Interview with Julie James

Jen: Readers, please help me welcome Julie James to Book Talk this week. Julie, will you please share a short bio with us?
Julie: Sure. After graduating from law school, I practiced law in Chicago with one of the nation’s largest law firms for several years until I began writing screenplays. After Hollywood producers optioned two of my scripts, I decided to leave the practice of law to write full-time. My first novel, Just the Sexiest Man Alive, debuted in October 2008, and my second novel, Practice Makes Perfect, was published in March 2009. My next novel, Something About You, will be released on March 2, 2010.

Jen: Tell us about Practice Makes Perfect and where it’s available.
Julie: Practice Makes Perfect is a contemporary romance about two career-driven lawyers who work for the same firm. They can’t stand each other and have fought behind the scenes for eight years. When they learn that only one of them will be named partner, they vow to fight it out to the end. It’s a battle-of-the-sexes story with lots of verbal sparring and banter between two people who *think* they’re total opposites. And we all know what they say about opposites. . . The book is available at all major book stores and online book sellers.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Julie: It took me awhile to figure out that I wanted to write. About my third year as a lawyer, I came up with what I thought was a good idea for a romantic comedy film. So in my spare time I wrote a screenplay. I was fortunate—despite knowing no one in Hollywood, I hooked up with a film agent who got that first screenplay and my second screenplay optioned by producers. When that happened, I began to think about writing as a career. After the option on the first script expired without the film being made, my film agent suggested that I turn the script into a book, and introduced me to a literary agent friend of his. She offered to represent me, and a couple of months after finishing the book I had a two-book deal with Berkley.

Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Julie: My father isn’t published, but he has written a few things, including a musical and a TV pilot. He likes to talk about how I get my “writing genes” from him.

Jen: How does your family feel about your career?
Julie: They’re very supportive. My husband in particular—I thought he might freak out when I told him I wanted to quit practicing law to write full-time, but he’s been 100% with me every step of the way.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Julie: That’s the great thing about writing about two lawyers—I didn’t have to do any research! As a former associate at a large firm I drew on my own experiences and ambitions. And Payton, the heroine, practices the type of law I practiced—employment discrimination defense. I’d like to think my personal experiences make the two main characters and the law firm setting seem more real.

Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Julie: I know it sounds kind of odd, but my characters really do “live” in my head while I write—at least the hero and heroine. And I hate taking breaks from writing—I feel as though I’m pushing the “pause” button on my characters and they’re just hanging around, frozen, until I get back to the manuscript the next morning.

Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Julie: I’m actually really happy writing contemporary romance/romantic comedies. If there was any other genre I’d considering writing, it would be suspense/thriller. My next book, Something About You, was a lot of fun to write because I got to do it all—it’s a romantic comedy with a suspense subplot.

As for whether there is any genre I’d stay away from… I don’t think I’d ever write in the horror genre. I scare too easily for that.

Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? And if you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
Julie: Wow, for a whole year… good question. I guess I’d go back to regency England—with my favorite book being Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I’m fascinated by the manners, culture, and elegance of the period. The three items I’d take would be: (1) a toothbrush, (2) a year’s supply of toothpaste, and (3) some kind of newfangled laptop that runs on solar power.

Jen: Do you do anything special to celebrate a sale, new contract, or release?
Julie: I go out to dinner with my husband. And I also celebrate with a friend of mine, another author who lives in Chicago—we treat each other at a local wine bar whenever one of us has a new release.

Jen: Most people only dream of becoming a published writer. Now that you’ve accomplished that goal, is there anything else you dream of doing?
Julie: Hmm. . . I think it’d be great to see one of my books made into a movie someday.

Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Julie: Read! I always have a book on my nightstand. And I love going to the movies, watching television (I admit—I’m a sucker for reality TV shows), and I like meeting friends out for dinner or at wine bars. I’m really starting to get into wine—so much so, that I decided to make the heroine in my fourth novel a wine shop owner.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Julie: My next book, SOMETHING ABOUT YOU, releases March 2nd. I’m really excited about it—here’s a sneak preview:

FATE HAS THROWN TWO SWORN ENEMIES…

Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends in bloodshed. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and nearly ruining his career…

…INTO EACH OTHER’S ARMS

Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it’s no joke: the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes—and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension…

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Julie: At my website: www.juliejamesbooks.com, and also at my blog: www.authorjuliejames.wordpress.com. I blog about once or twice per week, and leading up the release of my next book, I’m going to be running various contests through my blog, with books and book store gift certificates as prizes, so people should definitely come check that out.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Julie: Oh, I guess like most authors, I’d be interested in knowing what influences them when they buy books: word-of-mouth/recommendations, the cover, the book description (or something else)?

Jen: Julie is giving away a signed copy of Practice Makes Perfect to a random commenter this week. To enter, leave a question for Julie or answer hers. Then either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to admin.bookblog@gmail.com. Only those who have given us a way to contact you will be entered. The winner will be chosen on Sunday, September 20.