Friday, February 3, 2012

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, JULIE POWELL

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OF "GONE" & "SLINGS AND ARROWS", JULIE POWELL

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This interview can be found on Maria Savva’s blog at:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1418272/blog/tag/julie-elizabeth-powell

Julie Elizabeth Powell, author of Gone, Slings & Arrows, Knowing Jack, A Murderer’s Heart, Of Sound Mind, Misadventures Of Fatwoman, Figments and The Star Realm, Invasion (1st & 2nd of the Avalon Trilogy)

Julie has offered to giveaway 5 pdf copies each of Gone and Slings & Arrows
*

Here are Julie’s replies to a few questions about her writing career and her books:

Is there a particular author or book that inspired you to start writing?

No. However, I’ve always loved to read and dabbled with words. But the ‘push’ to actually keep the words that flowed into a book came from what happened to my daughter, Samantha.

What was the basis and inspiration for your first novel, Gone. Please tell us a bit more about that.

I wrote Gone after what happened to my daughter, Samantha, in 1984, when her heart stopped and she died but was brought back to be left severely brain-damaged. A question kept nagging at me – Where had she gone? I mean, her body was lying here, true, but what had made her who she was had just vanished… her memories, her character… everything! On one of those many ‘not able to sleep’ nights, this idea came to me…she must be somewhere else, what if?…and Avalon* was born. I just had to write the story.

(*Avalon is the fantasy world featured in Gone)

At first, writing the book was about satisfying myself... helping me understand her tragic life – and mine. Then, as I continued to write, the world I’d created evolved and I thought this could really help others too. Though I don’t know how many other people that have suffered these exact circumstances, in my experience I don’t think there are /have been many cases like Samantha (brain okay, then wiped, to put it crudely) that lasted for so many years. I thought this book might be an answer that could satisfy a sorrowful heart. Whatever the circumstances, for those left behind, loss is loss… and love gets so tangled; this was one way of trying to sort things out. After Samantha died the second and final time, things didn’t improve for me much (you never get over it), but writing definitely helped… and it’s a tribute to her now. I also like to think that it could be true. Imagine that!

The book was inspired by Samantha. When you read the book, you’ll maybe understand the mixed feelings involved in a relationship like that – but there is no denying, she was my inspiration for this book.

Whenever I choose a book to read, I tend to go for those involved in fantasy, mystery, magic… that sort of thing. So, anyone of a like mind will immediately appreciate the setting etc. and I hope enjoy the story. However, I feel sure that even those who don’t necessarily select this type of genre would be helped or maybe given a lighter heart, if they read Gone, even if they’ve never suffered loss. I know that many will relate to the themes of love, loss, hope, fear, guilt and so on – especially those who have lost a child – and understand the bonds of love and all the strands that can become jumbled. They will gain more than they could guess… I’m sure of it.

I think Gone is different from other books because, yes it’s a fantasy, yes it’s about loss and grief… and finding a way through those things, but this story is about following an identity, which has been stripped from its owner. While a withering body lies waiting to die, its essence, its character, its memories are seen in another place, a mysterious land found by a mother (who thinks she’s crazy, of course who wouldn’t!) where she tries to come to terms with the tragic circumstances of her daughter’s situation. It’s not about Heaven, although some may have that opinion, it’s not about death even, as no one has actually died in the true sense, it’s about life and what makes us who we are and how the bonds of love can never be broken. It’s a battle against fear and guilt, sorrow and all the other emotions put upon us in the wake of loss. I’ve never heard of another story quite like this, not least due to the fact it was inspired by an exceptional truth. It shifts from supposed reality to other plains of existence, not least the added, and most surprising, adventure (which of course is a test) where the mother encounters a talking flower who has trouble remembering jokes, goblins and fairies… just to mention a few. But, more importantly it demonstrates the embodiment of fear, which is a huge hurdle for her to overcome – like for most of us, I would say. I also think that it’s funny as well as sad, enjoyable as well as emotive and will, I hope, help others as well as entertain. I don’t think it’s ever been done in this particular way before. Yes, there are stories about ‘after death’ and there’ve been dramas looking into the effects of such things as Alzheimer’s and cases where people have been brain-damaged in other ways… but nothing like this – the whole unique package.

When did you discover your love of writing?

Always loved it but writing Gone, and then being able to have it published, awakened a need, as if a dam had burst and all those submerged ideas swam to the surface and gulped greedily at the air.

