Message From The Author
Girl-to-Girl with Julia Garwood
The Innovative Voice of Historical Fiction
By Kathryn Falk
With nearly twenty million books in print, and eighteen New York Times bestsellers, Julie Garwood has continually challenged herself and the publishing system, all while stretching her considerable talent with stunning results.
Whether shes writing medieval or Regency (genres that pessimistic paperback pundits claim are hard-sells!), Julie attracts book buyers in droves. That, along with her screenplays and novellas, has made Garwoods publishing success phenomenal!
Several years ago, when Hallmark Hall of Fame adapted For the Roses for film, renaming it Rose Hill, the production became the runaway television hit of 1997the highest rated two-hour movie of the year, topped only by the four-hour Schindlers List.
Ever since, readers and television viewers alike have been writing letters to CBS, clamoring for a sequel. Recently, Hallmark announced that there will be a follow-up andsurprise of surprises!Julie is getting the first shot at the screenplay sequel!
In a recent telephone chat, Julie
and Iwho go way back to the early 80s (when getting a foothold in the romance industry was tough)had a girl-to-girl talk.
Now I bet you thought wed start out discussing the movie and book biz.
No, not at all.
First we discussed the fragility
of life, now that several of our romance
colleagues have either passed over to
that great library in the sky or are experiencing serious medical problems.
From that realization we segued into the importance of living life to the fullest while we have the time and opportunity.
Which led not to men and marriage
but to todays real quests: travel, book-sleuthing, and antiquing!
Then we got down to the serious stuff; we began planning for September and intense treasure-hunting in Toronto a few days before the next Booklovers convention. We want to hit ALL the bookstores and flea markets in Toronto.
Julie particularly likes exploring
the vast underground shopping emporiums of Toronto, and she loves
the Canadian romance fans who
turned out by the hundreds for her
last Toronto book signing.
It was only after agreeing that singlehood at our age is great, and independence is divine, that we were then ready to get down to discussing the book business.
(Like all women, discussing our
emotions comes first! )
Youll be interested to know that Julies current writing schedule includes two film projects, the afore-mentioned one for Hallmark and a film that teenagers will like.
(You do know Julie is an accomplished YA author, dont you? Her first published book was Whats a Girl to Do?, released under the name Emily Chase for Scholastics Canby Hall series in 1986.)
My L.A. agent is enthusiastic about this Hallmark project, says Julie, but I dont want to do just a treatment, I want to write the screenplay. I write them on the side because my heart belongs to books and novels, she says firmly and fondly.
But some books, she adds quickly, as youre writing them, are like watching a movie. Theyre more fast-paced.
I prefer writing novels because you can develop characters deeply and I like being long-winded. Its probably the Irish in me, she admits with the slightest brogue in her speech.
A screenplay is a lot of dialogue
and direction. But, she goes on with feigned seriousness, you do get to be real bossy. I like writing Cut to: and Focus here:.
Why novels? (Her voice drops to an intimate level) I want to know what everyone is thinking, what everyone is reacting to; I wouldnt dream of
switching and writing just screenplays.
Its obvious that Julie is in love with her work. Divorced for some years and living alone in a fabulous house in Kansas that she bought four years ago, Julie is more than content being independent and single.
I dont think Ill ever get married again, she confides. Im just too
happy being myself and enjoying writing. She currently works eight hours a day at her computer.
Then she talked about her wonderful kids. Daughter Elizabeth is in medical school at Kansas University. She is absolutely gorgeous, waxes Mom. I dont know where she comes from, blond hair, green eyes, thin. Must be the aerobics.
Son Bryan is graduating with a M.B.A. and law degree. Last year, he worked in Washington, D.C. on the hill and interned at a law firm. I dont know where hell end up, but Im sure hell do great, she says proudly.
(No, I didnt ask if Bryan ever met Monica! Julie would have spotted a dirt digger in a second, just like the heroines in her books!)
Youngest son Gerry is Julies pride and joy; a smart and creative senior in college, the world is his oyster.
Then I asked Julie about her new book.
Ransom is a long one, almost five hundred pages. Linda says its the big one, Julie exclaims.
(Linda, you see, doesnt need a last name. The Linda is Linda Marrow, Pockets romance editor emeritus, who edits all the JsJulie, Jude, Judy, and Jill.)
