I first heard about Julie James when the awesome Rowena @ BookBinge raved about her book, "Just the Sexiest Man Alive". Wena was so enthusiastic and endearing in her review that I just knew I had to read it myself, especially since we share a lot of the same tastes. (Sidenote: Julie appreciates Rowena from BookBinge and Buffie from RomanceNovel.tv for all the support they've given to her and would like to say "thank you").
So I read it last month (review here) and when I went to her website to see what else she had coming out, I discovered she lived in Chicago and was having a booksigning on November 19th. Since one of my fairly new favorite things to do is to meet authors, I trekked into the city and stopped in at The Book Cellar to meet this debut author. She's a total sweetheart, and we got to chat a bit before she read to the group and did a Q & A.
It's great meeting new authors, and I have to admit, it's very cool to support someone who lives in your city, especially when you like their book so much and you want others to read it too. And since she's so nice, she agreed to do a blog interview for me. Since a lot of you probably hang out over @ BookBinge, I tried not to ask the same questions, and if you haven't already done so, you can pop over and read their interview.
me & Julie
S ~ Congrats on the release of your first book. Do you read romances yourself? If so, who are some of your favorite authors?
Thanks! I do read romances—although admittedly, I got into the genre fairly recently. Probably about the time I realized I wrote one myself. : ) So now I’m having a blast discovering all these authors who are new to me. In terms of favorites: okay, I know this isn’t exactly original, but I love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Also Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me. And I read my first J.D. Robb book, Naked in Death, and now I think I have a serious crush on Roarke. (S ~ Just wait, he gets even better.)
S ~ You mention that you drew on your love of the old black and white romantic comedies for inspiration. What are some of your favorites?
Pretty much anything with Cary Grant or Clark Gable. Particularly His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, and It Happened One Night. A lot of the older films have such great dialogue exchanges between the hero and heroine.
S ~ I just loved Taylor. I found her to be spunky, smart and really confident. Did you have anyone in mind when you created her? What was your favorite thing about her?
Taylor practices the exact type of law that I practiced (employment discrimination defense), and her work experiences were loosely drawn from my own experiences in that field. I certainly aimed to have a heroine who was smart and confident and quick with a one-liner, but I think my favorite thing about her is that despite all that, deep down she has fears and vulnerabilities just like everyone else.
S ~ Would you say that the courtroom scenes in the book are close to what you might see in real life, or do you have to embellish that quite a bit?
I think the legal scenes, for the most part, are pretty realistic. In fact, the courtroom scenes are very similar to arguments/cross-examinations I’ve actually made. When you litigate sexual harassment cases, things can certainly get pretty interesting!
S ~ Jason was just the sexiest hero, yet because of how he's lived for the past 2 decades, he comes across as kind of a jerk in the beginning. Did you have an experience with actors/movie stars when writing his character, or did you just draw on what you've seen in the media?
Ahh... Jason. Yes, he is kind of a jerk in the beginning—but humorously so. There were times when I’d be writing his dialogue and I’d think—I can’t believe he just said that! But I wanted to be realistic about his character and how someone in his position would actually think and act. Because of my screenwriting background, I’ve experienced some of the Hollywood element and I think that helped me in capturing that aspect of the book.
S ~ Living in Chicago is a huge difference than living in L.A., and as far as people's mindsets go, what with Chicago having the reputation of a more down-to-earth sensibility and L.A. appearing to have more interest in money and physical beauty. Have you ever lived in L.A. and how were you able to mesh both worlds so seamlessly? Would you move to California to pursue your writing?
I’ve never actually lived in L.A. but I have spent some time there and you are right—it is a very different city from Chicago. I like Los Angeles, but Chicago is where I’m from and I definitely consider myself a Midwest kind of girl. If for some reason I had to move to California, and it worked for my family, I guess I’d probably go. But I don’t think I see that being a necessity—especially writing novels, which you can pretty much do anywhere.
S ~ One of the things I liked about the male characters in your book is that you nailed "guy speak". Was it difficult to convey the "guy" persona in your characters?
Honestly, for whatever reason both Jason and Jeremy’s voices came pretty easily to me. In fact, I think it probably was easier for me to write Jason than Taylor. With Taylor I sometimes worried about whether she was sounding too sarcastic, too confident, etc., but with Jason, honestly, whatever that guy said in my head I just pretty much put down on the page. For better or worse. : )
S ~ What do you think is the most challenging thing about writing? Do you have a routine that you follow to keep on track?
