Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Julie Christensen Interview

1: What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?

I write best in the mornings, when my mind is sharp.  I love sitting in a quiet room with a cup of very strong coffee, my characters poised in my head and ready to start interacting again.  Unfortunately, these days I rarely get an early morning to myself unless I’m up before 5AM.  That’s because I’m the mother of a 2 and 3 year old and I also work full-time.  So I generally save my writing until weeknights, after bedtime or weekend afternoons, when the kids are upstairs having “quiet time.”  If they are quiet, I can write.  If they spend the time calling downstairs to use the potty, etc, I never get into my writing zone, and my characters have to wait for another day.

2: Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer? 

Paper and pen.  In fact, I filled three spiral notebooks writing Searching For Meredith Love by hand.  With my latest novel, I began with a pen, but edited as I typed it into my computer.  I’m going to try typing directly into my laptop, the next time I sit down to work on it, actually.  I’ll have to see how that goes.  I’m worried that I’m going to get a lot of garbage that way – writing by hand seems to make me more thoughtful, but time will tell.

3: What do you draw inspiration from?

I’m not completely sure.  When all the planets are aligned, an idea pops into my head and I go for it. The Truth About Dating was based on my life.  In fact, it could have been a memoir, except I had to add some made-up stuff like visits from old flames, because the tedium of dating online would have made everyone stop reading, and possibly weep.  Searching For Meredith Love was inspired by life in New Mexico, but I can’t say where the character Meredith came from.  She just appeared in my head.

4: Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count? 

No, never.  I just write until I get bored.  When I’m bored, I write boring stuff, so I walk away and come back to it another day.

5: Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?

I’m a self-published author on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.  My degree is in art, so, for The Truth About Dating, I designed a cover and asked a graphic designer friend, Jennifer Maginn, to add the type.  She did, but also created her own cover, which was so much better than mine that I used it.  For Searching For Meredith Love, I did the painting and Jennifer did the layout and type.  I wanted a painterly cover that screamed “southwest.”

6: What drives you to choose the career of being a writer? 

I never thought about having a career in writing.  I was always going to be an artist.  But I’ve loved to write since elementary school.  I’m not sure why I started writing my first book, Searching For Meredith Love.  It began as a writing exercise in a class.  A group of us from that class formed a writing group and somehow a book came out of it.  The Truth About Dating began in much the same way.  I wrote funny little essays about my terrible dating experiences and then started putting them together to for a book.  After years of rejections from literary agents for both novels, I never thought I’d write another book.  But now that my books are doing so well online, I’ve already started on another, and I’m loving every minute of it!

7: Do you own an ebook reading device? 

I own a Kindle, but I think the Nook looks great too, and I like how you can borrow library books on the Nook.

8: Who are some of your favorite authors and What are you reading now? 

I love Isabel Allende, Maxine Hong Kingston, Kurt Vonnegut, Emily Bronte, Atul Gawande, Laurie King, and many, many others.  I’m currently reading a book by an indie author, Hard Day’s Knight by John G. Hartness.  It’s about a Private Investigator who is a vampire - not my usual genre but I’m enjoying it.

9: What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any? 

I haven’t researched them much, mainly because I don’t have a lot of free time and figuring out how to film and upload a trailer will take an un-tech-savvy person like me weeks and weeks of work.  That said, I think that anything that gets people to read your book is a good idea.       

10: How did you come up with the title of your latest book? 

I spent ages trying to come up with a good title for Searching For Meredith Love.  I wanted to convey the idea of someone finding her better self.  I thought of Witching Waters, based on the people who use sticks to find water in the desert.  I had all kinds of titles like that.  Finally, the idea of searching popped forward and then I had my title.  The Truth About Dating was much easier.  I wrote that book with the goal of telling my married friends the truth about dating, so you could say I had the title before I had the book.   

11: What are you working on now that you can talk about?
My latest novel is a mystery.  It’s set in Brooklyn, and the protagonist is a writer.  And because it’s a mystery, I’ve already mapped out the whole story.  In the past, I never used an outline; I wrote in a style that Anne Lamott equates to driving at night: you can’t see the whole road, just what your lights illuminate. But I’m having fun with this new style and looking forward to seeing how it works.  I’ve also had several reviewers for Searching For Meredith Love say they’d like to read a sequel.  I’ve never considered doing that, but now I’m toying with that idea, too.  The sequel idea needs to marinate for a while – it may amount to nothing.

Searching For Meredith Love - Amazon
Searching for Meredith Love - Barnes and Noble
The Truth About Dating -  Amazon
The Truth About Dating - Barnes and Noble


  1. Wow, still using pen and paper. That must take a long time! Great interview. The Truth About Dating is on my TBR list!

  2. NIce interview. I used to write with pen and paper, but hated having to do double work by typing it all into the computer. I taught myself to write directly on the laptop. At first I thought it would stifle my creativity, but it didn't bother me at all.

  3. What a delightful interview--with interesting questions and thoughtful answers.

  4. Nice interview and congrats! If you do use a laptop or computer just make sure you get into the habit of hitting the save button every other paragraph and copy it from time to time to a disk and date it.

  5. I wrote on my laptop this morning for the first time. At 5AM!! (oy!) I'm going to have to wait a few days and read what I got before I'll know if it's any good. It's certainly faster. As LC said, writing doubles the work, but I edit as I type into my computer so serves a double purpose.