Name Julie Ryan

Age – early fifties (late forties on a good day)

Where are you from?

I was born in a small mining village in South Yorkshire. My only dubious claim to fame at that point is that aged eleven I found myself in the same class as politician William Hague. I had a pretty idyllic childhood growing up with two younger sisters and a cat called Lucky. In fact, he wasn’t so lucky as he got run over and it broke my heart.

 

A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc

After school, I didn’t want to stray too far so chose to attend Hull University where I read French with drama. The best part was getting to spend a year in France. I was an ‘assistante’ in a lycee in Auvergne and developed a taste for travel after that. I did a PGCE but instead of teaching in the UK went off to Greece, taught for a while in London and then spent time in Thailand and Poland. Ten years ago I married my lovely husband and we now live in rural Gloucestershire with our young son. Becoming a mum for the first time in my forties is amazing.

 

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

I have written three books in the Greek Island mystery series and one chicklit short Christmas novel. I have plans for a fourth book set in Greece and also for something completely different. I lost my dad a year ago so this latest book will be a kind of tribute to him.

 

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I was very young, around nine or ten. As a child I always seemed to be scribbling something and then real life seemed to get in the way. It wasn’t until I changed my lifestyle and could work from home that I had the time to actually write. My first book came about as I idly wondered how my life would have been different if I’d stayed in Greece all those years ago. From that thought the idea for a short story developed and eventually took on such a life of its own that it became a full-length novel – much to my surprise

 

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Good question! I remember reading somewhere that Stephen King said something along the lines of …if you receive a cheque for your writing and it pays the electricity bill and doesn’t bounce then you can consider yourself a writer. Funnily

enough because I self-published my first book, I didn’t think of myself as a writer even when it did well. After it came out in paperback and I could physically hold a copy of my book, it all became a bit more real. Now, with four books behind me I still have to remind myself sometimes that I am a writer!

 

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book is a work of fiction but was inspired by the time I lived in Greece in the 1980s. It was a way of looking back, reminiscing if you like and also that life doesn’t conform to our grand master plan. A chance meeting with fellow writer Linn B Halton gave me the push to develop a short story into a novel.

 

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I write the way I think so heaven help my readers. I love complex plots, a myriad of characters and a sunny location. I then combine these ingredients using flashback and different points of view. I personally love crime, historical and romantic fiction so naturally I write the books that I would love to read. I then have to wade in and try to make the whole lot more coherent as although it may make perfect sense to me, I’m sure that other people would find my train of thought difficult to follow.

 

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

Originally it was going to be called ‘Jemma’s Journey’ but the voices in my head decided that Jenna suited the main character better and you know what – they were right! I love alliteration and needed a woman’s name to go with ‘journey’ as that was the main theme of the book. The rest I blame on my characters.

 

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There are a few messages in my books, namely that life is short so we should make the most of any opportunities. Secondly, life doesn’t work out the way we plan it and sometimes this is for the better.

 

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I think most authors incorporate a bit of themselves into their writing, especially a first book and I’m no exception. The storyline is pure fiction though and the location is a combination of many of the islands that I’ve been fortunate enough to visit.

 

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?

Years ago I read John Fowles’ ‘The Magus’ and it’s one of the few books that I can read again and again and still find something new in it. Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I love Victoria Hislop – not only does she create great characters but she also understands the psyche of Greece especially in ‘The island’. More recently, I love Sara Alexi’s Greek village series. I’m currently up to number thirteen so am a bit behind. What makes her output even more stunning is that she’s also dyslexic. Her style is so simple yet her characters stay with you long after you finish the book.

 

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

I have to thank those authors on Facebook who have become like a little community. They have been so supportive and still are.

 

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I would love it to be a full time career but at the moment, like the majority of writers, that just isn’t feasible. I work part time as a distance- learning tutor, teaching English to French companies. Luckily it’s flexible and I work from home so it’s the next best thing and I consider myself very fortunate.

 

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

There comes a point where you have to draw the line. I could fiddle with the book forever and you know what, it still wouldn’t be perfect. As it is, after much soul-searching, editing, more editing until I almost can’t bear to read my own book, I’m going to say that I wouldn’t change anything. That is until I spot a typo and then I’ll have to change it, being the obsessive-compulsive person that I am.

 

Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I think it’s always been there to be honest.

 

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

This is a short extract from my latest WIP, so new that it hasn’t even got a proper title – provisionally called ‘The many lives of xxx’ this scene is a flashback to one of his earlier lives.

