Guest Author Interview: Judi Fennell

June 12, 2009

Please help me in giving a warm welcome to Sourcebooks Casablanca Author, Judi Fennell!


Dani: Thanks so much for being here, Judi! First, would you please tell us a little about yourself?

Judi: Dani, thanks so much for having me! I’m a wife, mom, daughter and sister, a Penn State grad, former professional meeting planner, president of my local chapter of Romance Writers of America and an author. I love animals and would have a houseful if Hubs would go along with it. I like to read (of course) and would love to travel more. I lived in Spain in college and would go back in a heartbeat. Gorgeous country, incredible history and just an amazing place to live.

Dani: Where did you get the “itch” to write?

Judi: I’ve always had it. I still have a story I wrote in first grade on that awful lined yellow paper. It’s about a raindrop. In second grade I won honorable mention in a Caldecott Award contest; I still have my journals from fourth grade where I wrote about Mr. Magickal and a zebra-striped, sewer-dwelling alligator. In sixth grade we could get an A if we wrote three reports about animals; I wrote ten. In ninth grade a friend and I challenged each other to write a romance a la Harlequin. I finished mine and still have it. Not bad for a ninth grader with limited life experience.

Dani: How long have you been writing?

Judi: I took a hiatus from writing during college and life afterward. Job, kids, house, life etc. kept me busy. When my youngest started school was when I got back into it. Then I joined RWA in 2004 and haven’t stopped.

Dani: Could you tell us about your current release, In Over Her Head?

Judi: In Over Her Head is a play on so many different meanings of those words/that saying/the plot/the heroine. It was the perfect title for me and I remember when it came to me (when the story was about half way done) I knew I’d found the perfect title.

Erica Peck owns a marina but is terrified of the ocean. Reel Tritone is the ne’er do well second son of the ruler of the Mer kingdom. When Erica ends up almost drowning in the ocean, Reel swims in to save her. But saving her now puts both their lives in jeopardy. To save their lives they must recover a cache of stolen diamonds and outswim the mother of all sea monsters. Along the way they visit Atlantis, chat with some fish, and end up on a deserted island.

Dani: I noticed on you website you have books #2 and #3 in your Mer Trilogy coming out later this year and early next year. Could you tell us a little about them as well?

Judi: Wild Blue Under is the story of Reel’s twin (and older) brother, Rod, who is the heir to the Mer throne. In order to claim the throne and the Immortality that goes with it, Rod has to fulfill the Mer Prophecy by bringing back a lost Mer princess to Atlantis. The problem is, Valerie Dumere lives in Kansas, has never seen the ocean and doesn’t have a clue that she’s half-Mer. Toss in a pretender to the throne and there’s a whole lot going on in the Wild Blue Under.

Catch of a Lifetime is the story of Rod and Reel’s sister, Angel, a Mer scientist set on winning the directorship position of the Mer/Human Coalition and Logan Hardington, the Human she’s moved in with to study and who has no idea she’s a Mer. When he does, Logan’s got some hard thinking to do, especially when Angel has to face The Council tribunal for allowing a Human to know about the Mer world. Logan has to decide if he’s going to throw her to the sharks or if she’s the Catch of a Lifetime.

Dani: Out of all the books in your Mer Trilogy, which was the most challenging to write and why?

Judi: You know, I don’t know. I do know that In Over Her Head was the easiest to write-until it wouldn’t sell. That’s because, originally, Reel had a tail. I thought it worked; beta readers thought it worked, but editors didn’t. Once I changed Reel to a two-legged Mer with tail issues, the story sold. The other stories each have their own challenges because of the initial rules I created for the world in In Over Her Head, but each character has his or her own story and you need to tell them in the same vein as you do the original. I can honestly say that I’ve loved crafting their stories.

Dani: Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Judi: Sometimes it’s a “what if” idea; other times it’s a “I want to write a twist on The Little Mermaid.” Sometimes a scene or opening line or character just pops into my head. No rhyme or reason to it, and I actually have more ideas than time to write them. Which is better than the reverse.

Dani: What are you currently working on?

Judi: Right now I’m working on edits of Catch of a Lifetime and I’m putting together a proposal for more Mer stories as well as another series that’s hanging around in my brain. We’ll see which direction we go next.

Dani: What’s been the best experience in your writing career?

