Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Interview with Julie Compton author of Rescuing Olivia

Starting Monday the Fiction General Discussion book club at B&N located here will be discussing Julie's latest novel Rescuing Olivia. I thought it would be fun to get to know her just a little bit better before we start so please enjoy the interview she gave me. It'll be posted on B&N on Monday so you'll get a sneak peek.

Debbie - Julie I see from your bio on your website that you were the lone chick in a nest with all roosters and that you were quite a tomboy because of it and since we can see all your professional achievements there give us something a little more personal about growing up the only girl in a house full of 5 brothers, besides driving your parents looney tell us something that you all enjoyed doing as a family.

Julie - Eating! Seriously, the main event for our family was sitting at the kitchen table for dinner every night or for a big breakfast on Sunday mornings. I can still remember where each person sat (as the youngest, I had one of the cramped middle spots, of course). My mom cooked for eight people every night of the week, and five of them were growing boys. I can't even imagine how she did it. She didn't slop burgers or hot dogs on the table, either. She made what we now think of as "comfort food" – things like pot roast, mashed potatoes, fried chicken, all sorts of vegetables. My favorite was this crazy dish my brothers and I called "purple chicken" because the wine she used in the recipe gave the meat a purplish hue. She also baked awesome pies for dessert. To this day, I won't order certain types of pie in a restaurant because it will never match up to my mom's apple or cherry pie. I think I tend to be a fairly assertive person because of those meals, because if you didn't speak up, you didn't get heard. And the food disappeared quickly, so you had to grab it while you could.

D - Rescuing Olivia is your second novel, your first being Tell No Lies which was based in your and my hometown of St. Louis Missouri, the novels are very different but at the same time have that familiar feel to them that I get with other authors that I read and it’s not the narrative or that you use the same dialogue it’s just an unseen recognizable something that links you to them. Does that familiarity bother you or do you like it that you can be identified like that.

J -I love that you sense a familiarity between the two novels! I suppose it's what we novelists call voice. It's an intangible thing that we all hope to have, but I'm not sure you can force it. So if a reader can identify my writing that way, I consider it a good thing.

D -You also mentioned in your bio that you feel like a nomad since leaving St. Louis and in fact have lived in St. Louis, Florida, Philadelphia and in Boston and your two novels are based one in St. Louis and some of Rescuing Olivia takes place in Florida. Do you base your novels where you’ve lived because of knowledge of the area, streets, businesses, etc.. or do you have another reason.

J -I set TELL NO LIES (my first novel) in St. Louis because when I started writing it, it was the only city I knew. We had just moved to Boston after spending the first thirty-three years of our lives in St. Louis, and I missed my hometown. Writing about St. Louis was one way for me to "be" there again. I never even thought of setting the story anywhere else. Plus, at the time, it was the only city in which I'd ever practiced law, so I had a working knowledge of the court system (although I took liberties with that).

For RESCUING OLIVIA, I started with the character of Anders. Once I knew Anders rode a motorcycle, Florida became the obvious choice. There are motorcycles everywhere down here! Would I have chosen Florida as my setting if I didn't live here now? Probably not, but I also wouldn't have made my protagonist a biker, either, I don't think. Living here put motorcycles on my personal radar in a way they weren't before. It would have been a completely different story, I'm sure. It developed very organically, with the choice of protagonist and his mode of transportation determining the setting.

D -I see that Rescuing Olivia has been released in the UK and the Netherlands (translated to Dutch). Tell us how that feels to have international editions released.

J -I find it interesting to see how different the covers are in each place. In the UK, the cover is much more symbolic. In the Netherlands, it's a bit more graphic! Both times (for TELL NO LIES and RESCUING OLIVIA), I looked at the cover for the Netherlands edition and thought, uh oh, readers are going to expect a lot more sex. Their covers tend to be a bit more racy!

I think as an author, you always wonder how the story will translate to different cultures. TELL NO LIES was also published in Spanish, and the cover showed a blond woman, who I'm certain was supposed to be Jenny (the woman with whom the protagonist is obsessed). But in the story, Jenny is the product of a biracial marriage. Her mother was from India, and Jenny shares many of her mother's physical features, one of which is her black hair. Once I saw the cover, it made me wonder whether the words inside the book had been changed, too. Someday, I'm going to make my husband (who had many more years of Spanish than I did) read the Spanish edition and tell me what got "lost" in translation!

D -Can you tell us what you’re working on now, is it another novel or something else.

J -I'm working on a sequel to TELL NO LIES, tentatively called KEEP NO SECRETS. I'm so close to finishing, but the story keeps getting longer and longer, so I'll have to spend some time cutting it back before I can really call it done. The story begins four years after the ending in TELL NO LIES, and Jack has spent those four years trying to earn back the trust of his family and his constituents. I won't disclose too much, but let's just say something happens that makes his redemption all the more difficult.

You can read an excerpt here, if you're interested. You'll notice the excerpt is written in the second person point-of-view, and I've since changed it to the more common third person. I'd be interested to have readers let me know what they think (both in general and about the point-of-view).

D -Finally tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

J -Hmm. That's tough! I tend to be an open book (no pun intended). All anyone has to do is read my blog and they'll learn a lot about me, because I tend to write about whatever strikes my fancy (which is exactly what they say you're NOT supposed to do with a blog, but, oh well. . .). People are often surprised to learn I’m a pilot. I don't talk about it much because it's been a while since I've flown. I once wrote a short story where one of the characters was a pilot, and I suspect the hobby will eventually find its way into a novel, too. But first I'll need to take to the skies again and bone up on my skills. J

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