Monday, February 11, 2013

Interview with author Julie Berry

Julie Berry, author

I'm thrilled to have Julie Berry here on the site today. Julie is the author of many books for young adults and children, including The Amaranth Enchantment, The Secondhand Charm, and the Splurch Academy series. I recently read and reviewed The Secondhand Charm, and loved it! 

Christy:  Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Julie:  I think so, but for much of my life I wanted to be many things, of which “writer” was one. Only recently have I resigned myself to the idea that it’s probably too late for me to become an Olympic gymnast, pop singer, or professional dancer if I really, really try.

Christy:  What inspires you to write about magic and fantasy?

Julie:  I don’t think I start out wanting to write a fantasy, per se. I start with a story I want to tell, a character I want to follow, and as I do so, often I discover established reality is too confining for what I want to do. And life continues to suggest established reality is not quite so well established as we think. My upcoming novel, All the Truth that’s In Me (September 2013 Viking), is set in what I call an alternate colonial reality, but aside from the non-specific place, there’s nothing impossible about the story. I don’t always write about magic and fantasy.

Christy:  What do you hope readers will learn or take with them after reading your books?

Julie:  I hope readers will be engrossed, absorbed, swept away, pulled in to my stories – whatever complete possession feels like to them. It’s greedy of me, I suppose, but that’s my number one job as a storyteller. I need to spin a good yarn. I don’t have much more of a conscious objective in mind, but if I had to identify one hope, it would be that young readers, and young women in particular, come to more deeply appreciate their worth, potential, and dignity, and that they find the courage (and the joy) it takes to expect the world to treat them as they deserve to be treated.

Christy:  I notice that you also write books for young readers ( a difficult market to get into). Can you give advice to others who are seeking to be published for the younger crowd?
Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry 

Julie:  My advice is the same for anyone wishing to be published in any market. It sounds simplistic, but it’s the gold standard. Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Until that has become a regular rhythm, no other advice about agents, blogs, publishers, or marketing, etc., has much to offer. Aspiring authors need to be entirely focused on craft and on finding their voice. Critique groups and writing programs can be very helpful there. I chose to pursue a master’s degree from Vermont College of the Fine Arts, which was a transformative experience for me. As hopeful writers grow a body of publication-worthy work, thoughts about the marketplace and agents begin to make sense, and organizations like SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) are an invaluable resource for the transition from apprentice to published writer. It takes patience, resiliency, and humor to navigate the path to authorship. I also suggest adopting a good cat or two.

Christy:  Are you working on any books or projects right now? Can you tell us about it?

Julie:  I’m very excited about All the Truth that’s In Me. I just finished two picture book manuscripts and sent them to my sister, Sally Faye Gardner, to consider illustrating. We worked as a sister act on our comic novel series, Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys, and that was tons of fun. I’m also finishing up a middle grade fantasy adventure story, and musing on some YA project thoughts.

Christy:  What do you eat while you are reading/writing?

Julie:  I love anything that fits on a cracker. I think if I lived alone, I would never cook meals. All my meals would be dippable, spreadable, and utensil-free. Sometimes I get together with writer friends to write for the day, and I’ll prepare a little spread of cheese slices, apple slices, celery, hummus, peanut butter, maybe some other kind of yummy dip, and together we nibble and scribble. My current obsession is Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Yogurt Dip on rice crackers. For those of you who don’t have a Trader Joe’s store nearby, my heart bleeds for you.

Thanks Julie, and good luck on future projects!


Leave me a comment-I'd love to hear what you think!