An Interview with Judith Colombo

 Night Crimes

By Judith Woolcock Colombo
AmErica House, Baltimore
ISBN: 1-58851-174-X Released in April 2001
Now available at and Barnes &

Author Bio
Judith Woolcock Colombo was born and raised on the island of Jamaica. She came to America in 1969 at nineteen years of age to attend Fordham University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Fordham University, and a Masters in Philosophy from the New School For Social Research.

Night Crimes is Ms. Colombo’s second published novel. Her first, The Fablesinger, was published in 1989 by The Crossing Press. She is currently working on a new novel.

Judith taught English, Analytical Thinking, and Research Skills courses at several New York City colleges for over twenty years. In the year 2000, she and her husband Vincent, now a retired N.Y.P.D. Sergeant of Detectives, moved from Park Slope, Brooklyn to rural Central New York, where she is devoting herself to her writing. The Colombos have an adult son Benjamin who continues to live in Brooklyn.

1. Tell me about your first book, “The Fablesinger”. You were raised in Jamaica and when I read the sample of this I was transported into a strange, colourful, mythical world that was new to me. Was the idea for this one in your mind as you were growing up because obviously it is based on Caribbean folklore?

The Fablesinger actually evolved after a visit to the library where I went to do research into Afro-Caribbean religion. However, many of the scenes in it, especially the physical descriptions of the landscape, were based on memories. Also growing up in the Caribbean, it is hard to escape magic reality. Our existence is influenced by it to a certain degree whether we admit it or not.

2. So you had written your first book – how did you find a publisher? How long did the process take to get your first gem in print?

I found my publisher in Writers Market. It took over two years to get The Fablesinger published.

3. Your second novel “Night Crimes” is worlds apart from “The Fablesinger”! I’m tempted to ask if your husband’s job as NYPD Sergeant of Detectives influenced you in any way. It certainly must make research for you a little easier. But did any of the work he did, the crimes he saw, inspire the plot of “Night Crimes”?

Night Crimes itself was not influenced by any specific crime nor was its plot inspired by any of my husband’s cases. I began to think of Night Crimes after I was followed home from the subway one night. However, my husband’s work did influence me to a certain extent in that for twenty years I was immersed in a world of cops and robbers. Under these circumstances, it was almost a foregone conclusion that I would one day write a mystery.

4. You are adept at writing fantasy, mystery and suspense. Do you prefer one of these styles are there even more genres you would like to explore?

I don’t know if I prefer any one style. I am an avid reader and grew up reading many types of literature, including genre fiction. When I wrote Fablesinger, I didn’t set out to write a fantasy. That was just the sort of story that evolved out of my imagination at the moment. The same is true of Night Crimes. The novel I am now working on is also a mystery. I will probably write other mystery/suspense stories, but there are several stories floating around in my mind that are hard to pin down as any one genre.

5. And that leads me on to the obvious question? What’s next? As I’ve only read the opening of “Night Crimes” – does the heroine survive?! Will there be a sequel? And as you can now devote most of your time to writing what are your goals for the future?

Lara does survive and there may be a sequel. I have to see how people respond to this book. I am working on another mystery at the moment featuring a woman police detective. My goals are to write full time and to promote this and any future work to the best of my ability, and to grow old gracefully.

Night Crimes may be obtained from the publisher’s online bookstore at: Judith’s website address is:


Most of us who travel the New York City subways have moments of paranoia. We squeeze ourselves into a narrow space between two robust fellow travelers and then feel threatened when someone’s hand accidentally brushes against our thigh. We are convinced that everyone is looking at us strangely, or perhaps it’s just that man in the red shirt who dared to smile at us. groundless fear that accompanies us on our daily journeys. Lara Bello, a Jamaican-American artist, has been having these feelings lately. She is convinced that someone is following her, watching her every move. But no one believes her, not even her loving husband, Police Sergeant Tony Bello. Why should he? There is no reason why someone should want to follow an art instructor. This is the argument Lara uses to convince herself while riding the subway. She was being paranoid. No one was watching her. What was there to watch? However, Lara is being persistently pursued by the man in the blue baseball cap, and he is on the train with her. He goes everywhere she does. He keeps vigil outside her Brooklyn brownstone while she, her husband, and three sons sleep. He follows her into her classroom, and tracks her to her farm upstate when she flees there to escape him.

At the same time, Lara’s husband is immersed in his own mystery. Someone is poisoning derelicts and leaving their bodies for him to find.

These two distinct scenarios begin the world of Night Crimes. The plot is intricate and riveting, weaving a complex tale of murder, obsession, and duplicity. How this ordinary couple act and think when confronted with such extraordinary circumstances is a crucial part of the narrative.

Night Crimes is exciting and suspenseful, holding the audience’s attention to the last page. The police work is authentic and well researched, but above all this lies the story of an average middle class family who find the courage and strength, that lies within us all, to overcome extraordinary and terrifying circumstances. We can all relate to the Bello family. We can even understand the motives of the villains, and this is what makes Night Crimes so real and terrifying at the same time.

Read an extract of Night Crimes:

He was very happy. He had forgotten how happy he could be. Sitting with his new friend talking about his past life, he remembered that there was once a time when he had slept in a warm bed snuggled against his woman’s back, his arms enfolding her, his large hands cupping her round full breast. He recalled the smell of brownies baking and children giggling while they licked the spoons clean.

Now, his days were filled with monotony and dread, his body thin and wasted, drained by drink and heroin. Whenever he managed to drag himself out of his daze, he became aware of his urine-stained pants and dirt-encased body. But this didn’t seem to matter anymore. For two nights, he had spent time reminiscing with his friend, following the dark form down moonlit alleys and garbage-strewn streets, oblivious to the strangeness of it all.

He sat quietly on the park bench, drinking aged scotch and nibbling on a large sandwich given him by the mysterious person: roast beef on rye with mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato.He savored the whiskey, letting it roll off his tongue and trickle slowly down his throat. It tasted a bit different at first, but his new friend had said that was just because he had been drinking only the cheap stuff for so long. The taste of the scotch mingled with the taste of the food, warm and caressing in his stomach. He took small bites of the sandwich, not really wanting it, only coveting the spreading warmth of the liquor. He kept stealing glances at his friend. This figure crouched beside him, shrouded in the dark, encased in blackness, features obscured by a soft wide gray hat, the only part of the ever moving shadow that reflected light.

The man now fought to recall how and when this apparition had entered his life, but his life was beginning to fade from him, passing through his lips and fingers, feet, and toes.Suddenly, the truth dawned on him, and he asked, “Are you the Angel of Death?” The apparition sat silently, waiting, watching with quiet intensity as the man, his question unanswered, sank slowly into oblivion.

The figure stirred slowly. Moving forward with quiet dignity,it kissed the brow of the dying man and left taking with it the remains of his last meal.

The next morning a man walking his dog would discover the frozen body of the man, curled up on the park bench a smile on his face and his right arm encircling empty space.

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