Shootin’ the Breeze With Sarah Jude

Hello Readers!

Let me tell you a little story. A few months ago, while walking the floor of ALA’s Mindwinter meeting, I spotted a book. I didn’t know much about what this book was about and at that point I hadn’t heard of the author. But judging from the (beautiful) cover I knew I needed to read this book! I have no explanation why, but I just knew I needed to read this book. That book was The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude.

I was lucky enough to be given an advanced copy of this book from the publisher (thanks Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!). A few short weeks later I read the book, my mind reeling and spinning in every direction. I loved it! But you knew that based on my review already.

Anyway,  after reading I knew I had to chat with author Sarah Jude. And fortunately for me, and for you dear readers, she so graciously agreed to do an author interview!

Want to know what we talked about? Well, wait no more!

BookBandit (BB): Can you tell a little about yourself, and your path as a writer?

Sarah Jude (SJ): I think my Twitter profile sums me up best: Episcopalian, Mama, Authoress. My husband and I have been together since we were teens, and we have three children. If I’m not writing, I’m probably in the garden, curled up with my dogs, or at a stable getting in some horse time.

I’m open about having anxiety, panic attacks, and OCD. Writing is therapeutic. I knew very young that I wanted to be an author. Life derailed that dream when I lost my mom and had my daughter in short order, but after a few years, I tried again and signed with my agent, Miriam Kriss. In 2012, I began writing MQM. She pushed me to finish as she knew it would be the one.

BB:  What was the inspiration behind your upcoming novel, The May Queen Murders?

SJ:  MQM came from a few different places. I live near woods and water, and it’s a short ride before I find myself in the Ozarks foothills. The superstitions paved the way for the story to come about. It was the first time I’d ever written about female friendships and explored the ugly side of being close to someone.

BB: What kind of research went into writing this book?

SJ: I spent time talking to people who lived deep in the Ozarks. It’s a different way of life from the suburbs or cities. The appreciation for family stories and history is palpable. I also looked into off-the-grid communes where the people have solar power and hydroelectricity but lag in modern technology, along with some of the challenges they face when trying to be part of a bigger community.

BB: One of the first things I noticed, almost immediately,  while reading, is the color red. What significance does this color hold in regards to The May Queen Murders?

SJ: Red is a lot of different things. It’s eye-catching. It’s blood. It’s life. It’s pain or anger. It’s fire and passion. We use red in our warning signs, and Ivy’s certainly looking for signs.

BB: Besides the color read, I also picked up on your character names – why did you choose to name your characters after various plant life?

SJ: The characters who live in Rowan’s Glen have a naming tradition, and it goes back to the generation that founded the commune. In trying to get away from their modern society at the time, they chose names from nature as a way to be close to the land.

BB: If you had to describe The May Queen Murders in three words, what three words would you choose to describe it?

SJ: Mystery, community, secrets.

BB: A big part of the May Queen Murders is the environment in which the characters were raised – an environment filled with superstition and aged traditions. Is there one superstition and/or tradition that you held on to that helped inspire the ways of your characters?

SJ: The Ozarks traditions obviously influenced me. The old-timers have interesting beliefs about everything from predicting the weather to bringing a murderer to justice. This one man, a retired horticulturist, took me out on a boat and spoke of how they’d watch the trees and the river to know what was coming, both weather-wise and event-wise.

BB: What was the most challenging aspect of writing the May Queen Murders? What was the easiest part?

SJ: MQM picked at my old scars. A friend of mine was murdered when we were young adults, the cousin of my oldest friend. We all grew up together and were like family, and then she was gone. Female friendships are complex, and one of the things Ivy has to do is take a step back and look at her relationship with Heather as a whole rather than one argument or one day of laughter. It’s a hard thing to do.

The easiest aspect was Ivy’s relationship with the land and enjoyment of a simple life. I try to get away from all the busyness of day-to-day life and find those quiet moments.

BB: Can you tell of any upcoming projects you are working on?

SJ: I have a few projects in my pocket, though I’m not ready to discuss them. I will always write darker stories of mystery and murder and people with secrets, stories that explore sexuality, psychology, and faith.

BB: What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

SJ: One of the best things you can do is friend a critique partner or critique group who understand your writing and your story. Learn which people will give you feedback that resonates with you. Not everyone who reads your work is the right critic, but when you find someone who is, hang on tight. My main critique group has been together for over seven years. While our careers are busier and we don’t critique as much, we brainstorm, listen, and support one another. They are some of my dearest friends.

Well there you have it, dear readers! I don’t know about you, but after chatting with Sarah Jude, and learning more about the May Queen Murders, I want to read it all over again! And I hope it makes you want to run out and read this book!

