Have you heard about the amazing stories by Julia Blake?
Welcome to my interview with Julia Blake! We talk about her writing experiences, books, and the journey that’s making her a better writer!
Hi Julia Blake! Please introduce yourself and share 5 fun facts!
Hello there, my name is Julia Blake. I live in the very East of England in an old Victorian house with my 16-year-old daughter and one sweet little black cat. I’ve been writing since I was a child. Had my first book published five years ago and to date have released nine books. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook, and I also write a quirky weekly blog called “A Little Bit of Blake” where I ramble on about life, books and being a single mum.
Five fun facts about me? Oh gosh, that’s hard, let me think.
- I used to be a professional food-taster and that isn’t as much fun as it sounds – you try tasting seventeen different marmalades in one morning!
- I have a tattoo, which always surprises people because I’m the last person to look like they would have one, but it goes to show you should never judge a book by its cover.
- Even at 52 I am still incredibly flexible and can put the palms of my hands on the floor and my forehead on my knees without bending my legs.
- I used to act and regularly appeared in my town’s local theatre.
- I only sleep six hours a night and wake up at 6am regardless of what day it is or what time I went to bed the night before.
How did your writing career begin?
My writing career didn’t begin until my first novel “The Book of Eve” was picked up by a small press. But I was very naïve and innocent back then. I seriously thought that loads of people would buy my book and that I’d be able to give up work and write full-time. Of course, it didn’t work like that and I quickly became discouraged because my publishers didn’t promote the book at all. Then I got really sick and it took a couple of years for me to get over that. I guess, my career didn’t really start properly until a friend and fellow author persuaded me to go indie in January 2017 and publish my novella “Lifesong”, and things sort of went on from there.
What are your favourite genres to write?
I’m multi genre so I love writing (and reading) all genres except full on horror. So far, I’ve dabbled in contemporary fiction, romantic suspense, fantasy, folklore fantasy, sci-fi, short stories and poetry. To me, a good story is a good story and I don’t even think about what genre it is until the book is written. I guess, I do have a fondest for writing fantasy because all things are possible, and you can really let your imagination run wild.
What are the most challenging parts of being a writer?
The most challenging part? Oh, definitely promoting. I hate it and I’m not very good at it. It takes up so much valuable time – building up your identity on social media and constantly trying to strike that perfect balance between pushing your books just enough to get people interested enough to buy them, but no so much that you annoy them. After that, I’d say actually forcing myself to sit down and write. I am the queen of procrastination and even though I love writing once I’m actually doing it, I’ll come up with any excuse why I can’t.
Tell us about your latest book!
My latest book to be published is “Erinsmore”, which I recently re-released. This is an epic, Narnia inspired fantasy novel which was originally published early in 2018. Although I was happy with the story itself, I felt the packaging it was in could be greatly improved. So, I’ve spent the last couple of months refreshing it and reformatting it with a bolder font, illuminated capitals at the start of each chapter, over thirty pages of illustrations and a fabulous new cover.
The book is now as good as it can possibly get and I’m really happy with it. A fabulous and fun swords and sorcery tale of a pair of sisters from modern day London who suddenly find themselves in the medieval magical world of Erinsmore. A land with no indoor sanitation, no WiFi and no coffee! How will they cope? Especially as there’s an evil mage who’s determined to crush Erinsmore to his will and then move on to our world, and a male chauvinist prince who certainly needs bringing down a peg or two, oh and dragons – mustn’t forget the dragons.
What was the publishing process like for you?
I’ve been through the process several times now, and while it doesn’t get any simpler, I have learnt from my many mistakes and now find it a lot easier. In the beginning I found it very hard and confusing, but luckily, I had lots of advice and help from online author friends. The trick is to take it one step at a time, and not impose any unrealistic deadlines on yourself. It’s better to wait to publish than rush it and then find silly mistakes in your book – or worse, for readers to find the silly mistakes!
How do you relate to the characters in your books?
The characters in my book are so important and are very real to me – more real than actual family sometimes. It’s usually a character who comes to me first, takes me by the hand and starts to tell me their story. I just write it all down as they tell me. Sometimes they do things that I hadn’t planned for them to do, but I’ve learned over the years to listen to them, because usually what they’re suggesting is the right path to take. I’m very passionate about creating characters who are so vivid and relatable that the reader feels they know them. I hate reading a book where the characters are flat and two-dimensional.