Do you have any tips for someone who is considering self-publishing their own book?

Journey Into The Unknown… And Beyond

When I first found Lulu.com it felt like a million butterflies had materialised all at once and fluttered wildly inside me… and when I published, well… For years I’d tried to find someone, anyone… please, I’ll do your laundry forever if you do… to publish my stories but sadly, as the stack of rejections in that drawer will testify, nobody was interested. Why, I wondered? Not good enough? No! Too old? No? (Well, not for writing). Poor education? No! Not…? The list was endless, of course.

However, it seemed, the only thing ‘wrong’, was the fact that I wasn’t already famous! I hadn’t invented some world changing ‘must have’ (though Gone, my first fantasy novel, was inspired by a life-changing event and would definitely make others think differently); I hadn’t climbed Mount Everest (despite the fact that my second book, epic fantasy adventure, The Star Realm, felt like it); I hadn’t landed on the moon, starred in the latest blockbuster nor had I appeared on any reality show exposing bits best kept hidden (mind you, submitting my books for sale does feel like offering my heart on a plate and asking people to ‘dig in’).

So, where did that leave me? Vanity Press? Hmm, need money for that! Become newsworthy? I couldn’t hurt anyone or steal or run around naked, oh we won’t even go there… well, you understand? But I had talent – I knew it! Ah, you’ve guessed it…self-publishing! But I had no money!

The beauty of Lulu is that it’s free! You do the labour of course but then what would you expect? After that, all you have to do is buy your own work and promote it and…

So what does it take?

A story – that tale that’s rummaged around your head for years or just popped into it while you stood ironing or aligning the brakes on the Mustang…(beware stereotyping… though I didn’t say who was under the car).
You write it!
And write it again… and…! (Sometimes it’s best to put it away for at least a month then…)
You proofread it. WARNING: this is harder than writing the story or, I imagine, climbing Mount Everest, but maybe not as difficult as stripping off in front of an audience? Depends on your point of view. Imagination is the key word here.
Then you join Lulu.

Do you know that term mind boggler? Well, that’s what it’ll feel like at first… just take it one step at a time. Joining Lulu is easy (email and password) and free (beware repetition). Go through the video – more than once. It’ll probably be easier for those really, really good with computers but even then, you learn…okay, I’ve taken on a little more grey hair, I’ll admit!

Then you choose your layout – a layout that you set up in your computer programme (Word, maybe) for your story (the most popular size is 6 x 9 novel). (Tip: don’t put in page numbers until you’ve finished everything else or it can ‘mess things’…as the extra lines on my face will show). Lulu will take you through all the stages but it’s all your choice. It may be an idea to join Lulu first then see your layout /write your story in the correct format from the start – yes, I know, I learnt this after too with my first book. Then save to where you’ll remember, because you have to browse it to uploaded it (seems obvious but you’d be surprised!) Look, I’ve already given away too much stupidity!

Just follow on-screen instructions for conversion /cover upload (I chose a Lulu cover template for all of mine because I’m still learning that side of things) and for those that have an up-to-date modern computer it should be fairly quick, depending on the size of your book (mine’s not quite stone age… well it wouldn’t be, would it… but you know what I mean? Anyway, I’m saving for a new one…). Beware waffle.

Oooh, then Lulu tells you that you have successfully published!!! Blaze of glory…trumpets, garlands… tickertape… pats on the back… butterfly waltz… this is where we came in.

Back to Earth… then the real work starts… re-editing (I told you about proofreading, didn’t I?) And of course promoting… a whole other ball game…

Good writing and don’t stop dreaming – if you want to do it, you will.


You have written 9 books in many different genres, fantasy, murder-mystery, children’s books, and non-fiction. Is there one genre that you prefer more than the others? If so, why?

That’s easy – fantasy! I do like to try various genres but my favourite has to be fantasy because I can do anything in it. If there’s a problem with a character or place or plot then I can manipulate, make it up or just have some fun – fantasy allows that. Though I don’t mind if it’s for children (although that can be even more fun and making new characters in bizarre lands is fantastic) or adults – it certainly allowed me to deal with a difficult subject and perhaps come up with acceptable answers in Gone. Though even if it’s not fantasy, in my writing, the ‘real’ world (for the most part) has to be tempered with something extra, whether it is strange, mysterious, extraordinary, and magical or... well, you get the gist.

Summarise Gone, your first book in three or four sentences.

