Today, I have a very special introduction. If you’ve ever been on amazon and found a mermaid book by Julie Gilbert, it was put there by this lovely lady, not me. (Confusing, I know. But I write as Julie C. Gilbert. And Amazon generally just focuses on keywords, so you get a whole heap if you just search for Julie Gilbert.)
Let’s learn more about this other Julie.
Tell me a little about your background.
I’m a writer and academic librarian living in southern Minnesota. My life has always been shaped by book and good stories. I spent my summer vacations frolicking with Anne and Diana, helping Frodo get the Ring to Mount Doom, and exploring the mysteries of Sunset Towers with Turtle Wexler. During breaks from reading, I slapped handmade call numbers on the spines of my books and played library. I explored several different career paths after college, but it’s not surprising that I returned to the world of books as both a writer and librarian.
Me: Handmade call numbers. Ha. Yes, that sounds like a sign you’d have a future as a librarian.
What do you do for fun?
Write! Well, sometimes that’s fun and sometimes it’s frustrating, but in a way that’s still rewarding. During the warmer months I enjoy neglecting my garden and hiking in various state parks. I like to cook and I practice yoga. I’m also a huge fan of the Marvel movies and found that they got me through an especially bleak part of the pandemic.
What other writers/people do you consider inspirational? If they’re authors, what about their work captures your interest?
People who know me well know that I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. I didn’t get into his music until I was in my mid-twenties and confess I didn’t really get the magic until I listened to the entire Darkness on the Edge of Town album on a road trip. After the fourth or fifth song I was like, “Whoa, this guy has something to say!” He’s a great lyricist and – if you’ve read his autobiography – a brilliant writer. I’m inspired by how he stretches himself creatively, exploring new facets of his artform. He is unflinchingly honest about himself and his experiences, and he is always searching for the grace and truth inherent in life. Every time I listen to his music, I hear something new.
What got you into writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I used to handwrite and illustrate stories in grade school, stapling copies together for friends and family. I carried notebooks with me to all my classes in high school, college and grad school, where I’d jot notes about story ideas (often when I should have been paying attention to the course material!). I started my publishing journey after chatting with a fellow parent at a t-ball game; she works at a children’s publishing house and offered me my first freelance assignment.
What is your writing process?
I’m privileged to have a day job that allows for a lot of autonomy and flexibility, especially during the summer. During the school year, I usually write for an hour or two in the morning. I’ll write for a few additional hours each day during the summers, although I’m also a big believer in taking breaks from writing, especially after the end of a big project. I tend to write very messy, clunky rough drafts as fast as possible so I can spend most of my writing time rewriting and crafting those early drafts into something interesting and readable.
Me: I didn’t know libraries had ebbs and flows. I would have naturally assumed that summers are busier.
When do you consider a work complete?
Gut feeling. After it’s been through several rounds with beta readers, my own multiple revisions, and professionally edited, I tend to get to a point where I realize I can’t do anything more with it. Nothing is perfect, or ever really finished, but I always have a moment when I realize it needs to go out into the world. More practically, my freelance work has very firm deadlines, so whichever comes first – calendar or gut feeling.
Are there any deep themes or messages in the book the readers should be aware of?
I write for children and young adults, so a lot of the questions I’m exploring relate to identity. Who am I? What do I value? What does it look like to live in relationship with a chosen family? How do I navigate romantic relationships without compromising my own dreams? What paths do I want to pursue in this world? In Cemetery Songs, I’m writing through the lens of adoption, drawing on experiences that have shaped my own family. I also believe very deeply in diversity and representation. As a white author who sometimes writes main characters outside my own racial identity, I think very carefully about how to do this responsibly and utilize resources like beta and sensitivity readers.
What gave you the idea for this book?
I came up with the idea for Cemetery Songs on a long drive through rural Minnesota one hazy morning. I passed an abandoned cemetery and the image of my character walking around the stones popped into my head. I started wondering why a teenager would be wandering around a lonely cemetery. Those questions became the start of Cemetery Songs.
