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TOUR, AUTHOR INTERVIEW & #GIVEAWAY - Dance With Me by Judith Crow

@Archaeolibrary, @GoddessFish, @jayzed_kay,

#YoungAdult, #Fantasy,

Don’t tell anyone, but Kelli spends all her free time listening to folk music. Ok, it’s not what you’d expect from a popular fifteen-year-old, but that’s why she doesn’t want the whole world to know.

When Kelli follows the mysterious Tam Lane, she finds herself in a place where folk songs come to life. As she comes to terms with the world, she makes friends, uses her privilege to help others, and even falls in love.

But Kelli has forgotten the fates which await so many characters in the songs, and she soon finds herself surrounded by heartbreak. Determined to protect the people she has left, can Kelli change a fate which has been sung for centuries?

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She kept her thoughts to herself and, apart from stopping to eat and take a comfort break, the journey was non-stop. Her guardian seemed keen to be away from Arlen, and he relaxed with every step his horse took. Eventually though, Kelli saw through the coach window that he was starting to clutch his shoulder, and she decided she had to take matters into her own hands.

She knocked on the roof of the coach, and it came to a jolting stop almost instantly. As Lord Arlen turned around to see why she had caused the delay, she noticed he was pale, and his face was beaded with sweat.

“Come in the coach with me,” she called. “One of the footmen can ride.”


Kelli thought about it for a second, realising there was no way Lord Arlen would stand any loss of pride. “I’m lonely,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.

Lord Arlen looked at her. “Why?” he repeated.

Kelli took a deep breath and reminded herself that this was a man she was trying to protect. “Because,” she said, “this is the first time I have been in a coach alone for a year, and it is a lonely thing.”

Lord Arlen nodded and clambered down from his horse, handing the reins to one of the footmen. He climbed up into the coach and sat down opposite Kelli without saying anything. She could see he was in pain but made no comment about it, even when he reached his hand up to his shoulder again and grimaced. They did not talk at all, and Kelli was unsurprised to find she was a lot less comfortable with Lord Arlen in the coach.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, my story started in 1990 in Orkney. I spent the first five years of my life there and it has inspired me ever since. Landscape continues to inspire me, and I now live in the far north of Scotland, which is a largely undiscovered treasure. One of my other major inspirations is my family. I come from a family of readers and writers, so it was the most natural thing for me to be the same! I am the fifth of sixth children and being a member of a big family has defined me throughout my life.

Do you have a day job as well? Yes, I do! I am a primary school teacher. I trained during 2018/19 and, before that, I worked for a big environmental project in the Flow Country, Scotland. I taught for a year in a big town school but, this year, I have started something a little bit different which is a lot more “me”. I now work part-time teaching a small class of 8-11-year-olds in a small country school and, on Wednesday afternoons, I have the other half of the school: the 4-7-year-olds. That means I know every single little individual in the school. Can you imagine anything more wonderful?!

What book do you wish you had written?

I’m really cross that I didn’t write The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It is, quite simply, an absolute masterpiece and is about one of my favourite things: graveyards! I have spent many happy hours exploring graveyards and, just earlier today, I noticed that “Silas’s House” in my local cemetery is for sale. The Graveyard Book has become a very important part of my life since I first read it back in 2011. My copy is like a time-capsule because I’ve taken it all over the place and used various train tickets and receipts as bookmarks, which have never been binned.

Where do you get your ideas? The working title for Dance With Me was “Challenge Story”. That’s because it has a very interesting backstory! The fact is, I didn’t get the main idea for this story. Back at the start of 2015, my sisters and I exchanged ideas for stories which we had planned but never written. The idea of the world where folk songs come to life came from Clemency, my younger sister and the author of the fabulous Amazon bestseller, Taking Wing.

In terms of ideas generally, I draw inspiration from people I’ve met and places I’ve been. I am also a very vivid dreamer so I get some of my ideas – and even settings and bits of dialogue – from dreams.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Short answer: yes.

Medium answer: all the time.

