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Judith Pella

John 9:25(KJV) - "He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not:one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind now I see."

Our Interview with Judith Pella

What is your favorite Bible verse?

John 9:25, KJV

What led you to become CBA author?

I think writing inspirational themes just came naturally out my faith. All my life I was making up stories so the two things just naturally blended together.

How did you meet Michael Phillips?

He and I co-wrote my first book. Michael Phillips was a classmate of my sisterís in college and they went to the same church and were involved in all the same Christian groups. They became good friends and then they went their separate ways; my sister got married and moved away. In the meantime, I had moved up to live with my sister before she moved away and met Michael and Judy Phillips. Eventually I got married and Michael Phillips and my husband became very good friends through Christian groups and churches. At that time I started writing again. Michael just happened to see what I was writing and heíd wanted to do a Scottish fiction book. Thatís when he asked me if I wanted to collaborate with him and I thought, sure. He had published several of the MacDonald series. Heíd also published 2 or 3 non fiction books. Heíd already published for Bethany House. We finished and sent in ďThe Heather Hills of Stonewycke,Ē the first book in the Stonewycke series, the first book I published, and the first one that we wrote together.

How did you choose story line for Mark of the Cross?

Actually, Iíd never really been much into the Middle Ages until my husband and I went to England in 1996. Iíd gone with the intention of doing research. I think at that time I was thinking of the WW II series, having more of an English setting; London and the bombings. The other part of it was 19th century England and Iíd already done 19th century Scotland. Once I got there, with all the castles and the tapestries I was easily transported back to the era.

We went to one place with reenactments of Medieval tournaments. Another intriguing place was Hampton Court which was more 15th century but still it was fascinating where people went around in costume and all the things from Henry the 8th. I knew then that I just had to write something that would include this time period.

How did you choose the 12th Century?

In my research of the era I came across the de Montfort rebellion in England and that caught my interest especially when I learned there was a Crusade shortly afterward. I really wanted to deal with the Crusades. Thereís more out there now compared to a few years ago in the Christian genre, but there is still very little. I had a hard time getting anyone interested in this. Another thing is that I hope to draw in male readers. My books have always been more adventure oriented. Thereís been romance in them of course. I like adventure stories and I always appreciate when I hear from male readers.

Do you have a preference for historical fiction?

Yes. Sometimes as a writer I want to branch out and try new things. However I think thatís where my voice is. I relate better to historical situations than contemporary ones. I love history. I think its fun every now and then to do something different. Iíve done some contemporary and Iíd like to write some humor.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

As I get older, Iím a lot more restless. My biggest challenge is always second guessing if Iím doing enough to promote the book. I hear about other writing friends who are doing conferences and workshops all over the country and I think maybe I should be doing that yet it scares me so I donít. I think it scares them too but I do admire them for doing it anyway.

How long did it take you to complete Mark of the Cross?

The actual book when I sat down and started writing it took eight or nine months.

Will this book turn into a series?

This is a stand alone book. I have ideas for other stories. I would like to do something about Phillipís children; in that era Edward 1st who had become the king during the story. Heís very well known for his wars against Scotland. He was just brutal. I would love to do something back in Scotland again.

How much research did Mark of the Cross take?

I didnít realize it at the time but I used my trip to France quite a bit later on when I was writing the book because some of the book takes place in France; for instance, when Phillip is standing on a bridge looking at Notre Dame Cathedral. I stood there and looked at that very scene so it really brought it to life for me. The trip was really important to this book.

Every time I turned around, I had to look up small things like: How did they tell time? Did they have candles then and what were they made of? Thereís a scene about beer. How did they make beer? There was so much more done than in the 19th century. One thing I didnít think of was a lace handkerchief. My editor said that lace wasnít invented then. I didnít know that.

Who was your favorite character in Mark of the Cross?

I liked Leticia and I was just so pleased, I didnít even plan this, when Leticia and Theo got together.

How do you formulate your story?

Basically I write off the top of my head. I tried to sit down and write outlines and it just bores me silly, so I have a six to eight page synopsis of where the story was going and of course much of that changes. Sometimes when I get stuck in the middle of a story, I might outline ahead a few chapters just to get me going again. Mostly, itís just by the seat of the pants.

Are there any new projects on the horizon?

Right now Iím working on a totally 180 degree turn from Mark of the Cross. Iím a quilter and for years all my friends have said that I should write something about quilters. I finally came up with a story set later in the 19th century and itís set in a quilters circle. The sewing circle is the back drop of the story.

Who is the person who most influenced you with your writing?

I would have to say Michael Phillip. I learned so much writing with him. He and I both have different styles in many ways but somehow they meshed.

What were your favorite books as a child?

I read all the time. One book I remember and I loved it and it influenced me in many ways was Caddie Woodlawn. I read a lot of the mysteries. My sister and I were really involved with Inherit the Wind. She had ordered it through maybe Scholastic Books and it was written like a play, so she and I got into doing it as a play, reading the parts and the dramas. As a teenager I was really into John Steinbeck. I canít imagine now how I could have been because he can be kind of depressing.

What message would you like your readers to take from Mark of the Cross?

I want people to be entertained and to enjoy the book, the story. I just donít think of messages.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

My goal is to write good entertaining fiction for people. Good, wholesome, clean fiction. I love to read for enjoyment, entertainment, escape and so I guess I just like to provide fiction for people to read just for those reasons.

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