Julie Garwood is a best-seller writer of romance novels having sold more than 30 million copies. Her first romance novel, Gentle Warrior was published in 1985 and has been followed by another 25 novels. Many of her books are fan favourites, such as The Prize and Honor’s Splendour (reviewed here and here). Her latest release is Shadow Music.
As a major fan of her historical novels, I emailed her with some fan-girl compliments and was very much pleased when she emailed me back. I jumped at the opportunity to ask her some questions for the blog which she was king enough to answer.
Please make yourselves comfortable: nuestro blog es su blog!
The Book Smugglers: Julie, thank you for coming over to say hi to us! It is a great honour
Julie: I’m happy to be with you. Thank you for asking me.
The Book Smugglers: You have been writing for a long time now and you are very successful. Did you always know you wanted to be writer?
Julie: No. I never planned this as a career. I come from a large family of Irish heritage, and I believe the Irish are inherent story tellers, so I may have inherited some of the passion for writing from them. I did some freelance work early on, but I didn’t become serious about finishing a book until the youngest of my three children started school. I was thrilled when my first two manuscripts sold to publishers, and I was even more excited when they asked for more. I feel very lucky to have considered myself a professional writer ever since.
The Book Smugglers: How do you come about your stories? Does it get easier to come up with them over time? Do you have a particular creative process?
Julie: My stories come from everywhere. I can hear a conversation or read a newspaper article or watch a group of people interact, and my imagination will take over.
These flights of fancy can be unexpected sometimes. I can never predict when an idea will come to me. Once I plotted an entire book while watching my son’s football game.
I don’t think it’s become easier because I’m always looking for a new twist or a new angle, and those are hard to come by.
My creative process usually begins with a single scene. I’ll visualize it and see where it takes me. For example, Ransom came to me in the initial scene of a young boy trapped on the side of a cliff and a young woman desperately trying to save him. From that point, the rest of the plot and characters developed.
The Book Smugglers: You are known for writing spirited heroines, is that a conscious decision?
Julie: Yes. I write about women I’d like to know. They have weaknesses and flaws, but they’re strong, intelligent, independent women. Of course, they need the strong, valiant hero, but if there’s a problem, I want the reader to think they’re resourceful enough to handle it.
The Book Smugglers: One of the things we love about your books, is the historical aspect. We are a bit of History buffs and would love to know more about the research involved in writing a historical romance. What can you tell us about that?
Julie: I’ve loved learning about history ever since I was a history major in college. My favorite period was the Middle Ages. The stories I write are fiction, so the events are not true, but I try to make the historical backdrop as accurate as I can. I used to spend hours in the library paging through history books. Now I can find most of what I’m looking for on the internet. It’s made my search much quicker, but sometimes I miss those times browsing through all those great books.
The Book Smugglers: Here at The Book Smugglers we have a passion for books and we sure have our favourite authors and books. Do you have a favourite book or a favourite author?
Julie: I have so many, I can’t choose. I guess I’m fondest of those who inspired me when I was young and made me want to write. Authors like John Steinbeck, who made me thirsty with his descriptions of the great drought in The Grapes of Wrath – or Shakespeare, who blew me away with a turn of a phrase – or O. Henry, who fascinated me with the way he could twist a plot – or Harper Lee, who touched my heart in To Kill a Mockingbird.
I could go on and on.
The Book Smugglers: and… What’s next?
Julie: I’m working on several ideas right now. One of them is historical and a couple of them are contemporaries. It looks like the next book will be another contemporary story, but I’d love to return to the Middle Ages again soon. It’s difficult for me to predict from one book to the next. I tend to go with the story that speaks the loudest, and I can’t predict what that will be at this point. When I’ve written a good deal of the next book, I’ll post some information about it on my website. I hope you’ll like what’s coming up.
Once again, thanks to Julie for the chat and to everyone that has been rooting for her return to writing historical novels, it’s time for celebration! Woohoo! *passes around the pina coladas*