JULIE MAYERSON BROWN lives on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, a rural suburb of Los Angeles, with her husband, two sons (who return from school periodically for laundry service and home-made chicken soup), four (yes FOUR) boxer dogs, and hundreds of wild peacocks. Her work has appeared in the Daily Breeze, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Jewish Journal, and Parenting Magazine.
An “at-home” mom and community volunteer for over twenty years, she is a founding member of Mothers Advocating Prevention, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting children and teens.
Her first novel, The Long Dance Home, was published in November of 2012 by Mischievous Muse Press, a subsidiary of World Nouveau Publishing.
Currently working on her next novel, Julie usually can be found in one of the quiet corners of her local library.
Your novel is called 'The Long Dance Home' please could you tell me about it?
We came up with that title because my protagonist is a former dancer who returns to her hometown with great reluctance, and it takes her a long time to realize exactly where she belongs.
'The Long Dance Home' is about Cece, please can you tell me snout her?
Cece's backstory, readers will learn, is that she was on the verge of becoming a prima ballerina when she suddenly quit dancing. Thirteen years of ballet lessons had made her a perfectionist and a little too controlling. She likes/need everything to go according to plan. Although Cece can be a bit demanding at times, everyone loves her - her family, her best friend, and especially her boyfriend, Doug.
I, of course, adore her. My intention was to create a lovable protagonist who has some faults and limitations, just like we all do. Naturally, it is because of her flaws that her life unravels. But when she picks up the pieces and realizes what she wants to do with her life, those flaws become her strengths.
Are any of the characters in 'The Long Dance Home' anything like you?
While there's a little bit of me in a few of the characters, the one most like me is Cece's step-mom, Julia. She is loving and practical. She takes care of everyone, adores her family, gives excellent advice (but only when it's asked for). She also loves to have her house filled with kids, friends and family and to throw great parties. That's me!
They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
Writing a book and actually getting it published through a traditional publisher was one of the biggest events in my life. I've been a writer for a long time, and the road to publication was arduous to say the least! I was fortunate to find my publisher through my writing group. She was familiar with my writing style and asked me if I had a holiday book. (Many writers do have a number of abandoned manuscripts collecting dust in drawers or folders or computer files). My answer was: "Well, not exactly, but I do have something that might work . . ." I ran home and pulled out a novel I had started about a former ballerina. Over the next week or so, I completely revised the outline. I set it at Christmastime, created bunches of new characters, changed the location, and basically revamped the entire story. I submitted the outline to the publishing company and was given the go-ahead to write my novel with the understanding that my completed manuscript would be sent up the editorial chain for approval. There was no guarantee they would publish my book. But I jumped in anyway and spent the next eight months to completing my first draft. I submitted it to the publisher and then waited . . . and waited . . . and waited. A tremendous amount of hard work and a little bit of "right time right place" got me published.
Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.
So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?
I would love to spend a day with Patty. She is Cece's best friend, and she has a few characteristics of some of my friends. Patty is funny and quirky and bold. Every scene she is in I loved writing, especially her dialogue. When I had a chapter without her, I couldn't wait to bring her back. I'd love to buy her a drink!
If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?
I would tell them to read "Six by Seuss," a collection of stories by the incredible Dr. Seuss. When my boys were little, it was their favorite nighttime book. Children love the rhymes, the rhythm, and the adorable characters, while adults recognize the lessons Seuss's stories teach.
If there was one saying that could sum up your life to date, what would it be?
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained." Writers take huge risks. Putting our stories out there makes us very vulnerable, but what choice do we have? We click that send button and then hope and pray and dream. I learned a long time ago that there's no point in keeping my stories locked up in my computer. They have to be released. Am I risking rejection every time? Absolutely.
What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?
Yes! I hope to see my next book out around the end of 2014. It's very different from The Long Dance Home. It's about two sisters growing up in the 70's with an alcoholic mother who invites danger into their home.
What or who in life inspires you?
My dad - he's 91 and still goes to work every day! And he loves his family.
What is your all time favourite book?
SO difficult to name one book, but I'd say it is "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It is beautifully written - full of mystery and intrigue. Some of the best character development I've ever read.
'The Long Dance Home' is set at Christmas time, what inspired this?
When I revamped my original story and turned it into a holiday novel, I realized that that was exactly what my manuscript needed. The plot, the setting, and the characters worked. The timeline made sense. And best of all, putting it at Christmas time let me include a small town production of my favorite ballet, The Nutcracker.
Thank you Julie for talking to 'The Love of a Good Book'