Interview: Judy Alter

Please welcome Judy Alter, author of the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries and Blue Plate Café Mysteries.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
My idea of a perfect day is to spend the morning at my computer, maybe with time out for my yoga routine, eat an early lunch widangercomeshometh a glass of wine, nap, get my grandson from school and do his homework, and spend the evening dining with friends, end the day with a book of more work at my computer. Ah, heaven!

 Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
I wear Jean Naté cologne, and my grandchildren have been known to say I smell like my house.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Fred Erisman, once my graduate school prof and now a longtime good friend; my mother, who taught me to love books and to cook; Susan Wittig Albert, who told me to join Sisters in Crime and gave me insights into the world of writing mysteries when I thought I couldn’t do it.

Do you listen to music when you write?
No. Sometimes I have the TV on but muted.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Milk chocolate with chopped peanuts and jalapeno—-sweet yet hot—-and my favorite chocolate.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
Danger Comes Home is the fourth Kelly O’Connell Mystery. I wrote it because I didn’t think Kelly’s accidental involvement in criminal situations is over yet. The main idea that came to me was rescue of an abused child, but I can’t bear to write about physically abused children, so Jenny is emotionally abused—-still hard.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Family, neighborhood, women’s issues, food

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Kelly O’Connell, about whom I’ve written the most, was autobiographical at the beginning—-a single parent, a career, curiosity about people, love of old houses. She’s grown . . . and married . . . during the series, becoming more self-confident but she still gets in trouble trying to help others. She can’t resist.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
I’m absolutely at a loss on this question. Kelly O’Connell is who she is—-maybe a dash of Erma Bombeck, though not as humorous and clever; a bit of Agatha Christie in that she always walks into “situations”; and a wee smidgen of June Cleaver, because she really is a good mother.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?

I’d probably invite the authors, mostly from Sisters in Crime, whose work I enjoy today: Polly Iyer, Kaye George, Julie Hyzy, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Deborah Crombie, and Diane Mott Davidson

What’s next for you?
One novel each in my two series, Kelly O’Connell Mysteries and Blue Plate Café Mysteries—Murder at Tremon House comes out in February, and the fifth Kelly novel, probably Deception in Strange Places, is due next July. I’ve written a stand-alone which I’d like to edit, polish, and possibly self-publish as my next big project.


An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of four books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, Trouble in a Big Box, and Danger Comes Home. She is also the author of Murder at the Blue Plate Café.

Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame.

Judy is retired as director of TCU Press and the mother of four grown children and the grandmother of seven. She and her Bordoodle, Sophie, live in Fort Worth, Texas.

Buy link:
Judy’s Stew
Potluck with Judy
Twitter: @judyalter


12 thoughts on “Interview: Judy Alter”

  1. An All Sisters in Crime dinner party sounds wonderful. 🙂

    Thanks for visiting and congrats on your books–it’s very impressive how many you’ve published, in various genres (beyond mystery, too)! And one novel in each of two series during the same year is amazing. How do you keep up such an energetic pace?


  2. Sorry to be so slow replying–I was traveling yesterday and couldn’t get to email. Thanks for your replies. The trouble with a SinC dinneris I’d leave out to many guests. Cynthia, I don’t think I’m energetic but I could get more done if I didn’t take on so many other chores for my church, my neighborhood group, reviewing, etc. If I concentrated on novels, I could do three a year. But there’s so much else to life. I do want to go on with both series, plus the stand-alone, but,, Christmas is coming and that’s a distraction too! Thanks again for your comments. So wonderful to have Gupppy friends!.


  3. Wow! Three a year! That boggles my mind. Still, I think you have the absolutely right idea in keeping the balance of church/family/friends in addition to your writing. I bet those relationships keep you energized and your writing fresh. Thanks for visiting!


  4. I haven’t read all your books, but I’ve loved the ones I’ve read. And thank you for including me in a dinner I’d be thrilled to be a part of. I can’t think of anything more enjoyable. I do hope that one day, with or without the others, we can share an evening and dinner.


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