Wayland resident and nationally recognized author Juliette Fay was kind enough spend time with Wayland Patch, answering questions about her latest novel and her unique experience as a second-career writer. Let's jump right in!
Patch: Your books deal with heartfelt topics that many women can relate to: divorce, rebuilding lives and teenage angst. How do you find the ability to delve into the characters that you create in your fiction?
Julie: For me, character development is a little like method acting. I try to be the part, feel what that character is feeling, imagine the reactions, the fears, the hopes. It makes me sympathetic to their plights. I love all ofmy characters – even the bad guys – because I know how they got to this point in their lives.
Patch: You went to Boston College for your undergraduate degrees in Human
Development and Theology. What especially formative memories do you have of your undergraduate education, and how may they have shaped any of your books or characters?
Julie: As an undergraduate I was very involved in the PULSE and Appalachia Volunteer Programs, which inspired me to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps — much like a Catholic Peace Corps — upon graduation. Those were the most formative experiences from my BC years, and of my life, which is probably why each of my stories include some sort of social service thread.
"In Shelter Me," Janie gets some perspective on her life by volunteering at a local soup kitchen; in "Deep Down True," Dana cooks for families in crisis through an organization called Comfort Food. My next novel is about a man who’s spent his adulthood as a nurse in the poorest countries of the world, gets burned out and returns to his hometown to sort himself out. I can’t seem to get away from the idea of volunteerism!
Patch: What advice do you have for other adults who want to "pick up the pen" again? What helped you to begin to write again, after several years of a hiatus and devoting your time to career and family?
Julie: My best advice is be kind to yourself. Be patient. You probably won’t be writing a Pulitzer Prize winner the first time — and that’s fine! Let yourself have fun with it, and don’t worry about whether it’s good or what anyone else might think.
I finally took the plunge after reading a spectacularly awful book. It planted the idea that maybe I could come up with something a little better.
Patch: You kept a journal all through your teenage years. Do you think that today's Internet-savvy teens will get the same rich experience from e-journalling as many of us older folks got from traditional writing? What advice do you have for young writers who have not lost their passion for the daily scribble-session?
Julie: Sometimes the hardest thing for young writers – and seasoned writers! – is getting the imagined critics out of our heads so we can just write. Journaling, electronically or on paper, is a great way to develop your own voice without the pressure of anyone correcting or judging you. It also offers good practice in delving into the feelings behind the actions. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Patch: Do you have plans for your third novel? "Deep Down True" and "Shelter Me" both have their own complex characters and unique situations. Who is your
favorite character from one of your books?
Julie: I’m about three-quarters of the way through the first draft of my next novel, and I’m really excited to finish it and start fine-tuning. As far as favorite characters, that’s a little like asking a mother who her favorite child is … but I’ll admit that the kid characters are my favorites. Dylan from "Shelter Me" and Alder from "Deep Down True" are definitely right up there.
Patch: Has life changed very much since your first novel was published?
Julie: The promotional aspects of publishing have fallen onto authors’ shoulders so much more in recent years. We have to be tech-savvy and networking and Facebooking and Tweeting … It’s a lot to take on in addition to the work of actual writing. I have to admit that being a fairly social person, I don’t mind it as much as some authors do. I’m thrilled to interact with readers in any way they want to get in touch. My website is: www.juliettefay.com. On Facebook, I can be found at: www.facebook.com/Juliette.Fay.author. On Twitter I’m @juliettefay.
Patch: Will you be appearing at any upcoming book-signings in the eastern Massachusetts area? Patch readers will want the details!
Julie: Yes! I’ll be at Book Ends in Winchester on Thursday, March 31, 2011, [at] 7 p.m. I’ll also be at the Wellesley Booksmith in April, but that date hasn’t been confirmed yet.
For an update on that and other events outside Massachusetts, my events page is: http://juliettefay.com/events
Patch: Where is your latest novel available for purchase?
Julie: I’m happy to say it’s everywhere — bookstores, online, airports, gift shops.