I read both of Juliette Fay's novels: Shelter Me and her new one, Deep Down True. She's a talented writer and she's a mom of four. When I found that out I just had to hear more from her. She graciously agreed to drop by my blog today to talk about her new book and striking the balance between writing and motherhood. I hope you enjoy meeting Juliette Fay today!
Q. Your new book Deep Down True deals a lot with the relationships between women-- and how in some ways we never advance past middle school. What made you want to write about this?
A. Writers write about thing that fascinate them on some sort of a personal level -- otherwise how could you spend a year or more on the same subject? Middle school was the worst three years of my life, and though the story isn't at all autobiographical, the idea of those awkward years intrigued
me enough to use it in a story.
I wanted to write about the actual middle school that Dana’s daughter experiences, but also the adult version of middle school that Dana herself is caught in – the insecurity, awkward romances, rapidly shifting allegiances.
I think that middle schooler inside us is always there, ready to raise her uncertain head in challenging times. So I wanted to juxtapose Dana’s daughter’s experience with Dana’s own experience, which is not actually that different. The people are bigger and have more control over their wardrobes.
Q. Oh goodness can I relate to that-- middle school is hard to escape from unscathed! Did you mine your children's lives for this novel? The middle school language and culture is very real!
A. No, I never base my characters or story lines on actual people. It's much more fun to create them myself. However, living with four children, you do pick up the lingo. I often asked my daughter for help with Alder, Dana’s teenage niece, and how she would say things. It was great to have an
Q. How long have you been writing?
A. Growing up, it actually never occurred to me to be a writer, but I always had stories playing in my head. It’s the way I’ve always entertained myself when I’m bored or can’t sleep. I started writing about 6 years ago and just fell in love with it. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.
Q. Was Shelter Me your first novel?
A. No, like many novelists, I have a first novel "sitting in a drawer" as they say. I consider it my practice novel. But every once in a while I pull it out and work on it a little. It may never see the light of publication, but it's fun to visit with those characters again -- sort of like bumping into an old boyfriend whom you liked but wasn't quite right for you.
Q. You're a mom of four. How do you balance family and writing?
A. It does take some juggling, but so does everything. My work is flexible, so I think it’s probably easier for me than for a mom who has to put on nice clothes and go to an office everyday. I’m a pretty organized person, and that helps. Ultimately, I love to write, so I look for every chance to
spend some time with my “people.” It’s the housework that suffers more than my writing.
Q. What one writing tip have you picked up along the way that you could share
A. There's an old saying: "Write everyday." For many years I couldn't even hope to do that. My kids were too little and life got in the way a lot more. Recently I decided that, like exercise, I would try to do something--even just writing a paragraph or editing what I'd already done--everyday. It makes a huge difference not only in how much I actually produce, but also in how connected I stay to the story. It really helps.
Thanks for dropping by today Juliette! If you want to learn more about Juliette, visit her site at www.juliettefay.com!