Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Interview with Julie K. Rose

Earlier this month I fell in love with Julie K. Rose's Oleanna, a wonderfully moving historical novel set in early 20th century Norway. I'm thrilled to share this interview with the author; read on to learn more about her and her writing, Oleanna, and what she does when she's not working on her novels. Be sure to check out the international giveaway as well!

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

Oh my lord. I think it was a school assignment in elementary school, and it was called Panzer the Super Dog, all about our German shepherd. Honestly, all I can remember about it is the drawing I did on the front, of the dog with a Superman cape. I expect he flew around and saved the world.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I almost always write in the morning, because that's when my brain is most awake. I get up at 4:30 and try to get an hour or so in before I do my workout, and start my day job. I get my coffee, light one of my Zena Moon candles, say a little prayer of thanks, and then ask for help making what I write beautiful and true. Then I say, "Let's kick ass" and, inevitably and anti-climatcially, stare at the screen for five minutes until I can get my brain to shift into gear.

Was Oleanna the original title of your book?

Yep. I don't think it could have been anything else.

As you were writing Oleanna, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

The whole book surprised me, actually. I had plotted a different kind of book at the beginning, but as they do, books and characters have a mind and a life of their own. Initially, the painter Nikolai Astrup was going to be Oleanna's love interest, and with him came themes of identity creation, and the interplay between artist and muse. But that wasn't what the book wanted to be, so he was relegated to a few mentions toward the end of the story. Anders replaced Nikolai fairly quickly, but his backstory was veiled to me for a long time. Torjus wasn't planned (in so many ways...) and Uncle Gunnar and Katrine were a complete surprise to me (though utterly delightful). The scene that surprised me the most was near the end of the book, when Oleanna made her decision. To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure what she was going to decide; she was being pretty cagey with me right up until the end.

Have you ever had a chance to visit Norway?

Yes, I was lucky enough to visit there with my husband in 2004. Three of my four grandparents were Norwegian, so it was a bit of a pilgrimage to see the country. We timed it so we could participate in the Syttende Mai festivities in Oslo, which was fantastic. We also went up to Bergen, and spent some time along the Sognefjord. It is a spectacular place; in fact, it reminded me a bit of Alaska, but on a more human and less overwhelming scale.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

I love to read, and I finally gave in and got a Kindle earlier this year. I was a bit resistant, but I love it. I find I'm reading even more now, but it's dangerous--my impulse control is being severely tested. Let's see, what else...I'm a huge San Francisco Giants fan, and I love the San Jose Sharks and the San Francisco 49ers, so pretty much year-round I've got a game to watch or listen to. I love driving over to the beach; my favorite is about 40 minutes from my home, just north of Santa Cruz. I'm a huge Doctor Who fan, so that keeps me occupied (and I'm beside myself waiting for series 7 to start). I also co-chair the Northern California chapter of the Historical Novel Society, so that keeps me out of trouble as well.

Read any good books recently?

Oh yeah! I just read How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, which was quite good. I've recently finished Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood and The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and I bow down to their keen insight in terms of human behavior and their incredible descriptive powers. Right now I'm reading Jerusalem by Cecelia Holland, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, and I'm trying to get into The Luminist by David Rocklin.

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My thanks to Ms. Rose for her time and answers. You can learn more about her and her books at her website.

GIVEAWAY!

I'm thrilled to be able to offer TWO copies of Oleanna to two lucky readers. To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US and international readers, ends 8/31.

18 comments:

  1. Up at 4:30 a.m. to write and work out before starting work?! Holy cow, that is awesome -- and some serious dedication! Oleanna sounds wonderful, and I can't say I've read anything set in Norway. How interesting!

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    1. I know, right??? Oleanna was so good -- a refreshing change from Scandinavian crime fic taking all the attention -- I just *loved* Oleanna and Anders.

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    2. I know Audra mentioned this, but the Kristin Lavransdatter series by Sigrid Undset (set in mediaeval Norway) is outstanding and well worth your time!

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  2. I always shake my head in that knowing way when an author talks about her characters seeming to have a life and a mind of their own. It seems to happen so, so often.

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    1. I kind of love it -- it explains why so many characters feel real/maddening/surprising -- they're taking the author along on a ride, too!

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    2. The way characters come to life, and develop a life of their own, is one of the great joys of writing, for sure.

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  3. I've never read historical novel set in early 20th century Norway. It sounds like a book I would enjoy!

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    1. It's wonderfully rural, so that ambiance is just great, a fav of mine -- and there's this emotional stuff with emigration to the US, Norwegian independence, shaping the story and characters, too -- really just wonderful.

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  4. That's what hours I'd like to write, if I didn't have a full time job that requires me to get up that early....

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    1. HA! Hours like that, I'd be crying...!

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    2. Of course, after a full day at the day job, I'm pooped and asleep by 8 or 8:30!

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  5. I don't think I've ever read anything which takes place in Norway. What an interesting interview.

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    1. Thank you, Diane -- this was such a good book -- a lovely armchair escape to rural Norway! ;)

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  6. Julie, Oleanna was truly a pleasure to read! Keep writing more like this.

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    1. Thank you so much; I'm so thrilled you enjoyed it!

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  7. I envy you being able to get writing early. My best time seems to be when I should be making dinner instead. I enjoyed The Pilgrim Glass, but haven't had a chance to read Oleanna yet.

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    1. I'm lucky that I'm best in the morning. And thanks for the kind words about The Pilgrim Glass!

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