Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Bookanista Interview: TEMPEST author Julie Cross

We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
I took many, many years of ballet despite my short legs and flat feet. I find it hard to walk across a kitchen floor in my socks without doing a few pirouettes and if you look closely, you might catch me standing in first position. On the flip side of that, ballet is fluid and not as rhythmic as other forms of dance, so I’m totally the last one on the dance floor at a wedding and the first one off.

As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?
I can’t pick just one…Babysitter’s Club series, Number The Stars by Louis Lowry, Little Women.

In your book, TEMPEST, Jackson can travel through time. If you could travel through time, when would you go?
I’m going to get called a dork or jock for this but I’d go back to 1976 and watch Nadia Comaneci get the first perfect 10 in Olympic Gymnastics history….I know…total dork.

It's the inevitable question: what inspired TEMPEST?
For me, it started with the love story…two people from very different backgrounds who have this amazing summer fling and get to the end thinking it was just for fun and then have to decide what it really means and accept the fact that you are always susceptible to falling in love whether you want to or not.

Most of this happens before TEMPEST begins and it’s trickled in little bits throughout the book. But the love story alone wasn’t big enough. I needed something epic and more original to add to this plot. That’s where time travel came in. And then, just for fun, I tossed in the mysterious division of the CIA and some pretty crazy spies.

One of the great things about TEMPEST is the very realistic voice of your male lead. Could you tell us why you chose to tell the story from a boy’s point of view, and how you made that voice so realistic?
I started writing from Jackson’s point of view because he was the time traveler, but on the side, I wrote a lot from Holly’s point of view as well. It became apparent early on that the story would be much more powerful if I stayed with Jackson because he’s learning so much about himself and his abilities in the first half of the book. The reader truly gets to make all these discoveries right along side Jackson.

Getting my guy lead to sound realistic as a 19 year old dude was tricky at first. It really helped that my editor is a guy and I was sending chapters to him and anything too sappy, I’d kind of chicken out at the last minute and delete, knowing he’d probably roll his eyes…or possibly gag if he read those words. After that initial draft, I went back and figured how I had made those right choices with Jackson and how to continue doing that. It was a fun learning experience. I think of it a lot like acting. Playing a role that isn’t anything like you.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process--particularly the timeline--of writing TEMPEST?
Tempest formed from a premise of another novel that I had written in the summer of 2009. My first novel. An agent requested that horrid manuscript then he became an editor before he was able to read it, but he still wanted to take a look at it. Of course, he agreed that it was horrid and passed on it. Later he came back to me and asked if I’d be interested in writing a YA time travel with that same premise. I sent a few chapters at a time and three and a half weeks later, I had a first draft of Tempest.

I was then offered a three book deal with Thomas Dunne Books and at that point, I went looking for an agent. Again. Because like most writers, I had done the query process with other manuscripts and received a good number of rejections. But technically there was never a query for Tempest. Suzie Townsend was nice enough to drop everything and read my manuscript overnight and luckily she loved it and offered to represent me.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from TEMPEST, what would you want it to be?
This is a very hard question to answer because one of the best parts about writing Tempest and putting it out there for reviewers is that everyone seems to grasp onto to a different aspect as their favorite theme. A lot of people have commented on the family relationships and the drama that comes with those. I LOVED writing the scenes with Jackson and his twin sister, Courtney. Many people like the romance between Jackson and Holly and others really want more of geeky sidekick, Adam.

With all that said, I guess I’m going to quote something from the end of the book. It won’t spoil the story, but is a theme right from the fourth chapter, “Have no regrets.”

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
Publishing people are like the long lost siblings I’ve just discovered. When I first started writing, I think part of me believed agents were robots or computers or something and editors were from outer space and New York was this place you only go if you own a business suit and a priority boarding card for at least one airline. It surprised me how easy it was for me to get along with authors and people in publishing. Not just get along but share a passion with that different than anything else I’ve ever done.

Beyond the typical--never give up, believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?
If you don’t have an agent or a book deal…no editors hammering for rewrites, no copyeditor making up every piece of your novel, then I’d say make sure writing is still fun for you. Not just fun, but you should be in love with it because if and when you do get to the published phase, you’ll have plenty of things to stress about and whine about. Trust me.

What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?
I would say character development and voice are what come the easiest for me. Also, first drafts. And I know lots of authors that feel the opposite. The weakest point for me is keeping the plot from getting too wide or veering off in another direction. I have a bit of an obsession with subplots.

DON'T FORGET: I'm giving away a SIGNED copy of this book! Just click here to enter.

To find out what the other Bookanistas are reading, click below:

  • Shannon Messenger delights in DEAD TO YOU – with giveaway
  • Beth Revis interviews TEMPEST author Julie Cross – with giveaway
  • Jessi Kirby takes a shine to the SURRENDER and new POSSESSSION covers
  • Stasia Ward Kehoe adores IN HONOR
  • Jen Hayley gushes over THE GIRL WHO LOVED A CITY
  • Veronica Rossi  is crazy for INCARNATE
  • Nikki Katz marvels at A MILLION SUNS
  • Gennifer Albin   is on fire over CINDER
  • Tracy Banghart  is all about THE OTHER LIFE
  • Jessica Love wonders at THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
  • Hilary Wagner mourns over THE DEATH OF YORIK MORTWELL -- with giveaway
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