Friday, May 17, 2013

Interview with Author Judy Dailey by Jacqueline Seewald

Judy Dailey has an amazing resume. And no, I’m not exaggerating. Read on:
Award-winning author Judy Dailey grew up on an 80-acre organic farm in Indiana. Now she lives on a 1,200-square-foot urban farm in Seattle, Washington, with four chickens, a dog, and her husband. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, Judy earned an MBA from the University of Washington and a certificate in compost management. She has been a pilot, skydiver, spelunker, bicyclist, skier, and night-time sailor. She managed a multi-million dollar grant fund for affordable housing. She handcrafts salami, beer, and ricotta cheese. But her greatest challenge is eradicating the gray garden slug. Animal, Vegetable, Murder is her first traditional mystery. You can follow Judy on Facebook or find a recipe for haggis and eggs at

Judy, before we begin, I want to congratulate you on the excellent review your mystery novel received from BOOKLIST.

Question: What made you select the title and genre of your novel? 

Answer: Animal, Vegetable, Murder is a humorous cozy, but that’s not what I started out to write. After accumulating a stack of dark, edgy, blood-drenched manuscripts in the bottom drawer of my desk—and a slew of rejection slips, I realized the mysteries I enjoy are fast-moving and funny. So I decided to write something I would like to read. Well, duh! I’m embarrassed it took me five years to figure it out.

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: After my daughter left home, I quit a pretty nice job to write full time—not a truly brilliant decision. To economize, my husband and I decided to grow as much of our food as we could. We live in the city, so we dug up our whole back yard and planted vegetables. Then Seattle legalized urban chickens. I ordered newborn chicks from a hatchery in Missouri and ended up with six really cute babies living in a box in my office while I dealt with the rejection slips for my latest gritty thriller. Then the chicks turned in to sullen adolescents with an attitude, who flapped out of their box and pecked the keys off my computer. I decided to move them to our guest bathroom while my husband built a henhouse. After they had been in the bathroom about five hours, I checked on them and discovered chicken poop everywhere—floor, walls, heater vent, toilet seat, and soap holder. At that very moment my sister, who is a published author, telephoned. I started whining about rejections, and she offered classic advice, “Write about what you know.” I said, “Right now, all I know about is chicken poop.” And she said, “Well . . .?” Thus, Animal, Vegetable, Murder was born.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your latest novel?

Answer:  Sunny Day Burnett is 30-years old and a new widow. After growing up in the back of a station wagon with hippie, drug-dealing parents, she yearns to put down roots. She inherited her grandmother’s home in an exclusive Seattle neighborhood where she created an urban farm. Her wealthy neighbors scorn her vegetables and hate her hens. Then she finds the body of a Mercedes salesman in a patch of organic Swiss chard. Worse yet, he is clutching a picture that could rip her life apart.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  Five of my short stories have been published in magazines. My biggest thrill was selling a mystery to Women’s World, but they mixed up the layout and it was published under another person’s name.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  The Goat Cried Murder, which is the next book in my Urban Farm series. Sunny Day is a new mom with a big problem—she can’t nurse her infant daughter. She adds a goat to her urban farm so she can feed her baby organic milk. The goat discovers a murdered jogger, and then a masked man tries to strangle Sunny.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: I’m one of those people who started writing stories as soon as they could hold a pencil. I am drawn to mysteries because my mother died under mysterious circumstances when I was five-years old. I’m always asking myself what really happened.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: One of the speakers at Left Coast Crime, whom I greatly admire, said she had written 17 novels before her first one was published. I started feeling like a success because I had written only eight before I sold Animal, Vegetable, Murder. My point is—writers keep writing.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer: Animal, Vegetable, Murder is available now from most independent booksellers and, of course, online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million. People who would like a signed copy can buy one directly from my website at The first chapter of Animal, Vegetable, Murder is also posted on my website (

Note: Judy is available to respond to comments and questions from readers and fellow authors.


Patricia Gligor's Writers Forum said...

I agree. Writers keep on writing. It took me many years before I held the first copy of "Mixed Messages" in my hands. The most wonderful feeling in the world!
Now, I have two published novels and I'm working on the third book for my Malone mystery series. "Perseverance" should be every writer's middle name.

Anonymous said...

Judy, I'm an urban farmer, too! No animals yet, but we keep digging up more raised beds in the backyard. I think you'll hit a large audience with your novel, as urban farming is increasing by leaps and bounds. I saw you on a panel at LCC, and look forward to reading about those amazing chickens!
Catherine Dilts

Janis Patterson/Janis Susan May said...

I admire your abilities to urban farm. About the only thing I can grow in the backyard is squirrels, who live in hordes in our neighborhood and eat everything as soon as it blossoms. The chickens, however... Ick! Loathe the beasts, living or dead. Do hope you enjoy and prosper with yours, though.

Kaye George said...

I love the title of your second book! The plot looks great, too. Congrats on getting there, Judy!!

D'Ann said...

I live on an 80 acre corn farm, so I don't completey "get" an urban farm, but your book sounds fabaroo!

Gail Farrelly said...


Wow! What a resume you have. Lots of luck with the books. I second Jacquie's congrats on the excellent review by BOOKLIST. Very impressive!

Barb Goffman said...

Love your chicken poop story. Congrats on the new book.

Judy Dailey said...

Patricia--I read a recent interview with Ann Pagett (hope I spelled that right). She's amazing, of course. She said writing is a job, treat it like a job. That was so helpful to me after years of waiting for the muse to strike. Thanks for your thoughts. J

Judy Dailey said...

Catherine--wasn't LCC amazing? I loved meeting all those incredible authors I love plus the ones I know I'm going to love. I broke my book buying budget for the year, but it was worth every penny. Cheers, J

Judy Dailey said...

D'Ann--I realize we may look way too "precious" with our little urban farm compared to your life. (My husband has a name for every corn plant.) But after growing up on a real farm, I've got to have my own vegetables for the sake of my soul. All the best! J

Judy Dailey said...

Kaye--you have so wonderfully supportive through all the years plus an amazing example. Love ya! J

Judy Dailey said...

Thanks, Gail and Barb. What a wild ride this business is, eh? J

Anita Page said...

Judy, the book sounds like fun. I just read the first chapter on your website and I'm hooked.

Best of luck!

Judy Dailey said...

Hi Anita--How very kind! Thank you, Judy

Nancy Means Wright said...

A very interesting interview! I wholly agree with the advice to write what you know, and Judy obviously knows a great deal! The book is definitely on my list to read. BTW, I love goats, too--visited a nearby goat farm for my latest mystery and fell in love with them.

Betty Gordon said...

Judy, you have accomplished so much -- isn't life grand? Jacquie asked wonderful questions that allow us to explore your background as well as your new work. I look forward to reading the novel.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I'll just step in for a moment and thank each of you who has taken the time to post and offer debut novelist Judy Dailey such wonderful encouragement!

bdtharp said...

What a great interview, Jacqui. And Judy- it's obvious you know about a lot more than just chicken poop. Thanks for sharing your journey.

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