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Judy Leigh talks about the inspiration behind her first novel, A Grand Old Time


Interview by Ceri Wheeldon

judy leigh author interview

I love to feature women on the website who follow their dreams over 50. Today I am sharing my interview with Judy Leigh, who has published her first book,  A Grand Old Time, and shares the inspiration behind it.

About Judy

I live in the south west in a tumbledown farmhouse. When I’m not writing, I enjoy yoga, cycling, live music, theatre. I am a Reiki healer and I have three cats.

When did you start to write?

When I was three. I have always written anything I could – poetry, short stories, songs. I love writing 100,000 word novels most.

What have been the challenges for you?

Not having enough time to write in the earlier days. When I worked a long day and had a child under each arm, it was quite tough to make time for myself. Mums put their children first and sometimes there’s not much left over. I have loads of time to write now. It’s glorious.

What did you do prior to this?

Taught theatre. I loved it.

I also managed to write things for my students – monologues, plays, a pantomime.

When was your first book published?

April 2018

What is the title of your latest book?

A Grand Old Time

What was the inspiration behind your latest book?

Probably my mum, who never had the chance to do what Evie Gallagher, my protagonist does at 75. She’d have been exactly like Evie, full of mischief and fun.

What can you share with us about the plot – without spoiling the ending!

Evie is a 75 year old widow. She walks out of the care home in Dublin and begins a road trip, which takes her to France. She buys a camper van and takes off on adventures to find out who she really is. There is a septuagenarian hunk in the mix too.

Who are the key characters – and how do you hope readers over 50 will relate to them?

I hope everyone will relate to them. Evie is an older heroine and a role model for older people as she has adventures in later life, is feisty, mischievous, swears and gambles at times. I hope older people find her behaviour fun and inspiring. Her son and his wife follow her to bring her back, thinking she won’t cope alone. Most of us know how it feels, worrying about ageing parents who want to be independent. Brendan has his own marital situation to consider as things aren’t going well for him.

What do like the most about the character/s you have created?

Evie is irrepressible and has such a love of life. She isn’t afraid to try anything, although in her own way she is vulnerable, she is also brave and wickedly funny. Brendan and Maura have a learning journey to make before they can be happy.

Are there any key issues you wanted to draw attention to?

I want to show that all people can have adventures whatever their age.

They can take stock of their lives and take steps to become the person they want to be. Laughter keeps people young, perhaps.

What do want readers to take away having the read the book?

I want them to be entertained, to have smiled, laughed and cried a little too. I want them to have had a grand old time themselves while reading the book.

What’s next for you – will there be a sequel with the same characters?

Perhaps. I have an idea for a sequel. I’m editing a second book currently, about a protagonist who picks herself up from a bad situation and learns to fight her way back to happiness by going on lots of ridiculous random dates.

What 3 tips would you offer women looking to write their first book?

Firstly, I’d suggest that people believe in themselves, that they can do it.

Then research the industry and find out what is entailed in writing a book in terms of style and publication.

Finally, have a blast writing – if you enjoy writing your book then your readers will enjoy it. It is all about entertaining the person who is reading the book first and foremost.

Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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