Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Julie Klassen Author Interview

Thank You to Julie Klassen for taking the time to answer our questions.

Are there any characters that share similar traits or qualities with you?

The main character in The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, Margaret Macy, tends to judge people by outward appearances and often incorrectly, something I have learned to try not to do, because my first impressions of people are often wrong as well. Fortunately, Margaret has strengths as well as weaknesses. She is devoted to her brother and sister and determined to do whatever it takes to protect their futures. And though she, as a well-born lady, has never done a lick of work in her life, when she has to disguise herself as a housemaid, she actually does her best to carry out the exhausting duties.

If you could be any character in your book or another authors book, who would you pick and why?

I used to think I’d been born in the wrong time and would have loved to live back in the days of a Jane Austen character like Elizabeth Bennet. But the more research I did, the more I realized that I would not have wanted to live then because of the way women were treated, poor sanitation, questionable medical treatments, high infant mortality rates, etc. But it is a romantic time to escape to within the pages of a book!

What should readers expect from your books?

My books are set in the early 19th century (Regency England). Each stands alone and can be read in any order. Readers
can expect romance, mystery, historical details, unexpected twists, and subtle faith themes.

When did you decide that you wanted to write?

I have enjoyed writing stories since the second grade, according to a faded report card. And throughout school and
college I took many literature and writing courses. But it wasn’t until later, after working in advertising, then as an editor,
that I got serious about writing and completed my first novel.

What do you use for inspiration?

I am inspired by many things. Fascinating things I discover in my research, the costume dramas I love to watch, books
and verses I read, long walks that spur my imagination, and more.

What was your first reaction upon learning that you were being published?

I was very excited and grateful. Still am. It’s a lifelong dream come true.

Who is your favorite author and how does that person inspire you?

If I had to pick one, I would say Jane Austen. I am smitten with her leading men: Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon, Captain
Wentworth…. Sigh. I’ve watched every Austen adaptation big screen and small, listened to each audio recording, and
read the books themselves. I so enjoyed the world of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion, that I began writing
my own novels set in “Jane Austen-era England.”

Which authors do you find your style comparable to?

Reviewers for Booklist and Romantic Times have compared my writing to that of Jane Austen and Victoria Holt
(something I wouldn’t presume to do myself). Of course, I find that very flattering.

What background noise, if at all, do you have while writing (music, TV, etc)?

None (except perhaps the quiet purring of my cat). I can’t listen to any music with lyrics, because the words distract me.
I know many authors listen to instrumental music when they write. I have tried that and it does help me set the mood for
a particular scene, but I always end up turning the music off so I can concentrate.

What is your favorite genre to read?

Primarily historical, but I read from several genres. I like any novel that “sweeps me away” to another time and place,
engages my curiosity, and has a strong romantic thread.

If you had to sum up your writing technique in one word what would it be?

Evolving. (That’s a tough question! I asked my husband and he suggested “lengthy” and “tedious,” but that’s from the
perspective as an observer whose dinner is late. Again.)

Will you continue to write about Amish fiction or do you think you will branch out? If you plan to branch out, to
which genre(s)?

I am one of those rare authors who doesn’t write Amish fiction. :) I write historical romance set in Regency England. For
the time being I plan to stay in this genre because it’s what I love and, fortunately, readers do, too. But eventually I can
see myself branching out. I have a few contemporary ideas, for example.

Do you prefer to writing series or stand-alone novels?

All of my books have been stand-alone so far. Usually I prefer to read books which are complete within themselves, but I
might attempt a series someday.

How do you come up with names for your characters?

I consult historical information about common names in England in my time period as well as in the specific region where
I am setting the story. Occasionally I will honor friends by using their names in my books. For example, the gardener in
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall is named for a friend of mine who is a master gardener.

What advice would you give to those who would someday like to get published?

The hardest thing about writing is making yourself keep your derriere in the chair and tough it out until you write that
first draft. Until you do, you will never know if you have what it takes—or would even truly want—to be a writer. I would
also encourage writers to study the basics (point of view, plotting, characterization, etc.) online, at a writer’s conference,
or with a local writer’s group. Once you have written a first draft, have well-read friends or a critique group read the
manuscript and revise it based on their feedback before submitting it to an agent or editor. Writing is a lot of work, but
definitely worth the effort.

Have you taken writing classes or attended workshops?

Yes, beyond long-ago writing classes at university, I have also attended helpful writing classes and workshops through
Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. There is always more to learn.

What is your educational background?

I have a degree in Advertising from the University of Illinois (which took me 4 ½ years to complete because I was busy
taking creative writing, ballroom dancing, and racquetball classes along with my requirements).

Could you give us a sneak peek into your next book?

I am working away on my next Regency-era novel, The Tutor’s Daughter, which is due out December 2012. Please sign
up for my email list at and I’ll keep you posted. Or find me on Facebook. I’ll be sharing more
details about the new book (as well as offering prizes) at my Facebook party on March 15, 2012. I hope you’ll join me.

Are you a marathon writer or do you work on your novels a little bit at a time?

A little bit of both! I try to write the bulk of my rough draft fairly quickly, for instance, during National Novel Writing
Month (November). But my first drafts are very rough, so it takes me several rounds and a few more months of reading,
revising, feedback, editing, before I’m ready to turn in a manuscript.

As a writer, what are the essentials you just can’t live without?

My laptop, good coffee, and quiet, uninterrupted blocks of time. The company of a cat and chocolate are bonus!

Are you a traditional pen and paper author, or do you prefer to do your drafts on a typewriter or computer?

I write almost exclusively on my laptop, though I do make notes on paper during the brainstorming phase.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I enjoy swing dancing but don’t go very often these days--I’m too busy watching my sons play basketball. I also enjoy
going out to eat with girlfriends, watching period dramas, taking Zumba classes, and dreaming about returning to
England someday soon.

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

I enjoy hearing from readers. Feel free to send me an email through my web site or find me on Facebook.

Please share your favorite quote with us and what it means to you.

This quote from Ephesians sits on my desk: “For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good
works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” I love that we were each created with a specific purpose. How
awesome that the Creator of the whole world allows us to reflect his amazing creativity in some small way. For me,
it’s by creating stories that, hopefully, glorify Him. What is it for you?

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