Julie Ryan

jrJulie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and a dippy cat with half a tail.  She is so passionate about books that her collection is now threatening to outgrow her house, much to her husband’s annoyance! “Jenna’s Journey” is her début novel set in Greece, a country to which she has a strong attachment. She is now working on a second novel in the series, “Sophia’s Story.”

1.What got you into writing? I think to be honest, Sophia, it’s always been there as a part of my life. It’s only now that I have more time to fulfill my dreams that I actually thought about writing a novel. In the past it’s mostly been short stories for my eyes only.

2.What is a usual writing day like for you? In the morning it’s the usual rush to get my little boy off to school. After chatting with the other mums at the bus stop it’s back home for my second coffee of the day. Suitably fortified I might re-read what I’ve previously written or just launch straight in if I have a good idea I want to get down on paper. I fit my writing in between running our local Post Office and teaching English to French companies online. Mornings are usually the most productive time for me.

3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I sometimes have a block when I can’t seem to get the book to go where I want it to. This is because I can’t plan in detail and my characters often decide they don’t like the direction I’m trying to pull them and go off at a tangent. I usually find that I need to go back to where the writing seemed to flow and perhaps delete the last scene in order to move forward. Of course copious amounts of coffee and chocolate always help!

4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I would love to say I plan my novel in minute detail but try as I might, it doesn’t work for me. I do a lot of research and have a general idea of how I want the book to end. Getting there is the fun part and I end up with a totally different novel to the one I originally intended to write.

5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I never even thought about approaching a publisher. My goal was just to finish writing a book, Then a writer friend encouraged me to self-pub on amazon. The hardest part is the endless editing and formatting required to get the book into the best shape possible. Tedious but well worth it in the end.

6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Being able to say I’m a published author. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved even if I haven’t gone down the traditional path. Of course, getting a good review makes it all worthwhile.

7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? ‘Jenny’s Journey’ is the story of a young woman in the 1980’s who escapes her failing marriage by fleeing to Greece. It’s part romance but not a typical one as there’s a mystery involving stolen artefacts, suspense and a killer as well as dealing with domestic abuse. It’s part Shirley Valentine and part Sliding Doors set on a beautiful Greek island.

8.What do you enjoy doing besides writing? I’m a member of our local amateur dramatic group. We recently put on a pantomime and I played Queen Alexandria, the mother of Sleeping Beauty. It’s a great way to meet new people and get new ideas. Apart from that I enjoy travel and have been fortunate enough to work in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand.

9.What is your all time favourite book(s)? Ooh Sophia, that’s such a hard question as there are so many books that have made an impact on me. I love ‘The Island’ by Victoria Hislop, the Cousins series by Philippa Gregory, but if I had to choose a favourite, ‘The Magus’ by John Fowles is a book I can read and reread and still discover something new in it.

10.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? I’d love to have swapped places with Liz Taylor in her heyday. Not only was she stunningly beautiful but a great actress as well. Of course I wouldn’t have passed up the chance to see what Richard Burton was really like either. It seems such a glamourous time in Hollywood and to play the part of Cleopatra must have been superb too.

Blurb:  ‘Jenna’s Journey’ – When Jenna decides on a whim to go to Greece, she’s trying to escape her failing marriage.  Will Greg let her go so easily though? Can she make a new future for herself and how did she get involved in an antiques smuggling ring? Is fellow holidaymaker Tom all he seems and will it be happy ever after with Nikos?  It’s not until twenty-five years later that some of the questions are finally answered.  

Excerpt from ‘Jenna’s Journey’ She knew something had to give. They’d been skirting around each other for weeks now. It should be simple, she thought sadly. Two people in love who want to have a baby. But life is rarely so simple. After more than a year of trying, they were no nearer to achieving their goal and finally she’d plucked up the courage to see the doctor. He’d offered to run some tests to see if there were any obvious problems but Greg had been reluctant to do anything about it. “It’s only a question of dropping off a semen sample at the hospital,“ she told him. When he didn’t answer, she knew she couldn’t let it drop – it was far too important. “So will you?” “Will I what?” “Drop a sample off at the hospital?” “Look Jen, just leave it for a bit, will you?” “But I don’t understand why you won’t do this one thing.” “Have I got a clean shirt? – I’m running late, I haven’t got time for this now.” “But it’s important – we need to talk about it. You never seem to have time these days.” She knew she was starting to nag and she hated herself for it, but the issue had to be resolved once and for all. “Shit – it’s not even ironed, Jen.” “You’re perfectly capable of ironing your own bloody shirts!” As soon as the words were out, she knew she’d only made matters worse but he did take her for granted at times.  She saw a look of fury cross his face and wondered for one awful moment if he was going to hit her but he walked away turning his back on her. She only did the ironing because the last time Greg had tried to iron a shirt he’d burnt a hole in the sleeve and blown the iron up. She wondered now if it had been a devious plan to get her to do it. She couldn’t let him walk all over her though—no matter how much she loved him. He turned round and she saw how the expression on his face changed as he steeled himself to say what had to be said. “Look Jen, I think we should let nature take her course – we’re getting far too het up about the situation.” “You mean I’m getting all het up!” “It’s just that …” “Just what?” “I just don’t want to go down the road of constant tests, temperature charts, intervention, all that… – it’s well …it’s too clinical.” “Well, we don’t seem to be getting very far on our own.” “I’m not sure, Jen.” “But you do want kids, don’t you?” The thirty-second hesitation before he answered told her all she needed to know.