Clemens, Judy 1969–

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Clemens, Judy 1969–

PERSONAL:

Born February 22, 1969; married; husband's name Steve; children: two. Education: Goshen College, B.A., 1991. Hobbies and other interests: Cooking, reading.

ADDRESSES:

Home—OH. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Has worked as a stage manager for numerous theaters in Philadelphia, PA, including Cheltenham Center for the Arts and Lantern Theater; Actors' Theater, Louisville, KY, intern, 1994-95.

WRITINGS:

"STELLA CROWN MYSTERY" SERIES

Till the Cows Come Home, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2004.

Three Can Keep a Secret, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2005.

To Thine Own Self Be True, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2006.

The Day Will Come, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Originally a stage manager by profession, author Judy Clemens gave up working in the theater to become a full-time novelist. Her first novel, Till the Cows Come Home, is a mystery featuring Stella Crown, a young, motorcycle-riding dairy farmer who is busy managing her family's farm after her parents' deaths. When Stella discovers that someone is out to sabotage her farm, she follows a trail of odd occurrences, including dead cows, sick farmhands, fires, and a missing dog. Stella's quest to discover the truth is complicated by her troubled love life. Reviews of Till the Cows Come Home were mainly positive; critics cited the author's straightforward writing style and thorough plot development. "Talented first-timer Clemens's solid, commendable prose, in-depth characterization, and sympathetic subject matter make this a good choice," wrote Rex Klett in Library Journal. "Alternately a Harley-riding, tough farm girl and a kindhearted, vulnerable woman, Stella makes an endearing heroine in a promising first novel," observed Booklist contributor Jenny McLarin.

In Three Can Keep a Secret, Clemens continues the story of dairy farmer Stella, who is joined by Lucy Lapp, a young Mennonite widow. After taking Lucy in, Stella begins to wonder about the circumstances surrounding Lucy's husband's death, and speculates that foul play might be the cause. In addition, strange things begin happening around the farm, including odd phone calls referencing Lucy and vulgar graffiti scrawled in the barn by teenagers. A number of critics responded favorably to Three Can Keep a Secret, many enjoying the author's perspective on life in a small Pennsylvania community. The "subtle local color—controversy between two fissiparous Mennonite churches—is an added plus," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Others praised Clemens for continuing the story of Stella. "Readers who fell hard for Harley-riding heroine Stella Crown in Clemens' 2004 debut … will be delighted to see her again," McLarin commented in another Booklist assessment.

As To Thine Own Self Be True opens, Stella is getting a new tattoo in the shop of friends Wolf and Mandy, who get a phone call, then disappear. Mandy has been killed and Wolf is missing, and since Stella was the last person to see them, she becomes a suspect. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "As Clemens waxes poetic about tattoos, readers will view this subculture in a brand new light." Booklist reviewer Barbara Bibel noted the unusual combination of settings in the world of tattooing and rural life, writing: "That may seem like an odd combination, but Clemens makes it work."

In The Day Will Come, Stella and Nick, a former lover who appeared in the previous title, are helping Lucy and biker Lennie, whom she will soon marry. The couples enjoy a night out in Philadelphia, planning to hear the band hired to play at the wedding. A bomb threat clears the club, Genna the singer is found murdered, and Stella's friend, sound man Jordan, is the suspect. "This is a solid addition to a series that improves book by book," concluded a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

Clemens told CA: "I've been writing ever since I could hold a pencil (or crayon). I wrote my first novel—a science-fiction book called ‘Never Dare a Creature's Mind’—when I was in third grade. My parents always read to me, and I guess that helped foster my interest in writing.

"I get a lot of ideas through my research, but also find that just about anything in life can give me ideas for a story. The most lengthy part of work is the research and ‘mulling’ stage. Once I have things pretty well thought over, I make an outline, usually by the days in the book, and only then do I begin to write the prose. Then things seem to go pretty quickly.

"If I had to pick a favorite of my books, it would probably be the first, Till the Cows Come Home, mostly because I waited so long to publish a novel. It was also received very nicely (garnering nominations for the Anthony and Agatha awards), which made it even more of a dream come true. So while I think my craft has improved as I continue, the first book is my favorite for emotional reasons.

"My mission is to blast away at stereotypes. Some of the main stereotypes I've worked at so far are bikers, Mennonites, and people with tattoos. At the book launch party for Till the Cows Come Home, one of my nonbiker friends saw two middle-aged, friendly looking, normally dressed women walking toward us across the parking lot. She asked me who they were, and I told her they were some of my biker friends. ‘Well,’ she said. ‘You're already changing my thinking.’ That's the kind of effect I want my books to have."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 2004, Jenny McLarin, review of Till the Cows Come Home, p. 1352; July, 2005, Jenny McLarin, review of Three Can Keep a Secret, p. 1904; May 15, 2006, Barbara Bibel, review of To Thine Own Self Be True, p. 26.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2007, review of The Day Will Come.

Library Journal, April 1, 2004, Rex Klett, review of Till the Cows Come Home, p. 128.

Lima News (Lima, OH), August 15, 2007, Mike Lackey, review of The Day Will Come, interview.

Publishers Weekly, March 15, 2004, review of Till the Cows Come Home, p. 58; June 20, 2005, review of Three Can Keep a Secret, p. 62; May 29, 2006, review of To Thine Own Self Be True, p. 40; June 4, 2007, review of The Day Will Come, p. 33.

ONLINE

Bella ONLINE, http://www.bellaonline.com/ (December 12, 2007), interview.

BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (December 12, 2007), G. Hall, review of Till the Cows Come Home.

Judy Clemens Home Page,http://www.judyclemens.com (December 12, 2007).