Julie writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side.
Thank you so much for having me here Jennifer.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m an avid reader, and have been since the 3rd grade when I realized reading was fun. I also started writing stories when I was in elementary school. My first literary masterpiece was a picture book about a bookworm.
What do you do when you are not writing?
There is such a time? LOL. I ride my Arabian mare and play with my cats and my Border Collie puppy. I also read a lot. Those are my main pastimes but I mix it up now and again.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing in elementary school. I was the master of the Nancy Drew style mysteries. In high school I started a sci fi loosely based on the Star Wars universe that never really went anywhere. It was the first novel length story I had ever attempted though. In college I started my first actual novel, Restless Nights, which took me six years to finish and I actually finished the original rough draft of Arabian Dreams before I completed Restless Nights. NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org) was the turning point for me. I first participated in 2005 and that’s the first time I ever finished a novel. It was just a rough draft, but I got to write the end and that was pretty special. Since then I’ve finished seven novels.
Where do you get your ideas? Do you ever experience writer’s block? Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I get my ideas from life, and dreams. I have an over active imagination. I think you have to have one to be a fantasy writer. Every day situations turn into crazy ideas in my head. For example my boyfriend, who I call the Irish Sailor, was soaking a small miniature in some pine cleaner. This strips the paint off so they can be repainted. I glanced into the room where it was sitting and instead of seeing a mini in a jar of pine cleaner, I saw an alien pod in a test tube… It took me a second to figure out what I was really looking at and it did freak me out for that second. Yes, my brain is a scary place and it really does work that way. I also have very vivid dreams. These have fueled entire novels, one of which is out on submission.
Writer’s block… hmm, that’s a tough one. I experience times when I can’t write, but it’s not so much block as stress. Either I lose my confidence in my ability to write – and then my support group kicks me in the pants and I start writing again, or something stressful in real life makes it hard for me to write. I don’t write well when I’m stressed. I know a lot of people write better when they have stress, but not me. I’ve never really been in a position where I can’t write at all (baring stress), I just sometimes have to work on a different project for a while to clear my mind so I can get back to my main project.
I’m a pantzer, but I like having a general idea of where I’m going before I start writing. I usually figure out the gist of the novel then make a summary. Then I outline as I go so I can refer back to my outline and figure out when certain events happen in my novel. This helps me keep track in case I have to reference events or make sure I have a fact clear. I have tried to use a real outline before. I did not enjoy that novel at all until I ran out of outline (it was too short) and the rest of the novel flowed amazingly well… with no outline.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without Kelley Armstrong’s online writing group and the wonderful people there who have helped me learn to be a better writer. She constantly posts things to help aspiring writers and many of the OWG members have gotten published themselves. I also wouldn’t have discovered NaNoWriMo if I hadn’t been active on the forum. That’s where I heard about it.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Hahahaha, yes… I could go on about them for hours, but I’ll boil it down to this. I still don’t have an agent and not for lack of trying. I feel very lucky to have Quake as my publisher and it was almost a fluke that I queried them about Arabian Dreams.
I’ve sent out 100’s of queries to agents about my various novels. It is very hard to find an agent right now, even with a good query. Eventually I decided just to try directly to some publishers and that’s how I got lucky enough to find Quake.
I’m not giving up on finding an agent, but at least right now I am not focusing on it.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
My book is called Arabian Dreams and it is about a girl who travels to other worlds on horseback. Anna is a relatively normal 16 year old. She spends every summer riding horses with her grandma in Colorado. Then her grandma is killed in a car accident and Anna is the only one in the family who knows anything about horses. Her parents agree to let her spend the summer on her grandma’s farm and sell the horses instead of taking them all to a sale. That’s when she finds out that Sabaska, one of the horses, is a lot more than she seems. Sabaska is actually a super intelligent being called a Traveler that can go between worlds and take her rider with her. She’s in the middle of a dangerous mission and drags Anna along for the ride. Arabian Dreams will be published by Quake in ebook. I don’t have an exact date yet though. This will be my first published novel.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
This book is absolutely based off of real life events… I travel to other worlds all the time on my horse. Uh, well… no really, I do Just not literally. I do a lot of trail riding with my Arabian mare, who’s name, incidentally, is also Sabaska. This is a really good time for my mind to relax and wander and play the what if game. I also based my main equine character directly off of my horse. They have a lot of similarities. I did not, however, base my main human character off of myself. There are similarities, and I put a little bit of myself in all of my characters, though not necessarily on purpose.
What project are you working on now? Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Second part first. Arabian Dreams will be published soon by Quake. I have another novel out on submission but it hasn’t been accepted yet, though the company did request a full manuscript.
I’m currently working on two novels and my series of Doc stories. Doc is a vampire hunting Border Collie that I’ve been writing short, free, fiction about. I try to have a new one up every couple of weeks. One novel I’m working on is a sequel to the novel I currently have on submission. Those characters won’t leave me alone. I’m also working on a new steampunk concept I recently came up with based on a world the Irish Sailor is developing. My next project after those two will be the second Arabian Dreams novel. I write fairly quickly and expect to be working on the second Arabian Dreams novel by this summer.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
The only way to get better at writing is to keep on doing it. Keep sending out queries, keep writing new things. Persistence pays off in this business. You CAN do it.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I have fans? *Does a happy dance* YAY!!!!! Hi Fans! I love you! (I’m counting readers as fans in this instance. I love you too). Thanks so much for dropping by and reading my interview. I can’t wait to be able to share Arabian Dreams with you in its entirety. Until then if you want to read about Doc’s misadventures, or some excerpts from my novels you can check out my website and blog at www.writerjacampbell.com. I love comments, feel free to leave me some. Be sure to check my blog around the 14th or so… I hear that a very talented writer named Jennifer Wylie will be sharing some wit and wisdom there.
Thank you so much for having me hear today Jennifer! And thank you all for stopping by.