What a treat it is to have Julie Klassen here with us today. JULIE KLASSEN!!!
I fell in love with Julie's writing when I read The Apothecary's Daughter, which I've mentioned pretty frequently on here.
At last September's American Christian Fiction Writer's conference, I spotted Julie and she graciously answered all my dorky writer questions. ("In The Apothecary's Daughter, when Lily said this..." "If Lily had money, do you think Marlowe would have...?")
Not only is she a talented writer, she's a sweet, wise woman. And today she's here! Yay!
Julie, all your current novels are set in the regency time period, plus I know you're a big fan of Jane Austen. If you had the chance to have tea with her and ask a couple questions, what would they be?
So...am I going back in time, or is this meeting in heaven? :)
Here are a few things I might ask Miss Austen:
1. Can you believe your books are more popular than ever 200 years after they were published?
2. If you have seen the movie versions of Pride and Prejudice, which actor best captured your image of Mr. Darcy?
3. If you could write one more book, what would it be?
Oooh, good ones! I've just finished your latest The Maid of Fairbourne Hall.
|To escape the dangerous attention of her stepfather's nephew, Margaret flees London society. She winds up working as a maid for two former suitors...|
I know what you mean. Margaret (a bit vain, self-centered, and scheming) doesn’t start out as a very likeable character. To counter this in early chapters, I gave her a younger brother and sister of whom she is very fond. While we may not approve of her actions, we understand that part of Margaret’s motivation is to protect and provide for her siblings. And of course, as the story progresses, Margaret changes quite a bit through the humbling circumstances she finds herself in, and having to work hard for the first time in her life. Along the way, she learns she has been wrong to judge people by appearances and becomes a kinder, more self-sacrificing person.
It's a really well done character arc. I enjoyed my time with her and watching her grow.
Many of the writers here at Go Teen Writers write historical fiction. What kind of resources do you use, and how did you go about finding them?
Books: I have tubs of tabbed research books (hubby is building a big new bookcase for me as I type this). I locate and buy many used books through Amazon. A few I am able to find at local libraries or through Google books online.
Internet: There is so much good information on the web these days (though you have to be careful to verify what you find). There are also many helpful web sites that deal with different aspects of various time periods. For example, I visit specific sites to learn more about Regency clothes, carriages, customs, slang, etc. I also use etymonline.com to verify that words I write in dialogue were in use in my time period.
Loops/organizations: I belong to a loop of American Christian Fiction Writers who write historical novels set in non-American settings. I also belong to the Beau Monde chapter of Romance Writers of America, which offers Regency classes, online newsletters, and an email loop where I can ask other members research questions.
Julie, something I love about your books is the peek into different roles during the regency period. Like in The Apothecary's Daughter, there was so much cool medicine history. In The Silent Governess, I learned a ton about the unique place a governess had in the household. How do you handle research as your writing? Do you do the bulk of it before? Do you research as you go?
Even though my books are fictional, many of my story ideas have their basis in historical reality, so I do find new research material for each new book/occupation/location before I begin writing. But I don’t read these books cover to cover before I begin--or I’d never get a book finished! I read some ahead of time to gather the basics, then I do spot-research later when I come across something I don’t know (which is often!), like: Did they have injections (shots) then? Did they use this word? How long would it take by carriage to get from point A to point B? How much money (pounds, shillings) would a certain item or service cost back then, etc., etc., etc. But eventually, you have to lay aside the research and write!
Is that the way you handled research in the beginning as well when, I assume, you were still learning about the general culture of the Regency era?
Yes. When I started writing, not only was less information readily available online, but I knew so little (and had never even been to England), so I had to check nearly everything (and still didn’t get it all right, no doubt). I have gained a more general knowledge of the time period, so yes the writing is somewhat easier. If only my memory were photographic (or I had thought to index/organize my research from the beginning), writing would be a LOT easier. As it is, I still find myself rechecking things. However, now I feel less “alone” in trying to figure things out. These days, I rely not only on books and the internet, but I also have several other author-friends who write Regency, and are happy to share their knowledge in a pinch. Plus, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to England twice now, which really helps me visualize and research the settings.
If you could send a message back in time to new-writer Julie, what are 3 pieces of advice you would offer her?
Great question! I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that before. Let’s see:
1. You can’t--won’t!--please everyone. Make sure you concentrate on pleasing God with what you write.
2. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. There will always be authors who write better and sell better. Do the best you can with the gifts God has given you.
3. Keep you rear in chair and write already. What are you waiting for? :)
Julie, it was such an honor to have you as a guest. And congratulations on your latest Christy award nomination!
If you want more information about Julie's books (and if you haven't read them yet, you definitely do!) you can read descriptions and excerpts on her website.
Julie said she'd try to pop in and say hello sometime today, so make sure you leave a comment welcoming her to Go Teen Writers. And if you had the chance to ask a favorite author one question, who would it be and what would you ask them?