Julie Ryan was born in Yorkshire. Not venturing too far she graduated from Hull University with a degree in French Language and Literature. With a thirst for travel, she then taught in Greece, Poland and Thailand. This period strongly influenced her writing of the Greek Island Mystery series. She now lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, young son and a cat with half a tail. When not writing, she teaches English, treads the boards in the local panto and is an avid blogger and reviewer so can usually be found with a book in her hand. In fact, the books are beginning to overtake the house much to her husband’s displeasure!
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I’ve always written. From a very young age I was scribbling stories and plays for my friends and I to act out. What really motivated me to write my first novel though was a chance meting with a fellow writer who made me believe in myself. 2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? In the mornings I run the local post office and so after getting my son off to school I might have a look at what I’ve written the day before. Then as soon as time permits I’ll try and write a chapter. I fit this in between teaching English to French students. Luckily I work from home so can fir my writing around other tasks. Evenings are for relaxing and family time so I try not to encroach on them unless I have to. When I get a good idea though, I just have to write it down, no matter where I am!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Because my writing has to fit around so many other things, I usually have an idea of what to write next. Leaving the previous chapter on a cliff hanger I always good motivation for writing the next part. If I do get a block then leaving it for a while usually works as I find the answer usually comes to me in the middle of the night. I always keep a notebook and pen on the bedside table just in case.
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story? A bit of both. I plan out the characters and usually have a general idea of where I want the story to go. I can’t plan out each chapter in detail though. That’s probably why I end up writing a totally different book to the one I first thought.5.Are you traditionally or self-published?I started out publishing my novels on Amazon myself. I had no idea if anyone would want to read them! Then this year Booktrope accepted my first novel ‘Jenna’s Journey.’ Seeing my book in print and my name on the cover was a truly magic moment.
6. What was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? The publishing side was a steep learning curve, as I’d never done anything like it. The process wasn’t that difficult but you need to be prepared before you hit ‘submit’. I roped several people in to act as beta readers and they were excellent at flagging up any grammatical/ punctuation errors as well as plot holes. Formatting the book as a mobi copy was a nightmare and I soon learnt to pay others for the skills I didn’t have. Likewise with finding a cover designer. I chose the photo and paid for the rights to use it and then used Ffiver for the rest.
7.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Being able to hold a physical copy of my book meant that I actually felt like an ‘author’ at last. Until then I’d always thought of myself as an aspiring author.
8.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us, including genre and targeted audience? My latest novel is ‘Pandora’s Prophecy’, the third in the Greek Island mystery series although it can be read as a standalone. It’s part romance with a hefty dose of mystery and suspense. My plots are quite complex but it appeals to anyone who enjoys a good story and wants to be transported to Greece for a few hours.
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) The hardest part of writing was and still is marketing for me. I’m not a natural when it comes to blowing my own trumpet but it’s the only way to get known. Build up a following on Twitter and Facebook but make sure you interact with people. There’s nothing worse than ‘friending’ someone and immediately you get a request to buy their book. Don’t do it!
10.How long on average does it take you to write a book? I joke that the first book took me about eighteen months with a gestation period of thirty years! The other books took between 9 months-one year.
11.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about, whether you had much input etc. I’m lucky that with my publisher Booktrope, the author still has a big say in the cover design. Of course, it has to be approved but I pretty much got what I hoped for. There were a lot of things to take into account for a paperback cover as opposed to an e-cover that I hadn’t considered before. My designer did mock ups of various covers using three photos that I’d suggested. The I chose the most appealing one and after that left most of it up to her. We jiggled the colours, font size, layout until everybody was happy. The result is a cover I love.
12.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Writing and reading are my two great passions. I’d love to indulge in some more foreign travel but for now, I’ve had to make do with developing a Mediterranean themed garden. We have also been doing up our semi- derelict house for the last ten years so you’re quite likely to find me with a paintbrush in my hand.