Wednesday, December 02, 2009
I've been wanting to feature this author on the blog for a while. Welcome, Julie. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I intentionally try not to write about myself. I don’t want all my characters to sound and think like me. That would make for a boring book, believe me! An occasional anecdote from my childhood might sneak in from time to time and, of course, I hope my faith shows up as well.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
That I will admit to? Hmm. Maybe…completed a 3-day dance marathon? Played “Clarence the angel” from It’s a Wonderful Life at a company Christmas party?
It's a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite movies. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I began writing stories and poems at a young age. My mom saved my 2nd grade report card that says something like, “Julie’s stories show great potential.” But you have to keep in mind that the teacher’s name was (no joke) Miss Balogna.
My second grade teacher was Mrs. Hater, no kidding. I loved her. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I enjoy contemporary or historical fiction with strong romantic elements. I also find myself reading more non-fiction than ever before--travel books and research books about life, medicine, and education in the 1800s.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I have two other published historical novels: Lady of Milkweed Manor and The Apothecary’s Daughter. I have also written one contemporary novel, which is still cowering on a low shelf after painful rejection.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Sunday after-church naps, camping with the family, and reading with my sons.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Surnames often come from historical census data from wherever my novel is set. I also use lists of popular first names from the time period. Occasionally I slip in names of people I know, as a small way of honoring them. For example, in The Silent Governess, I named a much-loved governess after the teacher who first introduced me to Jane Eyre.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
While I am proud of having written four novels, I find deeper satisfaction in having gone on short term missions trips to Ukraine and having a small part in building a church there.
I love missions trips. I've been on several to Mexico and one to Guatamala. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A cat. I’m a night person, like to nap in puddles of sunshine, like affection, but need plenty of solitude, too.
What is your favorite food?
I have an untamed sweet tooth and am far too fond of candy, cookies, and ice-cream.
I love sweets, too, so this season is hard for me. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I tend to procrastinate, but the “Book in a Week” techniques (set daily word count goals, turn off internet, write without going back to edit or research until goal met) help me overcome this problem. And whenever I am struggling to come up with scene ideas, I take a walk or drive somewhere. There’s something about motion that spurs creative thinking.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
You’ve heard the saying, Write what you know? I say, Write what you love—what you personally love to read. What is the genre you most often read for pure enjoyment? That is probably the genre you should be writing. I would also encourage new writers to study the basics (point of view, plotting, characterization, formatting) and to have well-read friends or a critique group read the manuscript and revise based on their feedback before submitting it to an agent or editor. Make the best first impression you can!
Tell us about the featured book?
Please give us the first page of the book.
November 1, 1815
Heart pounding with fear and regret, Olivia Keene ran as though hellhounds were on her heels. As though her very life depended upon her escape.
Fleeing the village, she ran across a meadow, bolted over the sheep gate, caught her skirt, and went sprawling in the mire. The bundle in her cape pocket jabbed against her hip bone. Ignoring it, she picked herself up and ran on, looking behind to make sure no one followed. Ahead lay Chedworth Wood.
The warnings of years echoed through her mind. “Don’t stray into the wood at night.” Wild dogs stalked that wood, and thieves and poachers camped there, with sharp knives and sharper eyes, looking for easy game. A woman of Olivia’s four-and-twenty years knew better than to venture into the wood alone. But her mother’s cries still pulsed in her ears, drowning out the old voice of caution. The danger behind her was more real than any imagined danger ahead.
Shivers of fear prickling over her skin, she hurled herself into the outstretched arms of the wood, already dim and shadowy on the chill autumn evening. Beneath her thin soles, dry leaves crackled. Branches grabbed at her like gnarled hands. She stumbled over fallen limbs and underbrush, every snapping twig reminding her that a pursuer might be just behind, just out of sight.
Olivia ran until her side ached. Breathing hard, she slowed her pace. She walked for what seemed like an hour or more and still hadn’t reached the other side of the wood. Was she traveling in a circle? The thought of spending the night in the quickly darkening wood made her pick up her pace once more.
She tripped on a tangle of roots and again went sprawling. She heard the crisp rip of fabric. A burning scratch seared her cheek. For a moment she lay as she was, trying to catch her breath.
The pain of the fall broke through the dam of shock, and the hot tears she had been holding back poured forth. She struggled up and sat against a tree, sobbing.
Almighty God, what have I done?
A branch snapped and an owl screeched a warning to his mate. Fear instantly stifled her sobs. Hairs prickling at the back of her neck, Olivia searched the moonlit dimness with wide eyes.
Eyes stared back.
Oh, give me more! I can hardly wait until I get my copy. How can readers find you on the Internet?
http://www.julieklassen.com/ or at http://www.bethanyhouse.com/
Julie, thank you for spending this time with us.
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