Hi Julia, Welcome to Anna's Book Blog! It's great to have here. To start off can you tell the readers a little about yourself?
That question always fills me with anxiety as I never know how to answer --- which is pretty strange considering how narcissistic I am! Still, I don’t know what to say that your readers would find compelling. However, there are two details in my bio that people seem to find interesting: 1) I went to graduate school in Physics and Philosophy. This is true, but if you could see my grades you’d be less than impressed, and 2) I design my own clothes. Again true, but I’m guessing that most of you couldn’t be persuaded to wear them on a bet! (And if you saw the first dress I did, where I put the sleeves on backwards, you’d really be less than impressed!) Anything else about me? I think I’m pretty regular, but those close to me say I’m exceedingly eccentric!
Willow is your newest release, can you tells us a little about it?
Willow is the story of a young woman, a seventeen year old girl, who loses her parents in a car accident, an accident for which she was responsible. She is so overcome with guilt, so isolated and alone, that she feels she has no other way to deal with her pain than by cutting herself.
Sounds pretty grim, I know. But while the above may be the bare bones of the plot, the themes that Willow explores are really not so dire. Willow is really about hope, about redemption, and above all, about the power of love to heal. Now Willow is not the right book for everyone, no question, but I’d like to assure your readers who are a little … let’s say, frightened by the sound of it, that many, many people have told me that they found it to be a very uplifting book, a very hopeful book, and above all a very romantic book
What is your writing day like?
A typical day, or a perfect day? On a perfect day I wake up around eight, walk across the park to my exercise class, then come home and get to work by ten am. I write for about six hours, take a nap, and then go for another walk. After that I make dinner, and get back to work from about eight thirty/nine until one or two am. On a typical day, I oversleep, can’t find my socks, stub my toe, and hop around on one foot swearing, I’m late for my class, and it all goes downhill from there
When you’re not writing what kind of books do you like to read?
EVERYTHING!!! I’m the type of person who can be content reading cereal boxes! I especially love British mysteries, as well as the classics, but for some reason, when I’m writing, I can only read romances!
What inspired you to write Willow's story?
I wanted to write a book for all of us with self destructive urges, a book that would take one person from a place of self harm to a place of healing, and in doing so possibly make people question their own damaging behaviors. I chose to make Willow a cutter because it is a very dramatic and obvious form of self injury, but it could just as easily have been a book about overeating or doing drugs, or even something as innocent as watching too much television.
Did you do a lot of research for this book?
I did a fair amount of reading about the “technical aspects” of the disorder. Steven Levenkron’s book Cutting was very helpful. One thing that may surprise people is the amount of care many cutters take with their wounds. It may seem counter intuitive, why cut yourself and then clean and bandage the cuts? But that’s a real window into the psyche of a self injurer: as Willow says cutting is not a dress rehearsal for suicide. It is most often a way of stuffing down feelings that would otherwise be too overpowering. –- I also read many case studies, some rather harrowing memoirs, and these were invaluable. But as for getting to the depth of Willow’s need – I looked to the challenges I’ve faced in my own life. I have never been a cutter, but I have felt that kind of despair, that kind of desperation, that absolute inability to process pain in the correct way.
Did any real life people inspire the characters in your book?
I always say that Guy is based on my husband, and that’s true! But I need to stop telling people that, as he (my husband) is getting far too conceited by the comparison. There is another person in the book though, who appears for just a few pages, a teacher named Mr. Moston. That character is my small tribute to a special teacher of mine who died just before I started WILLOW.
Since the release of Willow, what has been your most memorable moment/experience?
I’ve had so many! Truly. I never expected to receive so many heartfelt responses, and from so many different places! The other day I heard from two readers, one in Peru, and the other in Hong Kong. This was amazing to me, as I assumed that no one beyond the corner grocery had even heard of me! In any case, when my husband came home I rushed to the door and asked him if he thought that maybe I was an eensy bit famous now? He just looked at me and asked what was for dinner. The fact is though, I have been tremendously moved by the reaction to WILLOW. One type of response that has surprised as well as moved me is that I’ve heard from a fair number of young gay men and women. Some of them have told me that “the emotional honesty” in WILLOW made them decide to come out. There is a fair amount of LGBT literature out there, and I never expected WILLOW to impact people in that way, especially because the story doesn’t touch on any LGBT themes. I can say that I have been tremendously touched, and honored by this reaction.
What are 3 things that are "must haves" for you when you sit down to write a book?
I need a sketch pad, since I map out the various plot lines and themes that run through my work. I need the right music, although I won’t tell you what that is, each character has a theme song. And finally I need flowers. I like to have orchids, although I must confess, I have a black thumb!
What is up next for you?
Thank you for asking. I’m at work on my next project now. I won’t say what it is, I truly hope that doesn’t sound pretentious, it’s really just superstitious. In any case, I hope to be done VERY soon!!!!
Thanks again Julia for stopping and doing the interview.
GIVEAWAYThanks to Meryl M. Moss Media Relations I have copy of Willow to giveaway to one lucky winner. To enter leave a comment along with an email address. Open to U.S. & Canada. The winner will be announced on February 28th. Good Luck!
Willow is now available in paperback
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Borders
Seven months ago on a rainy March night, Willow's parents drank to much wine at dinner and asked her to drive them home. But they never made it--Willow lost control of the car, and both of her parents were killed.
Now seventeen, Willow is living with her older brother, who can barely speak to her. She has left behind her old home, friends, and school. But Willow has found a way to survive, to numb the new reality of her life: She is secretly cutting herself.
And then she meets Guy, a boy as sensitive and complicated as she is. When Guy discovers Willow's secret, he pulls her out of the solitary world she's created for herself, and into a difficult, intense and potentially life-changing relationship.