Friday, November 29, 2013

Debut Author Justina Prima

Hello, Justina. Congratulations on your first published novel!
Is there a story behind The Pawnbroker's Ring?

This sounds odd, I know, but I dreamt the Preface. The image was so vivid that it woke me up and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room, questions filled my mind—Who is she looking for out on the ocean’s horizon? And if she found the ring at that moment, how would it change her life? I got up and took notes and started it that very day. 

What started you on your writing journey?

We knew a geologist who owned a thousand acres up by Mount Shasta. We lived there for 3 years in an old, very well kept, miner’s cabin. The geologist also owned grazing land and another 1,000 acres next to us and, on that section, a bit off the road and into the pasture was a tiny trailer with electricity. The school bus did a turn around there, so from early morning to when the school bus came back at 3, I could be found in there with a little Brother computer/typewriter. My dad had bought it for me saying, “To do a good job, you need the proper tools.” This is where I wrote my first book, “Stardust.” One day I will polish it and submit. It’s a true story of my mom and dad during WWII.  Dad was a Japanese POW taken at the Baton Death March. He is the one who should have written a book!

What distracts you from writing the easiest?

I would have to say our blue heeler, Frisco. A ball will appear at my feet. If that didn’t work, a nylon bone, and before I know it all of his toys are there. Next his paw would be gently placed on my leg with an endearing look asking for a walk or quick potty break—you name it, he does it. His eyes fix on me, I look over, and he sits up and stretches out a paw. He slays me.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

If you have not had the pleasure of reading Anthony Trollope, please do so as soon as you can. Many of his books were made into movies-- “He Knew He Was Right,” the Barsetshire novels, or “Can You Forgive Her,” will open a door to magnificent writing! True representation of mid-1800 story-telling!

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?

I have to reveal my prejudice for Aunt Zilla. She has to say what she feels to help others, even if it means jeopardizing her close relationships with others. And, of course, she is always right!

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

It has to be living in the woods where I discovered writing. Our nearest neighbor was twenty miles away! The only running water we had was the creek right out the door, snow runoff and beaver free. We took ‘sun showers,’ which tends to be a little tricky when the temps are in the teens! But the price was right--$1.00 a year!

What is your strangest habit?

I have a pair of tweezers wherever I go—in the car, bathroom, next to the couch on the end table, bedroom. There are rogue hairs that appear overnight on my chin and it drives me absolutely batty. My kids already know that should I end up in a nursing home, they absolutely must pull them out, no matter how much I protest. My husband tells me how much he looks forward to seeing me after work. I told him that he must not be looking very closely or he would see what plagues me the most! He told me not to use the tweezers in the car while he’s driving, just in case he has to come to a sudden stop. I shudder thinking about working on my eyebrows when he is at the wheel.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?

Puppies and babies. Have you ever seen the puppy super bowl on Animal Planet? I end up on the floor laughing. I could run out there and hug all of them. Then there is that commercial for the investment company that has the baby talking about what to do with your hard-earned money and something is always happening to distract him. It’s a real knee-slapper.

What is your favorite season of the year? 

Fall anywhere. In Denver we have the Indian summer effect. This one has lasted much longer and everyone must drive up into the mountains to see the Aspens in all their glory. 

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Thank goodness my husband loves to do the wash.

Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?

Scotland. It’s like the United States back in the 50s. No locked cars or doors, people hanging out in pubs and visiting—real small town feel. The people are lovely.

Has some place you have traveled inspired something in your writing?

I am a direct descendant of John and Elizabeth Proctor. My husband and I went to Salem specifically to be where they walked. The Pawnbroker’s Ring is set in Salem, post War of 1812.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?

When I would come home on leave (I was in the Army during Viet Nam) my father would make my favorite meal—Plum Roast. He baked it in the oven, but I use the crock pot. Use a real nice pork roast, about two pounds worth and sear it on all sides in butter and fresh garlic. Once it’s in the pot, take a small jar of apricot preserves and two cans of purple plums. You have to remove the seed and put all the juice and plums in a blender with the apricot preserves. Blend it up and pour it over the roast. Cook on low for eight hours.  It falls apart and you spoon it over rice. When guests come over for dinner, invariably one of them will say, “What? No plum roast?” You’ll love it.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?

I don’t see books out there that deal with our passions.  The Pawnbroker’s Ring delves into jealousy and envy. I have seen it destroy lives. My next novel will deal with stealing. Is there a time that God would approve of it to achieve something?

Would you share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you?

“I was glad because of them that said unto me: Let us go into the house of the Lord.” Psalm 121.  How I long to hear those words.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?


“Tunnels”  One day on the news there was a report looking into the past of King George IV and Queen Mary. During 1930, the Queen was walking in the tunnel which leads from Buckingham Palace to Parliament. She encountered a man there who said he had been living in the tunnels for years, completely undetected. When I heard this I thought of a three-part story taking place in London, Moscow and Washington D.C., all of which have tunnels that were important in history.  Each story line involves the tunnels which lead from the Kremlin to many churches (used in transporting Christians to camps and their deaths), Buckingham Palace, and The White House and one tunnel which leads to the Smithsonian. The research was the exciting part of writing this novel!

Thanks for sharing with us today, Justina!

Connect with Justina Prima at:



Justina Prima is giving away a copy of The Pawnbroker's Ring. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.



9 comments:

squiresj said...

I would really like to win, read, and review this. I did not have a ring from a pawnbroker. But I bought a ring from my brother who's wife had divorced him. And I've been married 34 years now.
jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

Sharon A Lavy said...

Loved this interview!

What is it with we women and our chin hairs? When my mother was dying we had to promise to "get" all her chin hairs before her "viewing" and we did. There is more to this story but this is not the place.

Susan Johnson said...

Thank you for "introducing" me to this author. I would love to win a copy of this book.
susanmsj at msn dot com

Patricia Bradley said...

For you, it's tweezers. For me, it's an eyebrow pencil. lol. Great interview. pat at ptbradley dot com

Jackie McNutt said...

Really fun to read review. Thanks for featuring her. The Pawnbrokers Ring sounds very mysterious would love to read it
Thank you
mcnuttjem0(at)gmail(dot)com

Justina Prima said...

I'm reading all of your comments and laughing out loud! And Sharon, I would love to know 'the rest of the story!'

I wish you all could win a copy. Thank you for your interest!

cjajsmommy said...

I don't often read fiction set in the past but this interview has me interested. (I live in a very historical area and it really bugs me when authors get details wrong. I used to proofread and I had one present-day book that was set in an area with which I am extremely familiar, and I knew that his roads were wrong. So, I sent detailed corrections back when I returned the galleys. When the book was published, I took a look at it and all the roads were still wrong. I mean major interstates! Let me just say that you will never drive from Lancaster to DC on I83 because I83 ends in Baltimore. Details details! Oh, my boss had to remind me that my job was to proofread, not edit. :) ) Sorry for the rabbit trail! cjajsmommy [at] gmail [dot] com

Justina Prima said...

One of the rewards of writing historical is the research. The things I learn are amazing. The Boston Public Library was such an wonderful help to me in giving me the rights to place the 1830 Salem map in the book and to do a partial enlargement of the area of which the book takes part. The publisher put each map on a separate page in order for it to be more readable. When I read historical fiction it's pleasing to have something to look at, interact with in order to get the 'picture' in your mind. I know exactly what you are talking about!

Justina Prima said...

Hi! Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I had the question "Will there be a part 2?" I have been asked that. It certainly could lead to one, as you will see by the ending. I haven't given it much thought, other than saying goodbye to them all with the last read through on the galleys. It is very possible I will start missing them and want to interfere in their lives!

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