Last month while the world was holding it’s breath in anticipation of the forthcoming “end of the world” that was to take place either on 12/12/12 or 12/21/12, depending on which calendar or people group you were listening to at the time, Julia Hughes was launching her latest adventure for the young at heart.
I caught up with her in the midst of the the masses shopping for the last of the bottled water, candles, and ice-cream (I never could figure out why people were buying ice-cream for the end of the world), and had a nice chat about her novel. For some reason, talking with Julia about her books was just way more interesting than the end of the world.
Well, now we know…the world is still here (at least I think it is), and Julia’s books are still in circulation, and now with a brand new release…The Griffin Cryer.
D.C.: Ok, so let’s get the important stuff out of the way first. You mentioned on your blog that it was not the end of the world creeping up on us about a month ago. I’ll be honest, I breathed a sigh of relief when I read that. I had already packed and bought my tickets to The Hobbit ahead of time (hey, if the world was ending, I was going to see a good film on the way out!). You picked 12/12/12 for the release of your new book. Why? Give us your thoughts picking that date and the release of your new book.
Julia: Well, as we all know, the world didn’t end – and hope you got to see and enjoyed “The Hobbit”! 12/12/12 is a magical number that I couldn’t resist – three perfect threes, and three has a symbolic importance in nearly all major cultures. Since its release “The Griffin Cryer” has been well received, and readers have been kind enough to say so publicly in their reviews. We plan to send “The Griffin Cryer” free on the 12th January until midnight 16th January, and hope your readers will take time to download and enjoy the read.
D.C.: Well, I did get to see The Hobbit and loved it! And, WOW! The Griffin Cryer FREE January 12-16! That is a huge gift to readers all over the world! I do hope people jump at that opportunity in a big way. (And, reader, if you do get a hold of The Griffin Cryer, please drop back by where you downloaded it and leave a review.)
Reading the synopses for the Celtic Cousin Trilogy, I almost get a feeling of classic children’s mystery and adventure stories like The Hardy Boys, with a touch of magic and history. Were there any authors or stories that inspired you while writing this series?
Julia: That’s extremely kind of you, I’m flattered. Paradoxically, the authors who most inspire me write in the non-fiction genre. For example, The Secret History of Codes and Code Breaking by Simon Singh, and The Lost City of Z by David Grann – glance inside either one of these books, and you’ll see where I’m coming from. Truth really is stranger than fiction, but it takes a special talent to present facts and still make readers feel they’re on an adventure with you. I do admire Stephen King, who has the gift of creating characters whom you’re willing to believe in, no matter how outrageous the story line.
D.C.: The Celtic Cousins have received some great reviews online. Any advice on writing a really good book readers can enjoy? Tips for aspiring authors?
Julia: The best advice I can give is “Learn from the Masters.” I may have inadvertently insulted Stephen King, who started out with a love of reading and books, and worked hard at his craft. Stephen King’s On Writing, Jack Bickham’s 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes and Lawrence Block’s Telling Lies for Fun and Profit are all very good places to start. Find your own voice, but remember if you’re hoping for readership, you do have to tailor slightly for your audience. In other words, don’t be too self-indulgent, and don’t ask for too much suspension of disbelief.
D.C.: Back to your new book. The Griffin Cryer, seems a bit of a departure from your Celtic Cousins. As a monster enthusiast, I’m a kind of excited to see Balkind and learn more about his world. Can you tell us about The Griffin Cryer and what to expect from it?
Julia: Expect to believe in griffins, parallel universes, and magnetic ley-lines! It’s these ley-lines that keep “Ella-Earth”, which is our planetary twin, conjoined yet separate from our own Earth. Evolution has taken a different path on “Ella-Earth” and the existence of griffins, previously thought to be purely mythological beasts is one of the results. Going back to our previous question and answer, I’m asking for a huge suspension of disbelief. Balkind the griffin is very real in my mind, mainly due to the fact that my excellent and much loved beta readers kept asking questions of the ‘How do his wings work?’ and ‘What do griffins eat?’ variety.
D.C.: That’s very interesting. I personally believe the more you believe in your own creations, the more “alive” they become for the reader. Very cool to hear your readers asking questions about your characters. Why did you start writing and how do you feel you’ve grown as a writer?
