5 questions for Judy Simpson Cook

Judy Simpson Cook's name should be familiar to Charlotte theatergoers. The Waxhaw-based playwright has written numerous one-act, and nine full-length plays. She is also an actor who has appeared on stage, screen and television. Davidson Community Players is presenting her tender and comic holiday play "Retrieving the Lamb" through Sunday.

Q. Do you still get butterflies on opening nights, even for established productions? It is a different type of nervousness or anxiety than I experience as an actor, but yes I get anxious. I'm never quite sure what to expect, how the performers will interpret my work, how people will respond. I find myself acclimating to where the performance takes me and am usually very pleased with the result.

Q. What is it about the Southern voice and point-of-view that seems to universally connect people? People are people everywhere. We all experience similar emotions, situations and experiences. We all have eccentricities. Yet as it has been noted, "In the South we put our eccentrics on the front porch." I write about real people in real situations and use turns of phrase that connect in a very direct way. I speak very fluent Southern; it is the only voice I have.

Q. What is your process like - do you start with scene, characters or an idea? It truly depends. With "Retrieving the Lamb," I had an idea of Christmas and how it was supposed to be, I had this setting and the characters in my mind but hadn't developed a plot initially. That came from the characters and the setting. But it could just as easily come from the reverse - sometimes I start with an idea or plot before I have the characters, it just depends.

Q. Do you write in any different genres? I have written poetry and occasionally I kick around the idea of writing a novel but as yet have not. I love writing dialogue and so much enjoy telling stories through the voices of my characters. I just can't seem to get away from it.

Q. What is your favorite Christmas cookie? When I was a child, my Aunt Dot made these wonderful memory cookies that were shortbread cookies made on a press with a candied cherry in the center. I really loved those cookies, which were a special part of Christmas for me.