Laura Bradford first dreamt of a writing career at age 10. So it’s particularly fitting that the ’89 graduate turned to childhood memories to provide the seed for her debut novel, Jury of One, published in June by Hilliard & Harris.
Jury of One revolves around the character of Elise Jenkins, an investigative reporter in a southern New Jersey beach town where four mysterious murders have recently taken place. The key seems to lie with a boardwalk fortuneteller, who warned each of the victims in advance and who cautions that Jenkins could be victim number five.
Bradford says fortunetellers were also key to the book’s creation. “I woke up one morning thinking about childhood vacations to the Jersey shore and how weird I always felt walking past fortuneteller booths on the boardwalk,” she says. “So I jumped on the computer and started doing a little research on fortunetellers. Before I knew it, I had a plot. And it wouldn’t leave my mind until I sat down at the computer to write.”
Bradford began working on the book in the summer of 1999 after almost a decade as a journalist and freelance writer and about nine months after the birth of her second child. A marketing and communications major at the University, she married her college sweetheart Mike Bradford, an’89 graduate, shortly after finishing school. Mike was in the U.S. Army, and the couple moved from base to base around the country with Laura picking up journalism jobs near the bases. She credits these newspaper experiences with providing many of the book’s characters or character types.
After years of drafting, revising, editing and experiencing a few rejections, Bradford sent the manuscript to Hilliard & Harris in 2003. The publishing company ultimately accepted Jury of One the following year.
Now with her first novel on the shelves, Bradford is working on the second book in a projected series, this one set during a cold winter in northern Michigan winter. And this time, she says, there’s a noticeable difference—publishers are requesting copies of the manuscript before it’s completed.