Hello and welcome to A Cup of Conversation where I am joined by debut author Julia Barrett who is releasing her book My Sister is Missing this month. I’ve read the book and it certainly keeps you thinking, feeling and wondering with a pace that keeps you moving swiftly through the book. In this interview Julia reveals her writing process and her experience of being published through Red Door Books. So thank you for joining us and thank you too to Anna at Red Door Books for linking us up!
1. When did you start writing creatively?
Thank you for having me on your blog! As a teen I began writing short stories and I’ve continued to write since. However it wasn’t until 2015, and three years away from turning forty, that I decided to take my writing seriously. I didn’t want to wake up at ninety and kick myself for not finishing writing a novel.
2. Having been in education myself, I know how demanding the role of a teacher is. Where and when do you write?
Teaching is an incredibly demanding profession and leaves you with very little time or energy to write. Back in 2015 my teaching hours were reduced to two afternoons a week. This gave me the space to write and with both my children in full-time education I decided it was a great time to pursue my long-held dream and secured a place on the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course.
I write at the dinner table, admittedly not great for posture, but it’s my favourite room. It does mean I have to clear away my notebooks and laptop each day when I go and pick up the kids! My writing day is determined by the kids’ school day, so I work from 9-3pm.
3. The main theme of My Sister is Missing is close to you. What emotions did you go through as you wrote it and how did these hinder or support your writing?
Fabulous question! Tricky not to plot spoil here, but there is one scene which I included from my own experience. I tried to tap into the terror that I felt and the confusion too. This particular scene I reworked several times to ensure that I didn’t replicate any other feelings that belonged to me, because I wanted the emotions to belong to Steph.
4. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?
I particularly enjoyed developing and writing Jess. Her deep rooted inability to trust others makes her naturally suspicious and this leads her to jump to conclusions which can prove problematic. She tends to trust her gut instinct and is incredibly determined and that’s what I really like about her.
5. What are you currently working on?
My current work-in-progress is called The Art of Deception and in a nutshell it’s about revenge. It is set in St Ives, Cornwall and the action kicks off at the launch of the main character’s new art collection. She discovers that one of her paintings has been stolen. At the same time her daughter’s best friend is swept out to sea. I see it as Thirteen Reasons Why meets Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. It explores revenge, deception, bullying and grooming.
6. How do you prepare your book/s for release?
As this is my debut it’s been a real learning curve about what goes on behind the scenes in order to get your book out there and people talking about it. The blogging community are so amazing! The care and attention they give all books is fabulous.
RedDoor have been super supportive right from the start and it’s been great working with them. When you sit alone at your desk writing, it can be quite a lonely business. So, when you receive the magical ‘yes we want to publish your manuscript’, you become part of a team and I’m lucky to be part of a rather wonderful RedDoor team!
7. There’s lots in the news about mental health. What two things would you like to see being done to support those with mental health problems?
Raising awareness of the myriad of mental health issues is just the start of the conversation about improving support for those who have mental illness. Early intervention and access to services is key, but these services are underfunded and understaffed. I’d like to see improved access to high-quality psychological therapies and a focus on reaching out to those who need support before they reach crisis point.
8. Who has had the most significant impact on your writing and how have they supported your journey as a writer?
When I applied for a place on the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course I thought: who am I kidding? I’m never going to get a place.
Our tutor, Shelley Weiner, taught me to believe in my writing and that really is key. When you write without confidence it shows. You need to convince the reader that they are in safe hands and that you have a story to tell that is worth reading. This is achieved by bringing that confidence into your storytelling.
9. Are you a planner or a pantser?
I’m a ‘planser’. I plan out the key moments, the character arcs/journeys, and also spend time working out how it will end and how I will get there. However, more often than not, my characters tell me to step away from the plan and do something else.
10. What are your three main goals for the next three months?
Finish draft one of my work-in-progress.
Edit and edit and edit the draft.
Write my dissertation for my MA in Creative Writing.
Thank you for joining us Julia and I wish you all the best as you launch your book! It was certainly a great read and to my weekly readers, if you would like to link up with Julia you can do so on her links listed below.
Until next week, Happy Reading, happy Writing, happy You.
Big hug, Soulla xxx
Amazon link to books: