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"A clear new voice offering a startling, memorable debut. In this psychological thriller, a reclusive artist opens up to her new neighbors with life-changing consequences... In her debut, Strick successfully writes with the confidence of a seasoned author. Her prose is often striking… the narrative’s emotional layers grow increasingly complex;…characters…achieve beautiful realization… it is executed masterfully…"

From Kirkus Reviews

"KINGDOM COME, CA is an astonishingly fine book - and the fact that it is a debut novel makes its appearance all the more important. Judy Strick not only knows how to write a mesmerizing story, but she also knows the climate - physical as well as psychological - of her home, Southern California… Writing of this fascinating quality comes around too rarely. Catch it at it's nascent best… Highly Recommended."

by Grady Harp

"One of the best reads that has come my way in a long time. Kingdom Come, CA will almost blind-side you with a surprise ending. Superbly crafted, hugely enjoyable read!...Two thumbs up!"

by Grandma, Amazon Reviewer

"The characters, the setting, the writing all pulled me towards the end too quickly. The Southern California setting was dead-on and even the incidental details were perfect. But the characters are what really made this story for me. … I couldn't put it down. Hard to believe it was a debut novel. I only hope the author can be as prolific as John Irving."

by Katherine R Brandon

Interviews

Today I welcome author Judy Strick to my blog. Her book, Kingdom Come, CA, was released earlier this year.

Interview from Into Another World

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.