Please tell us about yourself?
I’m a forty-eight-year-old mother of two daughters. And no, I’m not ashamed to tell people my age. I like getting older. I feel like I become a better person with every passing year. I’d tell you my weight too if I knew it. But I don’t like scales. We give them way too much power. I have BA in Political Science from San Diego State University and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Alabama. I’ve worked in teaching, childbirth education and family therapy. Now I mostly write, but hope to return to social work one day.
Tell us your latest news?
Besides the release of Replacing Gentry, I’m working on another novel, a women’s fiction I like to describe as The Graduate meets Steel Magnolias.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing, literally, about six years ago. Prior to sitting down and starting my first novel, I’d never written creatively, never taken a class. It was crazy. I’d always played with scenarios for stories and movies in my head but had never considered writing any of them down. In my second year of graduate school for a Masters in Social Work, I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. After enduring chemotherapy, I escaped with my life and an unrelenting desire to tell Josie’s (my first novel) story. The only thing I can surmise is that somehow the chemo had an effect on my creativity, kind of how a superhero will receive his/her powers after falling into a vat of toxic waste :)
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess when I signed my first publishing contract. But I still have a hard time defining myself as a writer/novelist. Maybe if my writing career ever takes off, I feel more comfortable with title of author. How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.
Tell me a little about your book.
One of my favorite books is Rebecca so I decided to blend my story with DuMaurier’s, make it modern and Southern, and voila, Replacing Gentry was born. Marlie, the main character, is curious and tenacious to a fault. Gets her into all kinds of trouble. When she starts digging into matters she shouldn’t, she unwittingly unearths a dangerous conspiracy she fears her husband might kill to keep secret. And then there’s the handsome Johnny Hutchinson who seems to show up at all the wrong times, conveniently with a snarky comment hanging on his perfect lips. What’s his deal anyway? And where has Marlie seen him before?
What gave you the idea for this particular story?
The inspiration for Replacing Gentry was ignited by a question my daughter asked regarding spirits. The paranormal elements I’d originally intended for this text were eventually edited out but still, the plot originated with her inquiry.
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
For the most part, I’m a part-time writer. Generally, I write from about 8-12, give or take, every day but Sunday. I take Sundays off. Then, as often as I can, I’ll sneak into my office to do a little work. Also, I’m constantly scribbling notes and musing about my plot.
What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
The hardest part about writing is that I don’t enjoy the business end of it. I don’t like stressing over sales and bad reviews or the way publishers/agents want to niche me—that in order to make money, and a name for myself, I have to stick to one genre. I simply love to write and I want to create as many different types of stories as my brain can come up with. I just do what I love. When it comes right down to it, my novels won’t be any good if I’m not passionate about what I’m writing.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Whether we want to call it fate or God’s will, life has way of directing us down the proper path. If we’re able to learn from, and trust in the power’s that be, and allow a source greater than ourselves to lead us, sooner or later, we’ll end up right where we belong.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Yes. I just read a book by Amy McNamara called Lovely, Dark and Deep. It’s a YA novel about a twenty-something girl suffering from depression after she watched her boyfriend die in a car accident. McNamara writes in first-person, present tense, which puts some readers off, but here I thought made the text very personal, thought provoking. Her writing style reads like prose. I felt like reading this novel made me a better writer.
What are your current projects?
My current WIP is a women’s fiction best described as The Graduate meets Steel Magnolias. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? Kristin Hannah. She is my favorite women’s fiction author. I love her stories, characters and writing style. Second would be Sophie Kinsella. Mostly Kinsella’s earlier writing. I think her novels, Can You Keep a Secret, and, The Undomestic Goddess, are so funny. I like to mix these two styles when I write. Heartfelt stories about women with pops of humor.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I over-wrote this first manuscript by about 60,000 words. I’m not entirely sure how that happened (I have a sneaky suspicion that I may have been distracted by the release of three other novels in that same time period) but when I got to the end, I had A LOT of cutting to do. Then when I found an interested publisher, they wanted me to cut some more, and focus in on only one plot line. Long story short, I wrote this novel about three times. UHG! But in the end, all the work was worth it. I’m very happy with the result.
Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
For this book I’m using a publisher called WiDo. I’ve had two different publishers for my other three books. For all of my novels, I’ve found my publisher through cold query letters. Querying is tedious but with patience works quite well.
Alright, let's get a little silly. Are you ready? Okay, here we go.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I’d just like to be better at coma placement. Seriously, the ability to punctuate correctly could be considered a superpower for someone like me. And I’m jealous of those people who can spell even the most obscure word off the top of their head. As an amateur gardener, I’d like the power to make plants grow. Like that redhead in the movie, Sky High, I want to be able to conjure up plants whenever and wherever I want them—make the world beautiful and green.
If you can be a Disney character, who would you be and why?
Merida from Brave. I love her flowing red hair. I’ve always wanted to learn to shoot a bow and ride a horse at full gallop.
Have you ever jumped out of a plane?
Yes. I jumped from an airplane at 13,000 feet. Not tandem. Free-fall. And I’d do it again. I’m also open to Base Jumping. I have a terrible fear of heights and at the same time, feel the need to hurl myself into oblivion—as long as I have parachute attached to my back.
More about the book
When Marlie agrees to attend a cadaver ball at Vanderbilt Medical School, she did not expect to actually see any cadavers. Or, that a strange apparition would issue her a chilling message.
Despite the cadaver's warning, Marlie is married a year later to Tennessee State Senator, Daniel Cannon, and living in a plantation-style mansion with two step sons. Add to the mix her growing suspicion that something is amiss with the death of Daniel’s first wife, Gentry; and newlywed Marlie is definitely in over her pretty Yankee head.
What begins as an innocent inquiry into her new husband’s clouded past, ends with Marlie in the midst of a dangerous conspiracy.
A modern twist on the classic Gothic romance novels of Rebecca and Jane Eyre, Replacing Gentry follows Marlie’s precarious journey as she learns the truth about the man she married.
Author Julie N. Ford
Julie N. Ford graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Political Science and a minor in English Literature. In addition, she has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama. Professionally, she has worked in teaching and as a Marriage & Family Counselor. She is the author of two women’s fiction novels, The Woman He Married and No Holly for Christmas, published in 2011. In addition, she wrote a romance/chick-lit novel, Count Down to Love, also published in 2011. Count Down to Love was a 2011 Whitney Award finalist. Her next novel, Replacing Gentry, is due for release April 9th, 2013.
Currently, she lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, two daughters and one hedgehog.
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