Thursday, March 26, 2015

"City of Illusions" by Judith Works

City of Illusions
by Judith Works

City of Illusions is currently on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. The tour stops here today for my interview with the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

A yearning for change puts Laura on the road to Rome but her marital problems, muted in cool Seattle, become magnified in the glare of the Roman sun. Will she find happiness in the Eternal City or are her dreams only an illusion?

Book Video

She recognized the inertia of their marriage had been roiled by the move to Italy, although it wasn’t in the manner she intended. Instead of coming closer, a centrifugal force had whirled them into seldom-intersecting elliptical orbits, hers energized, his wobbly. Whatever the difficulties of living in Rome were, she was becoming increasingly sure that she would find a more fulfilling life in Rome rather than Seattle. With or without Jake.
She turned back to her work, but the day passed slowly as she worried about him and her parents’ visit. As she expected, the evening wasn’t any better. Jake watched another inane spettacolo with bouncing babes on TV while they ate dinner. In an effort to appear as if married life was normal, after the dishes were done Laura said she was going to get ready for bed. Jake ignored the hint. She was washing her hands when she heard him come into the bathroom. She looked in the mirror to see his face hovering over her shoulder.
“It’s not what you think. I delivered stuff to a gallery for sale. We might even get a cut of the profits. It’s interesting to be a part of the action. I’ll be helping restore a few old artworks so others have a chance to enjoy them. Otherwise they would just rot in some moldy old church or castle. You should be proud of me instead of picking all the time.”
Laura tried a smile. Then she gave him the bad news. “Well, we’ve got a small problem: my mom and dad are coming in February for ten days. They expect the weather to be warm and that you will take them around the whole time.”
“Are you kidding? No way – I’m not a tour guide. What were you thinking to agree to this? We don’t have a car. And I’m busy. This is insane.”
He marched off to his spot in front of the television, leaving Laura holding the toothpaste, squeezed in the middle instead of from the bottom as she liked. She carefully rolled the tube, flattening the used portions.

Praise for the Book
"It's 100% believable ... the author lived in Rome for years ... she tells it like it really is. She doesn't hide the grim and dirty bits, but mixes them with delightful descriptions of monuments, wonderful food, and photo-worthy piazzas. A page turner, it kept my attention to the very end ..." ~ Mary Jane Cryan, author and blogger
"Have you ever wanted to take a year to live abroad? If the life of an expatriate sounds exotic to you, or if leaving a rainy US city for the excitement of one of the top 5 travel destinations entices you, or if you ever thought a change in location would spice up your waning marriage, then City Of Illusions is your book ... Judith Works takes her readers on a journey of love, loss and self-discovery in City Of Illusions." ~ Mindy Halleck, author of Return to Sender

Interview With the Author
Hi Judith, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, City of Illusions.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
The book is women’s contemporary fiction and is of interest to women of any age. The protagonist, Laura, is approaching her 30th birthday with the realization that time is passing quickly and that she needs to seize the moment before life passes her by. All readers can relate to her desire for a new life and enjoy her adventure in colorful and chaotic Rome without leaving their armchairs.
What sparked the idea for this book?
While living in Rome as an expatriate I observed the varying reactions to living in a country not their own – neither a citizen of the new country and for a time divorced from their old. It sets up an interesting situation where some people thrive and others cannot cope.
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
I had an idea to portray expat life in novel form after I had completed the memoir, Coins in the Fountain, and from that the characters developed. They are not based on any particular person I knew but are a mix of some people I knew, news reports of antiquity theft, and my imagination.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Writing a novel isn’t the same as writing a memoir, so I had to figure out what experiences would capture living in Rome and at the same time move the plot along.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope readers will be entertained and learn about the highs and lows of expat life while comparing Laura’s desire for change to their own lives. Do they want a change, or is life good the way it is? And even if they can’t make a leap into Rome can they make smaller adjustments to create more happiness?
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took about 3 years.
What is your writing routine?
I keep a notepad by the bed in case of a midnight thought. Normally I am drinking coffee at 6:00am and in my office at 7:00am. I am a morning person so I give up in the afternoon instead of writing at night.
How did you get your book published?
The memoir was self-published. For City of Illusions I wanted to take the next step: to a small press to test the experience. I contacted several presses, had serious discussions with one, and then I found Booktrope. I sent in the manuscript and it was accepted. There are dozens of small presses looking for authors and each one has a different business model. It is important to understand how they operate before signing a contract. Booktrope uses the partnership model where expenses and income are shared.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Recognize first that only your best work should be published. That means edited and proofread before self-publishing or submitting to a publisher. And recognize that publishing is a business – writing is the creative side and publishing is the economic half of the equation. 
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I am a traveler at heart. I have visited more than 100 countries with many more to go. When I’m not traveling I enjoy my volunteer work with local literary and arts organizations.
What does your family think of your writing?
My husband reads my work and is always happy to comment – not always positively. He sometimes has a better word to offer than the one in the draft. For my memoir about living in Rome, he often remembered events differently and we had to settle on what really happened. Made for interesting discussions!
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
My childhood was relatively uneventful and I longed for something to make life more exciting but not much did other than a few trips to Canada where my parents had been born. The passive life didn’t agree with me and I spent hours studying an old globe with a map of the world putting my finger on places I wanted to see. I’m still working on the list.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
I loved reading because it could take me into foreign lands far from my own life. I especially liked adventure stories and ancient history. I dreamed of being an archeologist.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I spent many years producing legal briefs and administrative memoranda. I realized I wanted to be a writer one morning when, over a cup of coffee in bed, I said to myself that I wanted to exercise the creative side of my brain. Since I have had many of travel adventures, lived in Italy, and read loads of novels, it was time to try out my own abilities by combining these experiences and stories into narrative. I have published the memoir, set up a blog for travel stories, had articles published in the Travel Belles online magazine and Plum Deluxe, and will have a short piece published in a literary magazine soon.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
The first book I read was The Wizard of Oz – the ultimate travel story where Dorothy is whisked to another time and place but never forgets family and home.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
City of Illusions was influenced by other books about expatriates. Some examples in the memoir category are Under the Tuscan Sun and other books by Frances Mayes. Novels including The Expats by Chris Pavone who turns the expatriate experience into a thriller have an influence along with the many novels set in Rome, ancient, Renaissance, and modern. I especially enjoyed Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant. She captures Rome during the Renaissance – the food, the wine, the intrigue. Rome is still full of those elements today.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I have received numerous comments from readers of the memoir about living in Italy – we exchange stories.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m working on a second novel. The plot will move between Rome and Seattle and will involve a murder in an ancient tomb.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Judith. Best of luck with your upcoming novel.

About the Author
Life was routine until Judith Works decided to get a law degree. Then a chance meeting led her to run away to the Circus (Maximus) – actually to the United Nations office next door – where she worked as an attorney in the HR department and entered the world of expat life in Rome. The ten years of happy and sometimes fraught experiences are the subject of her memoir, Coins in the Fountain
Judith has a BS in Psychology, M Public Administration, JD from Lewis & Clark School of Law.  She has spent most of her career in Human Resources administration.  Judith is a member of Northwest Women Writers, past President of Edmonds Friends of the Library, board member for Edmonds Center of the Arts, vice-president EPIC Group Writers, and a member of PNWA and Willamette Writers.
Judith continues to travel, having visited over 100 countries in between many journeys to Italy where she always tosses a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure a return to Rome. Judith and her husband now live near Seattle where she is working on her second novel.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card.