Thursday, May 06, 2010

Judi Fennell, Award Winning Author, Interviewed

Today I'm treating you to an interview with award-winning author, Judi Fennell. Judi is the creator of a Mer series that has met with outstanding success. Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to “get outside!” instead of watching "Bewitched" or "I Dream of Jeannie" on television. So she did--right into Dad’s hammock with her Nancy Drew books.

These days she’s more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she’s still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends’ books. A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she’s received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series. Check out her website a for excerpts, reviews and fun pictures from reader and writer conferences, and the chance to “dive in” to her stories, as well as a preview of her new series, beginning with I Dream of Genies, slated for January 2011.

Judi, welcome to A Writer's Life! We're excited you stopped by for a visit.

Hi, Caroline! Thanks for having me.

Judi, tell us something about yourself that would surprise most readers.

Something that will surprise readers? Hmmm… I’m not all that surprising. Pretty much what you see is what you get, but this might be interesting:

I started twirling a baton in 3rd grade. Because my posture was bad, my mother thought twirling and marching would help straighten my back out. I ended up loving it and twirled all through junior high and high school, and, while I didn’t try out for Penn State’s Blue Band, I did participate in the Syndicate Indoor Color Guard. I’ve twirled batons (sometimes 3 at a time), machetes, sabres, rifles, swing flats, flags, fire batons, and hoops. (And more than my share of pencils…) In my senior year of high school, I was one of the feature performers and did a four-spin with a forward roll in tandem with another girl. I worked up to being able to do a six-spin.

Sadly though, ever since having my kids, I can barely do a one-spin. The hormones went wonky on my sense of balance. I loved twirling; my junior year we won State Champions.

Your books about mermaids and mermen are fascinating and well-received and your next series is about genies. Were you interested in mermaids and magic as a child or did this begin when you started writing?

I belonged to a swim club called Mermaid Lake Swim Club growing up, if that answers your question.  And, yes, my friends and I used to play “mermaid”—where you had to swim with your legs together as if you had a tail. Ah, the pleasures of those days!

I’ve always loved magic and fairy tales. I still love Disney movies to this day, and have said that they wrote “Enchanted” just for me. It’s one of the (few) movies I have downloaded on my iPhone, actually. And I had my cousin who was a magician do a magic show at my eighth birthday.

My favorite TV shows were "Bewitched," "I Dream of Jeannie," "The Addams Family," "Casper The Friendly Ghost," "Shazaam" and "Isis" (Saturday morning live-action show along with the animated "Aquaman and Marineboy"), as well as "Greatest American Hero," and the list goes on. Funny story: when I was about 5 or 6 years old, my mom looked a lot like Elizabeth Montgomery. This was in the early seventies, back when we had televisions that had to “warm up” after you pushed or pulled the on-button. My mom had turned on the TV but left the room. I came in, sat down, then she came back in, and I said, “Can you turn on the TV?” Mom wiggled her nose and, presto! The television came on!

Needless to say, I was very impressed.

So, to answer the question, I guess you could say I’ve always been interested in it.

Your writing is very creative. Write a short paragraph using these words: castle, fish, damsel, blackberries, tea kettle.

Chum swam through the castle window and around a tea kettle that was now more green than copper. Next to it, a small clamshell of blackberries sat under netting Nettie had pilfered from a passing fishing boat. That damsel-fish… she was going to get caught yet. He tried to tell her, tried to warn her, but she just kept playing chicken with the fishermen. And he got no support from Angel; the Mer princess was all about collecting Human items—hence the fruit. Soggy though they might be, to Angel—and now Nettie—the berries were some sought-after prize. The two of them and their explorations were enough to give Chum a heart attack.

What's your favorite food? (Please don't say fish!)

Hands down, ribeye steak and homefries with Green Giant shoepeg white corn in butter sauce. My version. My kids love it, too, so we have it at least once a month, usually when Hubs travels. Thank God for Costco and their delicious ribeyes.

You must spend a lot of time on your writing and promotion. When you're not writing or reading, what are your interests?

Honestly, there’s never a time when I’m not writing or reading. I’m a voracious reader and when I started writing for publication I had to give some of my reading time up. So when I have “free time” (what is that again?), I pick up a book.

I do manage to squeeze time in with my family. We like to go kayaking and are planning a great vacation out west this summer. Really looking forward to that.

I also get together with my “Survivor Girls” every Thursday night—whether Survivor is on television or not. We’ve been doing it since the beginning of the third season and I really look forward to it.

Anything else you'd like to tell readers.

I’ve been so blessed to have such great readers, people who have remembered me from the online contests I’ve done and who have followed and believed in my career long before there was an actual career. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of them in person and I love getting the chance to tell them how much their support and enthusiasm has meant as I’ve pursued this dream. Current company included, Caroline!

Judi, thank you so much for stopping by. You're a fun writer and a fun person.

Thanks so much for having me. It’s been an honor and a lot of fun!

Check out Judi's website for updates on her writing, excerpts, upcoming releases, and booksignings at
Sourcebooks, Inc.
February, 2010

Angel's on a mission to save the planet…

Mermaid Angel Tritone has been researching humans from afar, hoping to find a way to convince them to stop polluting. When she jumps into a boat to escape a shark attack, it’s her chance to pursue her mission, but she has to keep her identity a total secret…

When he finds out what she really is, they’re both in mortal danger…

For Logan Hardington, finding a beautiful woman on his boat is surely not a problem—until he discovers she’s a mermaid, and suddenly his life is on the line…

What people are saying about CATCH OF A LIFETIME:
"Readers will adore the joy and humor and romance from Judi Fennell's creative pen."

- Jill Barnett, New York Times best-selling author

"Fennell's got detailed worldbuilding, creative secondary characters and an impressive use of mythology in this great read. While this title is part of a series, it works well as a stand-alone. Angel and Logan are both incredibly textured characters.

-RT BookReview Magazine 4 Stars

"It’s a hit. This was one awesome series and this book was a wonderful conclusion."

Night Owl Romance, Top Pick

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you'll return tomorrow.


Some Girl said...

What a great interview, Judi! I adored your third grade baton story, makes me fondly remember being on rifle drill in high school.
One of my favorite shows growing up was The Man From Atlantis with Patrick Duffy. I even swam like him for years!
Looking forward to reading your book!

Judi Fennell said...

Thanks, Some Girl! All those hot summers, marching up and down the football fields getting ready for cavalcades! How I grumped about it at the time, but love it now.

And, yes, I loved Man From Atlantis, too. And, of course, Patrick Duffy. The man is still hot today!

Sorry I'm a little late checking in. Had to run my grandmother to a dr. appt.

Other Lisa said...

Okay Judi -- I want some visual evidence of this baton twirling career! Photos! A current demonstration, even if it's only one twirl!

Enquiring minds, etc.

Sandra Crowley said...

Judi, your mer series sounds like a great way for someone who's never been really comfortable in deep water, that's me, to still have fun in it.
Best of luck with your new genie series. I still watch Jeanie re-runs. lol
Loved your creative paragraph. Great idea, Caroline.
Thanks, Judi, for spending time with us. Thans, Caroline, for inviting her.

Judi Fennell said...

yes, thanks so much for having me, Caroline, and for everyone for stopping by. Sandra, count me in the crowd of uncomfortable in the ocean--it's not the water; I can swim. It's what's IN the water that does me in. :)

And, Other Lisa, I'll work on scanning some of those pictures.

Have a great night, everyone. I'm off to my Survivor Girls' get-together.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to comment.