Julie Whitley

Julie Whitley

By   Publisher  FriesenPress

ISBN  ISBN9781460255285


Published in   Action & Adventure, Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Teen Young Adult,


For Jonathon, the Home Wood, a part of the family farm for five generations, has always been a source of mystery and dread. Strange half-heard rumours passed among aunts, uncles and cousins never quite add up.

More than twenty years ago, his father— when he was Jonathon’s age—was swallowed up by the Home Wood for more than a day and came back badly injured. That was when his grandfather forbade any family member from venturing back there.

And so when, from his bedroom window one morning, Jonathon sees his father once again cross into the Home Wood, he knows something is very wrong. Deceiving his grandfather, Jonathon sets out after his father and makes his way, for the first time in his life, into the forbidden heart of the woods.

What he finds there is beyond even his wildest imagination.

What is the Tag Line for your book? (A short description of your book in a sentence or two)

There was a secret hidden in the woods. Some in the family even called it a curse.

Do you write full time or part time

Part time

How do you structure your day when you write

I try to write first thing in the morning before the distractions of the day take hold of my time.

Why do you write? (Example; For fun, to make extra money, a personal experience you want to share with the public)

I write because I have always loved to read and the desire grew in me to tell my own stories. I am retired now after a 34 year career in nursing and am finally able to devote time to writing. I finished my debut novel last year and now I am actually holding it in my hands! It is very satisfying.

What are you working on right now / or your most recent work

I am working on the sequel to Secrets of the Home Wood: the Sacrifice.

What inspired you to create this book

While I was writing the first book, I was sure that it was a stand alone story. My writing group members teased me that it was the first in a series. I kept saying "No", but by the time I reached the end, I realized that the story was not finished. The journey and adventure continues! This first book was inspired by a short in-class exercise in a creative writing class many years ago.

What genre do you write in and why did you choose it

The genre has been placed in YA and I call it fantasy adventure. I have been hearing from my most of my readers though that it crosses generations and that is all I could hope for. I really wanted my story to appeal to a wider audience.

How much research did you do on your book? (If it applies)

Even though my imagination dreamed up most of the scenes, I did do some research on castle structure and herb medicine.

How do you think you have evolved creatively from when you first started writing until now

My writing style has matured and I have become less fond of an excess of adjectives and adverbs. I still have to cull them out, but it is not as time consuming as at the beginning.

What was the hardest thing about writing this book for you

Creating a writing routine and sticking to it. I am easily distracted

What was the most rewarding

Holding the finished book in my hands and talking to potential buyers at book-signings. I love sharing my passion for writing with others.

If you had to start over, is there anything you would do different

I would be more strict with myself sooner about writing regularly. I would also outline a little more.

How have you evolved from when you first started writing until now

Personally? I have evolved from a young single woman living on her own to being married with a granddaughter and new grandson and living in a multi-generational household. A lot happened in the years since the story first began! And equally importantly, my writing has evolved from the overly poetic to the concise. Much easier to read!

Are you a planner type person, or do you prefer to dive right in when you write

Through the process of my first novel, I was what is called a "pantser", meaning that I wrote as it came to me without an outline. I did know basically where the story was going to end up, but I didn't know the details of how it was going to get there. That became the fun part because my characters surprised me on several occasions and the ending was similar to, but different from what I had initially envisaged.

How much dialogue do you have with your readers

I enjoy talking to my readers. I love answering their questions. I would welcome more dialogue!

Do they influence your writing

My writing group formed my first readers and since they all thought there should be a sequel, which I am now writing - I would have to say that they did indeed influence me greatly.

Do you recommend being a part of a support groups to help you with your writing

Absolutely! The support, the tips and hints and questions that help sort through issues are all invaluable. When you're writing and deeply immersed in it, you're thinking "Wow! This is great! They're going to love it!" and then the critique comes and you realize that you have repeated the same word four times in a short paragraph and your time-line is a little wonky and a teenage boy would never say "let off steam."

Do you work with an editor If so, how much input do they have

I have a lovely editor. We connected when she was a student editor and we continued our relationship after her graduation. Her input has been priceless. She not only fixes all my comma faux pas but she has wonderful insight as well.

Was there anyone in your past that you think influenced your writing

My high-school English teacher was very influential. He told me then that I was one of his best writers that year and needed to keep writing. His words stayed in the back of my mind all through my career as a nurse and my two stints in University doing my undergrad degree and then my Masters. I remained determined that one day I would write the first of many books!

Do you have any tips or useful resources on marketing

I am still learning myself. I have been learning how to use Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn. Building networks is very important. Blogging is my next challenge. As well as learning how to balance all this with writing time.

How are you publishing this book? (Indie / self-published, traditional)

I self-published through FriesenPress

What are your thoughts on book series

Now that I am six chapters into the sequel, I am feeling enthusiastic about a book series!

How long do you think a book should be? (Pages or words)

My book is about 284 pages or roughly 80,000 words. To me, that is a comfortable length.

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers

I have given away free books and I have offered reviews in exchange for reviews. I have also joined several author groups on-line and have received some more reviews through this avenue.

What advice would you give to your younger self today

Keep hold of your dream and keep working towards it.

What is your favorite book or film

Each book I finish is my favourite. I have so many. Black Beauty was my earliest favourite, followed by the Narnia Chronicles and Inkheart. I also love thrillers and adventure.

If you don’t already have one, do you have plans to have a book trailer and what are your thoughts on them overall

I have been thinking about and preparing to create a book trailer. I think that they are an exciting, interesting way of promoting a book.

What are you working on next

I am working on the sequel to my debut novel and this one will be called The Stalker.

When you get frustrated, how do you deal with it

I take a break, change focus for a while and then come back with a fresh mind.

What advice would you give a writer that is just starting out

Take classes, read lots in the genre and style that you most admire, read how-to-books. There are a lot of blogs now by experiences writers who have wonderful tips and hints. Join or start a writing group. Since writing is a solitary occupation it is important to have the input of others to keep you on track and improve your writing.

About the Author

Julie Whitley