Name Julie C. Gilbert
Where are you from
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I am a chemistry teacher who writes in several genres, including YA, science fiction, fantasy, and a tad bit of poetry.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Hey, Fiona. I’ve been busy. It’s been a while since I checked in with you. Still teaching Chemistry, but also submitting to anthologies and starting new series. Got several I want to release this year, including Guardian Angel Files: Spirit’s Bane about some angels in training and a sequel to Awakening called The Holy War.
I’m also starting an audiobook review program called Audiobook Edge for authors/narrators and readers. This should help bring those who love audiobooks and those who create them together in a tighter group.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Started right out of high school because I wanted to tell stories. Guess it began with a general love for words and books.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Hard to say. Probably after I started publishing some of the works. Heartfelt Cases, a collection of Christian mysteries, was the first “complete” project. Writing got addictive after that. So every summer I tackled a new project.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Rebellion against English lit classes. I wanted to write a story that simply entertained me while I worked on it and brought joy to people who read it.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
One of the most satisfying things about writing is that one can improve simply by doing it. In the beginning, I kind of just threw stuff down and went where the story wanted to go. Now, I do a lot of that, but I’m a little more purposeful about my outlines in the beginning. I’m flexible enough to let the story change as it needs to, but there’s usually at least a semi-decent framework of beginning, middle, and end before I start a project.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I have quite a few titles now, since starting to write for a couple of Kindle Worlds. Titles are something I tend to agonize over. I usually pin down the title sometime during the outlining process.
Ashlynn’s Dreams – the main character is a Dream Shaper and the name “Ashlynn” means dream, so that is her “project” name.
Nadia’s Tears – To explain the title would possibly involve spoilers, so I’ll just say, it fits once you get about 2/3 of the way into the story.
Malia’s Miracles – Malia is the girl Gifted in controlling emotions. The story focuses on the children fighting cancer.
Varick’s Quest – Throughout the series we see a lot of Varick really wanting to free his sister, Nadia. This book touches on that topic.
Heartfelt Cases – The first few focus on the name of somebody integral to each case. The fourth official story, The Keres Case, involves a couple of different angles so it’s a catch-all title that deals with something important to the story.
Kindle Worlds titles:
Never Again – Michael Stevens makes a promise at the end of this story.
Shadow Council Series – These follow a pattern of sorts. There’s Money Makes it Deadlier, Revenge Makes it Sweeter, Christmas Makes it Chaos, and Treachery Makes it Tense. Sticking to a select pattern is harder than it looks, but I’m happy how these turned out.
Violence in Vegas – FBI Special Agent Marcella Scott goes to Vegas for vacation and gets into some trouble, hence the violence part. The upcoming sequel, Rescue in Reno, picks up right where the other book ended. They’re almost part 1 and 2 of the same story.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
As one of my narrators pointed out, I’ve got a thing for kidnappings. Human trafficking also pops up a few times. I think it’s just my way of dealing with heavy-hitting topics in a way that I can control the outcome. My heroes and heroines and even their foes tend to be thrown into situations where the best or worst of them needs to come out. That concept applies to much of life. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control the way we react when faced with adversity. That’s a theme I want my students as well as my readers to experience.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Very little. Thank goodness. As far as I know I’m the natural sort of weird. No genetic alterations and secret government experiments to contend with.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Hard to tell. I soak in a lot of movies and books. When I was growing up, I loved Nancy Drew (still do) though I can rarely read them now because of the overdone formula. I’m completely obsessed with Star Wars, especially the old school expanded universe titles.
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?
In setting up Audiobook Edge, I’ve had the privilege of listening to a lot of audiobooks. If anybody wants to submit more, my queue’s actually quite reasonable right now. Of those, some of my favorites are Dale T. Phillips, Marc Secchia, H.L. Burke, and Vered Ehsani. These are ones who have earned 4.5 or 5 star ratings from me. Their stories are the right kind of wonderful and weird.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’m starting to do so. I recently took a course that taught me the secret sauce – mailing lists. Get to know the readers. Get them to a place where you can chat with them.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Let’s see. My latest book is probably Violence in Vegas. I wrote the sequel immediately. I think I’d do that more often if I could. It’s much easier to get your head into a series if you write the next one right away.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Books. Guess I had the “I can do that” bug that bit me when I was leaving high school.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m working on a few things. The most recent work in progress is probably The Holy War. That takes place immediately after the events in Awakening. In that story, young Victoria Saveron finds out she’s the Chosen Redeemer, which is why things are trying to kill her. In The Holy War, Vic and her friends go on a desperate journey to prevent war from breaking out everywhere.
Short excerpt from ch 1:
“That Shadow fellow’s a most unusual Seeker,” Sara says with quiet awe. She shifts to a more comfortable position and settles the waterbag on her lap before finishing the announcement. “He’s a Gatekeeper.”
