A member of the Historical Novel Society and former reviewer for the Historical Novels Review, Julie lives in the Bay Area with her husband and rescue cats, and loves reading, following the San Francisco Giants, and enjoying the amazing natural beauty of Northern California.
The Pilgrim Glass, a finalist in the 2005 Faulkner-Wisdom competition and semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, was published in 2010.
Her second novel, Oleanna, short-listed for finalists in the 2011 Faulkner-Wisdom literary competition, was published in 2012. Dido's Crown, a literary-historical adventure, is her latest novel, published in 2016.
Where did you grow up?
I spent the first part of my childhood in the Denver metro area. We lived there until I was 13, and it was a great place to grow up – my bedroom window had a view of the entire Front Range. After that we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, which is, of course, an incredible place to live. I've lived here ever since, save for some time spent in Virginia for grad school.
When did you begin writing?
I started writing back in 2001 when I was 30. I'd never written fiction (beyond requirements for school) – I was much more focused on non-fiction. In fact, in high school, I wanted to be a journalist. But, it turns out, fiction is where my heart and my spirit are. Though I've definitely had my rough days, writing fiction is one of the best things that's happened to me.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
I feel most energetic and creative in the morning, so I generally write before I start my day job. I like to get up and cruise social media and check email while I’m drinking my coffee, but I'm usually writing by 5:00 for an hour or so before I get my day started. On the weekends, I'll usually start writing around 8:00 or so.
What is this book about?
Ultimately, it's a story about secrets, and the lies we tell to others and ourselves.
Here's the official blurb: Set in Tunisia and France in 1935, Dido's Crown is a taut literary-historical adventure influenced by Indiana Jones, The Thin Man, and John le Carré.
Mary Wilson MacPherson has always been adept at putting the past behind her: her father's death, her sister's disappearance, and her complicated relationship with childhood friends Tom and Will. But that all changes when, traveling to North Africa on business for her husband, Mary meets a handsome French-Tunisian trader who holds a mysterious package her husband has purchased — a package which has drawn the interest not only of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, but the Nazis as well.
When Tom and Will arrive in Tunisia, Mary suddenly finds herself on a race across the mesmerizing and ever-changing landscapes of the country, to the shores of southern France, and all across the wide blue Mediterranean. Despite her best efforts at distancing herself from her husband's world, Mary has become embroiled in a mystery that could threaten not only Tunisian and British security in the dangerous political landscape of 1935, but Mary's beliefs about her past and the security of her own future.
What inspired you to write it?
I started writing the book while I was still trying to finish my last novel, Oleanna, in 2011.
I've always been interested in North Africa but had never planned on writing about the Maghreb. But I had a really powerful dream about Tunisia and I suppose I took it as a sign. I also love reading historical fiction set slightly off the beaten track, so it was natural to dig into learning about this beautiful country.
Who is your favorite character from the book?
Oh gosh, this is really hard. I love them all for different reasons. If you really pressed me, I think it would be Alain (who didn't actually appear until a much later draft). He's so suave, but that charm hides the real pain and conflict he deals with every day. And yet he's still good and steadfast. And gorgeous as hell.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Readers can purchase Dido's Crown (in paperback and ebook) anywhere they purchase books online, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.
Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?
I don't have a trailer, but I do have a YouTube channel where I've posted a number of videos giving context to the world of Dido's Crown: introductions to Tunisia, the upheaval of 1935, and numbers stations. Upcoming videos will include an overview of fashion in 1935 and an introduction to the British Secret Service.
What is up next for you?
I'm working on my next book now. It's set in the Bay Area in 1906, right at the time of the great earthquake. There's plenty of stories of the earthquake in San Francisco itself, but there are scores of amazing stories of destruction and heroism elsewhere. The history of the Santa Clara Valley (now known as the Silicon Valley) is fascinating, and little known outside California, so I'm excited to share those stories!