 

EXCERPT

 

Brother William had woken early.  His stomach had been bothering him again and as he tried to relieve himself of his discomfort in the latrine, he recited his morning prayer. Conveniently situated away from the sleeping quarters on account of the stench, he took advantage of the early summer’s morn to reflect on God’s beauty. He loved the quiet and for him the vow of silence hadn’t been a hardship. The birds were just beginning their dawn chorus and although it was still cool, there was a promise in the air of warmth to come.

Time to get back and prepare himself for Matins he decided. Passing the kitchen garden that one of the young novices attended, he was pleased to see that they wouldn’t be short of vegetables this summer. Soon his fellow monks would be stirring as the bell called them to prayer.

As if reading his mind, the bell sounded. For the first few seconds he stood there dumbfast. The bell wasn’t sounding a call to prayer. Far from it. It was the constant peeling of a disaster: the warning bell. Before he had time to wonder what the catastrophe was, he smelt it. Curls of smoke were billowing from the cloisters. At first he thought that one of the monk’s had been careless and left  a candle alight. They all knew the dangers and were usually extremely careful. Before he had time to go to the aid of his brothers, horsemen in the King’s colours were lit up against the flames that were now shooting from all corners of the monastery. He watched in horror as flames leapt from the rooftops encasing the bell tower. The monk who had bravely rung out the warning would either be burnt to death or risk a broken neck if he jumped. He turned away not brave enough to watch any further.

 

 

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Coming up with a title for a start? In fact, most of the writing process is challenging – from portraying characters who each have their own voice, to creating realistic dialogue and filling plot holes. That said, it’s quite an enjoyable challenge most of the time.

 

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I’d like to say that writing the Greek Island series has involved lots of travel around Greece. Sadly most of my experience is back in the 1980s so that is when the book is mainly set as time and money don’t permit much travel at the moment. As soon as I can though I want to visit Greece again as I’m sure I’ll find it inspirational.

 

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

I chose the photographs and sourced the rights and then I outsourced the actual design. For the latest edition of Jenna’s Journey, a lovely lady named Jennifer Givner from acapellabookdesign designed the cover with its Greek writing inspired look.

 

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Getting myself into such a plot muddle with my first book. It was hard to tie everything in at the beginning as the timelines were all wrong. I must have rewritten it about ten times, each with time with  different subplots.

 

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what

was it?

The second book was easier as I did a lot more plotting in advance and kept the times a lot more fluid which helped. I also kept a diary of the main characters and their details so that they remained consistent throughout the book.

 

Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead

Oh a tough one as in my mind’s eye I can see a young Nicole Kidman playing Jenna. If I were to choose a modern actress then Sheridan Smith would be perfect as my feisty heroine. I absolutely loved her as Cilla.

 

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Sometimes the idea of wanting to create perfection can put people off writing. I would say just write and worry about editing it later. After all you can’t edit a blank page.

 

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

If you have read a book and enjoyed it, please consider leaving a review as it means so much to a writer. Just a few words to say what you liked can brighten up the day.

 

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I’ve just started Fern Britton’s ‘A good catch’ and am enjoying is so far. It’s the first book of hers that I’ve read and I love finding a writer that’s new to me.

 

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

No, but it was probably an Enid Blyton. I devoured them and saved my pocket money up every week.

 

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

My son! He’s has such a funny turn of phrase sometimes that I can’t help laughing. If he’s upset, then so am I. I do cry quite easily especially when I see injustice, bullying or cruelty.

 

Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?

Nelson Mandela. I had the great fortune to visit South Africa and took a trip to Robben Island where he was incarcerated. To see how he lived for years yet never bore a grudge makes him something of a saint.

 

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?

‘She tried her best, dammit” because it’s true.

 

Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?

I’ve always loved the theatre and belong to our local amateur dramatic group. I love taking part in the annual panto and they’re a great group of people.

 

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I love drama such as ‘The night manager’ and ‘Broadchurch’. I’m a huge fan of ‘Downton Abbey’ and at the moment I’m thoroughly enjoying ‘The Durrells.’

 

Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music

I love curry and chocolate but not together obviously.  I’m drawn towards any shade of blue but love bluey-green teal colours. My favourite music depends on my mood, anything from Adele to Simply Red, Meatloaf to Rod Stewart.

 

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

I still harbour a dream to be an extra in ‘ Coronation Street’ so I guess acting is in the blood.

 

Social Media Links

 

 

 

Book links

Jenna’s Journey  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jennas-Journey-Greek-Island-Mystery-ebook/dp/B015545GT0

Sophia’s Secret  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sophias-Secret-Greek-Island-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00LFJGCWA

Pandora’s Prophecy  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pandoras-Prophecy-Greek-Island-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00V6CWVBW

Callie’s Christmas Countdown  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Callies-Christmas-Countdown-Julie-Ryan-ebook/dp/B0188T7H2I

 

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