Childrens' Fiction to Thriller's, with Judi Getch Brodman
Updated: Apr 26, 2019
We’re joined today by children’s author and mystery writer, Jui Getch Brodman.
Judi, writing children’s fiction in honour of your sister must have been quite cathartic, but going from there to mystery novels is quite a jump. Have you stopped writing YA now, and why mystery?
Writing the ‘Fiona the Firefly’ series became my grieving process for my sister. She had always wanted to write a book about a firefly, but never did so. I began writing it while she was in hospice. I would read the pages that I had written to her and she loved them. I had written only the first chapter when she died and I used those months after her death to stay close to her by writing about Fiona’s adventures.
That said, I had never planned on writing a children’s book. To tell you the truth, I found it much harder to write to that level reader than to write to adults. Not only does a children’s story have to be well crafted, but the wording and expressions have to be engaging to the child. Will I write another? I never say never. J I do love Fiona and Lizbeth, and hope they continue to sell as the proceeds feed a scholarship fund that I set up in my sister’s name.
Why mysteries? I love a good mystery – always have. It’s like solving a puzzle and most people find puzzles intriguing. A good story line allows me to grow my characters… place them in situations where they have no one but themselves to rely on. In ‘She’s Not You,’ Jamie starts out carrying enormous sadness along with anger. But as I’ve discovered, burying myself in a task helps me grieve and so does Jamie. Jack, the male character, is strong with a bit of a hard edge. I found that I could smooth that edge using the mystery and Jamie. The two of them become a perfect crime solving team and will continue in the next Oyster Point Mystery, ‘Treat Me Nice’. They also find that they ‘kinda’ like each other...
Writers often use pen names for different genres, to avoid reader confusion. What are your views on this?
I feel using pen names are a writer’s choice. I doubt that I’ll ever choose to do that, but you never know. I carry my family name as my middle name for a reason…my father was an only boy and he had three girls. Our family name dies with us so I carry it for him. He died when I was young and was such a good man and father. I also use my family name for my twitter account (@judigetch). So, at this point, I don’t see myself using a pen name, but that’s my personal choice.
With a strong background in the sciences and the corporate world, do you find yourself building this into your work?
How could I not use my computer background as part of my stories? Jamie, in ‘She’s Not You,’ is a computer security consultant. Her skills along with her network of computer security specialists allow her to delve into data bases and secure information that the ordinary person has no chance of seeing. That said, I find myself attracted to articles pertaining to new scientific breakthroughs that allow us to find more criminals. Each Oyster Point mystery deals with cold cases. Some are horrifying but start you thinking what if? And that’s another thing, when you write about a cold case the research is enormous. The cases that I include in the stories are inspired by real cases, but are never the actual case.
Working at NASA must have been amazing. How did you get into that, and have you ever written fiction about the space industry itself, or its potential future developments?
I couldn’t read enough Sci-fi when I was young. I still love to watch old TV series about space, like the Buck Rogers’ stories, or old movies like ‘War of the Worlds’. I was a science geek from a very early age. My undergraduate degree is in Math and Physics and my Masters in Computer Engineering.
When I first entered the workforce, I lucked out and secured a dream job, a mathematician analyzing the fuel cells used to power our spacecraft. My career continued to become better and better. I worked on radar in the Marshall Islands, reservation systems for a Spanish airline, patient care system, trainers for pilots… All the work was truly amazing.
As for space, I can’t even begin to describe the amount of work and dedication that it takes to build some of the space vehicles that we watch lifting off today. I was fortunate enough to see the last launch of the Discovery shuttle when it took off from KSC. The ground rumbled, the roar was deafening, and the sound waves amazing. My heart pounded, and still does as I race to the beach to watch a launch. Now we see what SpaceX engineers are able to accomplish and I’m jealous. So, having performed a lot of space related activities, I’m not sure that I could do a Sci-fi novel justice. But again, one never knows.
Your newest novel, ‘The Looking Glass Labyrinth’, is a time travel mystery. Please tell us how it evolved.
‘The Looking Glass Labyrinth’ was a story that I had thought about for a long time. I had stayed at the Wellfleet house that I use as the background for the novel. It was built by a sea captain, and his descendants still owned it and sailed the seas. Wellfleet, a town on Cape Cod where I spent summers as a child, is rich in seafaring history so it’s not surprising to people who know me that my stories revolve around the town and its history. I’m also a history buff, so researching 1804 was a fun but a time-consuming task.
Time travel is always intriguing – how does it happen, what can you change if you go back, and will you want to return? I guess, now that I think about it, I could write a time travel about the future, a bit of Sci-fi?
Lastly, could you explain your writing process: do you plan out your book and do in-depth research in advance, or do so as you go?
First, I very rarely outline my stories. Most times I start with an idea and go from there. I do tons and tons of research on the subject, the place, the styles, the times = everything. Take for example the ‘Looking Glass Labyrinth’ we just talked about. I take you back to 1804 into a sea captain’s house in a seaport town on Cape Cod. Rachael’s transported there unexpectedly. What does she find, see, smell and feel?
