Mystery author Judith Copek is here today. Her novels are inspired by places she visits. Today she's talking to us about her newest book, World of Mirrors.
Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Judith. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am likely the only person you will ever meet who was born in Montana. I grew up on the High Plains of Colorado and moved to Houston to pick up a B.A. in English from Rice University. After a stint in Chicago, I moved to New England where I spent twenty-plus years as an Information Systems nerd, a natural choice for an English major. English Lit. and Computer Science go together like tomatoes and basil because analytic skills are transferable to any occupation. They helped me survive Dilbert-like re-engineering projects and the Millennium Bug. In my writing, I like to put a literary spin on technology, and to show technology’s humor and quirkiness along with its scary aspects.
When I’m not writing, cooking, or digging in the garden, I’m in Southern California or at Burning Man in the Nevada desert researching my next novel. Some of the groups I belong to are Toastmasters, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and New England Pen. I’m also a founding member of the New England Crime Bake Mystery Conference.
Please tell us about your current release.
World of Mirrors is set on an island off the Baltic coast in the former DDR, and the year is 1990, the “time of the turn.” The Berlin wall has crumbled, but Germany is not yet reunified.
Against the seductive decadence of an old resort with its classic sailboats, nude beaches, and crumbling casinos, Zara Gray, a consultant to high tech firms, and T.K. Drummond, a man who finds people and fixes situations, must track down an American software thief before he can fence a stolen copy of his company’s bleeding-edge new software.
Zara narrates the story as she fights the fear that their mission is jinxed from the beginning. Bad decisions and chilling discoveries threaten to sabotage the project. The situation further unravels during a sailing weekend, and turns deadly at a Midsummer Festival. Trapped in a matrix of betrayal, Zara and T.K. must rely on two unlikely people to help them escape the island and in a final, desperate gambit to save the software, Zara must perform her own dangerous treachery
What inspired you to write this book?
In 1995, my husband and I visited the Baltic island that became the setting of the book. It was like a step back in time, because the island was untouched—beautiful scenery and falling-apart old buildings. This part of Germany had been in the DDR (East Germany) and nothing had been modernized—or spoiled. After we returned home, the island stayed in my mind until I realized there was a story there. Sure enough, with scads of research and a return visit, I did find my story. There were many rewrites between the inspiration and the finished book.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I just completed a “woman in jeopardy” novel that I haven’t tried to sell yet, and I’m currently working on a mainstream novel set near Los Angeles in 1928. An historical story is certainly proving a challenge, but it’s also fun (and educational) to get one’s head into a completely different era.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After I completed my first (unpublished) novel and got rejections to “Dear Author.”
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Alas, I do not write full time, although when I retired from my “day job” I assumed I would. Lately, I’m grinding out about a page a day, due to 6 weeks of company this summer. Some part of every day is either devoted to writing, plotting, editing, PR, blogging, or various writing activities. It takes me a couple years to write a book. If I had a contract with a deadline, I’m sure I would buckle down and write faster.
Cooking and gardening are two big hobbies, and I’m a Toastmaster, so sometimes I’m working on a speech, often about some aspect of writing. I have absolutely no schedule, being of the 'consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds' bent. That being said, mid-morning is my most productive time at the computer.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I seldom take a vacation or a trip that doesn’t somehow end up in a book, hence World of Mirrors.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At various times I wanted to be an actress, a civil engineer and a nuclear physicist. Instead I majored in English. Go figure.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The early readers of World of Mirrors have been enthusiastic about the novel, and this has been heartening. Nothing beats bringing a ragtag group of characters to an unusual setting and turning them loose to make mischief.
Thanks, Judith! Thanks for the Dilbert and cube life flashbacks. And thanks for bringing the New England Crime Bake mystery writer's conference into existence. It's my favorite writers conference.