Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Interview with Julia Karr

Well, we're half-way through the week. I hope everyone is surviving. To help lighten the load, I have a great interview with a fabulous author. Julia Karr writes young adult and middle grade fiction and is represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary.

Welcome, Julia. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in a cute little house with two dogs and four cats. My Sicilian grandmother raised me and I am addicted to pasta. (I think those two things are related.) Thanks to my big sister, I’ve been an avid reader since age three. And, I love autumn.

I love autumn too. As long as it's not raining, lol. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I could hold a crayon. But, the stories didn’t start coming until my daughters were little. Before that, I wrote poetry and letters - long, newsy letters.

What's the name and genre of your book and what's it about?

XVI is a YA dystopian novel. Publisher is Speak (a division of Penguin Books for Young Readers), and the release date is 1/6/2011. Here’s what the back cover of the book says...

“Every girl gets one. An XVI tattoo on the wrist -- sixteen. They say they’re there for protection. Some girls can’t wait to be sixteen, to be legal. Nina is not one of them. Even though she has no choice in the matter, she knows that so long as her life continues as normal, everything will be okay.

Then, with one brutal strike, Nina’s normal is shattered; and she discovers that nothing that she believed about her life is true. But there’s one boy who can help - and he just may hold the key to her past.

But, with the line between attraction and danger as thin as a whisper, one thing is for sure...for Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet.”

Wow, intriguing! How did the idea of the story come to you?

I got a mental image of a girl one day. She was wearing earbuds, dancing down the street of a big city, trying not to be disturbed by the noise and the homeless man at her feet. When National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) started a week later, I decided to “meet” that girl and find out what her story was. It turned out to be XVI.

What has been the most challenging part of your publishing journey so far?

Waiting. Patience is not my forte, but I’m getting better at it. Which is a good thing because there is a lot of waiting in the publishing business. Waiting for responses from agents, publishers and editors can be excruciating!

I think we all join you in this lack of patience. Any tips on writing you'd like to share?

Just do it. Excuses like no time, writer’s block, uninspired, writing’s not good, no one wants to read what I write are just that - excuses. Stuff ‘em and write.

No time? Write when you’re waiting to pick up the kids, when you’re in line at the grocery store think on plots, when you’re waiting in the dentist’s office jot down a scene. VoilĂ©, you’re writing.

Writer’s block? I just don’t buy it. Write something, anything -- a list of your main character’s traits, a description of your story setting, reasons why certain plot points will or won’t work. Just simply write -- even if it sucks, eventually it won’t.

Uninspired? Take a walk and mentally write what you are seeing. Then when you get back home, write what you saw in relation to what you’re working on. So, you may be writing a Lost in Space book and you saw only gardens and lush growth - might your Main Character be homesick for something like that?

Your writing’s not good? Well, truth is, it won’t get any better if you don’t practice - which means write!

No one wants to read what I write. There are audiences for nearly every kind of story you can imagine. If you write, rewrite, edit, polish, find a critique group for help and support -- you’ll honestly discover whether what you are writing will find an audience. If you ultimately decide it won’t -- then write something else!

Amazing advice! You're like a personal trainer for writers. Cool! Who are your inspirations?

Really good storytellers. Some who come to mind are: Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, JK Rowling, Rebecca Stead and Mary E. Pearson.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

My cats. I prefer that they not be right on me; a preference that a couple of them (mainly, Esmerelda and “A”, the cat) choose to ignore more often than not. And a cup of jasmine green tea.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Patience. Oh, you mean like Superman-type super power! (tee hee) Well, it would have to be the ability to fly. What could be grander? (Ummm... maybe writing a NYT’s bestseller would be grander?)

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: anecdote, penguin, and refusal.

Dear Editor,

Please accept this letter as my formal refusal to write any anecdotes about the penguin incident. 

Pol R. Bear

Ahahaha, that's awesome! Heehee. Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

My most awesome agent, Kate Schafer Testerman!

My incredible, amazing editor, Jen Bonnell at Penguin (Ah! Maybe I would not refuse to write an anecdote about my Penguin editor, Jen!)

My long-time critique partners, Marybeth Kelsey and Marcy Skelton.

My fabu sister, Sarah, who has had faith in me since we were kids.

And, my daughters, Amy and Missi - they are the absolute best and I would never have gotten this far without their love and support.

And finally, where can people find you online?

My website:

And, I blog weekly with a super group of YA dystopian authors at The League of Extraordinary Writers -

Thank you so much for letting us get to know you, Julia. It's been a pleasure. I wish you much success with your book!

Be sure to check out Julia's website and mark your calendars for January 6th, 2011, for her debut release.


Christine Fonseca said...

So excited for Julia's boook! WOO HOO!!!

Mike Jung said...

I was lucky enough to hang out with Julia at SCBWILA this year - she's fabulous, and I'm 192% confident that her book is too.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book...LOVE that cover. Will have to put it on TBR and review list! Thanks for the heads up!


Gina said...

Oh more fans of autumn! Add another to that growing list....*raises hand* As for the book glimpse...sounds intriguing...oh, wait, Dorothy stole my word....but really it does! Great 'teaser'. Definitely second the writing advice, though I'm really one myself, it tis the only way it will get done. Love the writing test results...great combo. Congrats on the upcoming release of your book! Thanks Dorothy for another great interview....

Jenny said...

Great interview! Love the writing tips, it's fun to hear little tidbits like that from authors:) Really looking forward to this book, it's been on my list for a while now and I'm eagerly awaiting release day!

Julia Karr said...

Dorothy - thanks so much for having me at your blog today! And, thank you all for the great comments! And, Mike Jung, I'm sure that I had 192% of a fabulous time hanging out with you in LA! :)

asian readymade suits online uk said...

And, my daughters, Amy and Missi - they are the absolute best and I would never have gotten this far without their love and support.

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