Hi Julie, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed. Please tell me a bit about yourself and your background.
“Thanks to you, April, for the amazing review, and for inviting me to your blog.
Suicide City, a Love Story is my first novel, about a teenage girl who runs away from the farm and falls in love with a heroin-addicted street kid. My second, It Isn’t Cheating if He’s Dead, is about a woman whose schizophrenic fiancé, after being missing for four years, is found dead. The story follows her grief and healing, and watches her fall in love again, all while helping a homeless man get back home. Mazie is my third baby – but not my last! I’m working on two other novels, with a plan to publish both in 2015.
Writing isn’t my day job (it’s my 5 a.m. job, my lunch time, weekend, ‘oh, I have five minutes to spare’ job). I am also the Chief Financial Officer for a local charity that is a historical village. My kids are home with me until they finish university or can afford to venture out on their own. I am in no rush to be an empty-nester, so I don’t encourage their departure!”
Ah, so that is what you meant by “counter of beans” on your Twitter page! That makes me laugh so hard! That is good, really good!
And checking out your other novels… wow! You really write some intense stories! Incredible!
I recently read and reviewed Mazie Baby, a novel about domestic violence, and one woman’s efforts to save herself and her daughter. I absolutely loved this book, and I know it will stick with me for a long time. What inspired you to write Mazie Baby? Is it based on actual events? Or purely fictional?
“Mazie is purely fictional, although some of the dialogue, and basic knowledge of manipulation, control, and abuse is based on my own experiences and the experiences of women I know. The daughter of a friend of my Mom’s was murdered in the street by her husband before he went inside and turned the gun on himself – in front of their two-year-old son. Domestic violence is real and all-too common. Even if there is no laying-on of hands, emotional abuse can be almost as damaging, and many women (and men) don’t realize that it is abuse because their partner isn’t harming them physically. But often, the physical and emotional forms of abuse go hand-in-hand. Mazie Baby is sort of a manifesto for the abused.”
“Manifesto for the abused” is a perfect description for Mazie Baby.
What was the hardest thing about writing Mazie Baby?
“The scenes of violence are intense. I often had to walk away from the screen and take a break. Even though I like to write about real-life situations, sometimes real-life sucks. And blows.”
Yes, and I noticed many of your fans, (as well as myself), who wrote reviews had a similar emotional response to several of the scenes in Mazie Baby.
The last straw for Mazie was when her abusive husband turned on their daughter, Ariel. Before this, Mazie felt she could handle his abuse, but she wasn’t going to allow her husband to abuse their daughter.
Did Mazie escape to save her daughter from her abusive husband, or to prevent her daughter (who was now becoming a young adult) from mimicking her own actions, such as being apologetic when she wasn’t the one in the wrong? Or both?
“Mazie had planned to escape with Ariel before the husband began hitting their daughter. That plan was to save herself from certain death at his hands. But, as you say, him turning to Ariel, was the last straw that pushed her plan ahead. It was to save Ariel from being trapped in Mazie’s familiar patterns, save her from losing her sassy, outgoing ‘Arielness’ at the hands of her own father. And, if he stayed true to his own pattern of escalation, to save Ariel’s life.”
In Mazie Baby, you outline the familiar pattern for victims of domestic violence: anger, resentment, violence, justification, and repentance. Did you have to study up about the patterns of domestic violence, and/or read up on case studies to write this story?
“I do research for all of my novels to ensure I get the details right. I read case studies and researched signs of an abusive relationship. I delved into battered women syndrome and PTSD (which I had also researched for It Isn’t Cheating if He’s Dead). I also researched the highways and little specifics of routes driven or towns they passed through or stayed in to be sure those were accurate for any readers who may live there (the entire story takes place in Canada and spans the country from Calgary, Alberta (my home town) to Cornwall, Ontario). I think research is critical to any good story.”
It is amazing to me all the behind the scenes work that goes into a good story. Speaking of research, how did you prepare before you sat down and composed this novel?
