Thursday, February 8, 2018

Julia Day Author Interview


Photo Credit: Wes Smith

JULIA DAY lives in North Carolina, halfway between the beaches and the mountains. She has two twenty-something daughters, one geeky old husband, and too many computers to count. When she's not writing software or stories, Julia enjoys traveling to faraway places, watching dance reality shows on TV, and making a dent in her To-Be-Read pile. Julia is the author of YA contemporary romances The Possibility of Somewhere and Fade to Us (Feb 2018).

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Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Wednesday Books (February 6, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250097371
ISBN-13: 978-1250097378


Praise for FADE TO US

“Warm and sensitive, Day’s deft depiction of difficult sibling and blended family relationships will make you laugh, cry, and sigh. A wonderful book!" New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries

"Day (The Possibility of Somewhere) weaves a quiet tale of love, friendship, sisterhood, and family; she takes time to carefully develop her characters, allowing readers to fully understand their perspectives…. an emotional and touching conclusion." Publishers Weekly

"In her carefully intentional treatment of Natalie’s neurodiversity, Day depicts Natalie as capable and intelligent via both Brooke’s observant first-person narration and her own dialogue. The book does not shy away from the cruelty and misunderstanding that many on the autism spectrum face. Both Natalie and Brooke are strong, well-developed female characters. A book for readers who like romance that flourishes against the odds and characters who learn and grow." Kirkus

"A fast-paced and engaging story of family drama and first love." School Library Journal

"A sweeter-than-sugar summer love story, and the behind-the-scenes theater setting is evergreen." Booklist




Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living?
I started writing really late in my life. Although I’d always loved to read, it wasn’t until my younger daughter was in kindergarten that I wondered if I could write. For the first few years that I tried writing fiction, I was just bad at it. Then my daughter came home from school one day with a book that she couldn’t understand. She’s autistic—and the book used language in a way she couldn’t get. I promised to write her a book and, as I wrote it, I would explain how stories were put together. That’s when I knew that writing couldn’t be a hobby anymore. I had to become good to help her.

What makes writing great for you?

Creating characters who surprise me! I love dreaming up their backstories and figuring out what they want and fear. Then I throw them into situations where they must face their fears or risk losing what they love—and I get to sit back and let the characters take over.

In your new book; FADE TO US, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it and why they should read your novel?

The heroine, Brooke, is the only child of this amazing, kick-ass single mom, Jill—and they have a great mother-daughter bond. Jill has recently married for the first time, finally giving Brooke the family she’s been secretly hoping for. She wants to love her stepfather and her autistic stepsister, and she wants them to love her back. She just can’t figure out how to make that happen.

Then her stepsister Natalie gets a small part in a summer musical production. To be supportive, Brooke joins the backstage crew and finds herself working with the epically awesome teen stage manager. She knows Micah will be moving away at the end of camp and that he’s become a good friend and mentor for her stepsister. But even though she worries about Natalie’s reaction, Brooke still has a hard time resisting this magical guy whom she likes and admires so much.

That’s why you should read FADE TO US. It’s about all kinds of love. The story has a sweet romance, but it’s also about learning how to love a family you’ve never had before and forgiving yourself when you make mistakes.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your Brooke?
Brooke is driven by goals. She writes them down and makes a plan for reaching them. Since she is willing to work hard and always has the best of intentions, I expected Brooke to be good at all her relationships. Instead, her impulsive eagerness gets in the way. By trying too hard, she sometimes hurts the people she wants to help.

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
I’m an autism mom. I’ve had to watch my autistic daughter struggle to find friends and then to keep those friendships going with people who aren’t always patient with her differences. Yet she has the best relationship with her older sister—so sweet and strong that it was part of my inspiration for writing Fade to Us.

There is an expression in the autism community that’s often used to describe people on the autism spectrum: Different. Not Less. I hope this story helps readers experience that. As Brooke and Natalie work to become sisters and as Natalie explains her world, she shows us that she’s more than “weird.” She’s interesting, blunt, moody, na├»ve, funny, and wise. She’s a teen girl who is different, not less.

What part of Natalie and Micah did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing Natalie’s dialogue, of giving her a voice to say what she would want others to understand. She’s honest and articulate and very self-aware. She is able to share the way she views life and, even though her perspective might be unconventional, it’s logical.

Micah is a star at stage management. He’s running this huge production, managing people, equipment, and a budget—and he’s amazingly good at it. But he has his insecure moments, and sometimes gets worn down by the pressure. I loved writing a guy who has so much power yet remains humble, almost as if he doesn’t realize how good he is. It’s his kindness, competence, and confidence that Brooke finds so attractive.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
The heroine of Wishing for You** is Kimberley Rey, a girl who has “chemo-brain.” Kimberley has a short-term memory impairment, which makes it difficult for her to remember things and stay organized. People on the autism spectrum can also have these issues. I would love to introduce Natalie to Kimberley. They both know how hard it can be to battle memory disabilities. They could share how they deal with their differences and become a unique type of support for each other. (**I wrote Wishing for You under another pen name.)

