Meet Runner Up – Judy Fancher

Tuesday, October 30, 2007
WOW: Judy, congratulations for earning a Runner Up space in our WOW! Summer Flash Fiction Contest! How did you feel when you read about it?

Judy: I was shocked and honored to be in the company of such experienced writers. This is the first time since college that I have put writing out for public review. I kept reading the email on my Blackberry to make sure it wasn’t a dream.

WOW: That’s a big compliment to all our writers. Please tell us the inspiration behind “Summer Sons.”

Judy: My brother, Russell Traughber, sent out an email to the family and said, “Go ahead, write.” So I did. The storyline is a tribute to my parents, who still live in Idaho, and my five older brothers. Now that I am able to put some perspective on my early years, I appreciate more the world of my youth. The boys’ fishing trips were always a mystery to me (I would take a book and read if I went), but I realize now what a treat it was for my brothers to spend time with my dad--a very busy and dedicated minister.

WOW: Well, I’m sure your parents are proud and pleased by the tribute! In your bio you mentioned that you’ve been an educator for twenty-one years. Do you think teaching contributes to your desire to write?

Judy: Literature is the greatest teacher of all. Growing up in a small town with three television stations meant there was an entire world out there to be discovered: I expanded my universe through books. I once told my superintendent that every predicament of human nature can be found in Shakespeare’s works. Teaching was a venue for me to share life’s wonders, troubles, and triumphs with young adults about to venture out on their own. Now that I am an administrator, I have the time to create some of those worlds.

WOW: I certainly hope you continue to build those worlds for your students. But let’s switch subjects for a bit. You said that various writers found in a local public library are your “companions of composition”; can you name some for us?

Judy: When I studied in England I fell in love with the Romantics. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, John Keats’ poetry, and Dylan Thomas (not a Romantic, of course) were my favorites because of their ability to capture the complexity of human nature. Hemingway’s clean style and flawed heroes inspire clarity in writing. I would be remiss not to mention my favorite mystery writers, P.D. James and Carolyn Keene (the Nancy Drew series), because I love to look for clues.

The Ontario, Oregon, public library spawned my eclectic love of reading. Somehow I skipped juvenile literature and moved right to the grown-up part of the library. I can’t recall a single author’s name, but I read (to name a few) a series on Queen Victoria, a book about the crucifixion of Christ from a Roman soldier’s point of view, and books on the Occult (which scared me so much I couldn’t sleep). I read a lot of Ellery Queen mysteries along with historical fiction. It is worth mentioning that my first exposure to literature was the Bible: the poetry, stories, and lessons influence all aspects of my writing.

WOW: Eclectic is definitely a key word in your reading background. That adds a lot to the “well-rounded reader” aspect! In addition to reading, could recommend a couple of authors who’ve encouraged you to write?

Judy: Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) is magical and brutally honest. Kundera, an expatriate of Czechoslovakia since the 60’s, didn’t begin to write until his late 30’s. He said he needed that much time to have the maturity to write: his “late start” gave me hope as I worked and raised a family during my twenties and thirties. I still have a middle-schooler at home, but with his increased independence comes more time for me to write.

Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite American authors. Although I have enjoyed all of her books, The Poisonwood Bible is the most compelling as literature. Nadine Gordimer of South Africa is not afraid to confront societal issues and, of course, Maya Angelou’s writing is artistic whether it is poetry or prose. All of these authors create life through the power of language: they serve as an inspiration for the female voice.

WOW: How true. I certainly agree with you there. Tell us, do you have any other specific goals for your writing career?

Judy: To make writing a career would be a dream come true. I will take this one step at a time as I reconnect with poetry, my first love, and other genres. In addition, I intend to write essays and journal articles that reflect hope and respect for educators and students.

WOW: Educators have one of the toughest careers. Having a supportive network helps in this career, just as much if not more than in a writer’s career. You mentioned in your bio that you have a supportive family. Could you describe how they respect your writing wishes?

Judy: Working as a teacher and then a school site administrator, work consumed my life. My family has always encouraged me to have a hobby, and they are proud that I am trying my hand at the art I have loved and studied for so long. Through my master’s degree and my doctorate, my husband and children supported the time I needed to research and write. Now, at a more creative phase of my life, they wholeheartedly afford me a room of my own.

WOW: Virginia Woolf would be so proud! Okay, let’s move to craft books--which ones do you find the most helpful?

Judy: This question is truly embarrassing. I have never read a book on writing (other than textbooks) or publishing. I am at the beginning of this journey. My only comfort is that I am sure most of the writers I admire did not take writing courses or read how-to books; I do know the authors and poets I admire wrote almost every day. To understand the power of storytelling and mythology, I recommend Joseph Campbell’s series on the evolution of the hero and his mantra to “follow your bliss.”

WOW: That’s a sound mantra for anyone. What advice would you like to leave with our audience?

Judy: Today is the day to start writing. Afraid to put on paper the thoughts and stories in my head, I ignored for twenty years the voice that always called me to write. Now, when I sit at the computer, I regret the years that have passed unchronicled. Humans have always relied on stories to provide knowledge, perspective, and interpretation; therefore, now is the perfect time to add our voices to literature.

WOW: Today it is! Thank you for your time and for sharing a little about yourself. Readers, if you haven’t yet checked out Judy’s story, “Summer Sons,” go here.


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