Recently, we were very lucky here at Joyfully
Reviewed to have a very talented author take time out of her very
busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.
Hi Julia, it’s so nice to have the chance to
talk with you.
You too, Debbie. It’s great to be here
at Joyfully Reviewed.
When was it that you decided to become a
I didn’t decide to do it for a living
until I was in my thirties. But I have always loved to write. When
I was a kid I filled notebooks with stories about me and lots of
guys in various adventures and predicaments. Then I went to
college, got a job, and wrote lots of technical papers and memos.
But I never thought about writing as an occupation until I had
reached my thirties and wondered what the hell I was doing with my
life. I hated my occupation (government—nuff said), and all I could
see was endless weeks and months and years of pushing paper and
writing very dry, very boring documents. That’s when I decided to
give writing a shot as a career option. Talk about stepping out on
faith! I am so thankful that it has worked out, because I
absolutely love writing as a career. There is nothing more
rewarding to me.
How long did it take before you had your
first book published?
About a year. You know, I must have
lived right at some point, because I was one of the lucky ones who
happened to be in the right place at the right time. The first book
I wrote was a medieval. It was too long and too rambling, but I
discovered an awful lot about sustaining a story over dozens of
chapters. I threw that into the closet and wrote Devil's Love, then
went and got a book, How to Get Published or something like that,
sent a query to four agents simultaneously, and landed one within a
week. I had a contract two weeks after that. I knew nothing about
the industry or even the romance genre, I had never heard of the
Romance Writer's Association or
Romantic Times or
Weekly. I was a lucky, lucky girl in that my work hit my agent and
the market at exactly the right time. I am truly humbled by my
great dumb luck and eternally thankful for it.
Since then you have written many historical
romances and have also written several contemporaries. Do you find
it at all difficult, to switch between the two genres’s, when you
Not at all. I switch back and forth
between books—I work on one in the morning, take a break (usually go
to the gym or run errands), and then work on one in the afternoon.
That keeps me fresh. Other writers think I am nuts, but I figure
it’s like most of our jobs—we have to multi-task. I think we rarely
work on one project. Somehow, our brain switches off one project
and moves to the next all in the course of a work day, and the same
is true for me when I am writing. I suppose I was trained to do it
by spending years in really mind-numbing, boring government jobs.
Not that there is anything wrong with working in government! But it
wasn’t for me.
Your most recent book, The Perils of
Pursuing a Prince, is the second in your Desperate Debutante’s
series. Can you give us a little bit of background of the
The Desperate Debutantes is a series
about two sisters and a cousin who must pull themselves up by their
bootstraps when their mother and guardian dies, particularly if they
want to continue to live in the high society style to which they
have become accustomed. And of course they do, because they aren’t
dullards—who would give up that lifestyle? In The Hazards of
Hunting a Duke, the first book, Ava, the oldest, determines she must
marry to keep them in good standing among the aristocracy. She sets
off to seduce Lord Middleton into marriage.
While Ava is off
flirting her way into Lord Middleton’s bed, Greer, their cousin,
determines she might have some inheritance coming to her. She’s not
certain, as she was orphaned at the age of eight, but she sets off
to find out. In The Perils of Pursuing a Prince, she
discovers that any inheritance she might have is controlled by
Rhodrick Glendower, Earl of Radnor, also known as the Prince of
Powys. Rumor has it that the prince is rough, ruthless—even a
murderer. And Greer certainly never imagined that the brute would
refuse to let her leave his remote castle until she has proven her
identity, or that she would find him increasingly attractive. I
have a really cool
as well as an excerpt.
And in October, The
Dangers of Deceiving a Viscount about Phoebe, the youngest of them,
will be released. Phoebe gets mixed up in something she probably
shouldn’t have in Hazards, and she has to pay the piper in this
Greer seems to be a very headstrong,
determined woman. Is she modeled after any one that you know?
Not really. She is a composite of women
I have known and have read about. I wanted to make her strong and
determined because she ends up in a really remote place with a
really cold captor in an era where women were rarely independent.
She had to be strong to survive.