“I tend to research as I go, or in the second draft stage. I started this story during a NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) camp in July of 2013. When you commit to write 50,000 words in a month, all while continuing to go to work and fulfill your other daily duties, there is little time for research. I had the basic idea in my head, and one pivotal scene mapped out (though that scene ended differently than I had originally envisioned), and just started writing. I am a full-on pantser – I write by the seat of my pants without an outline.”
If given the chance, what actor would you have Cullen’s character play in a movie adaptation of Mazie Baby? What about Mazie? Ariel?
“Oy, I struggle with this. The only one that answer is easy for is Cullen. That name came from a character in Kindergarten Cop, and I do see my Cullen with Richard Tyson’s face. So, ignoring the space-time continuum and that fact that he’s too old to be my Cullen, he’d be my choice. For Mazie, the closest I can come is Rena Sofer, or perhaps Jessica Biel, if she dyed her hair black. I am not up on young actresses, so I Googled… In a sweet bit of kismet, I discovered Ariel Winter. She looks the part (if not a couple of years too old), and hey, she shares my Ariel’s name!”
Well that worked out perfectly! And my vote is for Rena Sofer to play Mazie. 🙂
Are you working on anything currently? If so, can you share with us what it is about, and when you expect to have it released?
“I have two novels in the works. The first one I plan to release is titled Goody One Shoe, a story about a 32-year-old virgin amputee editor with a painful past. She has cut herself off from the world emotionally, and edits her life with her mental red pen. About the same time she meets a man, she begins to edit stories in the newspaper with a real red pen, changing the ending of crime articles so that justice always prevails. Then her edits begin to come true.
The second novel is called The Orphan and the Rose. It is a fictional account of my parents’ love story, a very Canadian tale that spans four decades and 3600 kilometres. It is based on some truths, according to the stories I’ve been told, but fictionalized because I can’t rely on the accuracy of the stories (my mother has Alzheimer’s and my father passed away 20 years ago), and because I didn’t want to write a biography. I want to play with the characters in my family and have a little fun with it.
If the writing/editing/researching goes according to schedule (and it rarely does), Goody will be released in May, and Orphan by the end of the year.”
Excellent! I look forward to that!
Do you mostly write women’s fiction? And if so, what draws you to this genre?
“I never set out to write women’s fiction. I’ve recently re-categorized Mazie as psychological suspense. I just write the stories that need to be told, and let the genre fall where it may. I love stories based in reality, whose characters could be your family or your neighbours. Goody will skirt the edge of superhero fantasy – but there won’t be any fantasy, not in a literary sense.”
Do you ever get writer’s block? And if so, how do you get through it? Do you have any advice for writers that may help them get through the dreaded writer’s block?
“Writer’s block strikes me as something prolonged and painful. Some days I just don’t have the time, or the inclination, to write. Sometimes, like this past December, I get so embroiled in work that when I sit down to write, nothing good comes of it. My advice is twofold. One, don’t beat yourself up over it (or turn to alcohol). It happens to everyone. Two, try a process I like to call “word vomit.” Just empty your brain onto the page without truly thinking. This is also how I eke out the strains of an idea that aren’t fully formed. Eventually, something clicks.”
Is there anything else that I haven’t asked that you would like me to include?
“First some good news – Mazie Baby was named Best of 2014 by both Indie Reader, and Suspense Magazine. I’m humbled by making those lists, but secretly hoping it leads to an Indie Reader Discovery Award that I applied for.
Second, I’d like readers to understand that the landscape of indie authorship and self-publishing is changing. Many indies are working diligently to write excellent stories that are polished, edited, and worthy of sitting on the shelves alongside our traditionally-published counterparts. I am fortunate to be part of a wonderful group of like-minded authors, eNovel Authors at Work. We support each other, and other indies. We pay it forward.
Indie authors appreciate and rely on the support of our readers. If you like what you read (heck, even if you don’t), post a review. Spread the word. But most of all, keep reading.”
