Unringing the Bell
by Judy Higgins
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In the small town of Goose Bend, Pennsylvania, people don't forget. Especially something as sensational as 12-year-old Jacob Gillis burning down the town. Nineteen years later, Jacob returns, hoping for redemption. Instead, he finds himself entangled in a murder investigation. The prosecutor, taking advantage of Jacob's involvement with the victim's beautiful sister-in-law, threatens Jacob with loss of career and reputation if he doesn't play by his rules. Only by outwitting the prosecutor can Jacob save his future.
Q & A with Judy Higgins
What is something you’ve lied about?
Who is the last person you hugged?
My granddaughter who is two-and-a-half years old. She’s a great hugger. I had an incredible relationship with my maternal grandparents, and they hugged me a lot. So every time I hug my granddaughter, it’s a double blessing: I like hugging her, but I also remember my grandparents. My other grandchildren hug too, but now that they’re older, the hugs are more rare.
What are you reading now?
The Revolution of Marina M, by Janet Fitch. The book has been labeled the female Dr. Zhivago. The two books I’ve read in the past twenty months that I’ve enjoyed the most were A Gentleman from Moscow and All the Light We Cannot See. I refused to read All the Light for ages because I didn’t want to read about a blind girl, but a local bookshop owner convinced me that I wouldn’t be bothered by her blindness.
How do you come up with the titles to your books?
I was conferring with a local attorney about legal issues in the plot of Unringing the Bell. He used the term “unringing the bell” and I jumped on it. Book two of Bucks County Mysteries is Bride of the Wind, which is the name of a painting by Kokoschka. Kokoschka and the painting play a role in the back story of the novel. If you want to read about a crazy artist, read his biography! Part of his craziness comes out in the novel. I can’t remember where I got the title The Lady. When Naomi returns to Bethlehem after living in Moab, she tells her friends and relatives to call her “Mara,” which means bitterness, and thus the book title Call me Mara.
Share your dream cast for your book.
I’m still working on the dream cast for the two Bucks County Mysteries. I’m voting for Ryan Reynolds to play Jacob Gillis. For Detective Laskey, I’m thinking John Nettles from Midsomer Murders, but my daughter has cast her vote for Dermat Mulroney. I’m having a hard time figuring out who Dr. Zuela Hay, aka Aunt Zuela, should be. Helen Mirren or Shirley MacLaine, were they several years younger, would be excellent choices. Maybe I should elicit suggestions from my readers! One of my favorite characters in Bride of the Wind is MacNeish. I need a brash Scotsman to play that role.
Except for one character, I had the cast for The Lady figured out long ago. Here is is: Quincy should be the next Jennifer Lawrence; Aunt Addy, Julia Roberts; Nathan Waterstone, the infamous writer: Brad Pitt; Earlene: Queen Latifa. It took me a while to cast Aunt Mildred, but then I saw Holly Hunter in xxxxxxx and it clicked. She’d make a fabulous Aunt Mildred. Only Reverend Stewart remains uncast.
I’m also starting to consider who should play the roles of Naomi and Ruth in Call me Mara. Again, maybe my readers will have suggestions, only they shouldn’t offer their ideas of who should play Naomi until after they read the book.
When Jacob Gillis was twelve years old, he burned down the town of Goose Bend, Pennsylvania. The fire didn’t actually consume the entire town – only two blocks of the four-block business section went up in flames – but when the folks in Goose Bend spoke of the incident, they persisted in saying that Jacob Gillis, abetted by his friend Charlie Garrett, burned down the town.
Jacob watched Laskey walk back to the Sequoia, his limp barely detectable, and for the thousandth time he wondered why his friend kept what had happened to his foot a secret. But there were some places Laskey didn’t go – formidable Laskey with his gruff manner and hard-muscled body. He was a private person and sometimes a grizzly bear, but he had a goose-down heart which he tried like heck to hide. But Jacob knew.
Laskey grasped the arms of his chair and pushed his feet hard against the floor to contain himself. For a brief moment, the thought had rushed through his head that a jail term for assaulting a DA would be worth enduring for the pleasure of smashing Inglehook’s head against his desk.
Laskey squared his shoulders, turned around, and looked Jacob in the eyes. “Don’t get yourself in a mess, Jake. Extrication isn’t always possible.” He started for the door.
“Give back the painting,” he called over his shoulder. “And Jake,” he paused and twisted around. “Don’t ever mistake pretty wrappings for the quality of the gift inside.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Judy Higgins was born in South Georgia where she grew up playing baseball, reading, and taking piano lessons. To pay for her lessons, she raised chickens and sold eggs to neighbors. She attended Mercer University for two years, and then Baylor University from which she graduated with a BA in German. She received her MA in German literature from The University of Michigan. After teaching German for several years, Judy decided to become a librarian and earned an MA in Library Science at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.
Judy’s life took an exciting turn when she left her teaching job in Pennsylvania to be Head of Library at the Learning Center School of Qatar Foundation. She lived in Qatar for eight years, enjoying the experience of living in a different culture and traveling to exotic places during every vacation. Recently, she returned to the United States and lives in Lexington, KY. Judy has two children, Julia and Stephen, two children-in-law, Jim and Erin, and four grandchildren: Kyle, Jon, Karina, and Addy.
Judy’s first book, The Lady, was a finalist in the 2012 Amazon Break-out Novel Award. The first two novels of her Bucks County Mysteries, Unringing the Bell and Bride of the Wind are available March 1, 2018. The series is set in an imaginary small town in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Call me Mara, the story of Ruth and Naomi, is scheduled for publication in March, 2019.
In addition to writing, Judy’s passions include travel, tennis, elephants, and playing the piano.