Thursday, 16 March 2017

* * * * * JULIE GRUIT * * * * *

Which writers inspire you? JK Rowling. I love the way she has inspired so many children to read, and brought their imaginations back to life. See children (and adults!) queuing for her books, rather than sitting in front of the TV or a console was magic in itself.

What genre are your books? Children’s adventure so far, but my next book will be moving into the later teen/YA fantasy realm.

What draws you to this genre? I love the freedom to explore and adventure, moving between real places and fictional ones, merging between legends and history and combining it with the modern day world. Seeing adventures through the eyes of a child felt even more exciting.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I had gone through a divorce and moved away from all of my family and friends to a place where I didn’t know anyone. I decided to join a creative writing course at the local college as a way to meet people and quickly became obsessed. I had moved to the seaside, so my weekends used to be spent sat in seafront cafes or on the beach, people watching and writing poetry and short stories about who they might be and what secrets their lives might hold.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Part-time, unfortunately. I’d love to write full-time, as I have so many books in my head that I need to write. However, I have a family and bills to pay, so I work full-time as a school business manager in a special needs school. The job is interesting, and it’s great to have the opportunity to work with the kids – I did my first ‘meet the author’ session only two weeks ago, and it was fantastic to have them asking so many questions about my books. It’s the next best thing until maybe eventually I can move to full-time writing.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I tend to write after my children have gone to bed, and sometimes at weekends if they are busy. I have my own little writing room so I can shut myself away if I’m in the middle of a book and my creative mind is in gear.

Do you aim for a set number of words/pages per day? I usually just go with the flow and write as fast as my thoughts will allow me. The only time I set a determined structure for how many words to write was when I had my first attempt at NaNoWriMo last November. I amazed myself with a win (just!) of 50,085 words. Now, I am still working on the editing!

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you? Normally I just wing it, running with the ideas as they come. Sometimes I feel my writing is like a jigsaw puzzle. I get ideas for the outline, and chunks in the middle. I then have to go back and write from one piece to the next, filling in the gaps as I go. NaNo was different in that I actually carried out a lot more character plotting, scene setting, research, and structure plans before I started. I can’t say for sure how I will work in the future, but either is a possibility depending on how frantic the urge is to just create and write what flows from my pen.

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it? The Thomas Grey series is (at the moment) planned to be a set of three books. The first, Thomas Grey & The Lost City is about a 10-year-old boy who inherits his uncle’s mansion on the Cornish coast. The house is full of mysteries from his uncle’s travels, and discoveries lead Thomas on a journey to complete one of his uncle’s missions in the mountains of Tibet. However, things are not as simple as he hopes. As Thomas unlocks some of the secrets of the house, he disturbs something living underneath Foxwood Hall.

The second book, Thomas Grey & The Scarab Enchantress, links into some of the other artifacts discovered in the house. This time it the spirit of an ancient Egyptian who calls to Thomas, summoning him to Egypt to complete her quest among the ancient ruins of pyramids. The story follows her life as a child, growing up into a forced and unhappy marriage. She saves herself once, but now Thomas must save her again as their unlikely friendship builds and their lives become entwined.

What book/s are you reading at present? I have just downloaded H. Leighton Dickson’s Dragon of Ash & Stars: The Autobiography of a Night Dragon, and can’t wait to get started on it.

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about. I am lucky enough to work alongside an amazing artist at the school I work at. Like me, he has a day job to pay the bills, but his passion is for creating art. What started out as a conversation about him possibly creating one picture for me to try to catch the eye of potential publishers, turned into him asking if he could illustrate my whole book, cover and all. When I decided to publish as an indie, I took him up on his offer. Chris has now illustrated the first two books and will be completing the set when I have written Thomas Grey & The Smuggler’s Cave. Each chapter starts with one of his illustrations to help capture the imagination of the readers, and to give them plenty of little treats along the way!

How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, Traditional or both) 
Initially, I looked into the traditional publishing route but became disillusioned after being targeted by a vanity press. Fortunately, it was obvious that their contract was little more than a scam that would likely see my book discarded quickly after paying them a considerable amount of money for something I could largely do myself. I have published both books as an Indie, but would possibly consider the traditional route again at some point in the future.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I like the control of being an Indie. The time frames are my own, and I have the freedom to select my own illustrator. I have also recently set up a fundraiser where I am giving 100% of profits from my book sales to 12 different charities over 12 months. I’m not sure I would have been able to do this, in the same way, had I been published, and so having control of my own books is a definite plus. However, the main disadvantage for me is the marketing side. I struggle to find time to market effectively around my day job, family life, etc. I’m still relatively new to self-publishing and have a lot to learn about how to promote my book and expand its reach.

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years’ time? Writing full-time and able to give it the focus it deserves. I only ever feel like I am doing what I am meant to be doing in life when I write.

To learn more about Julie you can check out her WEBSITE, FACEBOOK as well as TWITTER.

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