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 Sandy Ralya is Suess! Please email my assistant Christen with your mailing address.
This week Julie Klassen is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of her book, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall 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?
Thanks for asking, Suzanne! I am married to my husband of 21 years. We have two sons, ages 14 and 11–so our nest is full and often messy. I write “full-time” in between driving boys hither and yon, and sitting on lots of hard bleachers watching basketball games.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
My novels are set in the early 1800s in England–a time period called the Regency period, but I like to call the Jane Austen-era because she is an author I greatly enjoy. Each of my books stands alone and can be read in any order. Readers can expect romance, mystery, historical details, unexpected twists, and subtle faith themes.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
Yes. I have enjoyed writing stories since the second grade, according to a faded report card. And throughout school and college I took many literature and writing courses. But it wasn’t until later, after working in advertising, then as an editor, that I got serious about writing and completed my first novel.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
You know, I haven’t stopped to figure that out before. Let’s see. I completed my first novel (a contemporary) in 2001. It has yet to be published. Then I began a historical novel, Lady of Milkweed Manor, which took me nearly two years to write. That book was published in 2007. So, I suppose I would say six years.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
The biggest help to me was my experience working for Bethany House Publishers, first in advertising, than in editorial. 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. (It is much easier to edit a book than to write one!)
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be? (Explain your answer)
In some ways. I already knew writing was often a solitary and unglamorous life. And I’m fine with that. 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–and don’t get me started about accounting and taxes!
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 approach!
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
Winning the Christy Award this past summer was certainly a highlight. 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 (thankfully the vast majority of reviews have been very positive). The best part is the fulfillment of knowing I’m doing what God wired me to do–and for His glory. Being an author is a lifelong dream come true!
What advice would you give to new writers?
My advice: keep your derriere in the chair and tough it out until you write that first draft. It’s probably the hardest thing about being a writer. 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 have a hard time promoting my own books and would probably just smile at you if I met you in a bookstore! But here goes: In The Maid of Fairbourne Hall a well-born lady disguises herself as a housemaid in the home of two former suitors and quickly finds herself embroiled in mysteries and romances both among the servants “below stairs” as well as with the wealthy family above. Readers tell me they love the book and can’t put it down until they find out what happens.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I am working on my next stand-alone Regency novel for Bethany House Publishers. More details will be shared at my Facebook party on March 15th. Hope many of you will join me there!
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
Readers are welcome to send me an email through my website or on Facebook. I’d love to hear from them.
Thanks–and thanks for having me here!
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)