I appeared in many favourite old films e.g ‘The Belles of St. Trinians’ The Happiest Days of Your Life’ The Gilbert and Sullivan Story’ etc. I recognised at an early age that I preferred telling other people what to do rather than be directed myself so became a free lance choreographer and director. I also opened my own stage school which I have been running for over 30 years now. I became a local councillor about 9 years ago and have been made ‘Champion of the Arts’ for my borough council.
Judy, why did you start writing?
My job as a drama teacher led to my having to write scripts for the students and that’s how I started writing. I also joined our local hospital’s radio station as a volunteer and wrote and read short stories for them. I had a few of these short stories printed in an assortment of magazines. Once I had grandchildren I started making up stories to tell to them and that is how my first children’s book ‘ Willamina Mermaid and the Quest for the Crystal of Light’ came about. My grandchildren enjoyed it so much I decided to write it down and get it published. I hope other children will also enjoy it.
What 3 things (not including paper, computer, pens) would you like to facilitate a good days writing?
I always write with music in the background especially Mozart. I also like a good view. I wrote most of Willamina whilst on holiday in Tunisia sitting on a balcony overlooking the sea My third requirement would be a good glass of wine within easy reach. (wine, the writer's friend)
Do you write to a schedule, eg every day or three times a week, set times, etc or do you write as and when the mood strikes?
Because I run a stage school and am also a local councillor I find it hard to find the time to write so I only really have time during holiday periods or very late at night.
What are your favourite biscuits?
This is a difficult one as I have a very sweet tooth and love all biscuits, but the ones I pick out first are the custard creams.
Where do you do most of your writing?
On holiday mostly and finish if off at home in my office which overlooks my garden (I must have a nice view). I have just come back from a three-week cruise and started my next book whilst away.
What book(s) are you reading at the moment?
‘How to be Both’ by Ali Smith
What was your favourite school subject? and was it the one you were best at?
English Literature and yes, that was my best subject.
If you could impart one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?
Be true to yourself – don’t be tempted to write for the market, write down what you have inside you – be passionate about your subject, believe in it.
Do you have writing plans for later in 2016? Are they secret or could you share a teaser?
I’ve started work on my first adult book, based on my mother and her family’s experiences.
If you could have any job in the world except being an author, what would you choose and why?
I already do a job I love, but having come into politics late in life I wouldn’t mind taking over as prime Minister! I just love being in charge and telling other people what to do. I could also have a go at putting the world to rights!!!
If you could genetically cross and animal with a fruit or vegetable what would you choose and why? I'm currently thinking of bean sprout worms, add a touch of animation to a boring salad.
I think a cat and a nice juicy melon would blend well together then I would have something to cuddle and eat at the same time. (a cat-eloupe melon?!)
If you could take any fictional character out for lunch, who would you choose and why? And where do you think you'd go to eat?
I think I’d take Mrs Malaprop out to an Indian restaurant and see how she’d get her tongue round some of those names. I could update ‘The Rivals’ after that! (haha great answer!)
Willamina Mermaid & the Quest for the Crystal of Light:
This magical new book takes children into the sea, as a Mermaid Princess races to save the Underwater Kingdom
Willamina didn't know she was a mermaid. Her aunts told her she was 'deformed' and kept her hidden in a tiny bathroom for twelve long years. Her only companion was Finley, her goldfish. She didn't know she was a princess either until Merlin, the merman, helped her escape back to the seas where she belonged and the help of her five royal cousins went on a quest to retrieve the crystal of light, stolen by the witch of darkness, and set her people free.
J.A. Kelly’s ‘Willamina Mermaid & the Quest for the Crystal of Light’ has been described by critics as a cross between Harry Potter and the works of Roald Dahl – as one unsuspecting mermaid princess escapes her life as a prisoner to return to the ocean in order to save her underwater kingdom. Fusing adventure with uplifting empowerment, Kelly’s creation helps young readers realise that no task is too big for them to achieve.
‘Willamina Mermaid & the Quest for the Crystal of Light’ is available now: http://amzn.to/1RsrJ5S.
As always - big thanks to my featured author - fancy a chat? Pop over to my Facebook page.