I like the story for RANSOM. Its set in 1208. The heroines name is Joanne. Shes on a quest, has to be in England by a certain time, her uncle is being held until she completes this task. I always like to put in a mystery, you know.
King John is in this, too. In
the prologue, hes a prince. The Church
is going to excommunicate him. Not all that unusual back then, she adds as an aside. Lots of fun history stuff. I love the love story. I even laughed when I wrote some scenes.
I have the two warriors, Ramsey and Sinclair Brodick Buchanan, in this one. I love these guys, theyre so much fun.
(Aspiring writers, take a lesson from this off-the-cuff precis. After all, dont you wish you could distill a five-hundred-page-turning novel into a few phrases like the great Garwood?)
When is it coming out? I ask.
Now, Im hooked. I cant wait to read it.
Kathryn, you guys always know before I do, she says.
Really? I manage to say thoughtfully but not convincingly. (I pause. Im only the owner of RT. Thank goodness the reviewers keep up with the details of schedules.)
Im serious, adds Julie. I thought Ransom was a December release and RT called and told me it is scheduled for March, but on sale February. As you know, the schedule is determined by who else is coming out at Pocket in a given month; every publisher juggles. So, as long as they knowIm not going to worry about it, she says, worldly-wise.
Then you must be deep into your next one? I asked, since I understand romance authors deadlines.
Im working on my next book, but I dont have a title for it yet. I usually dontuntil Im halfway into a story and then it hits me.
But this book will be about a very large familyeight kids, six boys and two girls, and their father who is a judge. The hero is one of the eight kids.
Julie certainly understands this kind of sibling relationship. She has always attributed much of her success to growing up in a large family of Irish heritage.
The Irish are great storytellers, Julie relates, who relish getting all the details and nuances of every situation, and I was the sixth of seven children. Early in life, I learned that self-expression had to be forceful, imaginative and quick. My mother called me creative, the nuns called me a hellion!
This background has given Julie
the ability to create characters from any point in history that readers can relate to as real people.
I have the goal with each book to get it better, do a little stretch to make it hard. Thats why my next book will be a contemporary, though I like historical settings. I discovered I can only make this story work in a contemporary environment.
Julie recently received the nicest compliment an author could receive
from a reader. The note read: You have created a kind of new genre
you insert a contemporary voice and humor in your historicals.
She must be a new reader, I commented. Youve always had humor in your books.
I almost didnt, she laughed. Years ago, when I was advised by editors to take humor out of my books because it doesnt sell, you said, dont worry about it, yours will.
I always remembered that conversation: it was one of the first RT conventions, at the Roosevelt Hotel, and you were right. The book did sell. It was The Gentle Warrior, published in 1985.
Believe it or not, there was a time when Julie Garwood feared she would never have a flourishing career. Its probably difficult for the newbies to contemplate, but, dear reader, in the mid-80s, Julies first historicals, The Gentle Warrior and Honors Splendor, published by Tapestry, were primarily recognized only by RT and our B.T.C.Bookstores That Carenetwork, who vigorously hand-sold her books. It was reader loyalty and word-of-mouth that finally brought Julie to the attention of Pocket Books and the rest is publishing history!
Readers have always been important
to Julies social circle. She mentioned inviting two reader friends to join her in Toronto for the shopping sprees. I know theyll like the city as much as I do
and the stores.
Although some romance authors are finding fame and fortune more of an emotional burden than a blessing, Julie Garwood is one of the happiest romance authors in the field. The tough times are behind her.
I believe that if you cant laugh, you become overwhelmed. The Irish will laugh during wakes and thats a compliment, a great send-off.
When Im writing a story and its grim, there had better be something to laugh at. I dont like characters who have no sense of humor.
Ireland figures big in Julies travel plans. With three of her sisters and her daughter, the troupe will visit their late parents birthplaces in County Cork and County Clare and explore the countryside.
By the way, as we go to press, Pocket announced that RANSOM is slated to be Julie Garwoods 19th New York Times bestseller!
As the Irish prayer goes: The wind is at her back and the sun is smiling down on her face.
Write to Julie Garwood c/o Pocket Books at 1230 Sixth Ave., New York, NY 10020.
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