Regular readers of this blog will already know about my dear friend and today's special guest - Julie Cohen
It's just over 12 years (how the heck did it get to be that long ago?!) since I first met Julie - in person that is - I'd already met her on line on various forums. Then we met up at the RNA Conference which was in Durham that year - and since then I've been lucky enough to have her in my personal and my professional life. When I first met her she didn't have a single book published - now she's a real shooting star with a wonderfully sparkly success that I'm thrilled to see. This summer the fantastic news was that her latest novel Dear Thing had been chosen as one of the Summer Reads in the Richard and Judy Bookclub.. It's her special focus week this week - so look out for the book in WH Smith if you're in the UK.
And if you're not . . . well, I'm offering you a chance to win a paperback copy (see part 2 of this special interview for more details about this book). I was lucky enough to be given a personal copy by Julie herself but as I want to share this book with you I've bought an extra copy that will be in a prize draw after the weekend.- All you have to do to have your name in the draw is to come along and chat with Julie - leave a comment and you'll be in with a chance of winning this great read.
So now it's time to hand you over to Julie -
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Your current book (Dear Thing) has been chosen to be a Richard and Judy Summer Read. This must have been hugely exciting as well as incredibly frustrating when you couldn’t tell anyone. How did this all happen – and how did you hear the exciting news.
I heard the news that my book had been chosen for the Richard and Judy summer book club, in February. I was alone in the house when my agent rang, and I screamed and did a little dance. It's incredible exposure for your book to be chosen. But my agent told me that I must tell no one at all until the list was announced in May. She eventually capitulated: I could tell my husband, and my mother.
My husband was on his way to Japan but I caught him before he got on his flight. My mother, I told a couple of weeks later when I went home to the US to visit. Otherwise I had to keep my mouth shut. It was very, very hard at times—but at other times it was like waiting for Christmas, knowing that there's this marvellous thing coming up, and just knowing makes you happy.
I met with Richard and Judy in April, and because I couldn't tell anyone about it, I had to invent a cover story for why I was buying a new dress, getting my hair done, and wearing full make-up to drop off my kid at school. Fortunately I was filming at Penguin in the morning so I just told everyone that.
And the day that the news broke, I spent the entire day on Twitter and Facebook answering lovely, lovely messages from gorgeous friends. It was like a birthday, but even better. I don't think I've had quite such an
exciting day since I had my first book accepted for publication.
How did you come to write Dear Thing ?
Several of my dear friends have suffered from infertility; I myself had three miscarriages when my husband and I were trying for a baby. I know how devastating it can be. I also know how tough and rewarding motherhood can be. And that's why I wanted to write Dear Thing, which is about an infertile couple and the single mother who offers to be their surrogate—I wanted to explore these emotions, and look at the same situation from two very different women's points of view.
You’ve written books for several different publishers, starting with Mills and Boon and then going on to Little Black Dress etc. Do you you think your writing has changed strongly from publisher to publisher?
In the ten years since I sold my first book, the sort of story I've written has changed a lot. I've gone from writing series romance, to line-specific rom-com, to mainstream light women's fiction, to more book-club serious women's fiction. I think my books have become more complex, both in structure and in content and topic. I've been extremely lucky to have editors, right from the beginning, who have believed in me and who have challenged me to up my game with every book I write.