Publication date: May 1, 2015
Publisher: Great Plains Publications
Author: Jodi Carmichael
Six months ago, Julia's life was perfect. Then her dad died. Now she lives with her grieving mother and sick grandmother in a puny apartment above their bookstore. After a dark bout of depression, Julia is fragile, and mourns both her father and her old life. But she has one thing to be happy about: Jeremy, the most popular boy at school, has chosen her. Jeremy's love for Julia is passionate, even obsessive. As she grows closer to Jeremy, Julia pushes her disapproving friends and family away. But Jeremy only becomes more controlling and Julia has to decide what lines cannot be crossed.
ABOUT JODI CARMICHAEL:
JODI CARMICHAEL lives in Winnipeg where she can often be found dancing in the living room with her two wildly imaginative daughters, her patient and supportive husband, and a scruffy Border Terrier named Zoe. Jodi’s previous book for young readers, Spaghetti Is NOT A Finger Food, won numerous awards and has been a multi-week Bestseller.
Visit Jodi Carmichael at www.jodicarmichael.com.
Connect with the Author:
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Do you have a specific writing style?
I write by the seat of my pants – a Pantser – but I like to think I am in recovery and am attempting plotting to stay away from massive rewrites. I love to write dialogue and it flows through me fast in the first draft and then I fill in the scenes with setting, senses, emotions, character movement, etc.
How did you come up with the title?
Well, it started as Who Needs Romeo; A Tale of a Modern Day Juliet, but that become ridiculous after the rewriting began. Forever Julia comes from an important scene between Julia and her boyfriend Jeremy and really is the heart of the story. Julia needs to decide who she is and who she belongs to; forever.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, that love is not abusive. That abuse and control can disguise themselves as love and infatuation and it even a smart girl like Julia can be fooled. And finally, even if you get yourself into a relationship that goes dark, it is never too late to get out.
How much of the book is realistic?
All of it. Julia could be any girl, in any city, at any high school. She is attempting to balance school, work, home life, her friendships, and her first relationship with a boy. When Jeremy becomes too possessive and ultimately physically abusive she is confused and doubts her inner voice, at first. Lots of girls experience this, and they need to know to trust their gut and if they wonder, “Is this what love is supposed to be like?” then they need to seriously consider getting out or at least talking to a friend, parent, or trusted adult.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Sadly, I have known too many girls and women who have been in abusive relationships and what seems to be the same for each of them as how slowly the abuse sneaks in. The abuser is sly, takes his time, and then when they are fully in love, then the control, isolation, verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse begins.
What books have most influenced your life most?
There are so many to pick from!
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I loved Anne Shirley and wanted to be as brave and feisty as she was. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving has stayed with me because it was so beautifully written and Owen Meany had such a compassionate heart. I just read All the Light we Cannon See by Anthony Doerr and it reads like poetry. It is a masterpiece. I am a John Green fan and I loved A Fault in our Stars because of the near perfect dialogue. He is a master of character voice. Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This may be my current top pick. “Kinder than is necessary. Because it's not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.” Those are words to live your life by and I think of them almost daily.
What book are you reading now?
I have two on the go; The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie; A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Alan Bradley and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
What are your current projects?
I am in the midst of writing a middle grade novel; Ford and Ellie: Family of Spies. It is loosely based on the mystery of my Grandfather's still sealed World War II records. Few facts are known about his RCAF years, but family legends of spying with William Stephenson, covert flight plans, and code breaking abound. In my novel, Ford and Ellie, two 12-year-old cousins solve the mystery while retracing their Great-Grandfather's SOE footsteps. Set in Paris, it is a current day James Bond meets Spy Kids.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My writing group; The Anita Factor – 8 of the best writers and creative minds I know! We’ve been meeting every second Thursday at McNally Robinson Booksellers to share our writing, receive feedback, and encourage each other to stay the plan and not give up for over 4 years now.
Do you see writing as a career?