I draw a surprised breath. Blessed by the Lady, Gatekeepers have the power to create new, if temporary, portals that allow quick travel between many places on this world. The traveler’s portals connecting key locations are said to be left by the Gatekeepers of old. I’d always believed they disappeared from Aeris around the time the Redeemers faded into history several centuries ago. Nothing should surprise me anymore. I suppose it’s no more shocking than the notion that I’m the Chosen Redeemer. If rumors and legends can be trusted, that means I’m destined to see a whole lot more of the impossible. The thought of the Gatekeepers’ return causes hope to fill my chest, nearly bringing me to tears.
They are another sign. The end of the dark times draws near, and Kailon willing, I will be a part of it. I don’t know how, but I finally believe I will know when I need to know. The phrase holds much more power than the many times my father’s uttered it to put off explaining something.
“He’s an abomination,” calls a bitter male voice, pulling me from my thoughts. “They all are, especially that Gatekeeper.”
Twisting my head around to the right, I barely glimpse a trussed up man leaning against the wall leading into the fort proper. I return my head to a resting position once I’m certain the man’s no threat to me as keeping it that way would only worsen my headache. The man looks familiar, but I can’t really place him.
“How can ye say such things, Ederon?” asks Sara. “The world has not been blessed with a Gatekeeper in many years. How can ye not draw hope from such good fortune?”
“Good fortune,” the man repeats softly. He mostly sounds weary now. His name allows me to place him as one of Oren’s men, but he’s no Arkonai. He’s from Coldhaven, like Sara, and as far as I know, he’s a Bereft. “Don’t you understand what the arrival of a Gatekeeper means?” He lets only a second pass before making his revelation. “It means war.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Marketing. 🙂 I happen to love most aspects of writing. I enjoy the initial blank page to outline stage. I even enjoy most of the research. Writers have to look up the most random things. The Shadow Council series had me looking up expensive Italian shoes. There’s also something to be said for the actual butt-in-chair, pound out chs days. Finishing is a great feeling. Looking at the finished product is awesome too. Getting reviews is tougher.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Actually, I don’t typically, but I believe I’m going to London, England this summer for research purposes. Long story short, I was going to Hawaii and had to change plans, so I’ve got a plane ticket burning a hole in my pocket.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Many people have worked on my covers. I started way back in the day with my friend, Timothy Sparvero creating cartoon covers for me, but while I love them, they don’t actually say the correct genres. I’ve also hired Jennifer Bralick (Ashlynn’s Dreams, The Collins Case), Sharon Lavy (Money Makes it Deadlier), and now Rachel Rossano (new Awakening) to create covers for me. I love different things about each of their work.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I guess the hardest part right now is balancing the setup for Audiobook Edge and my day job with the time needed to write. Summer’s coming though!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
One never stops learning. Mostly, I learn I have a twisted imagination, but there are countless tiny random facts that pop up each story. Never would be tempted to look up $1000 Italian shoes otherwise.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
There used to be this site that let you cast actors as your books or books you enjoyed. I forget who I picked to play Jillian. But recently having seen Logan, the kid (Dafne Keen) who plays his daughter could definitely be Malia.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you’re just starting out and want to get your feet wet, try getting plugged in to one of the Kindle Worlds. The Lei Crime series in particular has a great, supportive group for bringing new light to the amazing side characters.
Finish your projects. I’ve heard a ton of people who say they’ve started a dozen books then just sort of run out of steam. Finish! Once you have a completed manuscript, put it aside for a week then read it again with fresh eyes. Find people to test drive the manuscript. Refine like crazy. Then, once everything is done, get it out there.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I write in a lot of genres because I’ve got a lot of interests. Get to know me. If you tell me enough about your reading interests, I can probably find you something I have you’ll enjoy. If you don’t like one of the stories, try a different series. Each has its own flavor.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’ve been reading audiobooks like a crazy person of late. The last one I finished was More Fables and Fantasies by Dale T. Phillips, narrated by Julie Hinton.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Nope, but it was probably a Boxcar Children or Goosebumps story.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The strangest things can make me cry these days. Ie. Hearing sad real world stories. Kids can make me laugh or cry. Most stories can make me laugh.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
It’d be cool to meet George Lucas. His is one heck of a success story. I wouldn’t mind meeting Felicity Jones, Daisy Ridley, or the guy who played Finn either. Did I mention I’m obsessed?
Fiona: What do you want written on your headstone and why ?
I kind of don’t want a headstone. Personally, it won’t be affecting me at that pt. Being a writer means some of my words will live on after, so I guess I’d want people to know me through those works. If I had to have something, I guess I’d go with something pithy like: Get to know my Lord and we will meet again.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I have been listening to a LOT of audiobooks, but besides that, I also build and sell Legos.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I go to the movies a fair amount. Latest movie was Logan. I’ll eventually see the Beauty and the Beast. I’m waiting for the new Star Wars film, of course. In TV, I like Person of Interest, Bones, Leverage, Criminal Minds, Scorpion, etc.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Spaghetti. Blue. Soundtracks.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
It would be fun to produce movies or TV shows. I think. Don’t know what brand of stress those people have, so I really can’t say. It looks cool though.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Thanks for having me, Fiona.