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’ve plotted out a couple of stories to add to my YA time-travel series—and outlined a New Adult sequel to The Possibility of Somewhere. A friend helped me brainstorm a Christmas novella this past weekend. However, the only thing I’m actively writing at the moment is my first adult novel.

If you could live in any period in history, what would it be and why?

Now! I love modern technology, and I would never want to go back to the days when it didn’t exist. Also, even though our world still has too much injustice, it was worse in the past. I want to live in a time when we’re trying to do better.

If you wrote a journal entry today, what would it say?

Honestly, I would have to entitle it Post-Holiday Blues. My younger daughter has flown back to New England (USA) for the spring semester of graduate school, and I already miss her. My husband is away on business, so it’s very quiet at home. I’ve been writing a little, but I’m easily distracted. Maybe I’m just making excuses to read books, watch movies, and check out figure skating competitions on TV. Yeah, I like that idea. I’m not distracted; I’m doing research.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.

I’m the second of four kids. My two younger siblings had mild special needs. My older sister was bossy like you wouldn’t believe. I was kind of quiet, so it was easy to be overlooked.

One day, when I was six, my mom suddenly announced at the lunch table that she and I were going out for a mommy-daughter afternoon. We changed into fancy dresses and shiny shoes and gloves. (Really. Gloves!) We went to a matinee performance of The Sound of Music, then went to afternoon tea at a hotel with beautiful carpets and chandeliers and fresh flowers on the table. I felt so special. That was a good day.

Who has had the most influence in your life?
My daughters. They’re amazing young women and do so much good. Watching them change the world in their own unique ways makes me want to be a better person. Being their mom is the best thing I will ever do.

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
For the first time in my life, I’ve grown my hair out long enough to French braid it, and I love the way it looks!

TEN FACTS ABOUT FADE TO US

1. Point-of-view (POV): There are three main characters in Fade to Us: Brooke, Micah, and Natalie. In the first draft, I had scenes from Brooke’s and Micah’s POV but none from Natalie’s. After discussing that choice with my editor, I removed Micah’s POV and now show the story entirely through Brooke’s eyes.

2. Diversity: I have a Chinese friend who is married to a white man. Her teen sons helped me with plotting the book. They are why Micah and Natalie are biracial— half-Chinese/half-white.

3. Autism: Like my daughter, Natalie has Asperger’s syndrome. I put in several small details to ensure that Natalie isn’t a fictional version of my daughter. Example: Natalie has a dog. My daughter is more of a cat person.

4. Lady umpires: Brooke’s mother, Jill, is an umpire for a college baseball league. For research, I interviewed 4 umpires. One of them is female. Some of the stories she told me were just…wow. Couldn’t put them in the book.

5. Military character: Natalie’s dad, Jeff, is a retired Army engineer. Something that’s only hinted at in the book is that Jeff was deployed overseas a lot during Natalie’s childhood. They haven’t spent as much time with each other as they would’ve liked.

6. Norah and Charlie: Norah is the name of Natalie’s camp counselor. Micah’s father is Charlie. In every book/series I write, there are always characters named Norah and Charlie. I do this for a bittersweet reason—to remember two little kids the world lost too soon. My nephew passed away at age 4. A dear friend’s daughter died at age 6.

7. The musical production: Picking a musical for the summer camp was the hardest decision I had to make for Fade to Us. My editor and I asked high school drama teachers and considered about a dozen options before choosing Oklahoma!

8. Out of My Dreams: Natalie is in the girls’ ensemble for the song “Out of My Dreams.” In high school, I was too.

9. Cast or crew: Originally, I’d considered having Brooke and Micah be actors. But when I interviewed theater folks, I discovered how important stage managers are for shows. So, Micah became the stage manager, and Brooke joined the backstage crew.

10. Chicken pot pie: Natalie makes chicken pot pie for Brooke and Jeff. The recipe is on my website.



Julia Day's Fade to Us is a story about found families, the bond of sisterhood, and the agony and awe of first love.

Brooke's summer is going to be EPIC— having fun with her friends and a job that lets her buy a car. Then her new stepfather announces his daughter is moving in. Brooke has always longed for a sibling, so she’s excited about spending more time with her stepsister. But she worries, too. Natalie has Asperger’s--and Brooke's not sure how to be the big sister that Natalie needs.

After Natalie joins a musical theater program, Brooke sacrifices her job to volunteer for the backstage crew. She’s mostly there for Natalie, but Brooke soon discovers how much she enjoys being part of the show. Especially sweet is the chance to work closely with charming and fascinating Micah--the production’s stage manager. If only he wasn't Natalie's mentor...

When her summer comes to an end, will Brooke finally have the family she so desperately wants--and the love she's only dreamed about?

You can purchase Fade to Us at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JULIA DAY AND ST. MARTIN'S PRESS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Fade to Us by Julia Day..
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