I am a dreamer and a positive thinker, so I say yes! The reality is, you need to redefine your idea of what career means. It is extremely difficult to make writing your only source of income, but some remarkable few do it and do it well. I pair writing with other jobs, which allows me to stay afloat and write. This is pretty typical for most writers and I would think artists in general.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was raised at the library, so my love of books was fostered at a very young age. My mom read us a lot of poetry and never said no to any book we decided to read. It was exhilarating to read my mom’s books when I was 11 and 12. My love for writing was cemented in 7th grade when I read a novel I was writing to my classmates, and they were riveted.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure! This is a scene at the Paris airport early in Ford and Ellie: Family of Spies.
Ford hurried to Ellie. She was speaking to the man at the tourism booth. Her arms were full of maps and pamphlets. She spoke better French than Ford did, and she wasn’t even in French Immersion School. Heck, she wasn’t even Canadian! Ford tried hard not to be jealous of her, but it wasn’t always easy having a genius for a cousin. Ellie got their great-grandfather’s Einstein smart brain. Ford, on the other hand didn’t get any of E.H. Crawford’s infamous brilliance. He only inherited his great-grandfather’s last name as his first and Ford knew without a doubt, that he was merely average. Ford was middle of the road at sports, comme ci comme ca at school, and only so-so when it came to video games. He joked that he was perfect at being mediocre. But it was more of a lame Uncle Jim sort of joke that laugh out loud funny. Ford said it to ease the sting of being the only un-uber smart member of their family. It fooled everyone, except Ellie. Ford could tell she tried hard not to rub her brilliance in his face, but she never acted dumb. That would be worse. Way worse. It would be too close to pity.
“Ellie,” Ford said and tapped her on her shoulder.
“Ford!” she said, her voice bubbled forth. She threw everything to the floor and bear-hugged him. Thankfully she wasn’t as strong as Uncle Jim. Her thick hair flew around his shoulders like a shawl. The best thing about Ellie, in Ford’s opinion, was you always knew what she was feeling. Happy, sad, furious – she let you know.
She pulled away and hooted with her fist pumped high.
“Now, our vacation can begin!” she said.
“You are crazy!” Ford said.
Ellie punched him in the arm. “Hey!”
“Not like the rest of our family crazy,” he said, remembering the security guard’s comment. “A good crazy. You know - bon fou!”
“Bon fou,” she said and laughed, her light-brown doe eyes shone. “I have decided to take that as a compliment. Bon fou pour deux.” She pointed at the two of them.
“How much stuff did you pack?” Ford asked, as they picked up the papers that lay scattered around Ellie’s suitcases. He’d crammed everything he needed for the summer into one suitcase and his backpack only contained his laptop, phone, and passport.
“A lady can never be too prepared.”
“When did you become a lady?’
She thumped him again, this time on his thigh and her knuckles dug deep.
“Charlie horse!” he cried. “What the...”
Ford swatted at her shoulder. She jumped out of his reach, laughing.
“Sucka’,” she drawled. “Don’t be messing with this bon fou American!”
She raced away, darting like a cat, through the crowd. Her hair, like a cape, whooshed after her.
“Pardon et moi,” the man at the booth said, as Ford slung his back pack over his shoulder.
“Qui?” Ford said.
“Ce sera euro onze.” He pointed to the display case and the prices of the various maps.
“11 euro - what? I mean quoi – just - never mind,” Ford said, handing the man a 20 euro note. Leave it to Ellie to stick him with the bill for her maps.
“La fille n’est pas si fou, eh?” He said, and snickered as he passed the change to Ford.
“That’s for sure. She’s way too smart to be crazy,” Ford said and laughed. This holiday was going to be the best one yet.
Ford scooped up the one pamphlet she’d forgotten. The words, “Tourism France” splashed across a montage of photos of cafes, museums, and art galleries in Paris. An old black and white picture of a café caught his attention. Most of the restaurant was hidden under the white scrawled “France” but there was something familiar about the place. A fleeting moment of déjà vu passed through Ford, as he ran his finger over the snap shot. He felt as if he’d been there before, but that was impossible. He’d never been to France before.
