Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Interview with JULIE GARWOOD!

The following is a compilation of questions from you, the readers of Prairie Chicks. Julie was kind enough to answer them all. Thank you everyone for your contributions and a very special thank you to Julie Garwood for taking the time to stop in!

Julie will be checking the comments so make sure you say hello!

Q: Where do you get your ideas from?
Just about everywhere. I'm always finding stories in things I see and hear. I was once sitting at my son's football game and envisioned medieval warriors going to battle. My imagination kicked in, and before I left the stands, I had an idea for a historical novel.

Q: How do you organize your various projects? What does your working/writing schedule look like?
I wish selling more books meant you had more time to write, but it's just the opposite. I find that much of my day is taken up with business matters, marketing, contracts, etc., so I've had to separate my writing time. For me, that's early in the morning. It's a routine that actually began at the beginning of my career. When my children were young, I'd get up before they did and spend an hour or two writing. I'm still a morning person and I try to get in several hours before turning my attention to other matters. Of course, when a deadline is looming, that schedule might change considerably, but my ideal situation is to write in the morning and by mid-afternoon be free to handle everything else.

Q: Was it difficult for you to get that first novel published?
No. I was so, so lucky. I had attended a reception following a local writers' conference and at the end of the evening met a literary agent who asked about what I was writing. I described a story about a medieval knight that I was working on, and she told me it sounded like a historical romance. I wasn't even sure what that meant exactly. I also told her about a little book I was working on for younger readers. She asked me to send them to her, so I did. It wasn't long before she told me she had sold them to two different publishers.

Q: What do you consider the most successful way to promote your books?
I think the Internet is the best way to reach people these days. There are so many sites for readers, and it costs next to nothing to get word out about your book. I also think every author should have a web site.

Q: What are you working on right now?
I'm at the beginning stages of my next book, and it's a little early to tell much. It's not that I'm being guarded about it, but I've found sometimes I'll be surprised at the direction a story goes, and I'll make changes. So I like to have most of it written before I talk about it. I can say this: it's another contemporary romantic suspense novel, and I'm liking the characters very much.

Q: How do you handle revisions and polishing before submitting the finished product? When is enough enough?!
That's a really big question. Every time I send a manuscript in, I wish I could take it back and rewrite it. I'd probably hang on to it forever to polish it, but the deadline forces me to let it go. I envy any writer who submits a book that she believes is perfect.

Q: I have read all the historicals at least once and more often twice. Did you plan them as a series or write more as the idea struck?
I don't really follow a master plan for a series. Most often, as I'm writing one story, I become intrigued with some secondary character and want to find out what happened to him/her, so I bring that character back for another story.

Q: While I enjoy your contemporary novels, I LOVE your historical ones--are there any plans to introduce more of the historicals?
I love the historicals too. The contemporary novels, however, have a much broader audience, so the publishers have asked for more of these. Right now I'm committed to writing several contemporary novels, but I hope to return to medieval Scotland before too long.

Q: Do you have a favourite out of all your books? Do you have any favourite characters?
That's like choosing a favorite child. They're all special to me for different reasons, mostly having to do with what was going on at the time I was writing them. I guess I'm usually most partial to the one I'm working on because it's demanding all of my attention.

Q: What challenges have you faced in writing more than one genre? Did your editors/agents discourage you from this? Do you have a preference for one of the genres?
Actually, my publishers had been asking me to write a contemporary novel for a while, and I was a little hesitant. I so loved researching and coming up with historical plots, I resisted the change. But then I wrote Heartbreaker, and I really liked the experience and the change of pace. If I lived in a perfect world, I'd be able to write several at once, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet.

Q: Many historical writers pick a time period (i.e. Regency) and base the majority of their novels in that period. Your historical novels are set in a number of different time periods. How do you decide the time period your story will be written in? Do you research a time period and then the story comes to you or do you have a story in mind and then research the time period?
I was a history major in college, and my favorite period was the Middle Ages. After I wrote a couple of books in this era, I decided to branch out, so I wrote several Regency novels. They have a whole different feel to them. I think of these as more light-hearted because society then was a little pompous and silly. Then I came up with an idea for a western based on what I had read about the orphan trains, and I became so attached to the characters in FOR THE ROSES, I had to write a story for each of them. So, I guess you could say I tend to go where my imagination leads me. Usually, I come up with a story idea first, then I do the research.

