Thursday, January 7, 2016

Interview with author Julie Dewey

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author Julie Dewey back to Flashlight Commentary.

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Welcome to back Flashlight Commentary Julie. It’s great to have you with us. To start things off, I’d like to know a little bit about you. Where are you from? What is your background?
Thank you for having me back at Flashlight Commentary!  I love being here!  I am from Syracuse, New York where I reside with my husband and best buddy, Ziggy.  Go SU!!!

How would you characterize your books? What sort of themes are you drawn to? 
I absolutely love historical fiction, and am typically drawn to these fantastic little nuggets of American history that haven’t been widely written about.  This book, Forgetting Tabitha, is about the orphan train movement, but my other books are rich in medical history, specifically leprosy, tuberculosis, and mental illness.  I seem to be obsessed with medicine and how far our practices have come.

Historic fiction is obviously a favorite of mine, but why do you think it holds so much appeal for modern readers? 
This is a fantastic question.  I think the appeal lies in precisely how much progress has been made with regard to the way we lived historically compared to how we live today.  Every aspect of our lives from the food we eat and the way we dress, to our schooling and opportunities for employment have changed.  Yet, love remains the same…family remains the same…the fact we are human remains the same…the struggles are different but at our core we are the same.  I think for the modern reader to be transported back in time is an experience that is startling and enlightening, and also gratifying.  Therein lies the appeal.

How would you describe your writing process? Where do you start and how do you get into the right mindset?
I thoroughly enjoy the writing process.  I tend to dive right in to my current topic full throttle.  I absorb every little detail I can get my hands on and begin taking copious notes, so that my desk is littered with paper, and I barely have space for my keyboard!  

Do you struggle with dialogue, research, plotting, character development, etc.? If so, how do you overcome it? 
Research is probably my favorite aspect of writing.  This is where I learn all about my topic and the wheels start to spin.  I start to formulate characters, plot lines, and so forth.  If the depth of a character is not up to par, I have to go back and ask myself why?  Why am I ignoring this characters story?  Then I either get rid of the character or flesh her out.  

You’ve five novels to your name which is absolutely wonderful, but I wonder, how has the experienced changed between Forgetting Tabitha and The Other Side of the Fence?
I can’t say the writing experience has changed at all, but the editorial process, as well as the publication, is more streamlined now.  As with everything, experience is key.  

Many people, myself included, dream of publishing their stories. How and when did you know it was time to start writing professionally?
I tend to dive in to things head first.  When I wrote my first book, Forgetting Tabitha, which is now being published in paperback, I felt extremely vulnerable.  Putting a book out into the world leaves you wide open to criticism.  You have to have thick skin and believe in yourself and your story.  I felt I had a story that needed to be told…I obsessed about it.  I dove into writing it and when it was complete I had several trusted friends read it.  They gave me the encouragement I needed to press on.  That was three years ago, now, five books later, I have a publishing company, Holland Press, and have learned more about the industry than I ever dreamed.  You have to be committed to the process, but if you believe in your story, you should share it with the world!

Navigating the ins and outs of the industry can be confusing for many. What was the most difficult hurdle for you as far as getting your work on the market? 
Getting an e-book on the market was challenging for me technically.  Having the correct mobi.  file versus a pdf, and being able to format, use HTML coding, etc, is not easy for me.  I write in Scrivener and this helps the process, in terms of files and such, but you can’t be afraid to ask for help.  I find that other authors are more than willing to lend their expertise and help someone else get their work off the ground.  

Those of us in the book world understand writing the novel is only the tip of the iceberg. What tool or tools have you found to be the most beneficial in terms of advertising and promoting your work?
Thank you for saying this.  Writing the book is the easy part, and for me it’s the quickest part.  Getting it noticed is the challenge and takes time, so patience is of the essence.  Utilizing professional reviewers and bloggers, like yourself, going on virtual book tours, having book signings, promoting on social media etc. takes commitment and finesse.  But with the help of people like you, Erin, the work does get out there, it truly does!  So thank you for taking the time to read as much as you do and for so graciously writing reviews.  Reviews are key, they can make or break an author. 

As an author, who inspires you? Who are your favorite authors and what are your favorite books?
I am inspired by people who overcome obstacles with grace.  I truly am.  I tend to want to write about these people and read about them.  These are the characters that stay with me forever.  My favorite authors are Isabelle Allende, Nancy E Turner, Geraldine Brooks, Mary Pat Kelley, and Alice Hoffman.  I adore each one of these authors, but my favorite book of all time is Daughter of Fortune, by Isabelle Allende.  It’s divine in every way and I have read it no less than a dozen times!

Midnight in Paris is one of my favorite movies, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it centers on a writer who falls through time and meets many of his own literary heroes. If you could do the same, who would you want to meet and why? 
I can’t say I have literary heroes from the past, but I do have characters from the past that are based on people who once lived that I would love to meet.  Particularly, Dr. Trudeau, who I wrote about in my book, One Thousand Porches.  

In looking ahead to possible future projects, what subjects or historic characters interest you the most? 
I am interested in writing about the Oneida Community, the Utopia as it were.  I can’t wait to find out everything I can about this group of people.  It’s crazy interesting to me.  I have researched the topic of “baby farming” but it’s a dark subject and I am not sure my readers will want to take that journey with me so I am debating this.  Right now, I am spending most of my time working on the launch of Forgetting Tabitha in paperback.  It’s an entirely different process than the launch of an ebook and it’s time consuming to say the least!  Cross your fingers for me please.

What advice, if any, do you have for aspiring authors?
Go for it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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"They always bring to light some important time in history and also to the people that lived during this long ago time. In The Back Building Julie tackles mental illness and the unfortunate way it is looked upon both in the past and even now in the present and takes us through one family’s battle with mental illness both in the past and in the present." - Darlene of Peeking Between the Pages

"I greatly enjoyed the time I spent reading this book. Historically significant as well as heartwarming, One Thousand Porches is an engaging tale of family, friendship, hope and perseverance in the shadow of uncertainty." - Erin of Flashlight Commentary

"Who would have thought a book written about several characters suffering leprosy would have such an effect. It was heartbreaking how people especially children, were treated once diagnosed with leprosy. Shoved away from society and shunned, ultimately imprisoned. This story though shows that love conquers all!" - Alicia Huxtable, Goodreads review of The Other Side of the Fence

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Julie Dewey is a novelist residing in Central New York with her family. Julie selects book topics that are little known nuggets of U.S. history and sheds light on them so that the reader not only gets an intriguing storyline but learns a little something too. 

Julie's daughter is a Nashville crooner and her son is a student. Her husband's blue eyes had her at hello and her motto is, "Life is too short to be Little!" 

In addition to reading, researching, and writing, Julie has many hobbies that include jewelry design, decorating, walking her favorite four legged friends, Wells and Hershey, and spending time with her triplet nephews. 

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