Before signing off I just want to say THANK YOU to author Sarah Jude for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions! Please be sure to check out, not only her book the May Queen Murders, but also check her out online!

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The May Queen Murders

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

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Life in the Glen is not perfect, but at least it’s safe. At least that is what Ivy thought before …

Before her best friend and cousin Heather started acting distant, and pulling away, not just from their home of Rowen’s Glen but from Ivy too. Before the May Day festivities. Before Heather went missing.

Now, things are different. The town and the people Ivy once loved seem to be hidden behind lies and secrets. Not sure what to do, or who to turn to, Ivy decides to take matters into her own hands. If not one is going to help Heather, than it’s up to her to help her by uncovering the truth.

But will Ivy uncover the truth, or will she be buried by it?

The May Queen Murders, written by author Sarah Jude, is a haunting book that is filled with mystery and chill worthy intrigue.

The writing that filled Jude’s debut novel, simply put, is strong. Relying on vivid descriptions and old world superstition, Jude truly creates a picture in reader’s minds. Beyond that, The May Queen Murders is full of subtle hints that will, not only help unravel the truth, but will also leave readers captivated and engaged in the story.

The characters that live and breathe of the pages of this book are unique. They are both honest and flawed, and are the kinds of characters that readers will root for and sympathize with. As much as this story is about the people of Rowen’s Glen, it truly is Ivy’s story. Main character Ivy is wise beyond her years, and reader’s will quickly find that she fights and fiercely as she loves.  While making missteps, reader’s will follow her willingly while she pieces together the mystery of the horror that has taken over the Glen.

There are many aspects of The May Queen Murders that make this such a great book. One of those aspects is the setting of the Missouri Ozarks. The only words that come to mind are lush and evocative. Besides the setting the other aspect that will really capture reader’s attention are the superstitions that this community of people was built upon. They are full of both old world charm and fear.

There is a lot to love about Jude’s The May Queen Murders. Take my word on it, and read it! You won’t be disappointed!

(Above image from GoodReads)

Lists Galore (#13)

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(The above image is from My Future Listography by Lisa Nola)

Hello Readers!

The sun is out, the weather is (finally) warming up, and I’m back with another edition of Lists Galore! Today I’m going to be talking all about habit!

Today’s topic is ….

List of Habits to Break

We all have habits – both good and bad. Sometimes I feel like I have more than my fair share of bad habits. And when I feel that way, I think to myself “self, you need to break those!”

Here are the habits that I’d want to break in the future.

Picking my cuticles — It’s a nervous habit of mine. I pick and pick. Sometimes it’s because I’m anxious or nervous or stressed, and sometimes it’s because I just hate dead skin.

Leaving drawers open — I have a terrible habit of opening a drawer, taking whatever it is I need out, and close the draw … but leave it open just a crack. I don’t know why I do this, I just do.

Putting things off to the last-minute — I’ve always been one who works better under pressure. But lately it makes me stressed. Because of this, I’m also terrible with time management.

Making Piles —  My room is small. And when I don’t know where to put things I start making piles. I’m a messy person admittedly. And the piles don’t help.

Last Minute Annie — I wait to the last possible minute to take care of things. And I think this is because like mentioned before I work well under pressure. But the older I get, the more it starts to stress me out.

I’m sure I have a ton of other bad habits that I could list. But these are the top five that I could think of, and the ones I’d like to break most.  What habits would you like to break readers? Please share below!

Lists Galore (#12)

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                                      (The above image is from My Future Listography by Lisa Nolan)

Hello Readers,

How are you? I hope you are enjoying this sunny Sunday, and that you are excited about today’s list.

Today’s topic is …

List of Animals I’d Like to Adopt

I chose this topic because I love animals. I love them even though I am allergic to them. Yes, allergic. I know this is a terrible situation for an animal love to be in, but it’s the situation nonetheless.

But if I weren’t allergic these are the animals I’d want to adopt:

Weenie Dogs … lots of them!
Panda
Hedgehog
Meerkats
Silky Chickens
Hairless Guinea Pig (these are hypoallergenic, and because they are hairless, I’m probably NOT allergic to them.)
A white mouse
A miniature pig
An owl

I could list a ton more, but these are the top animals I’d want to adopt. What animals would you want to adopt readers? Please share in the comments!

Bloom

Bloom by Doreen Cronin and David Small

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Bloom is a fairy. Not just any kind a fairy, she’s a mud fairy with beetles in her hair and mud tracks following close behind. At one point in time she was a valuable member of the kingdom. But as time passed, everyone complained about the mess she made. Sad, she left the kingdom to live where no one would or could complain about her.

