A BIG HELLO to my friends, family, new readers, old readers and of course, the not-so-old readers,
I hope you're all fighting fit and raring to go do something good today. Spread your wings a little, try something new and exciting or just do what always makes you happy. Most importantly, laugh, love and make someone smile...it's infectious!!
Now, how exciting is this? (Well, I'm excited!) My first series of author interviews, (which will be posted here on my blog each Tuesday and Friday for the next two or three months), and first up is the fabulous, Julie Fearn. I’d like to take this early opportunity, before we get started, to say thank to Julie for agreeing to take part.
Eva: Tell us all about yourself, Julie, as in, a bit of a biography.
Julie: Hi, I’m Julie Fearn. I was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire to a Polish father and Irish mother – both immigrants and a lively mix. I call myself ‘Poirish!’ My novel is loosely based on my father’s experiences as a Polish refugee, after WW2, struggling with his past while building a new life in a foreign country (England). I’ve always been a ‘late developer’ due to a long childhood illness and feel I’ve spent my life trying to catch up on things, especially grammar! Hence my first novel being written post-retirement. I’m based in York, after living in the south of England for many years. I’m once divorced, once widowed and hang out with my dog Poppy and friends these days.
How many books have you written up to now? Are they published or self-published? What genre are they?
I self-published a humorous book for charity, ASBO Cat Diary, in 2011. I’ve published short stories in anthologies and my first novel, Northern Pole, came out in April this year. It’s independently published through Quantum Dot Press. It’s historical fiction with a fiery romance at its heart. Self-publishing is much harder than anticipated and not for the faint-hearted. Determination is the key as well as talent. (Eva: Is the ASBO Cat Diary still available, Julie? I would love to read it!)
Of all the genres there are, is there any genre/s that you feel you wouldn’t be able to write and why? Is there any genre that you really wish you could write, but feel you wouldn’t be able to do it justice?
I don’t respond to Sci-fi but realise trying the genre could teach me something. I would like to a write new-gothic novel and would love to pen an unnerving ghost story because this is a really tough genre to write seriously in.
Do you have any favourite ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ words that you like to use in your books? What are those words? Also, what words used by other authors irritate you more than they should?
I adore the word ‘codswallop’ but haven’t been able to slip it in so far. I like most words but not if they’re repeated so they lose impact. Many adjectives and adverbs are overused but in the right context they can be exactly the word you need.
Do you sing at all, be it karaoke, in a choir or have done so professionally? Whether you have or not, have you ever written (or had the urge to write) any song lyrics? Have those lyrics been used at all?
I love music but am tone deaf if I sing. When I have to sing in a group situation I mime. I haven’t written song lyrics but love those of David Bowie on the early albums which are actually mini-stories that create an interior and visual world you briefly inhabit. Fantastic.
What question would you like to pose, (if you were to ever interview your favourite author), which never seems to get asked in author interviews? And who is that favourite author?
I have so many it’s impossible to choose. I wish I could meet Robert Louis Stevenson and ask him what inspired Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Then I would ask if I could travel with him and his donkey in the Cevennes. (One of his lesser-known wonderful book and perhaps the first travel writing.)
If you were to ever write a children’s book, (and those of you who already do) would you/do you do the illustrating yourself, make use of a family member or friend’s talent or pay an illustrator? Do you solely write or do you have any other creative pursuits?
Should I ever tackle the difficult genre of children’s books I have a wonderful friend who illustrates his own children’s books and I would commission him. His illustrations are of the lightest touch but hit the bullseye.
Of all the characters you have created, who is your favourite? And why?
I created a character Andrej, who is brave, optimistic, an utterly dependable friend but not afraid to tell the truth even if it threatens his friendships but protects them in the long-run. Oh, and he does have cut-glass cheekbones!
Have you ever killed off a character in your books (I’m sure you have)? If so, was it because…it fitted nicely into the storyline? OR…Did you start to really dislike the character and, with too much work involved to re-write without that character, think it the easiest option to have that person die?
I have that pleasure awaiting me and I think I would give them a deserving death. Killing off a baddie is emotionally rewarding for the reader and the writer.
Are any of your characters based on family members or friends? Have you kept their characters totally true to life or have you given them bonus traits that you wish they possessed in real life?
My characters are a mixture of fact and fiction. One central character, based on a close family member, was severely romanticised and did in fiction what they should have done in real life. Characters serve a purpose in a story so they have to be fictional to make it work.
Relationships and family life aside, what are your TWO main regrets in life?
That I didn’t go to see Mohamed Ali (Cassius Clay) when he visited Bristol in the 1990s – and didn’t go to see Paul McCartney’s Wings at Bradford University for 50p in 1972. (Eva: WOW! 50p!!!!)
What was your passion as a child? Did that passion stay with you during your adult life OR did you, as you grew up begin to detest what you once enjoyed?
I loved music and colour – I still love music and colour and sometimes paint.
What was your best subject throughout your school years? And the worst?
My schooling was disrupted by illness but I loved English and detested Maths. English was my best and Maths my worst – but some of that was about missing lots of the building blocks because I didn’t start school until I was eight and left at 15.
Tell us about your favourite teacher throughout your school years? Was it a crush you had? Were they just an excellent teacher of your favourite subject? Or some other reason…kind, fun, generous…?
I remember Mr Farrar, at Junior School, taking us out to sit on the grass one summer day while he read Wind in The Willows. It was magical and opened the world of the imagination for me.
Did either of your parents ever express a wish to write? Are they supportive and proud of your work? Or do they just choose to not get involved, but they are pleased for you?
I’m afraid they’re long passed but weren’t interested when alive.
Tell us about your ultimate ambition, be it personal, travel, writing, work, hobby related or other?
I’d like to travel to Cracow and Warsaw, with my dog Poppy, first class of course. And discover my Polish roots.
Do you have any phobias and if so, what are they? Have you ever conquered any phobia and if so, how did you do it?
I am wasp-phobic. I’ve had three nasty encounters of the stinging kind with wasps and cannot bear them near me. I conquered my fear of spiders, while drunk, I picked one up and carried it outside in my palms. But it wasn’t a large one. Someone else has to remove those.
Most people I know are not happy with something physical about themselves (face/body etc.,) but if you could change anything about your personality, what would you wish to change?
What is your ‘go to’ snack, whatever the time of day? And drink of your choice?
Usually whatever’s in the fridge and not yet furred – but in an imaginary world Chocolate Pretzels on tap and a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc in the summer and Cabernet Sauvignon in the winter.
Cats or dogs? What do you have? Do you introduce any pets into your books?
I have a rescue dog, a gorgeous, older, Lhasa Apso who could feature in future writing because she’s quirky and lovable. She’s my first dog and a total hit. I used to keep cats and did write a cat book from one of my cat’s points of view (Phoebe’s). A cat briefly appears in my current novel to break the tension.
Wow! Some really interesting answers there, Julie. And I must say, I totally understand with regard to the wasps. If I was in a crowd of say, a hundred people and there was only one wasp, I can guarantee I would be its target!! Thanks again for agreeing to take part, Julie. And finally, hit me up with your book links and the links to your website and social media! And GO!
https://northernpole.co.uk Landing page
https://books2read.com.northernpole Books2read link
A fabulous interview! NEXT UP this coming Friday (4th August) is #crimewriter Ken Ward. I shall look forward to it.
It just remains for me to wish you all a fantastic week!
Love & Best Wishes