Judi: Reader feedback. Absolutely, hands-down the best. I wrote In Over Her Head for me. It hadn’t been contracted; I knew my “little talking fish” story would sound strange to others, but I had such fun with these characters. When I entered it into an online contest, where people could critique the first two chapters, that was the best. I had no idea how it would be received and from the 800 + comments I got, people really enjoyed it. I was especially honored by all the fish/sea puns they came up with when critiquing it. “You reeled me in,” “I love this story, hook, line & sinker” to name a few.

Dani: What’s been the worst experience in your writing career?

Judi: Deadlines. Knowing something has to be done and be good by a certain date. That changes the dynamic. Where writing once was something fun and able to be fit into my spare time, now it’s a job. I still love it, but I’m very conscious of every word needing to count because I don’t have infinite time to edit it.

Dani: Since you’re an author, I assume you’re an avid reader as well. What books do you enjoy reading? Who are you favorite authors? What books are on your keeper shelf?

Judi: I read all genres. I think most avid readers are like that. We read the backs of cereal boxes. Obviously, my favorite is Romance, but I’m thrilled there are so many subgenres. I read historical (Julia Quinn’s When He Was Wicked is on my keeper shelf), paranormal, especially light paranormal (Jill Barnett’s Bewitching is my absolute favorite book ever – I think I have 3 copies on my keeper shelf), Contemporary (love Rachel Gibson and Diana Holquist, Cardinal Rules by Barbara Delinsky is on the keeper shelf), Romantic Suspense (Cindy Gerard and Karen Rose are amazing)… I’m always discovering new authors thanks to all the conferences I go and the books they give out.

Dani: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time (besides writing and reading of course)?

Judi: What is spare time? J Seriously, I’ve been striving for publication and have a family.  Now I have deadlines and proposals to put together. And promotion. Not much time left over that’s “spare.” I do have a group of girlfriends and we get together every Thursday night to watch Survivor and a few other shows. They keep me sane and it’s nice to just go be me. Not Mom Judi, not Wife Judi, not Author Judi.

Dani: What’s the coolest thing about being an author?
Judi: Seeing my stories on the shelves and hearing from readers that they enjoy them.

Dani: What advice would you give to aspiring writers today?
Judi: Pour your heart and soul into your story then divorce yourself from it. Be willing to step back and take an objective look at it. Let other people take objective looks at it. Yes, it’s your baby. Yes, it’s a part of you. But it’s also a product for the masses and you need to make sure the masses want it. Unbiased, honest opinion is invaluable and if you find someone who can give you that, keep them around.

Dani: Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Judi: Author Kelley St. John came up with an incredible promotion for her debut and she shared the ins & outs of doing it with me and I was lucky enough to find two bed & breakfasts who wanted to come on board with it. I’m offering readers the chance to win one of three romantic beach getaway weekends to celebrate the release of each of my stories in conjunction with the Atlantis Inn (www.AtlantisInn.com) in Ocean City, NJ and the Hibiscus House (www.HibiscusHouse.com) bed and breakfast in West Palm Beach, FL. All information is available on my website www.JudiFennell.com. Thanks so much for having me, Dani!
Dani: Thanks again, Judi for being here today!

 If you’d like to purchase In Over Her Head, Book #1 in Judi’s Mer Trilogy, click on one of the links below:

Sourcebooks, Inc.


Barnes & Noble


If you saw my blog’s June Cover of the Month then you all know how much I love “Mer stories” so I’m really looking forward to telling you what I think of this book! I’ll be posting my review of In Over Her Head up by next week so keep a look out!


       Dani ~ aka The Romance Book Addict



  1. Having read IOHH, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read “Wild Blue Under” and “Catch of a Lifetime”. Judi, I’m also really curious where you are going to go next. You have a delightful sense of humor, and an excellent mix of sweet and steamy. Guess I’ll just have to stay tuned.

    Thanks for the informative interview Dani.

  2. Great interview!

    Now, Judi, when are we going to see a book set in Spain?

  3. I’ve read this book and just love it! It’s lighthearted, lots of action, a great premise, and danged sexy! Congrats on publication and can’t wait to read the next ones!

  4. Hi everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by! Spain, lisa? Hmmm… that’s an idea. As for where I go next… well, that’ll be a secret (until the contract is signed! LOL)

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