City of Illusions
Author: Judith Works
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction
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?
1. What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I “wrote” a novel one day when I was about 7 and sick in bed. All pages of deathless prose have long since disappeared (fortunately). My career was spent writing dull administrative missiles and legal briefs. But one morning, after finishing the latest book about expat life in Italy, I put the book down and said to myself, “That wasn’t my experience.” I retreated to my office and began to write the memoir titled Coins in the Fountain recounting my own ten years of adventures and misadventures in Rome. The title comes from the practice of throwing coins in the Trevi fountain to ensure a return to Rome, a practice I never miss on our trips to the Eternal City.
2. Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
The most rewarding experience has been receiving two reviews: one from an Englishwoman who lives in Italy writing that she loved the book and was going to tell her friends to read it, and another review from an American who has lived in Italy for more than fifty years, saying that I captured expat life perfectly.
3. If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?
I wish I had signed copies of all the books in my library! But to choose just one I’d have to select Elizabeth Bowen’s A Time in Rome, published in 1960. I have a first US edition with a tattered and yellowed cover. Her descriptions of Rome (long before I got there) are marvelous. And some things have never changed to this day.
4. If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
The power to travel whenever/wherever I wished. So many places to go, so little time (and money).
5. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Read City of Illusions to share Laura’s quest for fulfillment in the fountains, piazzas, and trattorias of Rome.
6. Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I’m slowly working on another novel, set partly in Rome. It looks like one of my characters will be murdered in an Etruscan burial ground. In between working on the manuscript I’m writing short, short stories called flash fiction. They are fun to write!
7. Do you write as you go or do you have the book planned before you start the first draft?
I have a general idea of the direction and a definite conclusion, but the characters take over the story. Often they do things I never intended or would not do myself to reach their goal.
8. What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?
I haven’t seen the film about Alan Turning, The Imitation Game. My reading list includes Hillary Mantel’s third book in the trilogy about Cromwell, yet to be published. Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies are masterpieces of fiction.
9. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
It would be in the countryside outside of Rome. A small villa with old terra cotta floors and a red tile roof set on a hill overlooking vineyards and a grove of ancient olive trees with twisting trunks as if they had arthritis. The grass between the trees would be filled with wildflowers in the spring especially brilliant red poppies.
10. Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
I can see myself in the protagonist, not in her marital and romantic difficulties, but in her struggles to cope with expatriate life that are gradually overcome, leading to a love affair with Italy. She doesn’t want to leave after her one-year job is finished and I didn’t want to leave after ten years.
About the Author
Life was routine until the author 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. She 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.
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.
Coins in the Fountain
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