Today’s author spotlight is focused on indie mystery author Julie Ryan. Rumor has it that Julie has enough books to start a library on her own! Sound familiar? I have a feeling she has a couple more books to recommend for your library! Without further ado, here’s… Julie!
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
OK – here goes. I live in rural Gloucestershire with a husband, son and two cats plus hundreds if not thousands of books. They are currently threatening to take over the house, as I can’t walk past a bookshop without buying something. To keep a record of what I’ve read I started blogging about three years ago, around the same time I started writing my first book.
How did you get started on your writing journey?
I’ve always written even as a child but mainly short stories. It was a chance encounter with a writer who moved into the village where I live that encouraged me to turn a short story into a novel. As a result ‘Jenna’s Journey’ came into being.
Are there any poets or writers who influence you? How so?
Too many to name them all but amongst the most influential I would say are John Fowles, especially his novel ‘The Magus’, Victoria Hislop as she writes so beautifully about Greece and Enid Blyton for inspiring my love of reading.
Let’s talk about your novel! What is it about
It’s about a woman whose marriage is on the rocks so she goes off to Greece on a whim ‘to find herself’. Whilst there she inadvertently becomes involved in an artifact smuggling ring, is trailed by the police, falls in love and there is a time slip ending or rather two endings as she tries to figure out which path she should take. You’ll have to read the book to find out if her future lies in Greece or in England.
How is the title significant?
It’s about both a physical and metaphorical journey for my heroine so I think the title sums it up quite well.
Where did inspiration for this come from?
I started with just a character and a brief idea of the plot. Initially she was going to be called Jemma and then Jenny but I think Jenna suits her much better. The idea came to me when I was looking out of the window one cold frosty morning and I wondered how my life would have been different if I’d stayed in Greece.
Tell us a little bit about the characters? What are they like and how did you come up with them?
It’s a work of fiction but it is based on some of the experiences I had whilst teaching in Greece in the 1980’s. Inevitably there is a bit of me in Jenna but she’ s a younger, prettier version of me and I certainly didn’t meet any artifact smugglers. As for the other characters, once I started writing Jenna’s story the other characters just took on a life of their own. I love it when that happens although they do surprise me sometimes.
Who do you think would like your story and what kind of readership are you aiming for?
They say you should know your reader but when I was writing it, I didn’t have a particular reader in mind. I just wrote the kind of book which I enjoy reading myself so it’s a mix of romance, mystery and crime. I’ve had good feedback from women who enjoy chick lit as well as men who enjoy crime and vice-versa, so although I’d say it’s predominantly women’s contemporary fiction, it’s the kind of book that can be enjoyed by almost any adult reader.
What is the message you are trying to get across in your book?
I think the main message is that life is short so grab your chances while you can! Sometimes you also have to be proactive in making opportunities happen rather than waiting for them to fall into your lap.
What is your writing process like?
You really don’t want to go there! I can’t plan out a story for the life of me, as I prefer to be surprised just like the reader. Consequently, I write whenever I can just getting the story down on paper. When I’m focused I manage about 3000 words a day but then I might leave it for a couple of weeks. I need time for the story to percolate in my mind before writing the next part. It does mean that the editing process is an absolute nightmare.
How do you go about editing your story?
I start by editing the language first, checking punctuation, spelling and grammar. Then I look at the story and that’s where the fun begins! I make note on each chapter and then decide if they need to be moved or if they ‘fit’. Sometimes I need to flesh out the story, other times I cut it if it’s too wordy. Then I go back and do line edits before passing it on to beta readers for their views. I could probably have written ‘Jenna’s Journey’ three times over with all the changes I made but it’s a necessary process.
Where did you find your cover artist and what was the process like?
I find the photographs on either Shutterstock or Fotolia and then the cover designer works her magic. With my old publisher Booktrope, you build your own team. I knew what I wanted so the cover design was relatively easy for the ebook. It’s a lot more complicated if you plan to do a print copy so that was a sharp learning curve but I’m delighted with the results.
How did you go about getting published?
I originally self-published Jenna’s Journey on Amazon to gauge the level of interest. Then I submitted to various publishers before being accepted by Booktrope. Unfortunately they closed their doors at the end of May so I’ve decided to self-publish again for the moment.
What was your self-publishing experience like?
I was lucky to have a mentor in the guise of a writer friend who guided me through the potential mire. It was hugely exciting to think that soon people all over the world would be able to read my book. For the trickier bits such as formatting and cover design, I prefer to pay someone and the rest of the process was surprisingly straightforward.
What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
I’m a bit of a control freak so the biggest pro is being able to control everything from the cover to the price. The downside is that it’s just you. There’s no back-up, no marketing team, no shoulder to cry on. I had to learn very quickly about how to market my book if I wanted anyone to read it.
What were the surprises? Good or bad? If so, what were they?
I’m always surprised and relieved when someone I don’t know buys my book and leaves a review to say they enjoyed it. That means so much. Most writers are filled with self-doubt and I’m no exception so whenever I feel like giving up, a good review can totally lift my spirits.
How do you go about promoting your book as a self-published author?
I started following people on Twitter so that when I post it should be seen by more than just a couple of people. I also set up an author page on Facebook and joined a lot of online writing/ reading groups. As a blogger, I also have contact with a lot of writers so I’ve built up an online community of supporters and that helps enormously. At the start it’s also good to do an online blog tour so that at least you will have a few reviews. Other than that I really don’t know what else to do but am always open to new ideas.
Is there something about the whole process you wish someone had told you before? Good or bad?
I wish someone had told me to start writing when I was twenty years younger! In my case though I think it is a question of now being the right time. Maybe I’m just a slow starter?
Do you have any advice for writers who want to self-publish?
Start the build –up to promotion as early as possible, well before you intend to publish.
What plans do you have for the future of your writing?
So far I’ve written three books in the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna’s Journey, Sophia’s Secret and Pandora’s Prophecy as well as a Christmas rom-com called ‘Callie’s Christmas Countdown. I’m planning a fourth in the Greek series and am currently working on something completely different; literary fiction with a romantic underlay.
What are you social accounts if people want to connect with you?
Social Media Links:
- Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.
- Author Central Account: http://www.amazon.
com/Julie-Ryan/e/B00F0VYX34/ ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_ 1
- Website Url: http://
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/
- Pinterest: https://www.
- Goodreads: https://www.
Pandora’s Prophecy https://www.amazon.
Callie’s Christmas Countdown https://www.amazon.
Author bio and links
Jenna’s Journey is the first novel in Julie Ryan’s Greek Islands Series, a series she did not set out to create but which took on its own life and grew, rich and fascinating. This is the first of three published so far, and now as a newly released edition in the USA from Booktrope, it promises to delight readers looking for the hidden dark sides of dream vacations in the Greek Isles. Pandora’s Prophecy and Sophia’s Secret make up the rest of the trilogy.
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