In the heart of the forest, Bloom can make as much a mess as she wants. There’s no one to tell her to stop, or to complain about it. There’s …. no one. Until  when the King and Queen come seeking our the “magical creature gone so many years ago.”  When they both find Bloom, they are disgusted by her response for help.

Not wanting to turn their backs on their once beautiful castle, the king and queen enlist the help of Genevieve, an ordinary girl with no discernible talents.

But when Genevieve stumbles upon Bloom in the heart of the forest,  will Genevieve be enough to convince Bloom to come back and help save the glass castle?

Bloom written by Doreen Cronin and David Small  is a fantastical modern fairy tale that will capture both reader’s attention and hearts.

The writing that fills this beautiful picture book is anything buy ordinary. Not only is it fun and whimsical, but it’s smart, strong, and packs a really great message. for readers of all ages.  In fact, it’s said message that spoke to me most. I really loved how this book showed readers that even if you think you’re ordinary, you are capable to do extraordinary things.

The writing isn’t the only aspect of Bloom that makes this book great. The pictures that fill the pages do too. Set against a cream-colored background, the images pop off the page. Beyond that they truly tell the story.

There is a lot to love about this book. And I could probably go on and on … and on and on about it. But I think that you should read it, experience, and find out what you love about it.

Lists Galore (#11)

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(The above image was created by me via PicMonkey.com for the purpose of this post)

Hello Readers!

When I was young I thought I’d grow up to be one of two things – a lawyer or a fashion designer. Looking back, I have no idea why I wanted to be either. As I grew up and grew into my own, I realized what it was I truly wanted to be. I wanted to be an author. I wanted to write in some way, shape, or form.

I went to school and studied journalism with the hopes of becoming a music journalist – combining my love of writing and music. I had lofty dreams that I’d be writing about the hot new bands hitting the scene in Rolling Stone (yes! I even interviewed there). I went to school, I interned (not at Rolling Stone), I created my own zine, and when I STILL couldn’t find a job within that specific field, I decided to go back to school.

Like I said I wanted to be an author … I still do. But in my heart of hearts I wasn’t ready to write full-time. So I decided to become a librarian. At least this way I’d be surrounded by books and written words. And beyond that I’d have the chance to place books in the hands of those who wanted them most.

After a lot of reading, and a lot of commuting I graduated and shortly after found a job … no scratch that, a career within a library that I love. In a lot of ways I found my dream job, but that doesn’t mean I can’t or don’t think of the other jobs I dreamed of having.

Today’s list is dedicated to just that – dream jobs:

List of Dream Jobs

Admittedly, this isn’t going to be a long list. At this point in my life there is only one other dream job. And that is ….

Travel Agent.

I know that may seem strange to some, but I LOVE to travel. I love the adventure of it. And the chance to see and learn about a new, foreign land. Just as much as traveling I love planning trips. Seriously! When I can’t sleep at night, that’s exactly what I do. I pick a foreign location, I price flights, I read reviews of the best but cost-effective hotels in the area, and even go as far as creating an itinerary.

I can’t explain it, it’s just fun! And I think getting the chance to help someone plan their dream destination would be, not only fun, but also rewarding.

What are your dream jobs, dear readers? Please share in the comments.

April Reading Tracker

AprilTracker

(The above image was created by me for the purpose of this post via Picmonkey.com)

Hello Readers!

March was a whirlwind. Yes, a whirlwind. Honestly, I feel like March just started, and reality is … it just ended! Where did the time go.

With a busy work schedule, my birthday, and a holiday thrown in for good measure, it’s easy to understand that I did NOT make my reading goals for March. Originally I set out to read a total of four books – a reasonable goal in my opinion. But time and the lack of time management got the best of me this month.

I started (once again) to listen to the audio version of The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, but didn’t get very far. Admittedly, I ran out purchased the new Gwen Stefani CD and have been listening to it on repeat ever since.

Not only did I not choose a wild card read, but I didn’t get a chance to read a wild card read either. I’m not too disappointed since I never really decided on what that wild card read would be.

I did however read The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. You’ll have to wait a few more weeks for my full review. And while I’m talking about books I DID in fact read, while I didn’t finish it, I am halfway through Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky. It’s a fun read that’s for sure, but it’s taking me longer than expected to read it.

I’m not going to focus on the books I didn’t read in March. No, I’m going to move forward with a new reading tracker.  Once again, I’m planning on reading a total of four books

Recently Released Book: (Finish) Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Backlist Book: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway

Short Story Collection: Summer Days & Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins

Something Witch-y: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

These are the books I am hoping to read during the month of April. What books are on your April reading list readers? Please share in the comments!