Julie Ann James lives in Sarasota, Florida. Her passion for words came at an early age and has inspired her to literally plant seeds all over the globe. She is the founder of the Peppertree Press book publishing company and The Pepper Tree Literary Magazine, an avid public speaker, a published children’s author and novelist.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Irish Jewel. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?
A: Irish Jewel is about a young executive woman who meets the love of her life on a business trip. Amy Reid, about to turn 29 falls in love with her soul mate, Michael Cambridge. He is handsome, charming and extremely wealthy and well known by all that live in the heart of the antiquated and historical Dublin, Ireland. He sits in the power chair as the CEO of a jewelry store chain called Irish Jewel passed down from his father and his father before him. She says yes to his proposal and then they plan a destination wedding in Dublin.
It doesn’t take long before her dreams of becoming Mrs. Michael Cambridge take a turn for the worst and the deep dark family secrets that were once buried in the Ireland dirt come to the surface for all to see. The intrigue, the mystery and the danger Amy will find herself in will captivate the readers and leave them with an unforgettable ending right down to the last word.
I had an opportunity to travel to Dublin Ireland and even though I was writing another novel at the time, I was truly inspired by this beautiful country and the idea simple popped in my head. The antiquated cemeteries, the architecture and the overall history in Ireland were breathtaking. I ended up putting away the novel I was working on and writing the premise to Irish Jewel while on the plane. It is interesting as I typically come up with the title first and then the idea and that seems to work for me best.
Q: What do you think makes a good mystery thriller. Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?
A: I would have to say making certain you have interesting characters and always give them a back story to keep your reader interested. Make certain there are not too many characters as the reader is reading for enjoyment. If they have too many characters to keep track of you might just lose them and they could put your book down for good. Make certain you leave the reader with a cliff hanger so they will want to turn the page.
Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?
A: I know there are many writers that will plot out the entire book and outline each character and each scene down to the finest detail. For me, I write as I go along and sometimes surprise myself on the “who done it” in the end because I really have no idea what is going to happen. It could take a very twisted unexpected turn for the greater good and that is the fun aspect of writing fiction.
Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?
A: I envisioned my character to be a certain way in the beginning process of my book, however the more I developed him the more I liked him. Did I want him to be charming and mysterious or did I want the reader and the characters that surrounded him to question his integrity and his motives throughout the book. Was he an all around good guy and the prince charming that Amy Reid was about to marry or did his past hold the secrets to who he really was as a person. I am confident that the reader will like him no matter what.
Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?
A: My antagonist was an extremely fun character to create and I so enjoyed seeing him develop and turn into the psychopath that he so deserves to be. It is truly a love hate relationship and I love to hate him.
Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?
A: I wanted to keep my reader on the edge of their seat. Okay, I realize that is a cliché thing to say, however it was my goal as a fiction writer. I wanted to surprise them with every twisted turn of the page and I think I succeeded in doing so. I absolutely love describing the scenes that surrounded my characters but also wanted to give my reader the ability to use their imagination as well. It was important to me to not give too much away. This is the beauty of writing fiction and reading fiction you can be anyone and let your imagination take you anywhere.
Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?
A: Since I had the opportunity to visit Ireland, it was easy for me to be there in the middle of the antiquated cemetery and describe the tomb stones and the creepy grounds they were sitting on. It was easy for me to describe the food in Ireland since I ate the food. The experience itself was my research and helped so much in the end result.
Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?
A: As I said before, I did not know the themes of my novel. It was a surprise to me how my writing took a turn and that is a thrill for me the writer and it is my hope for the reader.
Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?
A: I often give advice about editing as I learned the hard way from my own experience after writing Irish Jewel. I had it copy edited in the beginning, however once reading it back decided to take it a step further and have my book content edited. It was the best thing I have done in my writing career and I would suggest it for all writers. I don’t think editing can destroy your book unless the editor takes liberties and removes the voice of the writer.
Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?
Tenacity and a good plot that will keep the reader interested.
The will to take criticism and use it for the greater good and learn from it.
To use characters that are relatable.
Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?
A: If an author thinks writing feels like homework (work being the key word) then they are not having fun being a writer. A writer should write because they have a love for writing and creating, not because they have to. Unless its actual homework.
Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?
A: I think the best classroom you can be in is learning from other writers. Finding a writers group, a book club or an association is going to help any writer along the road.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?
A: Always read your manuscript outloud and if someone is willing to listen, then read it outloud to them. If you stumble over your words, then your readers will stumble as well.
Title: IRISH JEWEL
Author: Julie Ann James
Find out more on Amazon
About the Book:
When Irish Jewel opens, bride-to-be Amy Reid is living out a fairy tale. She’s engaged to be married to the love of her life, Michael Cambridge, an Irishman. Michael, a member of one of Dublin’s most prominent families and heir to the Cambridge precious gem business, is everything a girl could dream of—and more. He’s handsome, loving, charming, smart, successful, and, as icing on the wedding cake, Amy and Michael will be married in an elaborate ceremony in Dublin. This lavish, spare-no-expense event will be an exquisite dream-come-true-affair—a beautiful beginning to their lives together.
But this dream-come-true quickly turns into a nightmare: what begins as a vague threat quick escalates into something much more sinister. On the eve of what should be the happiest day of her life, Amy is quickly swept up in an insidious web of danger, kidnapping, and murder.
When long buried truths emerge and dark secrets come to light, this fairy tale will be irretrievably fractured. Nothing is as it seems—and the only way to win this deadly game is to get out alive. But the odds are stacked against Michael and Amy. Will they even live to see “till death us do part”? Expect the unexpected in this twisted tale…