Welcome to the nineteenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with supernatural mystery/horror/scriptwriter and fellow Litopian Julia Kavan. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hi Julia. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Julia: I have always been very quiet and as child found I was far more confident as a writer. I enjoyed challenging people’s ideas on paper. This changed a little when I was a teenager – and I challenged people with my appearance and attitude, I never could fit in. My experience of life and the way I thought meant I was outside the safe zone in which my peers existed. Most people where I lived didn’t know what to make of me – and they probably still don’t! I calmed down when I was twenty. Marriage and children followed and I finally returned to writing around ten years ago. I have worked as a creative writing tutor for most of those years and, although I have pursued publication on and off during that time, it is in the last couple of years that I have really applied myself.
Morgen: Me too, I dabbled for a while then realised that it was actually (pretty much) all I could think about (OK, all, even during the day job). What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Julia: I usually write horror and supernatural mystery. I also write screenplays – one of which is a fantasy comedy drama. I’ve just started experimenting with other genres – but anything published outside of horror will be under a pen name.
Morgen: Good plan. Once your readers get to know you they expect the same genre from you (which is why Ruth Rendell also writes as Barbara Vine; Joanna Trollope as Caroline Harvey etc.). What have you had published to-date? How much of the marketing do you do?
Julia: My first story to be published is Dreaming, Not Sleeping – an erotic horror short published by Etopia Press and available on Amazon for Kindle. It will also be available as part of an anthology later in the year. I’m still finding my feet when it comes to marketing… getting to know what works and what doesn’t.
Morgen: I think most people are… especially electronically. Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Julia: Dreaming, Not Sleeping is only available as an eBook at the moment and any future publishers I approach are likely to be ePublishers. I have a Kindle and love being able to download books at any time. I read a lot of samples – and I love that option of being able to try before you buy.
Morgen: Like hotel shampoo sachets. What was your first acceptance Julia, and is being accepted still a thrill?
Julia: My first acceptance for publication for was a real thrill – I was very tentative about submitting Dreaming, I was unsure of the recept
ion it would get – so I guess I was thrilled and relieved! Each time I submit something new I’m nervous. I have a couple of WIPs almost ready to go – I’m sure I will be just as excited if they make the grade.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Julia: I’ve had more rejections as a screenwriter – simply because I have approached more production companies than publishers. However, I’ve always had really good feedback and now have two scripts with a production company in London. Of course I’m always disappointed if something is rejected – but you just keep going, taking on board any useful comments.
Morgen: You do. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Julia: I am finishing a supernatural mystery novel – and experimenting with some new shorts.
Morgen: I love shorts (though not in the trouser sense of the word, my legs are too pale). Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Julia: I try and write every day. I work in a hospital in the mornings, edit and work on internet related bits and pieces in the afternoons and write in the evenings. I would probably write into the early hours – I very often have to make myself go to bed.
Morgen: Bed? Oh yes, that rectangular thing in the other room. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Julia: Sometimes I have a rough idea of where a story is heading – but often find myself going in a different direction. I can also be a bit of a jigsaw puzzle writer. I can be in a particular frame of mind and write scenes which come easily at those times – I then end up with some random passages which are linked into the main story later on in the writing process.
Morgen: Yep, sounds like me. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Julia: Yes. Good stuff it is too…
Morgen: Maybe you could sneak it out somewhere when no-one’s looking. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Julia: Writing is a solitary affair. I like my own company and enjoy shutting myself away to write, but it can sometimes feel lonely – although I’m never really alone thanks to the community of writers I’ve discovered online. There are often writers I know on Twitter and Facebook – and it’s nice to say hi to someone doing the same as you when you think you are on your own.
Morgen: I love being alone, but yes it’s great having people online, especially when they know what we go through. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Julia: Seek honest feedback – but don’t try to change to suit everybody. Trust in your own voice. Don’t worry too much about the rules.
Morgen: Rules? What are they? What do you like to read?
Julia: Horror – mostly psychological. Aside from that… anything that makes me think or question what I believe I know. If a writer can leave me unsettled or unsure about something I thought I knew about myself they’ve done a good job. I like to be surprised and/or shocked…or maybe even made to fall in love!
Morgen: A good story provokes a reaction and/or makes people think for a while afterwards. Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Julia: Stephen King’s Danse Macabre and On Writing.
Morgen: Ah yes, On Writing again. A very popular choice; maybe I should buy some shares. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Julia: I have been a member of Litopia Writer’s Colony (http://www.litopia.com) for two years – that’s where you are most likely to find me lurking (as Seneca) when I’m writing. It’s a brilliant place to spend time with writers from all sorts of genres – and I don’t think there is a better site to get feedback on your writing.
Morgen: It is isn’t it? I just wish I’d found it months before I did. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Julia: You can read about me, and find excerpts from Dreaming, Not Sleeping and other work on my website (http://www.juliakavan.com), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/Seneca24) is where you’ll find me rambling in the evenings.
Morgen: Thanks Julia, lovely to ‘meet’ you again. As Julia mentioned, we know each other through the online radio station ‘Litopia’ (http://litopia.com); c. 60-90 minute live author panel / chatroom shows every Friday 8pm (UK time) and phone-in / Skype-in / game / chatroom shows every Sunday evening 6.30pm (UK time). We have such fun and it’s writing-related so do come by… and you never know we could be chatting for real on a Sunday night (it doesn’t take much to get me to Skype in… and I was their first video guest last Sunday).
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
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