Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Linda Danis is ANGELA CARPENTER! Please email my assistant Christen with your mailing address. (email@example.com)
This week please welcome Julie Klassen in the spotlight! To win a copy of her book The Tutor’s Daughter, leave a comment on this post!
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
I am married with kids. My husband and I have two sons, ages 12 and 15. For years I split my time between writing and working as an editor, but for the last year and a half, I have been writing “full-time” (or as full-time as I can between kids’ sporting events, homework, and all that goes along with being a wife and mom).
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I write novels set in Regency England (early 1800s) or what I like to call the Jane Austen era. I consider myself something of an Anglophile and jokingly say the real reason I am writing is to justify my long-held desire to travel to England. My husband and I have been able to go twice now to research the books. We hope to go back someday soon.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
Yes, I have wanted to be a writer since a young age. In fact, my mom kept a report card from the 2nd grade that said something like “Julie’s stories and poems show great potential.” But it wasn’t until much later, after working for years in advertising, then as an editor for Bethany House Publishers, that I got serious about writing and completed my first novel.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
A few years. My journey to publication was somewhat different than the norm because I worked for Bethany House–my hoped-for publisher. My co-workers didn’t know I wanted to be a writer, but since they would be the ones reviewing my novel, I was in a quandary about how to proceed. I talked to my boss and he wisely suggested I submit the book under a pseudonym so that if it was accepted, it would be done so objectively. Of course, this also allowed me to cower under the protection of anonymity in case it was rejected! Thankfully, they liked it and wanted to publish it.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
The hardest part for me is getting started. I tend to procrastinate at the beginning of a new book and struggle to gain momentum. Research is fun and inspires ideas, but it doesn’t actually write the book. I find setting goals and having accountability partners help get me over the hump. And nothing gets the brain cylinders firing and fingers flying like a rapidly approaching deadline.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
Originally, the biggest help to me was my experience working for Bethany House Publishers. I learned so much by working with other editors and with so many talented authors over the years. That experience taught me so much not only about writing, but how to put together a complete novel, which is much more difficult than I ever realized. Nowadays, I do have a well-read friend as my first reader. And I have author-friends also writing in the Regency era that I can go to for historical research questions. And. I have an amazing editor who is a huge help to me as well.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be? (Explain your answer)
I already knew writing was a solitary and usually unglamorous life. But I was surprised by how much more there is to the job–not only writing the books themselves, but all of the other things involved: promotion, networking, speaking, accounting, etc.
What are your biggest distractions?
Facebook and email–I enjoy connecting with readers and old friends, but I have to learn to limit my time socializing online. Especially when deadlines near.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
Some of the best moments have been the pleasure and privilege of dedicating books to loved ones, or honoring special people in my author’s notes. Worst moment was probably being taken to task over a point of historical accuracy in my first novel. I learned pretty quickly that Regency-era history buffs can be tough critics. I do as much research as I can, but I am fallible. I’m still working to develop the “thick skin” writers are advised to have.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
Well, no one likes negative reviews (they’ve been rare—but they still sting. These days, I don’t read reviews. My husband does and forwards constructive ones to me. Thankfully, most are positive). Truthfully, the best part is the fulfillment of knowing I’m (finally!) doing what God wired me to do–and for His glory.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
I have only had an agent for a little over a year. Personally, I wanted an agent to help me navigate the rapidly changing publishing world with its consolidating publishers, the rise of e-books, the decline of traditional booksellers, etc. Since writing is so solitary, I like having my agent in my corner to help me make sound decisions and keep more of my focus on the writing itself.
What advice would you give to new writers?
If you are unsure what to write, I would suggest choosing the genre you most like to read yourself and know the best. I would advise you to keep your derriere in the chair and tough it out until you write a complete first draft. It’s probably the hardest thing about being an author. Until you do, you will never know if you have what it takes—or would even truly want—to be a writer. I would also encourage writers to study the basics (point of view, plotting, characterization, etc.) online, at a writer’s conference, or with a local writer’s group. Once you have written a first draft, have well-read friends or a critique group read the manuscript and revise it based on their feedback before submitting it to an agent or editor. Writing is a lot of work, but definitely worth the effort.
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.
I’d prefer to let someone else do the talking, so perhaps I’d quote a review like this one from Good Reads, “This is my idea of what Jane Eyre would’ve been like if penned by Jane Austen – The Tutor’s Daughter is a must read for anyone looking for a new classic in a similar vein. So whether you’re a fan of Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte, or both, you will soon become a fan of Julie Klassen once you read this wonderful book.”
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I am working on my next stand-alone Regency novel for Bethany House Publishers
which, Lord willing, will release December 2013.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
Readers can sign-up for my email list via my web site (www.julieklassen.com) or find me at “Author Julie Klassen” on Facebook. I’d love to hear from them. The Tutor’s Daughter is also touring the web with Litfuse Publicity! Be sure to stop by the tour page and see what reviewers are saying as well as sign up for some great prizes (and RSVP for the upcoming Facebook party!!)
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)
You’re welcome–thanks for having me here!