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An Interview with Judy Foy


Judy is a professor, certified grief mentor, chronic pain support group facilitator, breast cancer advocate, author, and speaker. An American by birth, grew up in Africa, returning to the United States at the age of 20. No stranger to the rain, she draws on her lived experience and training to write inspirational fiction and non-fiction, and contributes her expertise in webinars and talks. Having raised two beloved sons, she and her husband divide their time between California and Montana. She enjoys spending time with loved ones, reading, being in nature, photography, and music.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I have always been an avid book lover, which naturally drew me to writing. I have always felt writing as a calling. My major influences are writers and artists who convey the transcendent in the pain and grace of life. They include Frederick Buechner, Annie Dillard, Anne Lamott, Henri Nouwen, Mary Oliver, Rainer Maria Rilke, Anne Tyler and Philip Yancey. The art of Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keefe and Jan Richardson has shaped my viewpoint.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I have written a book called Buttons and the Butterfly for both children and adults who have experienced loss. Along with this book, there is a companion activity book for children called Buttons the Labradoodle’s Activity Book. After receiving requests from readers, I decided to write Calm, which is designed to help adults work through the grieving process. I noticed a need for an ecumenical book to support individuals dealing with grief, specifically one that addresses how secondary losses and old wounds can exacerbate suffering. Calm aims to assist individuals in moving forward through the process of mourning, with the help of grace, towards a new sense of purpose and meaning.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

My book’s title, Calm, came easily to me. I knew which photograph I wanted on the cover, and I remembered the deep sense of calm that came over me when I witnessed this beautiful sunset.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

I often write while listening to Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, everything by the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, Concerto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo, Tirol Concerto by Philip Glass and any pieces my son Adrian composes and plays for keyboard. Muses also include Andrea and Virginia Bocelli’s Hallelujah, Eva Cassidy’s Fields of Gold and What a Wonderful World, Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle, Enya’s May It Be, and Iz’s Over the Rainbow, James Taylor’s How Sweet It Is, Paul Simon’s Under African Skies and Sing Gently by Eric Whitacre.

Describe your dream book cover.

I have my dream book cover! Before coming up with the title, Calm, I already had the cover image in mind: a photo I had taken. The cover expresses a feeling that I hope the book will evoke.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I worked as a speech therapist for children in rural Maine and inner city in Los Angeles before I took a position as a professor in the psychology department at Loyola Marymount University. Something that my readers wouldn’t know about me is that my writing was first recognized when a short story I wrote was selected for an award at 10 years of age.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

Books I read for research and comfort through my writing process include Frederick Buechner’s Crazy Holy Grace, Paula D’Arcy’s Gift of the Red Bird, Griefshare’s Your Journey from Mourning to Joy, C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain, David Kessler’s Finding Meaning, Martha W. Hickman’s Healing After Loss, Anne Lamott’s Plan B, Steve Leder’s More Beautiful than Before, Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved, Jerry Sittser’s When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayers, Jan Richardson’s The Cure for Sorrow, Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark, and Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace?

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope that Calm helps the bereaved to move, through grace, towards a new sense of meaning and purpose. My perfect readers have lost someone very special to them in a death, especially one that is sudden and unexpected. They want to be able to come out wiser on the other side of grief but don’t know how to grow through the trauma. I hope the book gives them some guideposts.

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