The cover of ‘Prince’ is quite
beautiful. Do you have any input as to the look of your covers?
Hahaha…are you kidding? Them: Here is
your cover, Julia. What do you think? Me: Can we make the (fill
in the blank) stand out more? Them: Hey, thanks for the input!
But no, we can’t change it.
That’s a joke—but I
don’t really have any input. They always run it by me, but it’s
pretty much done by the time I see it. I have been very lucky,
particularly with my historicals, to have some of the prettiest and
sexiest covers around. At least I think so.
Rhoderick, the Prince of Prowys, the hero in
The Perils of Pursuing a Prince is the perfect choice for
Greer. When writing your stories, what is your strategy when
sitting down to put things together? Do you make up the characters
first, or do you think up a plot and then run with it, hoping that
things fall into place? It’s a fascinating thing, the way a writer
writes. I’m very interested in knowing how the process works.
I always—always—see the characters
first. It’s what to do with them that usually stumps me. I am one
of those writers who works from an outline. I have to have at least
a framework of where things are going to write. If I didn’t, I
would spend months and months writing a book. The first book I
wrote, Devil’s Love, was from a stream of conscience. But I am
older and wiser and I don’t have the luxury of time like I did then
because of deadlines for publication. An outline forces me to think
through the plot. But it’s just that—an outline. I still spend
lots of time screwing around inside the plot trying to get from
point A to point B, trying different things on and tossing them and
finally landing on the path my characters will take. What you see
in one of my books is probably the 5th or 6th
iteration of where the story started.
Julia, I know that it takes a long time to
write a book. On average, how long does it take from start to
finish, to produce the wonderful stories that you share with your
About nine months from concept to
delivery of the draft manuscript to my publisher. When I started, it
took about six months, but now it takes longer. Each book is harder
to write than the last—I think because I want to improve and expand
and flourish with my writing, but I don’t always know how to do it.
Or, alternatively, it might be taking longer because I am screwing
around a lot more. You know…email, snack time, and more email.
When writing historicals, there must be
quite a lot of research involved. How do you research for your
books? What kind of material do you use?
My minor in college was history, and I
admit to being something of an Anglophile (I have all the Diana
books, LOL). Over the years I have developed a fairly extensive
library of research materials, and since I usually write books set
in the same twenty year period—and have written a lot of them now—I
have a pretty good sense for the politics and social milieu of the
era. But I still go back and review the politics and social scene
before beginning a new book. And of course one of the greatest
perks of writing is traveling for research. I really love being in
the U.K and wandering through all those fancy Georgian homes where I
set my books. I am certain that I was a member of the English
aristocracy in a former life. I just seem to have that
to-the-manor-born thing in my bones. Ask anyone at my house.
I’m sure that many aspiring writers ask you
for advice. What is the number one piece of advice that you give?
To keep at it. Writing is like anything
else you want to do well—you have to practice it and work at it
every day. And believe in yourself. I have met so many aspiring
writers who think they probably aren’t good enough or don’t have the
right connections, or for whatever reason, they discount themselves
before they ever begin. Well I didn’t think I was good enough, I
didn’t have any connections or anything else—but I also had nothing
to lose by trying. I believed that much and it worked out for me.
So practice your craft and believe in yourself. Oh, and finish the
book. You can’t sell what you don’t have.
When you’re not busy writing best-selling
books, what do you like to do for fun? Do you have any hobbies?
What kind of books do you like to read? Any favorite authors?
I have a few hobbies. Golf, walking,
reading, shopping and seeing friends are the things that pop into my
head. I like reading all kinds of fiction, autobiography, and
history books. I think my favorite author of the moment is Philippa
Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl, the Boleyn Inheritance). I
say of the moment because my reading tastes change over time. But
she is an outstanding writer of historical fiction and I highly
recommend her books.
Julia, how can your readers get in touch
Thank you so much for the opportunity to
talk with you, Debbie! If people want to get in touch with me, I
recommend checking out my
website. Or, readers can
email me. Or visit me at
one of two blogs: The Whine
Sisters or The Goddess
Blogs. I am at both sites daily, and you’ll find some other
authors there, too.