Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Interview with Julie Stone

Today, we welcome Julie Stone whose third novel for Avalon will come out in June!

1. Please tell us about your latest book, Try, Try Again.

Try, Try Again, is the story of a corporate, take no prisoners woman, Riley Anderson, who is thrust into the world of the stay at home mom when her husband, and stay-at-home-dad desserts she and her son on a quest to find himself. In her business life, Riley commands the room and the advertising industry, at a PTA meeting, she is completely a fish out of water, and the other fish are sharks out for blood. They don't appreciate a "working mom" infiltrating their hierarchy in the least. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Riley takes on the entire group, and their biggest event of the year by chairing it. Along the way, she enlists the help of Sam Aldin, the only Dad in the PTA, and her sister, Trish-an icon in the PTA world. Both present their challenges to her ever slipping grasp on her new life. Trish and Riley have never seen eye to eye. Their relationship plays out the working mom/stay at home mom conflict on all levels. Sam is handsome, kind, a wonderful father and just the anecdote for the hysterics of the PTA crowd, Riley is more than smitten with him, and appalled at the fact that she has feelings for the seemingly married, but extremely helpful friend. But as the story unfolds and the event grows nearer, all are in for some surprises-Riley most of all as she discovers how to heal her relationship with her sister, how to manage a group of women who hate the very idea of her, oh, and that handsome, helpful gentleman friend? Not married after all!

2. That sounds as if you've got plenty of interesting conflicts in your story! What do you personally like most about this novel?
The stay-at-home mom/working mom argument has gone on for ages, and I think this gives another spin on it. I have never understood why women have to have such an opinion about the choices other women make. I think that both Riley and Trish learn a lot about one another and gain a perspective on why, in choosing different paths, neither is wrong. It is just a different way to live a fulfilling life. I like to see growth in my characters, tell a story that shows another way of thinking of common things. I think this one does a nice job with that.

3. So have you developed the plot from something you've experienced personally?
The idea for this book was born one day when my oldest son was in second grade. I have been really blessed to be able to stay home with my kids, and though I have always been involved with their classes, I hadn't always done a great deal with the PTA other than pay my dues. One day, I received an email from the "class mother" the one who runs all the parties, and the volunteer schedules, telling me that the kids are going to have a baby shower for their teacher and could I be there and bring juice boxes? I agree immediately--I mean the class mother asked me directly and I didn't want to get on her bad side and end up with a bad volunteer gig or in charge of the end of the year party, which is by far the worst party because the kids are insane at that point in the year. Anyway, the day of the "Shower" comes, I show up at the appointed time, with my juice boxes. I find the other mom's in the office-I spot them because one is holding a giant bouquet of balloons and one has a cake, etc. They are all humming around the school secretary, feeding her compliments and calling her by her first name, making sure I understand that they are on a first name basis with her, they continue to do this as we walk down the hall, calling out greetings to all we pass using first names, and knowing smiles. I am starting to feel out of me element. While I do my assigned volunteer duties, and chaperon an occasional field trip, I am no where near their level of familiarity with the staff. A small voice inside my head is taunting me that I should really start coming to the school more often, which I try to ignore. Then, as we approach the hall of the classroom, one of them shrieks "hide!" and suddenly we are all shoved into a supply closet-balloon, cake, presents, and of course juice boxes. They all let out a nervous giggle of relief--the teacher, Susan (a name I didn't know, as I always called her Mrs. Hilton) hadn't seen us. We stayed lodged in the closet for 10 minutes and as I listened to them all try to one up each other over their volunteer responsibilities at the school, I silenced the voice in my head, and instead started plotting this book.

4. A book that starts in a supply closet! Another proof that inspiration can strike anywhere . . . Have you published any other novels?
This is my third book for Avalon. These Darn Heels, was the first. Followed by Deja Who? Both are stories of women who take a different path then the one that is expected of them.

5. I love the title Deja Who! When did you start to write your first novel and how long did it take you to become published?
I started writing my first novel when my oldest son was born. That took me a year to write, and then knowing nothing about the publishing industry, I shipped it off to all the big houses where it was promptly rejected. By then, I had another baby, and my time for writing was at a minimum. Then, six years later, I had the good fortune of meeting another writer, who invited me into her established critique group where I learned an enormous amount about writing and the submissions process. My first book was published nine years later, though it was a completely different book at that point.

6. In this business, it pays off to take a long-term approach! What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you as an author?
I have had some very strange emails through the years. I had a person send me a critique of my second book, telling me she thought I'd gotten so much better than my first and submitting actual quotes from the books that she didn't think were very good. I had a lady in Boston send me an email about her love for the Red Sox and her empathy for my husband's love of the Cubs -this was a central part of the plot in my second book. But I think the funniest, meaning surreal thing that I've experienced through writing was going home to the small town of 3,000 I grew up in for a signing and seeing all the teachers, coaches and parents of my friends there to have me sign my book.

7. I can relate to that! What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
I have two very busy sons who do every activity available to them, so I spend a great deal of time in bleachers, gymnasiums and auditoriums. When I'm not doing that, I love to read, go antiquing with my friends, golf with my husband, and watch some TV. I also just started one of those 10 week fitness boot camps for total body transformation--there are days I can't lift my hands high enough to reach the keyboard! But then, you asked what I enjoy doing when I'm not writing...

Thank you very much for telling us so much about yourself, Julie!
You can find more information about Julie at her website:


Sarita said...

Sounds like a fun story. Thank goodness for Sam! Riley sounds like she needed a good friend.

I read Deja Who and enjoyed it very much.

mulligangirl said...

Great interview, Beate! Julie, you sound like a lot of fun, and this sounds like a great read. It's something I am sure a lot of women will be able to relate to. I know I will—every time I think I'm being Supermom, someone squirts a juicebox all over my cape. ;)

Jayne Ormerod said...

Julie, thanks for sharing so much about yourself! "Try, Try Again" sounds like a great beach read! Not to mention a catchy song title! You are living my dream...going back to your small hometown to sign your book and having a great turnout! But I write under a nom de plume so nobody will know who I am. sigh.

Beate, great interview! Wednesday Author Interviews have become a Must Read for me!

Beate Boeker said...

Jayne, that's one of the biggest compliments you can make - I'm so glad you're one of the "regulars" on Wednesdays! Thank you so much!

AR said...

Great interview! Thanks, Julie, for being transparent and sharing both your wit and your look on life. You are a gifted writer!!