First off, let’s start with wishing Julie Olsen a happy birthday! Next, let me just say I had a lot of fun copyediting her novel Full Disclosure. Sure, converting an entire book from present to past tense tests any editor’s sanity. However, the task is much more bearable when the story has so much going for it. I hope you’ll feel the same after reading this interview.
Official Bio: I haven’t done it all, but sometimes it feels as if I have. Born in Arkansas, raised in Kansas, educated in Iowa, and currently residing in Missouri, I’ve been landlocked my whole life and base my stories in the Midwest. I’ve worked in a library, as a newspaper reporter, as a car courier, behind a receptionist’s desk, as a video producer, as a magazine editor, as a payroll manager, as a social media coordinator, as a small business owner, and as an ice cream scooper. The plot of Full Disclosure planted itself in my head during a long bike ride, and once I got home I sketched the outline. I wrote the book just to see if I could, never thinking it would see the light of day. I don’t find myself interesting really, and I’ve labored over this last question for far too long, so let me just say this: I can’t sing worth a hoot, I like to take pictures of my food, and my loves are my kids, sleeping in, music, and Fridays.
1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your book.
Full Disclosure is the first book in an erotic romance series. Written in first person, it tells the love story of Olivia St. Clair and Damien Stone. Narrated by Olivia, a wary, twenty-something personal trainer who is hit by a car and plucked off the hard streets by the enigmatic Damien Stone, a 30-year-old entrepreneur with off-the-chart sexiness and secrets to hide. Sparks fly from the get-go, but as determined as Olivia is to avoid all things Damien, their mutual attraction just can’t be denied. As their relationship grows, each reveals their vulnerable and innermost truths. Just when you think you know it all, another layer is peeled away, but can their relationship withstand Full Disclosure?
2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.
I vividly remember this: Raising my hand in fourth grade and answering my teacher’s question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer was a bank robber. I remember the revelatory feeling I had in telling her I wanted, in essence, to be a criminal. I also understood, in my child’s mind, why I wanted this. I wanted adventure.
I write to fulfill that want. My characters can be shepherds in a field, scientists in a lab, gunslingers in the Old West. They can be bank robbers on the run. They take me with them on their adventures. It’s a whole lot better this way, and it keeps me out of prison.
3. Writing aside, what passions drive your life?
I have two exceptional kids who are my sun and my moon. I am an athlete and very competitive, and my sports of choice are racquetball (I’m an A-level player) and cycling (I’m that crazy cyclist choking on your exhaust fumes). Sports are my Prozac. I love to cook, abstain all things political, seldom watch TV and never, ever the news. I recently became a coffee junkie, this after a lifetime of comparing the taste of it to what I imagined an old shoe’s flavor to be. I like to watch movies with the subtitles on. What can I say? I love words.
4. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?
Like every reader, I have a long list of much loved books, and they jockey for top position in my heart. Having said that, several years ago I read Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed. It remains my favorite and honestly, I can’t imagine anything surpassing it. Tiny Beautiful Things grabs you by the tender bits and doesn’t let go. Its truth literally hurts. I am not a crier, but tears streamed down my face as I read it. It’s my go-to for reading aloud to friends, and they bawl as well.
I read novels for a singular reason. I want to leave this world for a while. I want to be immersed in the emotions and senses of the characters on the page. I want to be seduced by words. It’s the seduction of Strayed’s words which did me in.
5. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
With a full-time job and a life, I barely have time to write, so at this time readers can follow me on my Facebook and Twitter profiles. I don’t post often, but I try to put up snippets as to my doings. At the very least I post things I find amusing or inspiring.
6. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?
Stephen King reads four to six hours per day, and that largely sums up my process as well. Most days, my head is a busy place. It takes me some time to drain it of the minutiae of daily life. Reading is how I do this. When I’m in the middle of a book, I need a disciplined approach and write five days a week, bemoaning the two recharge days as wasted (although this is far from the truth). I have a lovely group of betas, though I don’t implement the rip-from-the-printer-and-read-it style, preferring to hand over larger chunks at a time. I consider two thousand words written to be a good day, and I’ll self-edit first thing the next day before moving on in the story.
Once I’d finished Full Disclosure, I self-edited it ten times before handing the whole shebang to my betas. Nowadays I prefer more timely feedback, and they are likely to get several chapters at a time.
7. Are you traditionally published or self-published?
I self-published. I’m not going to lie, it is very time-consuming, even when hiring out the cover design and formatting, which I did. Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart. But if you like control over your artistic endeavors, it’s the route I would advise following, particularly for your first novel. I have learned heaps pertaining to the ways of Amazon, Goodreads, CreateSpace, .mobis and .epubs, book blogs, social media–the list goes on and on. Down the road, who knows? Although I feel comfortable self-publishing my work, I would consider all offers of traditional publishing houses, and I feel much more informed now, having done it all myself already.
8. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?
Start early. Hit the book blogs with ARCs and don’t be shy when it comes to asking your readers to post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. Spend time researching how other authors have done it, and then emulate them. Just keep plugging away, and eventually you will find your readers. This is a work in progress for me, but I think most of all, listen to those who have gone before you.
9. What future projects can we look forward to?
Full Disclosure is the first book in the No Secrets series, and I knew when I published that I’d have readers clamoring for the second book, so I’m happy to report that Full Confession will be released in time for your summer reading lists. Book 3, tentatively titled Full Circle, is forthcoming, probably with an end-of-year release date. After that, I’ll take a little breather from these characters and play around with a YA fiction idea that’s been floating in my head for a while.
10: Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?
Two things. 1. Art imitates Life, or so they say. But Full Disclosure is a work of fiction. It’s not based on my life, or more specifically, my sex life. I do have an imagination, Mom, and I use it in this book.
And 2. Back in the Stone Age, I graduated with a degree in English from the University of Iowa, home of the prestigious Writers’ Workshop. Too chicken and thin-skinned to let anyone read my stuff, I nevertheless set out to become a writer, albeit a timid one, and set a deadline for myself: I would be published by age 25. Well, that didn’t pan out. Haha.
It’s funny how things work out. I’m not spiritual or religious, but you’ve got to hand it to the universe. She knows when you’ve cooked long enough.
Is there anything else you’d like to know about Julie Olsen?
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Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2016.