Q&A WITH JULIA
WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALISE YOU WANTED
TO BE A WRITER?
WHERE DO YOU GET
YOUR IDEAS FROM?
It sounds cliched, but I’ve always written and been interested in writing which probably comes from being a really big reader when I was younger. I used to like writing poems and I remember winning a state-wide poetry competition when I lived (briefly) in America. It was a poem about the Statue of Liberty and I still remember the first line! Winning that gave me the confidence to keep writing and having fun with it. I wrote short stories and poems for the school magazine all through secondary school – my poor English teacher was always so supportive and read everything I gave her, even though some of them were terrible! YAY for English teachers! When I was at university I wanted to be a music journalist as writing and music were my joint loves but I accidentally ended up getting into television production and later teaching (that one wasn’t accidental!) – both of which I enjoyed so much for different reasons. It wasn’t until after I’d had my children that I came back to writing properly and decided it was something I enjoyed too much to give up on.
All over the place is the simple answer to that.
I read a lot and watch a lot of television and I am a MASSIVE people-watcher. I make myself be switched on to the world around me when I’m thinking of ideas and I try to soak in every situation. There are also certain areas I’m really interested in – the experiences of girls and women, feminism, female friendships, great loves, abandoned buildings (!), complicated family dynamics – and so much more – and these are always really good starting points - thinking of what stories there might be to tell within these areas. Also asking myself what stories aren’t being told enough at the moment, what stories I think are important and essentially, what would I enjoy reading?
HOW LONG DOES IT
TAKE YOU TO WRITE
This can really vary! The first book I wrote (that never saw the light of day) took me a few years because I was very new to the process and I did a lot of learning along the way. With Hexed, it took me about three months of pre-writing – which includes not just planning and character backstories and all that stuff but also just thinking. Literally, staring into space, going on walks, listening to music and thinking through things – working through a strand to see how it progresses and sometimes having to abandon it and do a total re-think. The actual writing took about five months and then another five months editing – first on my own and with input from my amazing writing friends, then with notes from my agent and finally, after my book deal, with input from my editor. It’s a long process but each stage is different and fun in its own way.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD
YOU GIVE PEOPLE
WANTING TO BE A WRITER?
Read, read, read and read some more. Read the kind of books you want to write. And write and write and write – poems, short stories, film scenes, diary entries, letters – anything at all. Writing, in any form, helps your ideas and your craft develop. Silence your inner critic and just enjoy it – it’s for you and no one else.