Today, we'll be meeting Julie Paul as part of our "Getting to know..." Authors for Indies series. Julie and I had actually just arranged for her to come to Backbeat to do a reading of her latest book The Pull of the Moon when we found out about Authors for Indies. I asked if she was interested in rearranging her schedule to participate and she immediately wrote back saying she was in! Julie's traveling all the way from beautiful Victoria, BC to help us out, so she wins the Furthest Distance Traveled award. We'll have to work on some type of crown or sash or something...
Julie will be at Backbeat from 1 – 5 pm on Saturday, May 2nd. She’ll be recommending her favourite books and doing a reading of The Pull of the Moon at 4 pm. She’ll be on-hand to do signings and catch up with friends, family members and friendly locals who we hope will be here to help welcome her back home as she makes her way through Perth on her spring book tour.
Read on to find out if she ever gets writer’s block, what she did to celebrate when her first book got published, and what book she’s currently reading…
Christine (Co-owner of Backbeat): What motivated you to participate in Authors for Indies?
Julie Paul (Globe and Mail Top 100 Book Writer): I am a huge fan of independent bookstores, and am so pleased to be supporting and celebrating Backbeat Books in Perth, the town where as a teenager I first learned to shop for books! (at Valley Books.) I’ve also recently published my second book of short stories, The Pull of the Moon, and am excited to piggy-back on this event to launch it in my old stomping grounds.
Christine: What are your top three favourite books of all time? If you have an absolute favourite one out of these, which one is it?
Julie: This is such a challenging question! What could I possibly pick that would exemplify all that I love in a book? I don’t think I’m up for it. Instead I’ll include books that have made an influence on my life as a writer:
Camilla, by Madeleine L’Engle, because it was one of those books that made me see the world in an entirely new way. It’s set in NYC, and when I read this as a teenager living in Lanark, it was about a world completely foreign to me—and it fed my curiosity and hunger for travel and exploration. It’s also a beautifully-written first person coming of age novel, compared—deservedly—(on its cover) to The Catcher in the Rye.
Also, I would like to include an anthology of Canadian poetry my father gave me on my graduation day from PDCI…The Penguin Book of Canadian Verse. Here is where I encountered Margaret Atwood’s evocative poem “Variations on the Word Sleep” and Tom Wayman’s “Picketing Supermarkets,” alongside Lanark’s very own Charles Mair and other heavyweights in the Canadian poetry world.
And I will add Who Do You Think You Are? by Alice Munro, because to me, this collection captures Munro at her finest, and portrays small town living with perception and exacting honesty. I love the complexity of Rose, the main character in these stories, and how she navigates the world.
Christine: If you had to participate in a talent show, what would you do?
Julie: Hmm… good question. My talents aren’t necessarily the showy types. But I might do okay on a cooking show; I can whip up a pretty decent meal in thirty minutes, if necessary. And I’ve got a killer secret muffin recipe, too.
Christine: Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you unblock it?
Julie: I don’t often suffer from what people think of as writer’s block, i.e., not knowing what to write. For me, it’s usually one of two other challenges: not having the time to write, which makes me rather grumpy, or, occasionally, finding myself a little tired of words, limited by them, after writing for a long time. In that case, I don’t push it—I get outside for a walk or a swim, I make something in the kitchen, I garden.
Christine: Do you re-read books or do you just read them once?
Julie: I re-read, yes. Sometimes to study technique, sometimes just for the pleasure of the story or the language. Most definitely I return to books of poetry over and over.
Christine: Where do you find your best writing inspiration comes from?
Julie: People. The ones I know, and the ones I observe…My stories usually begin with character, and asking the question, What if? a lot. Also, I find that when I read the poetry of someone like Sharon Olds, I inevitably feel the urge to race to the page.
Christine: What did you do to celebrate when your first book got published?
Julie: My first book, The Jealousy Bone, came out in 2008, and I held a really fun book launch at a funky coffee shop/bar, and celebrated with about 75 people, most of whom I am so fortunate to call my friends, family, and writing community. There was definitely a little Prosecco flowing, too.
Christine: Do you have any unusual writing habits or superstitions?
Julie: No superstitions; I try to avoid being too precious about having certain things as absolutes, i.e., the right paper, the perfect pen, silence, because with a family, and work beyond writing, it’s just not possible to have the perfect set-up all the time. But I do find that I write better when I eat crunchy foods like crackers and celery. I think the crunch factor wakes up my brain.
Christine: What’s the last book you read and/or what are you currently reading?
Julie: I recently finished Alison Pick’s beautiful and honest memoir, Between Gods. Right now, I’m reading Tony Hoagland’s poetry collection What Narcissism Means to Me and Emily Carr’s astounding collection of word sketches about her childhood in Victoria, The Book of Small.
Christine: If you start reading a book and find you don’t like it, what do you do: a) continue till the bitter end or b) give up and move onto the next one?
Julie: I move on. I have to admit that I am an impatient reader; if I’m not hooked within the first few pages, I find another book.
Christine: Pick up the book that’s sitting closest to you right now – no cheating. What’s the opening line?
Julie: It’s the first line in Caroline Adderson’s fabulous new novel, Ellen in Pieces: Chapter One, “I Feel Lousy.”
“That was as much as Ellen could get out of Yolanda as she hovered above her in the bathroom, holding back her golden hair while she retched.”
To learn even more about Julie and her books, head on over to her website!