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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Interview with Regency Author, Julia Justiss

A very special welcome to my guest, Harlequin Historicals author, Julia Justiss, who has so graciously agreed to to give us a fun and revealing look into the life of a historical author.

Donna: What genre or sub-genre do you write? Why did you choose this genre?

Julia: I write Regency Historicals. I grew up on historical fiction, found Georgette Heyer and traditional Regencies while in college and was hooked. Naturally, when I decided to write my own stories, I stayed with the type of tale that had always fascinated me.

Donna: I have the same fascination! So, tell us about your book, From Waif to Gentleman's Wife.

Julia: Recently disappointed in love, Sir Edward Austin Greaves is happy to accept the challenge of bringing a failing agricultural property back into productivity. But when his carriage is attacked by Luddite agitators on the way to Blenhem Hill, he realizes the situation is more complex than he anticipated. So he’s dismayed and rather suspicious when destitute governess Joanna Merrill, claiming to be looking for her brother, the discharged former estate agent, arrives at midnight and faints on his doorstep.

Simple courtesy requires him to offer her temporary shelter—though the desire he feels when he catches her in his arms is anything but gentlemanly. Something about Joanna’s large dark eyes, slender frame and brave story strike a responsive chord deep within this guarded man. Just how much he risking by allowing Joanna Merrill to remain under his roof?

Donna: Sounds like another winner! When did you start to write and how long did it take you get published for the first time?

Julia: I’ve written since I was in elementary school. Starting with story ideas for Nancy Drew mysteries, I went on to poetry and short stories in high school and college. Then, after reading some Regencies that I felt I could have written better, I took the plunge and wrote my first novel. Children intervened, and it wasn’t until 1994 that I began writing again. My second complete manuscript won the Golden Heart for Regency in 1996 and was bought by Harlequin in 1998.

Donna: A Golden Heart is quite an honor. And well-deserved, I’m sure. Tell us a little about yourself. What is your typical day like?

Julia: Since I have a day job as a part-time high school French teacher, I leave home around 6:15AM for a local coffee shop to get some writing in before I have to be at school at 10:30. I try to put some more time in after I get home around 5:30-6PM. Then dinner, maybe a bit of reading or t.y. and sleep and do it all over again.

Donna: It’s an endless endeavor, isn’t it? Tell me, how do you write? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influences you the most?

Julia: I’m definitely a plotter! With my writing time so tightly limited, I need every minute and can’t afford to write a scene I later decide isn’t essential to the story. So I make a pretty detailed synopsis before I begin and use it to keep me on track—although, of course, the story often takes unexpected turns. I may have a roadmap of where I’m going, but it’s always the characters who drive the plot, and sometimes they end up striking off in directions I haven’t anticipated!

Donna: I know exactly what you mean. Those pesky characters just aren’t always obedient, are they? So, veering off a little; you cannot bear to live without what food?

Julia: I’d be lost without chicken, fish, and salad. Chocolate ice cream and oreo cookies are every-once-in-a-while indulgences.

Donna: Yum! So tell us, what’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?”

Julia: That one’s easy! While on my first trip to France after college, I was trying to tell the landlady of the bed & breakfast I’d just checked into that I was hungry (“J’ai faim.” ) But in my not-so-accurate French, I pronounced the “m” (which is not supposed to be pronounced) so the lady thought I was saying “J’ai femme”—I have a woman. She kept looking at me strangely and saying “quoi?” (what??) When I gave up and said instead that I was looking for a restaurant, she burst out laughing. At that point, I realized what I’d apparently done was tell her I was a . She laughed again each time she saw me for the whole time we stayed at the hotel.

Donna: That’s funny! If it’s any consolation, you probably cheered the landlandy by giving her something to laugh about that day. Do tell us what are you working on now?

Julia: I’m working now on the story of Greville Anders, the brother of e Joanna Merrill from WAIF. Fired from his estate manager’s job, Greville is knocked unconscious and delivered to a press gang by the embezzling employee he was about to turn in. Returning after six months as a common seaman on a Royal Navy man-of-war, he’s billeted at the home of Lord Bronning while he recovers from wounds received in a skirmish with pirates. Her sights set on a London Season and a brilliant match. Bronning’s daughter Amanda is dismayed by her father’s unsuitable house guest, even if he claims to be cousin to a marquess. With her beauty, charm, and amply dowry, Amanda can look as high as she likes for a husband. So why is she finding the totally ineligible Greville so annoyingly appealing?

Donna: I can’t wait! So going back to your newest release, where can we find it?

Julia: WAIF is available at Walmart, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Target and Books-A-Million stores that stock Harlequin series titles, as well as at the on-line bookstores of those companies, and from

Julia: You can find all about WAIF, including character sketches and photos of the Nottingham locale, as well as advice on the writing life, research tidbits and notes on my next release, THE SMUGGLER AND THE SOCIETY BRIDE, at my website,

Donna: Julia, it’s been a pleasure having you today. Thank you for being my guest.


Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Julia -- I love the idea of a "waif" fainting on the hero's doorstep!

I put the quotation marks around "waif" because I attended a writer's conference last w/e and took a workshop on archetypes. "Waif" was one of them... So now I can't wait to read your book and find out if your waif really is a waif, or another archetype in disguise: Boss, for example. No, just joking -- I guess that's not likely, but still, I can see that for a while I'll be identifying archetypes in every book I read.

Looking forward to your next story, too...

Julia Justiss said...

Um..."Waif" was the marketing tean's idea for the title, so despite fainting on the doorstep I don't think Joanna is going to fit the archtype!

You'll have to read it and let me know.

Donna Hatch said...

Thanks for joing me, Julia!