As one of the first authors contracted with Escape, what is it like being with a publisher from brand new to established?
Escape was brand new when they published my novel Fast Forward, and I was a brand new author. So it feels like we grew up together! It’s been exciting to watch the growth of Escape and I’m proud and grateful to be one of their authors, and now have ten books published with them.
The importance of family is a long-running theme in many of your books, why is the inclusion of extended family so important?
Family is important to me, and I think it defines many of our life experiences and memories, and I like to capture this in my books. Writing about family also touches on the need for belonging that is common for everyone, whether it be with real family or those who feel like family. My Tarrin’s Bay series is about people finding their new beginning and a sense of belonging, both to a place, and with the people they care about.
Your new book Memories of May is out on the 5 May, it also explores the themes of family; What was your inspiration for this story? What was your Eureka! moment?
When I started writing the first book in the Tarrin’s Bay series, The January Wish, I created a bookstore that one of the characters gets a temporary job in – Mrs May’s Bookstore. From that moment, I knew I would write a book (for the month May, of course) about this bookstore and the family behind it. Over the next few years I would get little ideas here and there about the May story and jot them down, and then I included the main character Olivia, who runs the bookstore, as a secondary character in April’s Glow. I was inspired to show the importance of family in defining our lives and memories, and how a legacy can live on through generations. I had two grandmothers who were a big part of my life and I have many happy memories with them, and so I also wanted to acknowledge that and honour their memory. I also love bookstores, so there’s that. 😉
Can you give us a little tease of the relationship between Olivia and Joel?
I loved writing this opposites attract romance between Olivia and Joel. She has been living a safe and predictable life of routine to provide for her daughter, while Joel has been living on the road as an adventure traveller-turned-author who takes risks and lives in the moment. From the moment he turns up in Tarrin’s Bay at her bookstore, her life turns upside down as he tries to encourage her to live outside of her comfort zone and experience book-worthy moments. As they spend time together doing his list of challenges, and as Olivia is a student in his memoir writing course, sparks start to fly and a few more personal challenges present themselves. They have a fun, friendly connection with cute and flirty text messages, but believe nothing can happen because of their different lifestyles, but their unexpected feelings for each other have them both questioning their beliefs.
The corners of Olivia’s lips turned upwards in a smile as their flirting triggered feelings she wasn’t sure how to handle. She texted him back with a hashtag and a kiss emoticon.
#didyoujusthashtagkissme? he asked.
She couldn’t contain her smile. Especially when he sent another text with a hashtag and two kiss emoticons.
#didyoujusthashtagkissmetwice? she asked.
#yes, he replied, and then her heart hashtag-fluttered at what he added next: #andthatwasntpretend
What kind of qualities most endear you to Olivia as a heroine?
She is devoted to her family and raising her daughter on her own, as well as carrying on her grandmother’s legacy by running the family bookstore that was set up after the war. Olivia is committed, reliable, caring and kind, and also understands the healing power of a warm beverage and a good book!
And Joel as a hero? What is your ideal hero?
He is courageous and a ‘doer’. He doesn’t wait for life to bring him good things, he goes out and gets them. He takes responsibility for his life and encourages others to do the same. Plus, he writes! I like a hero who’s intelligent both emotionally and intellectually, energetic, adventurous, and not afraid to be himself. Authenticity and confidence is sexy.
What came first, the plot, or the characters?
Actually, the setting! Mrs May’s Bookstore. From there, it was characters… who is Mrs May? Who are her family? And what secrets could be hidden in the pages of their unwritten story? The characters came easily, the plot took a bit more work. Especially as the story alternates between past and present, through an elderly Mrs May recalling her memories of life and love as a young woman. I had to go back and forth to make sure everything made sense, so it was a more challenging book to write in that sense, but very rewarding.
I hear you write across genres, from Romance to colouring books; what is it like to publish vastly different works? Do you find it difficult to switch or does it keep you on your toes?
I find it creatively stimulating and exciting to publish different works. I never set out to write different genres, because for me, it’s always about idea first, genre second. When I get an idea, I go with whatever it is and then see where it fits. I don’t find it difficult to switch between them, and sometimes I have a couple of completely different books on the go at the same time… I actually find it easier and more fulfilling than writing the same type of book every time.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any cool or quirky hobbies?
I love to do anything artistic; create drawings and paintings, and I love to cook (and share the results on my instagram page @julietmadisonauthorartist !) I also like to take photos of just about anything that takes my interest, and I love eating out at good cafes and restaurants and having fascinating and positive conversations where small talk doesn’t play a role. 😉
Where do you like to write? How do you write?
I write in a variety of places; at my dining table, in bed, on my balcony, on the couch, or at a café. I also write on the train or a plane if I’m travelling somewhere. I like to set a timer and do writing sprints in 30 minute segments. That’s the process that works for me to help me write fast. Before this, I always do a plot outline, because I find that makes the writing process easier and faster too.
*I always make a Pinterest board for each of my books to help inspire me as I write and to give readers a visual idea of what the book is like, you can see the Memories of May board here.
Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there?
Write what you care about, what you feel passionate about. Allow your unique self to shine through and don’t try to be anyone else. Trust your own voice. Also, learn about the craft of writing to keep improving, and always work on showing versus telling so that the reader can ‘experience’ the story, and not just be ‘told’ the story. Most importantly, if you love writing, never give up! Just keep doing it, even if you get rejections. Do it for the love of it and it will show through in your writing, and people will see that.