Friday, February 26, 2016

REAL LIFE FEAR by Judith Ashley

Please welcome Judith Ashley to Fearless Friday. Judith has spine tingling experience to add to her novels.

By the time you read this, I will be starting the first draft of the seventh book in The Sacred Women’s Circle series. Sophia like the first book Lily starts with a scenario taken from my own professional life.

Taking three children into protective custody in my role as a child protective service worker, I really did have a mother charge me with a butcher knife and she found me ten years later with similar threats.

When I first heard her threatening message on my answering machine, the terror of her original attempt on my life paralyzed me. I had a full blown PTSD attack. For years if I had this twitchy feeling along my spine I would get up and check doors and windows even though I knew they were locked and I had had security screen doors installed as well as bars on the basement windows.

Re-experiencing the terror and even a nightmare or two (which is part of what PTSD is) as I wrote Lily gave me visceral experiences to draw upon as I wrote those scenes.
Fast forward to 2016 and Sophia. The first chapter in this book will mirror another incident in my professional life.

It was a summer evening and I was asked to make sure an elderly man was okay. I found his home, made my way down an overgrown winding path to the lower level of the house where Mr. Z lived because the upper floors were uninhabitable. I knocked and a much younger man, who appeared to be living there, answered.

After introducing myself and explaining that Aging Services was concerned about Mr. Z and had asked me to check on him this evening, I spent almost an hour visiting with the men, talking about the various services Mr. Z might find helpful. My hope was to ferret out what was going on. My senses were telling me something was wrong, but both men assured me everything was fine.

Influenced by the younger man, Mr. Z refused every suggestion.

My heart pounded as I started back up the path to the street because the younger man was following me.
Feigning concern for my welfare, he insisted on accompanying me. As we approached the darkest, most overgrown section, he reached out to “help me”. His earlier suggestive remarks, remarks I’d ignored, were repeated.
Hypervigilant, my awareness of everything around me magnified, including the distance to the street and safety.

Sophia will be available summer 2016. Check out my blog for updates!
Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nurture the soul. Learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on my website.

Twitter: @JudithAshley19
Books are available through Windtree Press ( and major e-retailers.


  1. Wow! Thank you for the work you've done, where you've put your life in danger to help others. Definitely, events you can draw from for writing. I wonder, does writing help you through the PTSD? Does writing make the PTSD flare up? Wishing you the best with this new release.

  2. Jody, I did have PTSD episodes until I learned the mother who had come after me with the butcher knife had died. That really made a big difference in my life. I do know survivors of child abuse who've written their memoirs and while doing that have had extreme flare ups but getting their story out (even if not published) was very healing. Thanks for the best wishes!

  3. I'm so glad the woman is no longer in this world to be a threat to you! It's amazing what triggers memories and flares, and that you beat them back in order to use your experiences in your writing. Best wishes, Judith!

    1. When her daughter, who was the oldest, wrote in her Christmas note that her mother had died, I realized how much I still was on guard. I've not had a nightmare about her since that Christmas.
      All but one of those children kept in touch with me for years. I attended the wedding of the oldest and the youngest called me for several years after she was grown and on her own.

  4. I think that using these types of memories in a book is what makes readers care about the characters and situations. The fact that you can do this is a great sign of your own healing. Though it may be painful/emotional to write, each time is also a way of surviving again--and that survival is critical to moving forward in life. Congratulations on getting to Book 7. I am in awe of how well you stick to your work and keep going.

    1. I do see it as a sign of my own healing that I can use the emotions while keeping my distance. I can see now that I had to retire from my work checking on vulnerable adults before I could write about Sophia's work.

  5. What an interesting life you have lived and what a wonderful service you provided. I am curious as to how the second situation with the younger man ended.

    1. I was wondering that too. Not only how you coped with the threat, but if you learned whether the older man was being endangered and were able to get him into a safe situation. Really interesting article, Judith!