Author Interview: Judy Leigh

I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for A Grand Old Time by Judy Leigh, today. I have been hearing so many great things about this novel and I was very excited to have been given the opportunity to chat with debut author Judy about what it's like to release your first novel and how she got into the mind of a seventy year old...

Hello Judy, a massive, bookish welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! Thank you so much for taking part in this interview. Please could you kick things off by introducing yourself?

With pleasure.  I’m Judy Leigh. I live in a tumbledown farmhouse in the South West. Before I was a full-time writer, I worked in theatre and education. When I’m home, I spend my time writing, or walking or cycling. I do Reiki healing and my three cats are great fans of it. I’ m a person of contrasts, I suppose; I love the city and the countryside; Il  adore live music and mosh pits but I also enjoy the tranquillity of the beach and being able to read a good book by the fireside.

I am SO excited about reading your debut novel, A Grand Old Time (released 3rd April with Avon) Please could you tell us a bit about it?

It’s the story of 75 year old Evie Gallagher who decides that life in a care home is not for her. She wanders into Dublin where she decides to try her hand at gambling. Her journey begins, from Liverpool to Brittany and then to the south of France in a camper van. She has adventures and meets people who cause her to think about what she really wants from life. However her son and his wife decide to follow her and bring her home. But they have big problems of their own…

I love the premise of the story and the idea that it’s never too late to have the time of your life. Where did you find your inspiration for the novel?

It came from the idea that older people are often expected to slow down, behave sensibly and somehow sink into the background, yet their lives are rich with experience and they have so much more to offer. I love the iconoclastic personalities who can be feisty, mischievous and thirsty for new experiences. I’d have loved my Mum to have taken Evie’s journey and I hope the novel inspires people to seek out new experiences, whatever their age.

Evie sounds like a fantastic character and I love her already without even have read the book! Is she entirely fictional or is she based on anyone in real life?

Evie’s feistiness and not caring what people think of her is based on my mother. A few of Eve’s mischievous comments are straight from my own Mammy’s lips.

How did you get inside the mind of a seventy-five year old character?

Evie may have lived a longer time than many of us, but she has the same need to discover new things, to be appreciated, to be loved and to surprise herself. We are all on a journey of self-discovery and, like Evie, we want new experiences and adventures. It isn’t hard to imagine what sort of future we all want for ourselves.

A Grand Old Time is your debut novel. How does it feel to be launching your work into the big, wide world?

It is thrilling - an adventure in itself. It is a real privilege to be in a position where people relate to a character I’ve created.  It is so nice to be able to entertain people and if the book makes readers laugh (or cry) then I am delighted. 

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes. I’ve written lots of smaller things but I love the discipline and the mental journey of writing novels. A hundred thousand words is such fun.

Who are some of your favourite authors and which genres of books do you enjoy reading?

I have just read Jeanette Winterson’s A Gap in Time and I loved it. I like Roddy Doyle, Toni Morrison, Sarah Winman, Martin Amis. I will read almost anything but I enjoy novels with beautiful words and strong, fascinating protagonists. I read Ruth Hogan’s The Keeper of Lost Things and I thought it was inspirational.

And finally, can you tell us a bit about what you’re up to at the moment?

I’m editing my next novel and writing two more, all about a variety of women who embark on surprising adventures of some sort. I’m also trying to renovate the old cider press in my barn. I’m likely to have a lot of spare apples this summer and I‘d hate to waste them…

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