judi hendricks
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Judi Hendricks' debut novel Bread Alone, is a stylishly written study of love, marriage and baking bread. Here, she talks about her writing routine and the difficulty in finding an agent.

What inspires you to write?
Interesting places, like Seattle, where I worked in a bakery, or the big, wild beauty of the American Southwest. They always get me thinking of the stories that could unfold in certain kinds of weather, terrain…Every place has its own personality, and to me, the setting is almost a separate character…and then there’s all those research trips…

How long does it take you to write a novel?
Bread Alone took four years, but then I wasn’t in any rush. My second book, Isabel’s Daughter, was already under contract and I had a deadline, so it took 18 months. I think my ideal would be about two years. Since I never know what’s going to happen in a story till I write it, I’m never happy with the first version. I like to have a bit of extra time to explore the possibilities.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?
I’m a night person, but the rest of the world seems to keep starting earlier and earlier. So I have two routines. When I’m living at home with my husband, I get up early, have a double espresso, an hour of exercise, do all the normal boring things like grocery shopping and then, after lunch I sit down and get serious. When I was living in Santa Fe by myself and working on Isabel’s Daughter, I reverted to my natural routine, which is to work until 2 or 3 a.m., sleep till 10 or 11 a.m. and then do all the same things, just five or six hours later.

Is it harder to start or finish a novel?
Neither. What’s hard is all that junk in the middle.

How did you go about finding an agent and do you think it's necessary to have an agent?
I had this meticulously devised, highly organized agent search, which netted me 24 rejections in 8 months. Then I met the very gifted writer and teacher, Jo-Ann Mapson, who liked Bread Alone, sent it to her agent, and two weeks later I had an agent. I think in the U.S., if you want a major publisher to look at your work, then you either have to be sleeping with a major publisher, or you have to have an agent.

How do you cure writer's block?
Fortunately, I’ve never had the B word. My writing problems tend more toward how to say something than not knowing what I want to say. When I’m experiencing technical difficulties I either go for a long walk, bake bread, or read a book about something totally unrelated.

What is your all-time desert island book?
Hands down, no contest--The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

What's the biggest myth about being a writer?
That all you do is write and collect royalties. Oh, how I wish. Before you get published no one ever tells you about proof-reading galleys till you’re cross-eyed and you hate your book. Or book signings where nobody shows up but your husband and the bookstore employees. Or interviews where the person has never read your book and asks ridiculous questions.

What advice would you give budding authors?
1. Write every day, and don’t let anything interfere. 2. Try to find a writing partner whose work you like and whose judgment you trust. Honest feedback and genuine encouragement are worth their weight in rubies. 3. Never give up.

What can readers expect from you in the future?
My second book, Isabel’s Daughter, will be published by Orion in June. It takes place in New Mexico and is the story of a young woman searching for her mother and finding herself. I’m currently working on the sequel to Bread Alone.

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