Happy Sunday, friends. Today we introduce the fabulous Julia Brannan who writes the critically acclaimed Jacobite Chronicles. Julia has been a voracious reader since childhood, using books to escape the miseries of a turbulent adolescence. After leaving university with a degree in English Language and Literature, she spent her twenties trying to be a sensible and responsible person, even going so far as to work for the Civil Service. The book escape came in very useful there too.
And then she gave up trying to conform and resolved to spend the rest of her life living as she wanted to, not as others would like her to. She has since had a variety of jobs, including telesales, teaching and gilding and is currently a transcriber, copy editor and proofreader. In her spare time she is still a voracious reader, and enjoys keeping fit and travelling the world. Life hasn’t always been good, but it has rarely been boring. She lives in rural Wales with her cat Constantine, and her wonderful partner sensibly lives four miles away in the next village.
Now she has decided that rather than just escape into other people’s books, she would actually quite like to create some of her own, in the hopes that people will enjoy reading them as much as she does writing them.
How old were you when you decided to become a writer?
I was a very early reader and by the time I started school at 5 I was reading books like Huckleberry Finn. From the moment I realized how magical books are, I wanted to create my own. One day the teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Most of the children said they wanted to be astronauts or princesses, or to be what their parents were. I said I wanted to be a writer. I was 7. It’s taken me a long time to get there, via several other careers, but I’ve finally made it!
Tell us about your decision to write that first book, even if it wasn’t published.
All through childhood I wrote stories, kept a diary, made my own little imaginary newspaper, but I wrote my first novel in the summer between finishing school and starting university. I’d read somewhere that Mills & Boon writers could earn six figure sums, and I reckoned it would be easy to write formulaic romances. So I spent the whole summer incarcerated in our garden shed. I wrote the whole thing in longhand and then typed it up and submitted it. When it was rejected I threw a typical dramatic teenage fit and vowed never to write again. Years later I rediscovered the manuscript and the rejection letter. The letter said that it wasn’t quite what they were looking for, but it was interesting, and if I wanted to rewrite it, or submit something else, they’d be interested. I then realized how positive that letter actually was, and that if I hadn’t been such a diva, I might have been a published author a long, long time ago!
Discuss your path to publication. Do you have an agent? Do you self-pub?
I wrote Mask of Duplicity (the first book in my Jacobite Chronicles series) in 2006 and submitted it to lots of agents. It was rejected many times, but then finally an agent in London took it on. She also took on my first contemporary novel, A Seventy-Five Percent Solution, and said she thought she could find a publisher. I walked around on air for weeks, as she was the first person other than my close friends who thought my writing was good enough for her to spend time on. Unfortunately the credit crunch came soon after, and it was virtually impossible for new authors to get published, so nothing came of it after all. In the meantime I started doing some editing work for (now very successful) indie authors, and after a while realized that I had nothing to lose by self-publishing. By this time I’d started writing The Mask Revealed, so I contacted my agent and asked her to release me from my contract with her, and published book one. I haven’t looked back from there!
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