THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS has a lot of darkness to it. Secrets, rivalry, and of course, murder. The Missouri Ozarks are a beautiful place to set a story–the foothills, the winding roads with woods on the side, and quite remote in some places–but they are also dangerous even if you know the terrain. There’s a lot of folklore in the region, everything from healing plants to how to predict rain to stories of doppelgangers and death. It’s the place the narrator Ivy calls home and struggles with the danger of the woods as well as the danger of not really knowing the people you love.
2. Are you a plotter or a free writer?
I’ve always been the kind of writer who runs a bit wild for the first fifty pages of any story. Those pages are for finding the character’s voice, figuring out who they are and what their situation is, and laying out all the different threads of the story. Then I have to pause and figure out just what story I’m telling and how those threads weave together into something cohesive. So I’m a ploster–half plotter and half pantser.
3. Is your book part of a series or a standalone?
This book is a standalone, though I don’t rule out revisiting the land where it takes place.
4. Do you require silence when writing or do you listen to music?
Most of the time, I listen to a track of howling winds or thunderstorms. Silence can be daunting, and I’m a musician as well so I can’t listen to even instrumentals because I get caught up in the musical phrasing. I like the wind and storms because it creates a kind of white noise that keeps me from hearing outside distractions. Yet I do have very long, comprehensive playlists on Spotify for every project.
5. Are you writing your next book? Can you share a little about it?
I am nearly done with my next project. The main character is a boy who’s been with me since 1999. I’ve tried writing his story a number of times over the years. In 2010, I got really close with a draft I showed my agent and I stopped because of panic attacks. But he’s been with me, hanging out and waiting for his turn, and I finally became brave enough to finish it. It’s very dark and hallucinatory and also something I’m incredibly proud of.
6. How long were you writing before getting a publishing contract?
I began writing as a teenager. I’ve been with my agent for five years, and I adore her. Miriam truly champions her clients. I had to deal with a couple of derailments–a two-year bout with chronic vertigo that was so bad I didn’t know if I’d be able to write again because sitting up made me sick, having my youngest child, and then dealing with some health issues among family members. Through it all, I was plotting and writing when I could. And my agent knew as soon as I showed her the proposal for THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS that this was it. This was the one.
7. When does your book release?
May 3, 2016! It can’t come soon enough!
Sarah Jude lives by the woods and has an owl that lands on her chimney every night. She grew up believing you had to hold your breath whenever you passed a graveyard or a bridge spanning water. Now she writes about cemeteries, murder, and ghostly apparitions. She resides in Missouri with her husband, three children, and three dogs.