How long did the book take to write?
It took seven years to bring Cemetery Songs from idea to finished product. It went through several drafts, many beta readers, and a professional edit. I had pursed traditional publishing a little, but after the pandemic hit, I decided life was too short and I wanted to get the book out into the world, so I hired some more book professionals and then self-published it in December 2020.
Who designed the cover?
The incredibly gorgeous cover is designed by the very talented Lisa Vega (https://www.lisaevega.com/)
Do you write in other genres?
I’ve written several novels for Capstone Publishing, including the Dark Waters series about a half-human, half-mermaid girl who goes on adventures with her mermaid friends. I’ve also written several titles for the Girls Survive series, which follow the stories of teenage girls caught in some of history’s most dangerous moments.
Me: Sounds like a cool series.
Tell us about one other book or series and why it’s important to you.
I’m proud of all of my work, but I’m especially proud of the Dark Waters series, as it is a hi-lo series. This means the content is aimed at teens (hi) who read below grade level (lo). The books are meant to encourage reluctant readers and immerse them in exciting stories. There is a social justice aspect to having access to books that speak to you and I’m proud to be a small part of that work.
What animal do you most relate to?
What’s one thing very few people know about you?
I don’t love riding bikes but I LOVE watching professional cycling, like the Tour de France, and I follow that sport closely.
Thanks for joining us today.
Visit Julie’s website to find out more about any of these books.
Social Media Links: Twitter: @JulieKGilbert
Audiobook Promotions …
Many of my 45 audible titles are listed on Audiobooks Unleashed.
Whether you’re looking for mystery or suspense or fantasy, I’ve got a title for you. Free codes are probably on audiobooks unleashed.
Normal links go to audible. *The Amazon labeled links are affiliate links. That means I get a very small payment from Amazon if you go through with a purchase.*
Note: Filter by US if you’re looking for those codes as many titles are out.
Ones I think may still have US codes: Reshner’s Royal Ranger, Never Again, Innova, The Golden City Captives, The Holy War, Reclaim the Darklands, Eagle Eyes, Treachery Makes it Tense, Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts, The Dark Side of Science, Ashlynn’s Dreams, Nadia’s Tears, Malia’s Miracles, and Varick’s Quest
There are plenty of UK codes, but not many US ones left.
Redeemer Chronicles (Fantasy)
Awakening – Redeemer Chronicles Book 1, MG fantasy (Amazon) (free codes)
The Holy War – Redeemer Chronicles Book 2, MG fantasy (Amazon) (free codes)
Reclaim the Darklands – Redeemer Chronicles Book 3, MG fantasy (Amazon) (free codes)
River’s Edge Ransom – Prequel to Redeemer Chronicles (Amazon) (email devyaschildren @ gmail.com for free codes)
Devya’s Children Series Links:
Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – short stories featuring Jillian. (Amazon) (free codes)
The Dark Side of Science – official prequel to Devya’s Children; Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live. (Amazon) (Please email devyaschildren @ gmail.com for free codes)
Ashlynn’s Dreams – Genetically altered Dream Shaper learns her gift. (Amazon) (free codes)
Nadia’s Tears – Jillian tries to awaken her sister, Nadia, from a coma. (Amazon) (free codes)
Malia’s Miracles – Jillian and her siblings try to save a friend’s mother. (Amazon) (free codes)
Varick’s Quest – Jillian and Danielle get kidnapped. Nadia’s also in trouble. (Amazon) (free codes)
Reshner’s Royal Ranger (epic sci-fi) just made it there. (Amazon) (free codes)
Guardian Angel Files:
Spirit’s Bane – Allister and Mina are training to be Guardians. Satan’s out to get them. (Amazon) (free codes)
Kindred Spirits – Mina’s exiled to Earth. Allister’s stuck in the Heavens. (Amazon) (free codes)