I’m interview happy this week…and happy to interview authors! :D Please say hello to today’s Wizard with Words, Julia Gabriel. I initially connected with Julia on Twitter, was drawn in by her book cover for FALLING FOR THE PRODIGAL SON, then fell in love with the breezy romance. Once I’d finished gobbling it up, I asked Julia to be a guest on my blog. Let’s get to know her!
Julia, please share a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.
Well, I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid (back then, I illustrated them too!). My mom was an avid reader, and she passed on her love of books (and romance books) to me. I eventually got a master’s degree in creative writing and now teach business and creative writing at a university in Connecticut. I grew up in south-central Pennsylvania but since then, I’ve lived all over the Washington DC area, in San Francisco and now in New England. I write romance books and literary short stories because I love both.
I’m a Keystoner myself, and I love New England. I can look back and say my passion for reading was a gift from my parents too. You’ve definitely lived in some wonderful places!
Are you a draft writer or someone who invests a lot of time in editing and polishing as you write? Why does your method work best for you?
I’m definitely someone who invests a lot of time in polishing as I go. I’m a slow and careful writer. I love words and sentences so I enjoy the process of just writing sentences. I might be better off if I wrote faster drafts, but that would take away a lot of what I enjoy most about writing.
It sounds like you have a system that works well for you. I’m a polisher too. When it comes to nuts and bolts, which do you develop first, characters or plot?
I usually start with characters in a certain situation. With Falling for the Prodigal Son, my initial idea was “What happens when your new boss was your teenage crush?” Sometimes—like with my current work in progress—the initial situation gets jettisoned because it no longer fits with the way the story is developing. I just had to toss about a hundred pages of that story because the initial situation wasn’t the best way to tell the story.
Wow! That must have been a hard decision to make. I applaud for doing what worked best for the story. Which do you find easier to write and why—description or dialogue?
I find dialogue really easy to write. I think maybe that’s because I am a quiet person by nature—more of a listener than a speaker so I pay close attention to how people talk.
Sounds like me, although sometimes I do get yackity :) Let’s talk about your book, FALLING FOR THE PRODIGAL SON. Which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?
Isn’t this cover GORGEOUS?!?!?
I had the most fun with Sterling Matthew. I always had this image of a little boy hiding behind a tree, watching other kids having fun and not being able to join in. I had to make him confront that little boy at some point. I also had fun writing Lucy’s mom. She was a bit character in the story but she turned out to have quite a personality.
You definitely achieved what you set out to do with Sterling. That image of the little boy hiding behind the tree really hit home for me. What was your favorite scene?
My favorite scene in Falling for the Prodigal Son is definitely the one where Lucy and Sterling are in Muir Woods in northern California (the redwood forest). It’s the scene where they finally confront each other as two people with a history together, and not only as boss and employee. It’s also the first kiss scene! I think the first kiss is my favorite scene in every book (not just mine).
I LOVE first kiss scenes. Great choice! Tell us about the setting for the book (I drooled all over it, LOL).
Falling for the Prodigal Son is set on the eastern shore of Maryland, an area I know well and love. I’ve spent a lot of time kayaking in the area. St. Caroline is loosely based on the real town of St. Michael’s, a sailing mecca and a place where many wealthy people from Washington, DC, own summer homes. I liked the contrast between the wealthy people who vacation there and a summer camp for disadvantaged kids.
Interesting you should say that. The Maryland coast is like a second home to me, and the entire time I was reading FALLING FOR THE PRODIGAL SON, I kept picturing St. Michael’s. It’s a great town!
Share one sentence from the book you love:
“Well, maybe I’m only half sorry. But I’m not going to tell you which half.”
That’s a great line! :) And now, switching gears a bit, when you’re not writing (or reading) what do you do to unwind?
Well, when I’m not writing or reading, I’m usually sitting at my son’s taekwondo practices, grading papers. When I have time, I like to hike and kayak. I also quilt, which I’ve found is a great activity for plotting books. When you hand-quilt, you have to focus on what you’re doing but you don’t really have to think about it. That combination of a focused mind but nothing to think about has given me tons of great plot ideas!
A perfect time to entertain plots and characters! And speaking of plots and characters, share a book that had a profound effect on you and tell us why.
Alice Munro’s “Selected Stories.” She writes literary short stories that have the scope of novels, and her wisdom and insight into the lives of women is breathtaking. Sadly, she recently announced that, at 82, she is done writing.
Oh! It does sound like she’s left a wonderful legacy for readers. And good for her that she kept it up until 82 years of age. What a remarkable author!
Now for some quick personal preference questions:
Dream vacation: A summer to just travel around Europe
Favorite season: Definitely autumn
Food you never grow tired of: Pizza
Owl or lark: Owl
Mountains or beach: Mountains
Autumn in Connecticut must be beautiful!
Julia, thank you so much for being my guest today. It was a pleasure to have you and I’m delighted to share FALLING FOR THE PRODIGAL SON with my readers. I wish you continued success and am so glad we hooked up on Twitter! :)
Look for Julia at the following Haunts:
Purchase Falling for the Prodigal Son from Amazon
What could be more embarrassing than having slept with your boss … when you both were teenagers?
All Sterling Matthew wants is to get his family’s inn back on sound financial footing—and then leave sleepy St. Caroline for good. He expected the inn’s staff to resist the business changes he has to make. What he didn’t expect was to find skinny, gawky Lucy Wyndham all grown up.
For years, Lucy wondered whether she’d ever catch another glimpse of the tall, quiet boy she’d crushed on at the Chesapeake Inn’s summer camp. Now he’s her boss—and determined to get rid of the camp to improve the inn’s bottom line. But Lucy is just as determined to save the camp, even if the price is her job … and her heart.
Bio: Julia Gabriel is the author of Cupcakes & Chardonnay, Falling for the Prodigal Son, and Feral. She holds a master’s degree in creative writing and is on the faculty of the Writing Department at a university in New England.