“Weird,” he muttered, figuring he must have seen this photo or one just like it in the hundreds of photos they’d seen on the internet when they were planning their holiday.
He stared at the small picture, trying to decipher the name of the café from the awning. All that was legible was the final word, “Magots.” What did that mean in English? Maggots? Ick. No, that couldn’t be right. Who’d eat at a maggot restaurant?
“Hey! Slow poke! Are you coming?” Ellie called. Ford’s head popped up. He stuffed the glossy pamphlet into the side pocket of his backpack, with good intentions to return to the mystery of the Maggot restaurant. Surely Ellie would know what Magots meant in English.
He didn’t realize how important a bug café would prove to be.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
So far, my books have been set in Winnipeg or within Manitoba. With Ford and Ellie it is set in Paris, and I have used Google earth as much as possible, but I will have to take a research trip to France. That will be amazing.
Who designed the covers?
Never me, that’s for sure! I know what I like when I see it, but design is not my forte. My first book, Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food was designed by Little Pickle Press in California. Forever Julia was resigned by Relish Design and I love it!
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Tearing Julia down. Tearing her and Annika apart. Isolating her from those who loved her most so she can save herself from her destructive relationship with Jeremy. It was so hard to do that, but it needed to be done so she had a journey of self-discovery to embark upon.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
So much. I learned more about the insidious nature of abuse. How it sneaks in when you aren’t looking. I also learned that writing dark themes is far more challenging for me, but extremely rewarding.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Do not give up. Perseverance is a key ingredient to getting published. There are thousands of talented writers that will never have a published book because they quit writing. Plus, during the time it takes to land your first deal, your writing will improve – if you write regularly and work to improve your craft. For me, my writing group was integral in that area as was getting into the Manitoba Writers’ Guild Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program. My mentor, Carolyn Gray, is a master story-teller and she helped me get Forever Julia ready for submission to publishers.
What genre do you consider your book(s)?
Do you ever experience writer's block?
Arg. Yes. It sucks. To force myself through it, I write a blog post, or a series of blog posts. I do more writing exercises, read more books, read inspirational writing books. Whatever it takes to get to the other side of “The Block.” I actually wrote a blog post about writers block back in 2012. You can read it here: http://writingandotherlifelessons.blogspot.ca/2012/09/5-ways-to-boost-writers-block.html
Do you write an outline before every book you write?
An outline. They would be so helpful, but sadly I am plot-challenged. I like to think of myself as a pantser-in-recovery. I now do a quick chapter by chapter description to ensure I have enough dramatic action for the story arc.
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Of course. It is part of the process and happens within first drafts. There is this saying, “It’s okay to write a lot of garbage as long as you edit brilliantly.” I am not sure who said it first but it is 100% true.
What is your favourite theme/genre to write about?
Most of my story ideas start with a fascinating character and then I write what suits their personality and the story they want to tell. My first two books have been contemporary fiction, but the middle grade I am currently writing, Ford and Ellie, is speculative fiction.
While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?
Always. It is the coolest feeling and it has happened with every one of my books. Each time I am so stoked to be in their heads, thinking their thoughts, and seeing the world from their point of view. It is the best part of being a writer for me.
What are your expectations for the book?
Since I am a dreamer by nature, my dreams for Forever Julia are outrageous. I day dream of Forever Julia being in MYRCA, being made into a MTYP play, or even a movie! But having said that, I had a 14 year old come up to me last week to tell me how much she loved Forever Julia and that was worth more to me than all those big audacious dreams combined. Ultimately, I want Julia’s story to resonate with readers and if that happens to lots of teens, I’ll be thrilled.
Giveaway Information: Winner will be drawn May 25, 2015· One (1) winner will received a physical copy of Forever Julia by Jodi Carmichael