Q: For several years, I had been hopping from novel to short story to nonfiction to poetry in no particular order. I finally decided I should stick to longer fiction exclusively for a while, but occasionally hanker to dip into another genre. Do you write exclusively in one genre from start to finish, including the revisions that come back from your editor? Or do you work on more than one simultaneously? How do you guard against "cross-contamination"? Also how do you keep your focus?
I focus on one at a time, though usually by the time I finish it, I'm jotting down plot ideas for the next one.

Q: What advice on writing would you give to unpublished writers?
Keep working and keep improving your craft. Even if you don't get the approval of a publisher at first, find ways to share your writing with others. Writers organizations, critique groups, etc. will give you an audience. I also encourage you to attend writers' conferences where you'll get the chance to network with agents and editors.


Joanne Brothwell said...

Thank you for answering our questions, Julie!

I'm in the revision and polishing stage right now, and sometimes I wonder if I'll ever feel like it's done. I'm happy to hear a successful, established author deals with the same feelings!

Great advice, thanks!

DebH said...

thank you for a wonderful peek into your world as a writer. you have great information to take to heart. i so enjoy learning about what works for different authors - each is unique and helps me remember that there is no "right" way to write - the point is to do the writing.


j.leigh.bailey said...

What a great interview. Many thanks to Julie for answering all of these questions. This was fantastic!

Karyn Good said...

Welcome to the Prairies and thank you for a wonderful interview, Julie.

I appreciate the glance into your writing life, I'm always curious to hear what methods work for other writers and how they manage their time.

Again, thanks for spending time with us today. I love your books!

Janet said...

We're honored that you're here today, Julie, Welcome to The Prairies - and thanks for answering our questions :)

I love your work - especially the historicals, but I can see I'm going to have to wait a bit longer. You're writing contemporary right now - but if you had your way, on which genre would you focus?

You also said you started out with a book for younger readers (that was sold along with your first novel) - have you written more books for children?

BTW - I love your website. Very interactive and 'writerly'!

Bev Pettersen said...

Thanks for visiting and for sharing how your write, Julie. Love your books!

Helena said...

Janet, I know as a Maritimer you're up earlier than most of the Chicks, but you haven't beaten me by much. I could hardly wait to tell Julie how much I like her website. Really like hanging out there!

Thanks, Julie, for answering our questions. I find it very encouraging to hear that your most successful approach is to start with the story idea, which in turn leads to the required research. Makes good sense to me.

Thanks,too, for confirming that it's best to focus on the "genre of the moment" rather than switching back and forth in midstream.

connie said...

Hi Julie,

I have read all of your books a time or two as well - especially the historical ones in the series 'The Wedding', 'The Secret' et al

What are the names of your children's books?

Your answers to our questions are so clear and concise and friendly. It is a joy to read your blog. Thank you and please go back to the Highlands soon. Is your editor announcing a trend? Are Medieval lairds 'in the dungeon' - period? (Jamie won't like that.) Is it now a time to switch to another genre?

In the words of an old Scottish song "Will ye no coom back again"?

Anita Mae Draper said...

Welcome, Julie. I have to admit I've never read one of your books. I read/write westerns and contemporary inspirationals.

However, I just finished reading Linda Windsor's book Healer which is set in 6th century Scotland and I loved it. It's a fantasy with Merlin and Arthur and all sorts of stuff, but it reminded me how much I used to love reading stories of that era.

Come to think of it, I wrote an online scene with Joanne Rock over on the eharl site which was set in ancient Scotland, too.

And, I'm Scottish by birth. You'd think I'd be familiar with your works. I'll have to do some digging...

Thank you for sharing your time with us.


Julie Garwood said...

Hi, Everyone!
I'm so glad to hear from you.
In answer to your questions:
My children's book was called A GIRL NAMED SUMMER. I haven't written any since then, though I've always thought I'd like to return to that genre sometime. I'd especially like to write mysteries for young readers.
As for trends - I think there will always be an audience for historical novels. There simply are too many of us who love them. However, the numbers tell us that contemporary novels sell better. I see most things as cyclical. Right now the paranormal and vampire books are hot, and in another year or so, there will be another craze. I believe it's important to write what you like to read. I've been very lucky to have been able to expand a little and write for different genres. My heart will always yearn for the medieval Highlands, though. I'm hoping to return to them in future books.
Thanks so much for your comments. I've really enjoyed reading them and learning more about Praire Chicks.
Take care. And happy writing!

Anne Germaine said...

Hi Julie! I have read and re-read your novels so many times I've lost count (especially the historical ones). I absolutely can't wait for more!

It is always nice to hear how other writers (especially successful authors) write. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Annette Gallant said...

Thank you to Julie and the Prairie Chicks for sharing this great interview! :)