My biggest challenge is probably the same one a lot of working moms face—how to find enough time to write, be with my family, and do the million other things that seemingly need to be done in any given day! As for staying on track, I set weekly writing goals and I do everything I can to keep them.
S ~ A lot of what "Just the Sexiest Man Alive" represents is about looks and charisma. What do you think makes a guy sexy? Who would you consider to be on your top 5 list of the sexiest men?
I can accept a lot of flaws in a hero (arrogance, over-confidence, etc.) as long as he’s pretty much just smitten with the heroine—whether he admits or not. To me, nothing is sexier than a man in love. As for who would be on my list of the sexiest men (aside from my husband, of course), I generally think of sexy in terms of a character or role, instead of the actor himself. Maybe that’s why I have this strange thing for Colin Firth, even though I don’t think of him as traditionally sexy—I loved him as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice and haven’t gotten over him since. : )
S ~ Who are some of your favorite strong female characters, whether in t.v., books or movies?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (The television show, not the movie.) Princess Leia from Star Wars. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Aliens. And of course, Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.
I wanna be Buffy when I grow up
S ~ I'm really looking forward to "Practice Makes Perfect" which comes out in March. And I understand it's not connected to "Just the Sexiest Man Alive" other than it features two attorneys butting heads. What was the inspiration for this story?
The story is about two lawyers, a man and a woman, who work at the same firm and are fighting it out for the one available partnership position. It’s very, very loosely based on my own experience at the firm—there was one other attorney in my group who was the same class as me and I always wondered what would happen if he and I came up for partner together, whether the firm would choose us both or have to choose one of us over the other. As it happened, both of us left the firm to pursue other careers before that became an issue.
S ~ I understand you attended RWA this past July/August. What was your take on the experience and do you plan on attending any future events?
I loved going to the RWA conference this year! True, I pretty much knew nobody and my book wasn’t out at that point so I didn’t get to attend a lot of the author events, but I had a blast there. And everyone was so friendly and welcoming, which was great. I’m definitely hoping to attend next year’s conference as well.
S ~ How has reader feedback been since the release of your book? Have you had much opportunity to connect with your fans? How does it feel to have people reacting to your books?
The feedback I’ve gotten from readers has been wonderful! It really makes my day when someone writes to tell me how much they enjoyed the book. And I love that people like Taylor and Jason so much—if someone reading the book is cheering for them to get together, then I feel that I’ve done my job.
S ~ Do you ever see yourself going back to practicing law?
I never say never, but not right now. As much as I loved practicing law, I love writing even more, so I’m happy to go with this ride as long as I can.
S ~ When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your free time?
I’m a big movie buff and also a fairly avid reader. I like going out for drinks or coffee with friends, or just going out to dinner with my husband—a big treat for us now that we have a toddler. : )
S ~ Now I'll ask a series of "just for fun" questions:
- favorite beverage?
A great glass of Cabernet. Currently, my favorite is the Zulu Cabernet from South Africa.
- favorite indulgence or way to relax?
A bubble bath with a glass of red wine and a great book.
- favorite movie?
I can’t choose! And I love pretty much all genres.
- favorite book?
This one’s easier to answer—Pride and Prejudice.
- favorite place to visit?
The best trip I’ve ever taken was when my husband and I went on safari in South Africa. Absolutely incredible.
- favorite music?
Like movies, I tend to like a bit of everything. I pick music that seems to go with the theme of whatever I’m writing, and for whatever reason, oddly with this book it’s been Rihanna and Billie Holiday. Go figure.
- last good movie you've seen?
It’s not new, but my husband and I just re-watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Ahh... Legolas. (dreamy sigh).
I adored Aragorn myself, but Legolas is a cutie
- the one book you'd recommend others to read?
The book I always recommend to other women is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. There were parts that were so tough to read, yet I literally couldn’t put the book down because I was so invested in the characters and had to see what happened.
Lots of things! The lake, the shopping, the food, and the fact that for two months in the fall, Chicago actually has the perfect weather. (It’s how we survive the remaining ten months.) : )