Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for July: (7/6) Jennifer J. Chow (7/13) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 1--Ice Cream Shop Mystery), (7/20) Susan Van Kirk, (7/27) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 2--Ice Cream Shop Mystery).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gloria's Interview with Judy Hogan

Judy Hogan is our guest today on WWK. I first met Judy at Malice Domestic in 2009. Since that time we've become friends.

Judy's debut novel, Killer Frost, published by Mainly Murder Press is now available. It's an academic mystery taking place in a historically Black College called St. Francis in Raleigh, North Carolina. Penny Weaver agrees to fill in for a fired teacher and finish out the term teaching a remedial English class. She discovers the college has many problems including too many students not functioning well enough to be there. A few weeks into what seems like a hopeless teaching situation, there's a murder and her boss is the prime suspect.

I found Judy Hogan's characters well developed. Her writing and plot kept me intrigued and wanting to read just one more chapter before going to bed. She also kept me guessing to the end on who the murderer was.

GA      Your setting made me think it was an actual college. Is St.              Francis based on a real college or a composite of colleges
             you've attended or taught at?

JH        I used some details from a black college in Raleigh, where I taught remedial English from
             2004-2007. It helps in setting a scene to have a real place in mind. The events are fiction, but
             the situation in which I found myself is pretty much the way it was when I began. I started
             six weeks into the semester, found the students hard to motivate, and many reading at grade
             school level. I was shocked they had high school diplomas, much less allowed into college.
             If they were reading and writing at middle school level, I could usually get them motivated
             enough to pass college-readiness tests by the end of the semester, but grade school level? It
             seemed cruel to give such young people the hope of a college degree when they were bound
             to fail.

GA       I like your characters, especially Penny Weaver. How much of yourself is in her?

JH         I use myself a lot for her, although I'm single, and Penny is happily married to a Welsh
              policeman. Penny is probably both wiser and more foolish than I am. Perhaps she's how I
              wish I were; always able to solve problems. However, she gets involved with murderers,
              which I've avoided so far, though I tend to take emotional and financial risks. She's also
              more comfortable having a roomful of people in her house. I like company sometimes, but I
              thrive on time alone.

GA        What plans do you have for the next book in the series?

JH          I've written the next book, which takes place at a farmers' market, Farm Fresh and Fatal,
               and sent it to Mainly Murder Press. Once I sell 300 copies of Killer Frost, it
               will be considered for publication.

GA         Many of your characters are close friends. Were there previous books with these
               characters? If so, why start with this book?

JH          I began my series in 1991 with The Sands of Gower. It takes place in Wales in a
               bed and breakfast where Penny meets Kenneth Morgan, whom she'll marry in a
               subsequent novel.Killer Frost is the sixth in the series. It was a finalist in the St.
               Martin's Press Malice Domestic First Best Traditional Mystery in 2011. I'd tried the
               previous ones in that contest without luck and decided to go with my strength once I was a

GA         I'd love to read those early books because I'm intrigued by the characters. Do you have
               plans to get them published?

JH          I'm hoping to get them into print either through a small press or Create Space once I see if
              people are interested in more books about Penny Weaver and friends.

GA        I know you live in North Carolina on a small farm. Tell us about that.

JH         In 1998 I bought three acres and the shell of a small brick home in the village of Moncure
              not far from Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. My dream for my old age was to grow
              vegetables, keep chickens and own a home. My farm is tiny. On a half-acre, I have an
              orchard with figs, peaches, pears and apples, chickens, vegetables and flower gardens.
              Farming is good exercise; preparing the soil with a shovel, stretching to pick figs, and using
              a weed eater and mower. I'm 75 and because I can't live on Social Security alone, what I
              grow helps stretch my income. In the summer, I make soups, stews and spaghetti sauce to
              freeze. I also can pears, applesauce, fig and pear preserves, and freeze raspberries and
              blueberries for the winter. It's easy to get behind, but I get some help from a few Duke
              University students, who volunteer for odd jobs, and friends who help me split wood for the
              woodstove in the winter. My neighbors feed my hens when I'm away. Farming is a good
              balance to writing, reading and computer work. I'm in better health than I've ever been.

GA        When is your book launch and other upcoming plans?

JH          My book launch will be on my farm Sept. 22; an inexpensive launch with people bringing
              pot-luck dishes and contributing drinks. I'll provide bread, tea, coffee, cheese, applesauce
              and fig and pear preserves. I've scheduled readings in three local libraries, three local
              independent bookstores and at two farmers' markets where I'll be signing and selling.

              I'm grateful I received favorable blurbs for Killer Frost's back cover from Louise
              Penny, Julia Spencer-Fleming and Kaye Barley. It made a huge difference in getting
              reviewers interested and bookstores and libararies wanting me to do an event.

              Killer Frost is available through and
              E-books are available both at Amazon for Kindle and Barnes and Noble for Nook.



Jim Jackson said...


Best of luck in your release. You've picked an interesting setting and have highlighted a major social problem in the U.S.(and then the body hits the floor and the mystery begins).

You've got some great names for blurbs. How did you get them to agree to read your book and provide a blurb?

~ Jim

Diane Schultz said...

Congratulations, Judy. I lived in Raleigh recently for a year so will be very intrigued to read your book and see how you solved it. I love your farm already, too. That's my personal dream as well. A small farm, my writing, and perhaps the blessing of a dog as company.

E. B. Davis said...

Judy and I wrote a joint article last year about our experiences at the Writers' Police Academy last year. Judy, I'm so glad your book was published!