I’m sure that those reading the book can’t imagine the hours of research that went into every detail of the house, the dresses, and the men of the times and yes, even the maids and what they wore and called their mistresses.
I scoured articles on what women studied in those times and how my character became so educated in 1804. I even researched trading routes to see where Nathaniel, the sea captain, might sail and what items his ship would carry to and from those destinations. I want everything that I write to be as correct as I can make it. I think a reader will stop if there’s an error and say, “What, that can’t be!” And I don’t want that to happen, I want my reader to be immersed in the story and the times.
In ‘She’s Not You’ I have old yellowed letters from Jamie’s Pita and her boyfriend Billy writing back and forth to each other about the beginnings of WW II. He becomes a pilot over France – she waits for him, but experiences dreams. Tons of research to paint a short picture of these two young lovers and what they went through.
As for plots, I scour the Internet, newspapers for stories that ring a bell in my head J
The answer to your question about when I do the research is it depends. Since I really don’t plan out the stories ahead of time, my research occurs as needed. My current manuscript takes place in Boston and Paris. I saw an article that intrigued me and became the basis of the story. The characters then came along and they took me on their journey. I absolutely love the writing and the editing process. Creating a story and rich characters from your imagination is so awesome. And then you have to say goodbye to them after living with them for a year or more. Unless you write a series...
‘She’s Not You’, Blurb
A small, isolated fishing village on the tip of Cape Cod, a place where the town’s jail has one cell with a broken lock and the police force consists of the chief and two deputies, seems an unlikely spot for dead women to be washing ashore. And yet, so far this summer, two bodies have been discovered on the morning tide, both resembling each other and Jamie Janson.
Jamie returns to Oyster Point to clean out and sell her grandaunt Pita’s Cape Cod cottage, a place filled with family memories—when there had been a family. Her homecoming is marred by the discovery of a woman’s body during her morning run along the beach. Huddled around the seaweed encrusted form is a group of men, including Oyster Point’s Chief of Police, Jack Hereford. Is their meeting destiny, chance, or orchestrated by Pita? Jack soon realizes that Jamie’s emotional fragility belies her inner strength and courage—unspoken qualities by Pita when she asked him to watch over Jamie. That deathbed promise will turn out to be the toughest part of his job and maybe the best part of his life.
As Jamie settles into her life on the Cape, an unknown male with camera in hand shadows her everywhere—on the beach, around her cottage, even at Jack’s sister’s house. With her life spinning out of control, Jamie’s visions resume, dreams she hasn’t had since her parents were killed when she was sixteen. Making a vow to confront the stalker and keep him from forcing her to live in fear, she and Jack devise a plan to entice the suspected stalker out into the open. The scheme backfires and Jamie’s gone.
About Judi Getch Brodman
My undergraduate degree is in Mathematics and Physics, and my Master’s Degree is in Computer Engineering.
Early in my career, I worked in the space program as a mathematician analyzing the performance of the fuel cells powering the NASA spacecrafts. After that, I developed software for radar in the Marshall Islands. I traveled extensively working on an airline reservation system, on airport/airplane radar, on hospital patient care software, on trainers for pilots… on and on. I quickly moved up the corporate management ladder and when I had reached the top of the hierarchy, I started my own consulting company and co-founded another, specializing in software process improvement. As part of this field, I was invited to speak at conferences all over the U.S. and abroad. I published numerous technical papers, winning the Sparky Baird award for one of them.
Although software development was creative, I still felt that I hadn’t yet tapped my deeper creative flow. I had a great imagination as well as an ability to write. I combined these two qualities and began writing creatively, first publishing short stories and travel logs. Then, I dove deep into the fictional world.
Knowing I needed guidance, I joined writers’ groups, took Creative Writing courses and worked with authors in workshops whenever possible. I concentrated on learning all that I could about ‘good’ writing.
Then, inspired by the death of my sister in 2015, I wrote and published two children's books, ‘Fiona - the Lighthouse Firefly’ and ‘Fiona the Firefly - LOST!’. The titles are available on Amazon, the proceeds of which feed a scholarship fund that I set up in my sister’s name. Scholarships are being awarded to students studying Business and Technology. My sister had always talked about writing a children’s book. I hope that I did a good job in fulfilling her dream.
My debut novel was released in April 2018 (‘She’s Not You’ - a mystery with a splash of romance), has received outstanding reviews. I’m drafting a sequel, ‘Treat Me Nice’. My series is called ‘An Oyster Point Mystery’.
My newest novel, ‘The Looking Glass Labyrinth’, was published by Solstice Publishing (as was ‘She’s Not You’) in October 2018. It was a bit different for me; a time travel mystery with a dose of romance that was again very well received by the readers.
My newest mystery, ‘Dark Secrets’ based in Paris and Boston, is currently in editing.
I’ve been invited to book clubs, written about in newspapers, and invited to do a cable TV interview last December. In my spare time, I keep my hand in my technical background by performing my editorial duties for Wiley’s technical magazine, Journal of Software: Evolution and Process.