Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Guest Post: Joyce Strand, Author of The Judge's Story

I am so excited to have Joyce Strand, author of The Judge's Story, on the blog today! She has written a wonderful guest post dealing with how an author can not only make a fictional character "real" but, on the other hand, can transform a real person into a fictional character. So please welcome Joyce and enjoy her guest post, and be sure to continue after for more information about Joyce, The Judge's Story and a wonderful tour wide giveaway!

From Real to Fictional-Real Person
By Joyce T. Strand, Mystery Author
“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” -Ernest Hemingway
Agreed. I want real people in my mysteries—not two-dimensional caricatures who stiffly move from red herring to red herring in pursuit of a solution to the puzzle.
We readers can’t get involved in a story if we don’t care about the people.
I have used multiple methods to develop characters, including drafting detailed biographies from which to draw.  However, for my newest novel, The Judge’s Story, a historical mystery set in 1939 in a small town in California, I based my protagonist on a real person – a California Superior Court Judge.  I faced the challenge of re-creating a fictional judge based on a real one.
It’s not as easy as you might think!
Fortunately, my real judge wrote a memoir (Louis C. Drapeau, Senior; Autobiography of a Country Lawyer; 1941; available at the Museum of Ventura County/Library, 100 E. Main St., Ventura CA 93001). From it, I gleaned insight into his beliefs, temperament, and personality as well as details about his daily life.
Using the Memoir, I applied the values of the real judge to my fictional judge, which offered a rich source of options. I could guide his actions in the fictional story based on these values. For example, given that he was a judge, I could pull from his belief system to reach a verdict and hand out punishment in a fictional case. Given that he cared about social justice, I made him quick to respond to signs of bigotry and helpful to those who were mistreated. By drawing on these values, I could portray a man who stood for something without being preachy.
Of course, a person is more than just values and beliefs. What about emotions and feelings? The real judge in his memoir talked about his grief upon his first wife’s death, his respect for an acquaintance’s stoicism, and his regret at losing a specific case for a deserving client. I developed these feelings for my fictional judge. I made him a widower who still grieved over the loss of his wife and thought of her often. As a judge, he reflects on his cases as a lawyer—remorseful for those he lost.
For credibility, I turned to events of the time period to comprehend how my fictional judge fit in. This required additional research beyond the Memoir. The most valuable source to create this part of his persona came from reading the daily newspaper in 1939. For example, dominant in the news was the war in Europe, which meant that characters in this time would be concerned about the U.S. entering it.  Actual court cases, legal trends, and local economics also contributed.
To accommodate the plot, I did assign some original traits to my Judge—mostly in reaction to the fictional characters around him. He mentors a 16-year-old girl, although we learn that he shares the viewpoint of many in the 1930s about the role of women to get married and keep a home—a narrow perspective which the teenager and the Judge’s female assistant point out to him.
By blending the real judge’s values, beliefs, and feelings with events of the time I created my fictional judge and the micro-world around him. I could feel what it might have been like living then. My Judge and his fellow characters became real people. Yes, the story itself provides a huge bonus to pull us into their lives. But in the end, I believe it’s the characters, aka, the people, we’ll remember.



A Superior Court Judge with a passion for social justice as well as the law strives to discover the truth behind the mystery of a robbery-murder in a small California town in 1939.

When the Judge hears testimony against a 14-year-old teenager, he realizes that the boy participated in a robbery-murder. However, the accused did not actually pull the trigger. But unless the boy identifies his partner, the Judge must sentence him as a murderer, which would result in prolonged jail time. The Judge’s investigator, along with the precocious 16-year-old girl who identified the boy as one of the thieves, explore different approaches to uncover the murderer. In the backdrop of escalating war in Europe, the financial scarcities of the Great Depression, and the Judge’s caseload, their attempts to find justice for the accused boy and unmask the killer lure the Judge and his friends into sordid criminal activities.


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About the  Author


Mystery author Joyce T. Strand, much like her fictional character, Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder. Rather, she focused on publicizing her
companies and their products. She is the author of the Jillian Hillcrest mysteries ON MESSAGE, OPEN MEETINGS, and FAIR DISCLOSURE and the Brynn Bancroft mystery HILLTOP SUNSET. Strand received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. She currently lives in Southern California with her two cats, a collection of cow statuary and art, and her muse, the roadrunner.

You can find out more about Joyce on her website or blog, and can connect with her on her Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter social media sites.



Joyce will be doing a giveaway throughout her book tour!
1st Prize: Kindle Fire HD 7 or Kindle Paperwhite
2nd Prize: $50 Amazon gift card and an ebook or paperback copy of The Judge's Story
3rd Prize: $25 Amazon gift card and an ebook or paperback copy of The Judge's Story
To enter the giveaway fill complete the Rafflecopter form HERE.
Good Luck!!



  1. Hello Colleen,

    On behalf of Joyce Strand and Book Marketing Services, I would like to thank you for hosting Joyce today on A Literary Vacation. She is excited to be here. If anyone has any questions and/or comments they would like to share, please leave them in the comment box. Joyce will be by later in the day to respond.

    Joyce is having a giveaway during her tour. 1st prize: Kindle Fire HD 7 or Kindle Paperwhite; 2nd Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of The Judge’s Story; 3rd Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of The Judge’s Story. Click here to enter:

    Please join us tomorrow, Thursday, June 25th when Joyce will be interviewed live online by the Literary Diva

    Check where Joyce is each day on her tour by clicking here:

    Please note that THE JUDGE’S STORY is now available for Nook on Barnes and Noble at:

    And is live on Amazon for both paperback and Kindle

    And autographed copies of paperback are available at Unicorn Bookstore in Ramona, CA

    1. Hello Della! I'm delighted to have Joyce here today!! One of my great joys is interacting with authors, other readers, literary agents and tour hosts, etc.....the book community is so wonderful! Thank you for the chance to host Joyce here!

  2. Thank you so much for hosting me on A Literary Vacation. I had so much fun writing THE JUDGE'S STORY and love telling people about it. I appreciate the opportunity and applaud your support of authors. Thank you, thank you

    1. Thank YOU for coming by today!! I am never happier than when I'm interacting with authors and readers and when I get the chance to share more about wonderful books. I love authors :)!!!