Verily, it has been weeks since last I blogged! But behold, I return to you with something super-fancy-extra-special! An interview with Julie Berry, author of the superb Amaranth Enchantment!
Before we get to Julie and her interview, two little thoughts: Dragon Spear will be out next week! Check the events page for signings and hijinks! Second, I would take it right kindly if y'all would review my books on Amazon.com and other locations! That is, if you liked them. . . .
And now, ta ta ta tum! Julie Berry!
Amaranth Enchantment is her debut novel, and it was splendid in all ways. Beautifully written, well-plotted, great characters, and a brilliant new world (two, actually)! So I sez to myself, Self, let's interview Julie, and find out all the dirt!
Regarde! (As the Frenchies say!)
What is your favorite book(s)?
Impossible to narrow it down to even a sackful! Depends on my mood. I’m attaching a list I just finished preparing for the schools that I visit. I talk a lot in my presentation about my favorite books as a child, and they’re always asking me for the list, so here it is. In addition to the kids’ books mentioned, I love the usual suspects: all things Austen and Brontë, Dickens, Shakespeare. I’m crazy about Terry Pratchett, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie … on and on and on.
I like lots of movies, and there, too, it depends on my mood. My most sacred movie is (of course … bet you could see this coming) the BBC (Colin Firth) version of Pride and Prejudice. My husband and I try to watch it every second or third New Year’s Eve – a night when we can actually stay up late and finish it. Except, now that our kids are getting older and want to stay up to ring in the New Year, it’s cramping our style.
TV show? Or do you not watch TV?
Don’t watch TV. Gave that up at 14. Which means my perpetual notion of TV is “Cosby” and “Family Ties.” I do see snatches of it at the gym, though, and I’ve gotten some great laughs from Big Bang Theory and Malcolm in the Middle.
How many states have you lived in?
Three – solid, liquid, and gas.
Oh, I kill myself!
Two: New York and Massachusetts.
Where is your dream vacation location, and have you ever actually been there?
Never have been there. In fact, I’ve never vacationed much. My family’s idea of a vacation, when we were kids, was to pile in the car and drive across the country to attend someone’s graduation from BYU. (I’m the youngest of seven.) Now, my family vacations by driving to upstate NY to visit my relatives. My dream vacation wouldn’t even really be a vacation, because a mere week or so would be a maddening tease. I want to spend a summer (heck, maybe a year) living in a cottage in some small English village, sipping chamomile tea in little shops, reading novels, hobnobbing with the locals, and trying to acquire an accent. If I weren’t already so very married, I’d also try to acquire a British romance. But I’ll settle for the scenery and the literary shrines.
You work for a software company. What is polymorphism?
Uh-oh. What irks me is that I feel like I once upon a time knew this. My husband would know the answer, but that’s cheating. So is Googling it. So, in the spirit of SAT-desperation, I’ll say it’s when … um … something changes form? Or can take on multiple forms? Does it have to do with when objects in an OO design model can have multiple instantiations? Help! (I only work in software sales and marketing, mind you. I’m not expected to know anything.)
Meaty Writing Topics!
You have kids AND a day job. When/where do you write?
Late at night, by the light of a gibbous moon.
You can skip the gibbous, but I do write at night. That’s the only time I’ve got. Hence the bags under my eyes.
We're both Bloomsbury-ites. I got published because I met my editor at a writing retreat. What's your publishing story?
My manuscript won a prize at Vermont College. Soon afterwards I went to a New England SCBWI conference. Flush with prize-induced confidence, I approached an agent for the first time. Long story short, she took me on, sent the submission to a round of publishers, and Bloomsbury bought it, bless their hearts.
What made you want to write in the first place?
The awesomeness of books! Same reason people cook – because food’s so yummy.
Probably like most authors, I was a book nut as a kid. Throughout my schooling years I liked many subjects, but I always received praise for my writing. Which, oddly enough, made me take it utterly for granted, and think about being things like marine biologist and doctor and chemist. One by one all those fantasies faded, but writing still remained. So I ended up with a B.S. in communication, primarily technical, from an engineering and science college, and did lots of technical and marketing writing. The dream of fiction writing was small at first but always in the back of my mind, one of those try-before-you-die ideas. But I started reading more and more children’s books in my late twenties, and began to think, why couldn’t I write one?
Did you always want to write for young readers?
I think so. Children’s books hold a place in my heart that nothing else could fill. I think it’s that way for all of us, really, even for those who aren’t kidlitophiles. There’s something so magical about those first books we learned to love as we learned to read. I wouldn’t rule out an adult book, though. Quite possibly a mystery.
Did you/will you always write fantasy?
I have written non-fantasies, and intend to do so again. But I suspect fantasy will be the lion’s share of my work, and will heavily influence my “realistic” writing.
Would you like to give us a sneak preview of what you're working on currently?
I’m trying to find my way into a mystery for teens. It’s still very fragile, so I’m afraid if I say more, I’ll squash it!
The Amaranth Enchantment
I don't want you to give any spoilers, because I loved the delightful twists in this book, so there's only a few questions here.
I love goats, personally, but why the goat?
I honestly don’t remember when the goat decision was made. It sounds silly, but my goat really just appeared in the story, with his identity fully intact. Goats are magical creatures in their own right, in that they’re almost always immediately funny. Like ducks. It’s pretty hard to talk about ducks and keep a straight face. They’re fast and beautiful and graceful and noble (as are goats), but something about them makes us giggle. I didn’t mind that any.
Some of the country names were the same as in our world, but others differed. Is this an alternate reality, or just an imaginary land in our own reality?
It’s a made up country, tucked into a more or less historically accurate Western Europe. Most of us are pretty hazy on our 18th Century European geography. All those little kingdoms … who knows? Maybe there was a Laurenz or a Hilarion. ("An" Hilarion? Yikes!)
Will there be a sequel? Or a prequel to tell us about Beryl? Or Peter? Please?
I surely hope so! I’ll keep you posted.
Thanks, Julie! It's been a treat getting to know you!
Check out Julie's website: www.julieberrybooks.com