Q: Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
A: No, I’d always played with scenarios for stories and movies in my head but had never considered writing any of them down. In my second year of graduate school for a Masters in Social Work, I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. After enduring chemotherapy, I escaped with my life and an unrelenting desire to tell Josie’s story, which turned out to be my first novel, The Woman He Married. The only thing I can surmise is that somehow the chemo had an effect on my creativity, kind of how a superhero will receive his/her powers after falling into a vat of toxic waste.
I’d always wanted to be a teacher and did teach Prepared Childbirth and Infant CPR. Then, when my girls were both in school fulltime I went to grad school planning to work as a family therapist. Little did I know then that I would end up writing novels.
Q: What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
A: My latest release is titled, No Holly for Christmas. It has romance, suspense and all my favorite holidays rolled into three hundred, or so, fast paced pages with a wonderfully sappy ending. Oops, that was twenty-three words ;)
Q: Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
A: I’m actually working on a novel I hope will become a series. Book one is titled, The Cadaver Ball. It’s about a woman, Marley Evens, who travels from California to Nashville to attend the Vanderbilt Medical School’s, Cadaver Ball. While there, she meets and falls in love with a politician, Daniel Cannon. Two weeks later she’s saying, “I do,” in a room full of strangers to a man she’s already beginning to worry may be harboring a few very dark secrets. In this first book Marley uncovers a pocket of human clones whose prime objective is to usher in the end of the world. Using greed, war, and decadence these abominations exist with only one purpose—to bring humanity to its knees. But there is one they fear, one foreordained to bring them down. And, it will likely take a few more installments for her (Marley) to do so.
Q: How long have you been writing? And who or what inspired you to write?
A: I’ve been writing for about five years. After I completed that first manuscript, as you can imagine, it was a mess. My sister suggested that I hire an editor to help me clean it up and gave me the name of a friend, author/editor, Heather Moore. I sent her the first chapter of my manuscript and then swallowed my pride when it came back bleeding from abundant strikethroughs and bloated with suggestions. Really? I’d naively thought I’d gotten it perfect the first time. As the editing progressed, she helped me navigate the modern writing world and all the “rules” I would have to follow in order to get published. Somewhere along the way we became friends. She continues to inspire me every time I want to quit. I don’t think I would have gotten this far without Heather. Now, after three published novels, Heather is still the first person I go to with questions and/or for support. A regular occurrence, as the field of publishing is brutal terrain. Tread lightly.
Q: Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
A: I don’t really get “writers block.” Knocking on wood. Once I get going on a story, it usually rolls off my brain faster than my fingers can type it. Occasionally, however, I do get stuck mostly on specifics like, how to show something, or proper plot sequencing. When this happens, I go for a walk. There is something about getting out of the house and the rhythm of my feet against the sidewalk that clears the cobwebs and allows all the scrambled pieces to fall into place. A lot of times I’ll get it figured out about halfway through my walk and then I’m practically running the rest of the way so I can get home and write it down.
Q: Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
A: Yes, I draw some of what my characters go through from personal experience and then add a little twist to make it more interesting. A few of my characters are loosely based on the personalities, or a combination of characteristics, of people I know. In Count Down to Love I have a scene depicting a country band where I used the names and physical descriptions (with their permission, of course) of a band, Due West, I know here in Nashville. One of the band members (Brad Hull) wanted me to write him diving off the stage and crowd surfing, so I did just that. Also, a high school boy who worked for my husband wanted a part in one of my books. I wrote him into No Holly for Christmas as Holly’s teenage daughter’s boyfriend.
Q: Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
A: Kristin Hannah. She writes great women’s fiction with just the right mix of narration, dialogue and description. Her characters and scenes are always vivid and they draw me into her stories. Jodi Picoult is another. When I read one of Picoult’s books I feel like I’m right there with her characters. I also enjoy romance/women’s fiction, that incorporate suspense, like novels by Karen Robards.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
A: First: Keep reading even though now that you are writing you will rip every book to shreds wondering how in the world this person got published after breaking all the “rules” you kill yourself trying to follow.
Second: Keep writing but only because your characters wake you up in the morning screaming in your head to be released and brought to life on the page. Because a story that started as an intriguing idea, or a dream has continued to grow, mushrooming like the cloud of an atomic bomb until it consumed your every thought. Because inspiration comes to you at the most inconvenient times and you wish there was a way to safely type and drive, type and cook, type and shower, type and just about everything . . .
Third: Keep submitting not because you daydream about seeing your novel featured on the end cap at B&N, and definitely not because you have aspirations of becoming the next Stephenie Meyer, but because you have enjoyed bringing your story and characters to life and you want others to enjoy them as well. Because completing a manuscript is a huge accomplishment. Because you are proud of what you’ve written.
Fourth: Don’t give up if you really love to write. If your greatest joy comes after crafting a well-written sentence, or when a scene comes together in a way you hadn’t intended, becoming more perfect than you’d ever anticipated. If you feel a rush of excitement unlike any other when the words flow from your head to your fingers tips as if they have a life of their own. If baring your very soul on the pages of your manuscript brings a freedom you’d never imagined.
Keep writing because to stop is not an option.
Because you still have stories to tell.
Because even if you never make a dime off your work the journey was well worth the effort.
Readers can contact me from my website/blog: JulieNFord.com and JulieNFord.com/blog. They may also follow me on GoodReads and Amazon.com and FaceBook.
This interview was done with Tristi Pinkston Book Tours