Name: Judith Lindbergh

Where do you live? West Orange, NJ. 

When did you move there? In 2003, just before my second son was born. We moved from Brooklyn because they didn’t sell bunkbed cribs!

Where did you grow up? Worcester, MA.

How do you make a living? OR What is your everyday passion? 

I am the founder and director of The Writers Circle, a creative writing community with classes all over suburban New Jersey and online where we inspire, teach, and support aspiring writers from age 8 to over 80. Along with my very talented roster of published author-instructors, I teach several classes myself. My personal passion is writing novels, generally about ancient history and cultures that most people have heard very little about. My new novel, AKMARAL, about a nomad woman warrior on the ancient Asian steppes in the 5th century BCE, comes out in May 2024. Luckily, my living and my passion align perfectly. Sharing my passion for creativity is at the heart of what I do every day at The Writers Circle and on the page.

Coffee, tea or … ? Coffee to wake up. Tazo Decaf Chai to calm down and focus. Unsweetened cranberry juice with a dash of lemonade and a LOT of ice to refresh.

What’s your idea of a perfect weekend day? A long hike, camera in hand, in the South Mountain Reservation, Lord Stirling Park near the Great Swamp, or upstate in Harriman State Park. The deeper into the woods, the better. Hearing no traffic at all—the best!

What’s your favorite local restaurant? 

Harper’s Café in West Orange. It’s a small, Black-owned business, walking distance from my house, run by a lovely young man who lives in the neighborhood. The menu is limited, but the coffee, pastries, and avocado toast are terrific. Harper’s opened right before the pandemic and everyone was worried that it wouldn’t survive. But the owner turned around and started distributing meals to free-lunch students and seniors. His heart and commitment to community make him a hero and I will always recommend his café.

What’s on your nightstand? 

The Years by Annie Ernaux, The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth by Ben Rawlence, and Archaeology of Bronze Age Mongolia: A Deer Stone Diary by William Fitzhugh. Literature, environmental nonfiction, and ancient historical research are pretty much always on my TBR stack.

What are you listening to? I am keen on modern minimalism and my go-to artist is cellist Zoe Keating. But my new favorite is my son’s brand new band, Oblivious Puppets. Keep them on your radar!

What are your current indulgences? Taking a break. That’s something I rarely do.

What talent you would most like to have? 

Dancing. it’s not so much a talent I wish I had as one I wish I could return to. I was a professional dancer for the first seven years of my adult life. I miss it so much! But at this point, age and sitting for too long at the computer have taken a toll on my joints. I really am glad I danced when I was young and only later became a writer.

What’s the worst-kept (or best-kept!) secret about your area? 

The South Mountain Reservation is both familiar and full of secrets. There are so many beautiful trails. Not just the walk to Hemlock Falls from South Orange Avenue or the Fairy Trail in Millburn. Deep in the woods are streams and waterfalls and wonderful patches of native plants and trees. From almost every trailhead, there is beauty, calm, and wonder to be discovered.

What do you hope they say about you at your funeral? 

I hope they say that “Judy lived by her principles and stayed true to her creativity in everything she did.” And maybe, that I aged backwards. I was a very serious young person and, over the years, I’ve become a much more relaxed and fun. Taking things less seriously makes life’s challenges far easier.