Welcome to the blog of author Kathryn Cushman!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Meet Julie Klassen



Today and tomorrow, I am pleased to feature debut novelist Julie Klassen. I'm right in the middle of reading her first novel, Lady of Milkweed Manor, and it is terrific! I recently interviewed Julie, and here's what she had to say:



Tell us about the Lady of Milkweed Manor. What is the story about?
It is the story of a proper vicar's daughter who makes a mistake—and must pay a high price for her fall. Sent away by her unforgiving father, she flees to London, hoping to hide herself away from everyone who knows her. Instead, she comes face-to-face with a former suitor, a man her father had once rejected as beneath her. But how their positions have changed! It is a story about God's mercy, the redemption of past failings, and the beauty of sacrificial love. It has a touch of mystery and plenty of romance, for romantics out there like me.

Sounds great! Where did you get the idea?
The idea was sparked by the film Girl With a Pearl Earring. The cast included a wet nurse--a stranger who lived with the couple and nursed their infant. Although this woman was only a minor background character, she intrigued me. I found myself wondering, what would it be like to have a strange woman living in your home, nursing your child? My resulting research into the private lives of women in the 18th and 19th centuries fascinated me and provided the backbone for this novel.

How long did it take you to write this book?
I researched and wrote (on and off) for nearly two years. I am not really sure how much time I spent on it, since--having then no deadline and no contract--I worked on it in fits and starts as I could around work and family.

You have a quote at the beginning of each chapter. The sources range from Sophocles to Jane Austen, to the Flower Essence Society. Where did you find all these quotes (and how long did this part of the process take you?!?!)?
I no doubt spent far too much time on those! I personally like epigraphs, and feel they add historical texture and credibility to fiction. I found many of them on the Internet, and others in the history books I read as part of my research.


How does it feel to have your first book on the shelves?
I don’t think the reality has sunk in yet. Back in December, my husband led me into a Borders store, innocently suggesting we should see if the book was in yet (he already knew it was, but wanted to surprise me). There they were, three copies, spine-out. We turned them face-out so we could take a picture with our cell phone only to be caught red handed by a store clerk who looked at us askance and archly asked if she could help us. When we explained I was the author, she was clearly not impressed. She said she’d just put the books on the shelf that morning and promptly returned them to their humble spine-out position. Not a very glamorous beginning!

Ha! FYI- I made certain "Lady of Milkweed Manor" is face out in my local Borders, just to even the score :-).
What advice would you give to any up and coming writers out there?
Do what I finally had to do: Quit talking about wanting to write, and write. Stay up late, tough it out, write that first draft. Have a literary friend read it and give it to you straight, then undergo the hard work of revising and rewriting. There’s no denying it is very difficult to get published. Not only do you have to be a decent writer, but you also have to write about something a sufficient number of readers would pay to read (there may be good reason that saga of earthworm romance keeps getting rejected). But don’t give up. There are so many articles, books, and seminars out there about how to write a novel—and so many resources available for free on the Internet—it's easier than ever for a wishful writer to do his or her homework. Just get started already!


When she's not writing novels, Julie works for the "dark side" (she's an editor! Gasp!). Check back in tomorrow for part 2 of this interview and find out more about that part of her life.

1 comment:

Vader's Mom said...

This book sounds wonderful. I'm off to add it to my TBR list!