I simply cannot imagine Edmonds author Judith Works living “a routine life”; but that is exactly what she professes was happening before she decided to attain a mid-life law degree and dash off to Rome soon after for an assignment with the United Nations.
Judith and I sat down to discuss her latest book, “City of Illusions” , which is now available for order through the Edmonds Bookshop (111 5th Ave. S.) and I learned more than I ever have from this talented, active local writer.
Join Judith (JW) and me (AE) as we discuss “City of Illusions” and how one young couple comes to terms with life, their marriage and their individual ambitions and sins – all with the backdrop of Rome as the gritty, glamorous city it is – steeped in illusion.
AE: Judith, thank you for joining me here at Café Louvre — I’m realizing just how busy you’ve become since your new book came out!
After my pre-read of your novel this past Autumn; my impressions of the characters in “City of Illusions” is that they are memorable, headstrong, and conflicted! The perfect recipe for a great book. But let’s start at judging the book by its cover – “City of Illusion” is a gorgeous book.
JW: Yes, and I have Greg Simamson of Simamson Design Co. to thank for that. Although I’ve never met him in person Greg and I ‘clicked’ in our on-line friendship and I quickly learned to trust his artistic sense.
AE: You’ve never met him? How is that?
JW: We were paired through the book’s publisher, Booktrope. The Bookrope approach is to build a team around a manuscript that allows the author more influence than is traditionally allowed in the world of book publishing. Booktrope founders Ken Shear and Katherine Sears built a great design, editing, production, and marketing team for “City of Illusions” – and this includes bringing Greg onto the team.
AE: I’m familiar with the success of your non-fiction travel book, “Coins In the Fountain.” Why switch gears with a novel?
JW: I wanted to explore the ex-pat life from a very different perspective than that which my husband and I experienced. With the allowances that fiction affords I could include the delights of course; but also the potential for problems.
AE: Problems in what context?
JW: As an ex-pat (regardless of what second country one is living in) one is suspended between two countries – one’s own country and the host country. There are opportunities that a tourist doesn’t experience.
AE: You’ve been very careful to note that the experience of your two main characters, Laura and Jake is nothing like the life in Rome that you lived. Fill us in a little?
JW: Well (laughing) I was never even remotely involved in antiquity theft, but it is such a huge problem and there is a lot of curiosity about the topic. It made the perfect “storm center”. While I was living in Rome I observed many married couples having affairs, as though life is suspended.
My husband Glenn and I married in 1971 and we’ve always remained dedicated to each other – but living in a 12-unit Rome apartment building – with only one other resident speaking English – we observed a lot – that translates!
AE: Please fill us in on the synopsis!
JW: The synopsis goes like this: Laura longs for warmth and excitement in her marriage and her life. Her impulsive response to a job posting in Italy leads her to cook Jake’s favorite Italian dinner to persuade him to take the leap from the comfortable confines of Seattle to unknown Rome. But the move turns out to be anything but a holiday. Behind the fountains, trattorias, and facades of ancient buildings lurk scheming art dealers and a Machiavellian co-worker who impact Laura’s marriage in ways she never imagined.
Will Laura find love among the ruins? Or will her dreams turn out to be illusions?
AE: Well, of course I know the answers to those compelling questions; and it is so worth the read! Are there any experiences you personally had that you left out of “City of Illusions” ?
JW: Yes! Falling off the subway platform and being rescued before the subway train arrived! I was in such a hurry one morning as the station became more and more crowded. In spite of many people there trying to help me, take a look at my injuries, and such I limped off to my office just happy to have survived my near-miss!
AE: My goodness! What a close call! Getting back to your novel, one of the first places Laura and Jake visit is the Trevi Fountain – which seems to feature prominently in both your books.
JW: Yes, I do tend to set my scenes in my favorite places – Trevi Fountain being among them. I have mind’s eye memories of our arrival in Rome; looking for our apartment, the fragrance of freshly baked bread, the noise out on the street. One memory at a time was incorporated into “City of Illusions” , which took four years to write.
AE: With your busy schedule, I can easily imagine the challenges of finding time to write a novel as exciting and full of life as “City of Illusions” . What all are you involved in?
JW: Many Edmonds organizations, actually – like Friends of the Library and being a board member of Edmonds Center for the Arts. I’m active in EPIC Group Writers and I’m also on the steering committee of Write on the Sound.
AE: Well, I won’t keep you any longer. My Edmonds News and Artfully Edmonds would like to thank you for your time today and wish you much success on your new book, “City of Illusions”. If you’d like to follow Judith’s active life, she blogs at “. . . A Little Light Exercise”.
— By Emily Hill