Congratulations on your awards! That is great to hear, and not at all surprising. Thank you so much again for agreeing to be interviewed. I loved having you here at A Well Read Woman blog. 🙂
More about Julie Frayn:
Julie Frayn pens award-winning novels and short stories that pack a punch. And a few stabs.
Julie’s first novel, Suicide City, a Love Story, won two gold medals in the 2013 Authorsdb cover contest. Her second, It Isn’t Cheating If He’s Dead, is the Books and Pals 2014 Readers’ Choice winner for women’s fiction, and she won honourable mention in the NYC Midnight 2014 short story challenge.
A bean counter by day, Julie revels in the written word. When she is not working or writing, she spends as much time as possible with her two children (grown adults, really), while they still think she’s cool. Follow her atwww.twitter.com/juliefrayn and subscribe to her blog at www.juliefrayn.com. —Goodreads Author Bio
Mazie schemes to save herself and her daughter. Her plan will work, if she can out-maneuver the monster who is a master of manipulation and control. She’s got one thing going for her, the one thing she truly owns. Mazie has moxie to the bone. But will it be enough?
It Isn’t Cheating if He’s Dead is a modern day fairy tale complete with damsel in distress, white knight, village paupers, an evil step-mother, a castle, and happily ever after. Full of rich characters and a palpable sense of place, it is a sexy tale that is never sappy.
Jemima Stone has waited four long years for Gerald, her missing fiancé, to come home. When he is found dead halfway across the country, the news is devastating.
Detective Finn Wight has been working Gerald’s case from the beginning. He refuses to drop it now, even though it is out of his jurisdiction. He keeps Jemima apprised of all his findings, no matter how painful.
Defending her ‘innocent’ clients fills Jemima’s days. Finn’s muscular frame and easy smile fill her fantasies. But nothing relieves the guilt. Guilt that she couldn’t prevent Gerald’s devolution from genius scientist, to absent-minded professor, to ‘bat-shit crazy’ at the hands of paranoid schizophrenia. Guilt that, not long after his death, she was finding solace, and happiness, in the arms of another man.
Feeding homeless in a local park helps ease Jemima’s pain. When a new ‘resident’ shows up, the others are wary. Though he refuses to speak, something in his eyes tells Jemima that he doesn’t belong there — that someone is looking for him.
Jemima and Finn join forces to discover the man’s identity. They uncover the secret that sent him running from home, but there is so much that even he doesn’t know. Will the truth send him over the edge for good? Or can Jemima bring him back to reality? Bring him home? Before it is too late.
Sixteen-year-old August Bailey yearns for more than pig slop and cow shit. She fantasizes about an apartment in the city, not a tiny house on an Iowa farm. She dreams of new clothes and falling in love with a worthy boy. Not hand-me-downs from the second hand store in Hubble Falls, population two-and-a-half, or having her jock boyfriend grope her and push her for sex. During another fight about makeup and boys, August’s controlling mother slaps her. And August hops the next bus out of town.
She arrives in Charlesworth to discover that reality and fantasy don’t mix. After a night of gunfire and propositions from old, disgusting men, she is determined to find the ‘real city,’ the ‘real people’ of her dreams. To prove to her mother, and herself, that she is the adult she claims to be.
When her money runs out, she is ‘saved’ by seventeen-year-old Reese, a kind boy with electric eyes and a gentleman’s heart. Reese lives on the streets. Though clean for months, he battles heroin addiction and the compulsion to cut himself. Each day is a struggle to make the right choice.
August falls in love with Reese, and knows her love can save him. She breaks down his emotional walls and he tells her his secrets – of abuse and the truth about his mother’s death.
As Reese’s feelings for August grow, so does the realization that keeping her could ruin her life too.
Suicide City is an edgy young adult novel. Told from the points of view of August, Reese, and August’s mother, the story takes an honest and sometimes explicit look at some hard realities including teen homelessness, drug use, child abuse and prostitution. But at its heart, it is the story of first love – and the consequences of every choice made.
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