This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter and NY Times Best Seller, Julie Ann Walker!
Julie will be giving two workshops at our conference in October. How To Make Your Characters THUNDER Onto the Page and The Hard and Fast Rules for a Kickass Query are just two of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.
For more information on our conference, on when registration opens, and other popular questions, please visit our website at http://www.njromancewriters.org.
Julie is also celebrating a new release this week, so please join me in congratulating her and welcome her to NJRW!
Why did you decide to write romantic suspense?
I’m a voracious reader, everything from mysteries to chick lit, romance to thrillers. And romantic suspense seemed to be the only genre that had it all. It combined the who-done-it of a mystery with the humorous take on issues affecting the modern woman that’s the staple of chick lit. It has the thrills, chills, and spills of a thriller and, of course, the happily-ever-after of romance. Basically, it’s all things good rolled up into one fast, fun, riveting read.
Who has had the most influence on your writing?
My husband has definitely had the most influence on my books. I write tough, tender, oftentimes hilarious alpha males, and Mr. Walker is an absolute gem when it comes to bro-speak and guy-isms. You know, those words and phrases men like use? The funny one-liners or the inventive curses? He – usually unknowingly – gives me tons of ideas for unique and witty dialogue. Bless him and his deliciously typical male vocabulary. *wink*
Why did you decide to become an author?
It’s weird, but I never really “decided” to become an author. Like I said, I was always a voracious reader, and over the years I looked for stories about ex-special operations soldiers turned spies. Stories that were thrilling and intriguing and sexy. Stories that centered around men who knew the difference between being alpha and being alpha-holes – there is a HUGE difference – with a lot of bromance and snark thrown in for fun. But I could never find a book or a series that seemed to hit all these marks. So I thought, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to write it myself.” It seemed to be the only solution. And the first book I penned, HELL ON WHEELS, ended up being the debut title in my Black Knights Inc. series. So I guess you could say I fell into writing, into being an author, in the usual way… I had a story to tell.
Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?”
Ha! My agent tells me it was the most anti-climatic moment of her life. You see, I had been out on a bicycle ride – the lakeshore in Chicago is a gorgeous place to exercise – and I’d blown a tire. I was in the middle of replacing the tire, my hands were greasy, my knuckles were bleeding, and it looked like there wasn’t going to be enough air in my little portable compressor to blow up the new inner tube, when my phone rang. My agent was like, “We just got an offer for not one, but three books in the Black Knights series. Squee!” To which I responded, “Good, great. But can I call you back in thirty? I’m dealing with a bit of an issue here.” Click. She tells me she just sat there, blinking at her phone in disbelief. But, in my defense, I think I was in shock. Because when I called her back after having ridden home on a half-inflated tire, you can bet I squealed and happy-danced like nobody’s business. Still, even after two years, she has yet to forgive me for my initial lackluster response.
Oh my goodness, that is hilarious! Can you tell me what books can we expect to see in the near future?
Oh, I’m so glad you asked. I’m very excited about what’s coming next! First of all, I signed a contract for the remaining books in the Black Knights Inc. series – that’s a total of twelve for anyone who is counting. So, tons more BKI fun to come! Next, I’m writing a new series about a group of former Navy SEALs who have turned their talents as dive-specialists into a lucrative salvage business. Here’s the tagline: “Six men. One sunken Spanish galleon. Millions of gold and silver coins lying in wait on the ocean floor. And a past that refuses to let the guys of Wayfarer Salvage forget the Navy SEAL motto that the only easy day was yesterday…” It’s like Mission Impossible meets Treasure Island. So fun! And last but certainly not the least, I’m spearheading a romantic suspense anthology – to debut April 2015 – which includes some of the top names in genre. All proceeds will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity I’m very passionate about since it strives to enrich the lives of soldiers who have sacrificed so very much in the service of our country. As you can see, there’s so much to look forward to!
I love that you are contributing to that project, as a veteran myself, it really touches home. What was the defining moment that you considered yourself an author?
It was the day I saw a woman reading one of my titles on a plane. In that instant, I thought, “Holy smokes! Someone besides my mother is actually reading a book I wrote!” LOL! It was a happy moment, let me tell you.
What makes a man attractive to you?
Confidence. And not the too-much-hair product-wearing/gold-chain-sporting/I-can-take-any-of-you-mofos-in-this-bar kind of confidence. But the real deal. The man who has weathered the storms, taken his lumps, been down-and-out a time or two, but come out the victor in the end. The kind of quiet confidence that radiates from a man even when he hasn’t spoken a single word.
What is your favorite quote?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ attributed to Mark Twain
What’s your favorite place in the world to visit?
Florence, Italy. I’ve been there three times, and each time I fall just a little bit more in love with the place. It is so quintessentially Italian. Cobbled streets. Grand fountains spurting crystal-clear water in the centers of piazzas – squares. Statuary and art around every corner. Pasta. Prosecco. And an unabashed zest for life.
Where do you write?
I write in my home office… which I share with my husband. Imagine, if you will, two people who sit not two feet from one another. Both wearing noise-cancelling headphones. Both guzzling coffee like it’s going out of style. Both garbed in last night’s PJs. We’re a sorry pair to look at most days, but we’re productive. *snort*
Cat or dog person?
Both. If it’s fuzzy and cute, I’m in.
Favorite reader-fan story?
I received a piece of fan mail from a woman who had undergone back surgery. According to her, she was in immense pain, we’re talking excruciating, the kind that even the highest doses of morphine couldn’t combat. She was miserable, her spirits were failing, she hurt so badly she wanted to die. In an effort to take her mind off the agony, her sister brought her the first four books in my Black Knights Inc. series. And for fifteen hours straight, while she followed the BKI boys on their adventures, she wrote that she was pain-free. I have to admit, that’s about the highest compliment I’ve ever received…
Okay, Jules, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?
Favorite color: Red. It’s so visceral, so vibrant.
Favorite number: Thirteen. I was born on the 13th, and I’ve never found it to be unlucky. Knock on wood.
Favorite Actor: Timothy Olyphant. The man just has that certain je ne sais quoi. Maybe it’s the flirty smile? The flinty eyes? The swagger?
Favorite Actress: Jennifer Lawrence. Now there’s a gal I could share drinks and a plate of chili cheese fries with.
Wine or liquor? I have to choose? Why not both?
Tea or coffee? Coffee, please. And preferably by the gallon.
Decaf or caffeinated? Wait, what? Do people actually drink decaf? I thought that was a myth!
Boxers or briefs? Briefs. I like to see what’s in store for me. *wiggles eyebrows*
Chocolate or vanilla? Both. And in large quantities.
Donald Duck or Goofy? Goofy. He’s just so good-hearted.
Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? Tangled. Flynn Rider is my kind of hero. Funny, flirty, with a little scruff on his chin.
Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? Johnny Depp. I like a man who doesn’t take himself too seriously.
Thank you, Jules!
Want to meet or attend Julies workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org and register come June 1st!