My son's college had the same problem with getting kids up to speed on basic language and math skills. They accepted the fact that high schools were not doing the job that they were charged with. I find it ironic with all the emphasis on Standards of Learning, which most states are instituting, that these basics haven't been covered. The teachers seem more interested in how to subvert the standards allowing their kids to pass the tests than on teaching the basics. Of course, it makes them look better if their students' scores hit the passing mark. Texting and email and Ebonics don't help either. It's no wonder the quantity of readers is on the decline.

Good luck with the book, Judy!

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, I know Judy met Louise Penny when she was a starting author and interviewed her on her blog. She also met Julia Spencer-Fleming early in her career, too. She emailed me and is having trouble posting because of the goobly gook needed to post. I'm finding it more difficult lately to respond to other blogs, too. Hopefully, she'll be able to answer your question more fully later when she tries again. She needs to deliver eggs to someone at a farmer's market, I think, this morning.

Gloria Alden said...

Diane, I'm sure you'll like her book, and someday I'm hoping to visit Judy at her farm. We share a common interest in it, but my flock of chickens is only three, and I don't sell my vegetables or do anywhere near as much canning, preserving and freezing that she does.

Gloria Alden said...

E.B. parents and the pressure on teachers to teach to the test is as much a problem as teachers. Also, the motivation of the students themselves. I know we joked when my 3rd grade students started and didn't capitalize sentences or punctuating the end of the sentence that they weren't taught that in 2nd grade when the truth was was we had excellent 2nd grade teachers who taught that. Are there poor teachers out there? Of course there are as in any other field there are those who try to slide by with the minimum of effort, but there are far more excellent teachers than not.

Gloria Alden said...

Looking at the errors in my post, you're going to think I was a horrible teacher. :-) Put it down to the fact that I'm having trouble with my glasses and I'm in a hurry to get back outside to weed before it gets hot.

Gloria Alden said...

Jim Judy is still having trouble getting past the robot test. In addition to what I already told you about Penny and Spencer-Fleming, she kept up a correspondence with them for a while. When it came time to get blurbs for her book, she felt she had to be bold and ask. She asked six authors and four turned her down. Then she asked Kaye Barley, someone she'd blogged for once, and she said yes giving her a 3rd blurb. I guess her message is sometimes one has to be bold.

E. B. Davis said...


If you have a google account, log into it before commenting and the proving your not a robot stuff should be eliminated.

Patg said...

For Blogger it is best to have a Google account. It adds all your info and then all you need its the eyesight to see the robot letters and numbers. The techno part and marketing part of the writing life. ^o0^
Good luck, Judy.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Welcome, Judy! So glad to see you here at WWK! I'm so glad your book is out.

Judy moderated a panel on the academic mystery that I was on at Malice this year and did an excellent job. We got to be friends through email ahead of time and since.

So sorry about the Captcha nightmare stuff. I often find it a problem, too.

Gloria Alden said...

EB, Judy has a Goggle account, but that's good advice. I just left a comment before Linda did and got stuck with the gobbly gook which I think I got right, but when I hit publish it shot me to log-in which I did, but when I tried to go back to the blog again from my favorites all I got was the option of hitting WWW test site. It gets frustrating sometimes.

Pat, she does have a Google acct. but those robot proving things are getting harder and harder to figure out. I went to two blogs yesterday and the one with the numbers had hazy figures in the background and the letters were so jammed together it was almost impossible to decifer even with glasses on and then without.

Linda, that was a good panel. I enjoyed it and bought the books of everyone who was on the panel. Haven't read them all yet, but I did read yours, Robert Spiller's and Frankie Y. Bailey's. They were all well worth reading.

Gloria Alden said...

Another message I'm passing on for Judy. Apparently the robot still doesn't trust her.

I tried to post after following E.B.'s advice on logging in first, and it still didn't work.

Thanks, Diane, for your interest in my little farm. It's a good balance with writing and teaching.

Thanks, E.B. for cheering me on. The Police academy was a highlight for me last Sept.

Jim, I hope I answered your questions. It's good to let writers you admire know that. Even when they're famous, they like to know their readers love their work.

Actually, I'm taking 9 small ll-week old hens to market for another farmer this afternoon. They still have their wings unclipped. Wish me luck in catching them.

Judy through Gloria, who also seems to be having robot disagreements this morning, too.

Patg said...

Do you Gloria and Judy see the Choose an identity below the robot?
Is your Google nickname followed by (Google Account)have a dot next to it? And is it followed by Sign Out? Because if it is followed by Sign In, for some reason you need to redo for Google.
Remember the robot is case sensitive.
If it comes to it, you can do Anonymous and just sign your full name.

Lesley Diehl said...

Welcome to the Mainly Murder Press group of writers. I didn't know you were one of us, and I'm happy to meet you. Your book sounds fascinating, the setting is unusual. As a one time academic, I'm always interested in books set on a college campus. Good luck with your launch. It sounds like fun.

Gloria Alden said...

From Judy:

Thanks, Linda, for your kind words, and Leslie for your good wishes.

Yes, I am happy to be a Mainly Murder author.

Pat, I don't know about Judy, but a few minutes ago when I checked, it said "Sign Out" and because I didn't want to make a comment until
I saw if Judy had sent me a message, I logged off. Now it's telling me I'll be asked to sign in after submitting my comment - again. I already did it today, and it also has the prove you're not a robot gobbeldy gook for me to read.

Gloria Alden said...

Pat, from Judy,

It does have my identity, and it does say sign out. I can see the robot test is very hard to read. I'll try again. (Obviously it didn't go through so I'm passing this on.)

Thanks for everyone's interest and concern. It's never been this hard for me to post a comment when my google identity is right there, and I've posted on this site before, too. Oh, well. Judy