Saturday, February 4, 2017

Interview with Judith Graves, Young Adult Author

Judith Graves writes 'young adult fiction to die for,' is a screenwriter, musician, dog-lover and so much more! When not co-writing a series for Orca Book Publishers, she's co-publisher and acquisitions editor for Leap Books, LLC.

Despite knowing how busy she is, I had the nerve to ask her for an interview, and she agreed! I am so glad she took the time to answer a few questions about her life and writing, as well as what ELSE she's up to! (And I thought I was busy!)

Read on.....

About Judith's writing...

Lisa: Thank you so much for visiting me here, Judith. What do you write?

Judith: I’m published in young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as a crossover between young adult / new adult fiction (under the pen name, Judith Tewes). I also write scripts for film, TV, and the stage, as well as freelance articles for writing magazine and library blogs / journals. I’m just getting a feel for composing picture books. I guess you could say I dabble in a bit of everything.

Lisa: Why do you write what you do?

Judith: Other than my script work, which is more mature and features adult characters, I’ve settled in YA/MG and those voices are the ones that seem to come quite naturally. Does that mean I’m stuck in adolescence forever? Lol. Maybe, but it’s also likely because my husband is a high school social studies teacher and basketball coach, and I work in an elementary school library. We don’t have kids of our own – we have three fur babies! – but we’re surrounded by tweens / teens - their stories, hopes, struggles, and dreams. It’s quite helpful to be on the frontlines with my target audiences.

Lisa: Do you get the munchies while writing and if so what do you crave/eat?

Judith: I do! I’m known to have a secret stash of Smarties in my desk drawer. They’re perfect for picking away at during revisions. This is also why I have to get on my treadmill at least three days a week.

Lisa: What are you working on?

Judith: I have several projects on the go at any given time. Some lead to publication, some get set aside for future development. I’m waiting to get revision notes on INFILTRATE, my second book in the Retribution series published by Orca Book Publishers and am excited for that one to get born. The Retribution series is unique in that it’s written by myself and two other authors, Natasha Deen and Sigmund Brouwer Our characters are an unlikely team of teens who band together to take down adults in their lives who have done them wrong, which in turn leads them into taking on “cases” for other kids in need of their specialized skills. I should mention, our characters are anti-heroes: a car thief, a boxer, a hacker, and an art forger. Such a fun series to write and plan and plot – all with two additional creative minds and talents to bounce ideas off of. The initial three stories, EXPOSED by Judith Graves, BURNED by Natasha Deen, and UNLEASHED by Sigmund Brouwer, launched last year and the second batch are set to go this spring (TERMINATE by Natasha Deen), fall (INFILTRATE by Judith Graves), and then spring of 2018 (ESCALATE by Sigmund Brouwer). Each of us pen individual volumes in the series, taking the characters on different adventures. We have a nifty website that features the books if you want to check them out: And here are a few pics of us hamming it up during a young writers conference.

I’m thrilled that EXPOSED has been nominated for a 2017 Golden Oak Award through the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading program. As both a library technician and an author – it’s a huge honour to be noticed by such an authoritative organization.

A bit about Judith....

Lisa: Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?

Judith: I love hanging out with my husband and our three crazy mutts (two Labrador Retrievers and an English Mastiff), trying to capture cool moments via photography, and I play bass / sing backup vocals in a two or three gigs a year folk-rock band.

Lisa: Have you travelled – even if in your own province or state – and what was your most memorable/favorite destination?

Judith: Travel – ah, that’s pretty much my thing. My dad was in the military and I grew up on the move. I have itchy feet, as they say. Although we’re pretty much settled in Alberta, thankfully my hankering for the road is well met, as my husband also loves to travel. We’ve seen much of Canada, Europe, the UK, and the US. But there are always more places and worlds to discover. We’re gearing up for an Italy trip and I’m forever researching sites to add to our itinerary.

My special interest is in tracking down abandoned structures, ghost towns, graveyards, tombs, crypts, and catacombs at the various locations we visit. I know, I know...even my last name is “Graves” I’ve always loved walking through graveyards and reading the headstones, imagining the lives of the people and the times in which they lived. Even if I visit a small town, I’ve likely checked out the dead folk before the living. Ireland has some of the most visually striking tombstones / burial sites I’ve seen thus far. But for emotional impact - I’d have to say our time spent at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial in Poland hit me the hardest. I’m still haunted by the things we saw there.

Here’s a pic of an abandoned old truck we discovered during a road trip in rural Alberta...

Book excerpt: EXPOSED (Retribution Series)

The trouble with most people? They never look up.

They keep their eyes dead ahead, fixated as they march forward and go about getting the day done. And like ants, they don’t notice that the darkness creeping over them isn’t just another storm cloud. It’s a freaking shoe. No. It’s a steel-toed boot on the foot of some beer-guzzling, asbestos-lunged construction worker, and the thing is going to stomp their lights out.

I thought I wasn’t most people.

Guess I was wrong.

I shifted my grip on the crumbled concrete, the pull of my weight stretching the tendons in my fingers like the string on a crossbow threatening to snap. Toes digging into the brick, I managed to snag an edge and relieve some of the pressure. I’d completed this route more times than I could count and that was the problem. I’d been using this building for training for weeks, its brick fa├žade perfect for an easy climb. But I’d become complacent. Forgotten my own rule. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Just like those dead-ahead ants I promised myself I’d never be.

If I had simply looked up while I’d made the climb, I would have noticed the awning I decided to rest my feet on was missing a bolt, or had rusted out, or whatever had made the metal bar pop from under me. Leaving me dangling by my fingertips fifteen feet above a major street.

Thank you again for the interview, Judith.

For more about Judith, I hope you'll check her out at:


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