Julia: I started writing out of a sense of loss when I finished reading “The Last Battle”, the last in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia chronicles. Looking over my earlier stories, they’re a little “Then this happened, then that happened” – I wanted to keep readers reading so much that I forgot to give them a chance to breathe. I hope I’ve learned how to slow the pace down a little. Back story, character development, and descriptive passages are just as important as the action scenes.
D.C.: What fuels your creativity? What keeps you writing?
Julia: A strong sense of curiosity (nosiness!), a need to know why an event happened, and a tendency to daydream all add fuel to the flames. I keep writing for the same reason people enjoy doing jig-saw puzzles – I might have a little segment of blue sky or what is obviously a woman crying and I want to see the broader picture. I hope that makes sense, that’s the best way I can explain it, but until the full story is told, I feel uneasy; that something’s incomplete.
D.C.: I think most writers can understand that. I think a lot of readers will appreciate that in your writing. Out of all the books you’ve written, which one was your favorite to write? Why?
Julia: An Explosive Time. I must have a sadistic streak! Putting an ordinary middle-aged copper into the most absurd situations and expecting him to deal with alligators and elephants in the middle of London really allowed my imagination to run riot. Plus, there were explosions and as much action as I could pack into the story and get away with!
D.C.: Ha, ha! That’s great. Any other tips or nuggets of wisdom you would like to share for writers?
Julia: Find a mentor, someone who believes in you, and your writing but still has the authority and knowledge to tell you what works and what doesn’t work. Respect and cherish your beta readers, they’ve put aside hours to read your fledgling novel. Everyone can be a writer, not everyone will hit the audience they feel they deserve. Indie authoring is competitive, but the community is very supportive, be sure to pay the favours back. I’m extremely grateful to be here on your site, and all my beta readers are Alpha, in my book!
D.C.: I couldn’t agree more. Good words, indeed! Now a little more about you. Where are you from and what are some of your favorite things to do?
Julia: I’m a true Brit, and so can claim a little of every race and culture that makes up this little island! I’d rather lunge for a tire hanging from a rope and swing out over a river than take a roller-coaster ride. Anything that entails physical activity – cycling – riding – swimming – skipping – gardening – and, yes – I’ve been called an energetic cow and told to go away by my best mate!
D.C.: All-time favorite book or author?
Julia: Third Time Lucky by Stephen Spencer. I’m going to declare an interest here. Stephen’s an indie who became one of my favourite authors after reading his debut It’s Always Darkest. In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time before he’s up there with other best-selling thriller writers. Then I’ll say, “I knew him before he was famous!”
D.C.: Cool! Sounds like someone to check out (after we all read The Griffin Cryer, of course!) All-time favorite movie?
Julia: It’ll be that film with Tommy Lee Jones, and the other guy and some other actors. Tommy Lee Jones cracks me up. Recently Life of Pi astounded me with its beauty, and left me a sniveling wreck. Shame there wasn’t a cameo for Tommy Lee Jones – then it would have been perfect!
D.C.: Have you ever heard of an actor by the name of Tommy Lee Jones? *laughter* You should check him out. Bet you’d like his stuff! :) What should we expect in 2013? What’s on the horizon for your fans and readers?
Julia: LOL! I’m going to correct your grammar here: “fan” – I’ve only got one fan, and her name’s “mum”! I’m really hoping readers enjoy The Griffin Cryer enough to want to explore “Ella-Earth” with me, because the adventure isn’t over yet for Frankie and the Griffin Rider.
D.C.: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. I’m positive readers will want to continue the adventure with you. All the best on the release of your new book and your upcoming promotion January 12-16!
Julia: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure to be here, and I’ll let you into a secret: My sons played a major part in helping craft “The Griffin Cryer”; I’m pointing them in your direction, as a shining example of how father and son can create a thrilling and successful young adventure series!
D.C.: Thanks so much, Julia! I really appreciate that.
Discover more about The Griffin Cryer and all of Julia Hughes’ work at the links below!
The Celtic Cousins’ Adventures.
Tagline: The race is on in the hunt to discover King John’s missing treasure.
Tagline: The Celtic Cousins travel back in time – their mission – to ensure HMS Titanic meets her fate.
Tagline: An elephant disappears in the middle of London, and D I Crombie is hot on the trail – Crombie’s shocked to discover an alligator in a bathtub – but isn’t too surprised to find the collective bane of his life, The Celtic Cousins are involved in a conspiracy that threatens to rock Whitehall.
Tagline: What does any thirty-something single woman wish for most?
Tagline: A young girl accidentally summons a griffin from another dimension.