Long answer: I think writer’s block is my general state of being. I usually can’t write. It doesn’t take much for me to feel as though the creative juices have become all dried up like a little prune! I get around this by planning during periods of writer’s block, having various WIPs on the go at any one time, and writing like crazy whenever the muse descends! I do find non-fiction is a lot easier to write than fiction, so it’s good to have a bit of that on the go.

Are you a planner or a pantser? Is there something in-between?! Like a plantser?! I almost always start my stories with an exercise book – and Dance With Me is no exception! Sometimes I plan characters but, more usually, I write a blurb, then a synopsis, and then I split the story into groups of chapters (in Dance With Me, there are about five chapter groups). The last thing I do is plan individual chapters in an attempt to be able to write even when I’m suffering from Writer’s Block.

This might sound very detailed, but the reason I don’t class this as being a proper planner is that, having done all that planning, I often only follow about two-thirds of it when I’m actually writing!

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with? I would love to go back to Arlen, where most of Dance With Me is set, and explore things further with the family there. I really loved creating the whole family background which informed the goings-on in the novel and so I’d be tempted to look at a prequel. Actually, as it happens, I did start a story about Matty Groves many years ago. The events of that song continue to cast their shadow over Lord Arlen and his family, so maybe it’s worth exploring in a little more depth!

What does your protagonist think about you?

I think she’s a little bit surprised that we don’t have more in common. She’s from a wealthy but disinterested family, and I’m basically the opposite: what my family lacked in funds, they made up for in love and support.She’s very popular at school and, when I was around her age, I walked out of school because I was so miserable!

We could celebrate our similarities though! We are both creative and loyal, and the first people we properly fell in love with were naval officers!

What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author?

I remember once getting very upset because my alpha readers told me that the Young Adult manuscript I was very pleased with was actually Middle Grade. I know this might sound like something very small, but it was quite devastating for me as an author, as it threw all the work I’d done into chaos and meant I’d misjudged my audience. I’m still not 100% sure where to place that particular book, but I’m hoping that another redraft will sort it out!

What has been the best compliment?

I think the best compliment I’ve had as a writer was being shortlisted for the Wishing Shelf Book Awards. I had entered The Backwater in the autumn and then hadn’t thought anything else about it. When we got the list of finalists, I saw my name and did a genuine doubletake! One of the things I really like about the Wishing Shelf Book Awards is that they’re rated and judged by the target audience, so the very people who are supposed to be reading your book are the ones who are saying it has earnt its place on the list of finalists.

Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamour to be heard over the others?

I’m very lucky because Kelli, my main character, has a very strong voice. She’s a young woman in a world of men, so she needed the strength of character to stand on her own two feet and, writing it, I felt like that aspect of her really leapt off the page as I was writing her. She comes across all these very confident and willful individuals but, in the end, it is her voice and experience which drives the story and, ultimately, saves the day.

Do you have any strange writing habits? Like writing in the shower? Haha – nothing as strange as writing in the shower! I think my strangest writing habit is probably the book that I keep by my bed. On the surface, that’s pretty normal, but I tend to use it mostly for dialogue, when my characters wake me up in the middle of the night with something they want to say in a few chapters’ time! It’s therefore a very jumbled and slightly disturbing read, full of little bits of speech like “heads bleed” and “you had a goddess and treated her like a freak!” – both of which make perfect sense in context (trust me!) but less so in a little innocent-looking notebook.

How important are the names in your book?

I love names! At the moment, my current work-in-progress is a book about King Arthur, and all the names are significant. In Dance With Me, names are mostly driven by necessity: they have to fit in with the folk songs which inspired them. I explain Kelli’s name during the story – she’s really called Michaela but names herself after Luke Kelly from The Dubliners as a tribute. It’s not just her tribute – it’s mine too!

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Judith was born in Orkney, grew up in Lincolnshire and now lives in the far north of Scotland. Her writing is inspired by the experiences of her life so far and she loves picking up on quirks and immortalising them in fiction.

Judith’s new book, Dance With Me, combines her love of folk music and creative writing, and finds her main character in a world where folk songs come to life. Her debut book, The Backwater, was a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2019.

When she isn’t writing, Judith is a primary school teacher who enjoys crafting and music, as well as being a generally doting spaniel owner.


Tour hosted by: Goddess Fish Promotions

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