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Natalie is torn between two boys. Alex is handsome, sweet, and—as she finds out later—rich. Todd is a bad boy who has leukemia. Natalie, who is rather innocent and has never been in a relationship before, has these two boys vying for her attention. She makes her choice, even though heartache is inevitable. This book fully captures the teenage experience. I was inside Natalie’s head as she underwent a tumultuous year of love, and I felt all her highs and lows.
I've been a long-time follower of Julie on Twitter as well as on her blog, so I was thrilled when her book came out in the fall. She's one of those online souls who makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Recently I had a chance to interview her for her blog tour.A PLACE IN THIS LIFE is an emotional read. As far as feelings are concerned, was it easy or hard to write?
It was hard because the beginning was based on real events - this was a living, breathing person and he gave me my first kiss. He also scared me because of all he knew... and was going through. When I discovered halfway through writing the book that he had died roughly a year after we'd met, I cried and stopped writing for a few days. It was surreal.
I'm sorry to hear that. It does sound surreal. What kind of research did you have to do to make his condition and treatment believable in book form?
Several of my family members had gone through chemo, and because I knew Todd personally, I went through a round with him and saw what it did. Later, when I got into medical copywriting, I researched oncology and disease (I really enjoy knowing about medical stuff - it makes me a better writer). When I was writing about chemotherapeutic drugs for A PLACE IN THIS LIFE, I joined Planet Cancer and visited the forums for young adults with cancer. That group of people is the strongest, most real gathering of people I have ever known.
Your main character was realistic in making mistakes and learning from them, which every teenager does. Also, conflict makes a story. But if you knew Natalie in real life, what kind of advice would you give her?
She is a derivative of me, so I know her well. If I met her in real life, I would tell her she doesn't have to do this - she doesn't have to be with Todd if it scares her. I know - because I stepped away from that relationship personally before it ever went too far.
You self-published your novel, which I heard is not the easiest thing to do if you want it done right. Was it draining to edit, format, plan the book cover, and publicize? Who helped you out?
The manuscript was pretty combed-through by me and my agent, but there are still blips and blurps. However, putting that together with the requirements of Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords was an adventure! Each has its own list of must-do's, must-not-do's. I studied their style guides and specs for copy and art and tried following each to a T.
As for art, my long-time artist friend, Cathy Hebert (we used to work together) gave up her time to design the cover. I always liked her fluid, dreamy work and it conveys what APITL is all about.
Dreamy is a good word for your lovely cover. Tell us about what you're working on now.
I am finishing a male POV novella, THE JOY & TORTURE OF JOSHUA JAMES - it is fun being a guy! Joshua moves with his divorced mom next door to two sisters. One is beautiful, one is goth and he's not sure which one is crazier. I also have two books on submission in NYC - SWELL and LITTLE ROOMS.
Thank you for stopping by, Julie. I can't wait to read your future works.
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