Gone is about finding answers, especially: ‘Where had my daughter gone?’ after she was severely brain damaged at the age of two, only to suffer agonies for a further seventeen years until her second death. It concerns the exploration of the human condition. It is about hope.

Who are your favourite authors and what is it about their writing you like?

Dean Koontz, Stephen King, JK Rowling, Shakespeare and Chaucer

Taking the last two first – I love the language and the way they understood the ways of being, how people thought and felt. I particularly liked Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and King Lear and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – the Wife of Bath is fabulous... we could all learn good lessons from her!

Dean Koontz is my all time favourite, as he too understands people but his books always have that ‘extra’, that magical quality and a wonderful optimism. The dialogue between main characters is amazing and very funny. The Frankenstein and Christopher Snow series are my favourites so far though I really enjoyed them all. While Stephen King also gets to the nature of being, his works, for the most part, are far more negative and gruesome – though have some spectacular ideas. They may be more macabre but the best book of his, in my opinion, is Insomnia. Its plot enthralled me (I will not give away any spoilers) though I loved the Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon – three with a hopeful stance rather than the darker plots. I’ve enjoyed them all – too many to mention.

Is there a book you own that you’ve read more than once?

I freely admit that the Harry Potter series completes one of the best stories ever told. Brilliant – and yes, I’ve read them more than once.

If someone wanted to read your books, which would you recommend they read first, and why?

I can tell you that Gone will always be the most important book in my life but that’s not to say that every book I write doesn’t have my full attention and interest. Gone broke my heart and in a way mended it, and I love to think of Avalon being there ready and waiting for when my time comes, and welcome the idea that Samantha and I will one day be together.

What is the target age group for your children’s trilogy – The Avalon Trilogy? And Knowing Jack, your other children’s book?

Without generalising, I would say about 12. It would depend on the individual and of course I think that adults would enjoy them too. Here speaks a Harry Potter fan.

Which one of your books was the hardest to write and why?

There are two: Gone and Slings & Arrows. The first because of the truth behind why I was writing it, and the second because it was the harrowing truth. And strangely, I wrote Gone first. It took 24 years before I could write Slings & Arrows.

What was the last book you read?

Dean Koontz: Your Heart Belongs To Me
Wish I had more time to read.

Are you reading a book at the moment?

Dean Koontz: The Voice Of The Night

What do you think of ebooks?

Great idea and they can work out cheaper, though I have to say I love the feel of a book and being about to sit comfortably and let my imagination relish.

How important are reviews for you as a writer?

Vital, I would say, especially as a self-published author. Spreading the word is the only possible way of letting others know about your work. It also gives much needed feedback – even if negative (sigh). I’m always willing to learn. I’m extremely grateful to anyone that takes the time to read and review my books. It can help the ego too!

How do you go about choosing a cover for your books?

If I had the money, I would have my ideas professionally uploaded. Or, if I could understand how to do it, I would upload my own designs (even Photoshop for Dummies hasn’t helped). However, as I don’t /can’t, I search through the Lulu library and try to find the most appropriate. I’ve been lucky so far.

What are you working on now?

I have the last of the Avalon Trilogy waiting patiently for my head to ‘get on with it’, in addition to a short story & book where I hope to include short stories (obviously), poetry and pieces inspired by other books – amongst other stuff. It’s proving a good test of my abilities and it’s good to play around with other genres. It’s called Figments and I hope to finish soon enough so to help those poor children out of the predicament within which they’ve been left so that Secrets Of The Ice can at last be published. There are a few others things too, so I’m busy to say the least.

Where can people buy your books?

Julie’s spotlight:http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/JEP(paperback)
Julie’s storefront:http://www.lulu.com/julizpow(paperback)
Kindle:http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss....+powell&x=0&y=0(ebook) (amzn.to/qSp0HB)

Do you have your own website or blog where people can read more about your work?

http://www.freewebs.com/julizpow
http://www.alchemyuk.yolasite.com

Do you have anything you’d like to say to your readers?

Wow… thank you so much for buying my book… I really hope you enjoyed it… and that it made you think differently about things. I hope it helped too, if you needed it. Sorry if there are any mistakes but I’m editor, publisher, designer and writer so I might have missed something. And you never know, earlier prints with errors might be worth a packet one day! If anyone wants to talk to me about any of the issues email me at julizpow (at) yahoo (dot) co (dot) uk

Read more:http://www.greatmindsthinkaloud.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=interviews&thread=1065#ixzz1lMydAa8B

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