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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Author Interview with Julie Berry!

Today, I would like to introduce you all to one of my favorite fantasy authors, Julie Berry. Her latest book Secondhand Charm was released October 12th.

1. What was writing The Amaranth Enchantment like for you?

Writing The Amaranth Enchantment was a lot of fun, though there were many moments when I wondered if there was any merit at all in what I was writing. The more you stare at words for months, and puzzle over this verb or that verb, the more the words lose all meaning. It’s very hard to be objective about your own work.

2. Was there ever a time when you were afraid you might not finish it?

I knew I would not rest until it was finished, however, I did wonder sometimes if it was finish-able. Would I be able to craft an ending that resolved all I’d started? Heaven only knew!

3. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I think so, though I think I kept it on the back burner in my life plans for a lot of years. Since my books have come out, though, many friends have said, “I remember you talking about wanting to be an author back when we were kids together.” It surprises me to hear this. Maybe I wasn’t as mum about my hopes as I’d like to think I was.

4. Do you have any particular writing "quirks", thing you seem to do differently than others?

I don’t think so. My busy schedule and large family force me to be flexible about where, when, and how I write. I don’t have the luxury of special rituals. I need to be able to move my story forward in whatever snatches of time I have, and wherever I am.

5. What was your publication journey like?

Mine was fairly straightforward. I started writing essays for a local paper, then after a couple years of doing that, I applied for graduate school and pursued an MFA in writing for children and young adults, eventually graduating from Vermont College of the Fine Arts. While in school, I wrote three novels. I submitted the second one to an agent shortly before graduation, and she offered me a contract. She sent the manuscript out to several publishers, and I was fortunate that Bloomsbury wanted to buy The Amaranth Enchantment.

6. How do you get ideas?

If you’re awake and alive, your mind is always noticing things, observing ironies, laughing at what’s funny, pondering what baffles you or breaks your heart. The more you write, the more you learn to sift through that stream of thoughts to find and file away the ones that have story potential. When I want to start something new, I just think of whatever interests me at the moment, ask a lot of what-if questions, and let the new story bubble to the surface.

7. What drew you to writing for MG-YA rather than adult?

Writing fiction for adults was never my goal. I always wanted to write children’s books. I write other things for adults, such as essays and commentary, and perhaps one day I’ll write a book for an adult audience, but my heart lies in the kids’ book section.

8. What's your favorite quote?

I don’t have a favorite quote, but I do have one pasted next to my computer at work: “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” This is attributed to Henry Van Dyke.

9. Do you have any advice for young writers?

Read, read, read. Take advantage of the fact that you don’t need to pay all the bills and just read, read, read, in whatever pockets of time you have. Then, write! Keeping a journal is a great way to limber up writing muscles. So is writing stories and poems. Write whatever comes easily and brings you joy. It will all feed the muscles that help you write terrific stories down the road.

Thank you so much for doing this, Julie!

Julie Berry's Website
My review of Secondhand Charm
My review of The Amaranth Enchantment

To order Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry from Amazon.com, please click here.
To order The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry from Amazon.com, please click here.

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