How are you different from your characters?
I think most of my characters are braver than I am. They’re not afraid to take chances in life and to rely on others around them to watch their backs. I tend to be quite an insular and self-contained person and I only rely on myself. They’re probably nicer people than me, more open and forgiving, and more willing to take a chance on someone.
What are the greatest lessons you’ve learned on your author journey?
The greatest lesson I’ve learned on my author journey is to be patient, to be in it for the long haul and not try to rush the process or skimp on the work. Writing and publishing a book is hard work, and anyone who says any different it either lying or not doing it right. It takes time and effort to produce something that is worth putting your name to. At the start, I tried to schedule myself and impose deadlines on when books would be published. But that just puts unnecessary strain not only on yourself, but also on anyone else who’s involved in the process such as your editor, beta readers, cover designer and arc readers.
What is your favourite thing about writing?
Probably creating the characters and then getting feedback on those characters from my readers. I love reader feedback. When someone messages me about one of my books and it’s clear that they’ve totally “got” what I was trying to say – well, that feeling just never gets old. Also, that moment when you hold your book in your hands for the first time. That’s pretty awesome as well.
What do you hope readers will gain from the experience of reading your books?
I hope that readers of my books will go away satisfied with the story and with how it concluded. I hope that they care for my characters, to the point where they worry about them and even continue to think about them long after the book is finished. A story that lingers is the mark of a tale well told.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
My advice for aspiring writers would be to grow a thick hide – you’re going to need it. Whether you decide to go the route of trying to get traditionally published (and that is a hard path with low odds of success) or self-published, you will need to steel yourself against criticism and rejection. And it will hurt. A lot. You will need to learn how to pick yourself back up again, brush yourself down and carry on, to learn from constructive criticism and dismiss the non-constructive.
Also don’t expect overnight fame and fortune, because it doesn’t happen that way. A famous writer once commented that the only type of writing that reaped financial reward was a ransom note. He wasn’t far wrong. It is hard work. Especially if you are an indie author. Even most traditionally published authors have to do most of their own promoting. Be supportive of other writers and never be critical or unkind about them. The internet is far reaching and has a long memory, and a casually spiteful post made today could come back to bite you on the ass years from now.
I have found that being supportive and helpful towards other authors pays back in spades. Finally, be professional. You are an author, so act like one. Avoid the drama on social media, don’t post pictures of your kids in the bath or have slanging matches with others. Think before you post. My criteria before posting anything is “Would I be happy for my mother to see this? Would I be happy for a reader to see this?” If the answer to either is no, then it’s probably best not to post it.
What is your routine like when you’re getting into ‘creative mode’?
Yeah, that’s a bit of a tough question to answer in that I don’t really have a routine. When the urge strikes me to write, I just write. I sit at my laptop with nothing more than a glass of water on my desk and I simply write. I continue writing until physical exhaustion strikes or I dry up. Then I read over what I’ve written that day and correct any obvious silly typos. I repeat this process until the book is written. One read through of the whole thing to check whether it flows and hangs together and then I leave it to mature for a month or so.
Coming back to it, I read it through a few times and amend where necessary and then it’s off to my editor. I make all the amendments she suggests, then it goes to my beta readers. I go through their feedback and use what I feel is applicable. One or two final read throughs. Then it goes to my formatter for the twiddly bits to be set in place and then it’s published.
Any final thoughts to share with your readers about you and your books?
My books are all written from my heart and are stories that I had to write because I wanted to read them myself. I’ve never been one for following trends or trying to force a story out simply because it fits into the current fashion. My stories are honest and real. My characters are flesh and blood to me, and I truly believe that comes out in the books.
I dislike cliffhangers or vague endings, so if you read a Julia Blake book you are guaranteed a satisfying ending. In the five years I have been published, I have been fortunate enough to receive almost nothing but lovely, kind reviews. That tells me that I must be doing something very right indeed.
Thank you so much Julia Blake! It was so fun getting to know your journey! I hope you have several more books in your future. Keep in touch with Julia on Instagram.
Do you want to take part in your OWN author interview? Contact me through my website form or hit me up on social media.
Thanks for reading about Julia Blake. Join me next time for fun blog posts! What did you think of the interview? Please comment below.
Are you looking for someone to create beautifully crafted content for you? Hire my talents: Hire Kirsten!