Before Julie James became a best-selling author, she practiced law and clerked in the US Court of Appeals, a background that she mines deeply for her smart and sexy heroines. She’s been lauded all over the place for her writing – ALA, Booklist, Cosmo — I’m so glad I’ve been able to narrate her books. They walk the tightrope of humor and romance in perfect balance.
My second project with Julie releases today: Something About You. It’s the first in Julie’s FBI/US Attorney series.
Me: The first book of yours that I read was Just the Sexiest Man Alive – one of my favorite titles ever. Do you find that titles generally come to you along with the initial ideas for a book, or later in the process?
Julie: Moment of truth: Berkley changed the titles of my first three books, including Just the Sexiest Man Alive. That book had originally been written as a screenplay titled “The Andrews Project”, but that didn’t really work for a romance. So Berkley suggested calling the book “The Sexiest Man Alive” and, candidly, I wasn’t the biggest fan of that. But as a debut author, I didn’t want to be too fussy, so I asked my editor to give me one extra word: “Just”. I felt that by adding that word, that made the title seem sarcastic. I could hear Taylor, the heroine, saying, “He’s just the Sexiest Man Alive. Whatever.”
Me: It is amazing how one word can change the tone like that! JTSMA was set in Los Angeles (where I currently live) but the main character was from Chicago. Something About You is set squarely in Chicago and the majority of the characters are from there. I know you live in Chicago now – did you grow up in the city? What do you enjoy about setting a book in Chicago?
Julie: I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, and I’ve lived in the city itself for the last twelve years. It’s a great city–all the advantages of an urban environment (great food, museums, zoos for the kids, wine bars, and nice beaches along the lake) but it’s also a friendly, approachable city.
Me: Speaking of which – your descriptions of meals in various Chicago restaurants had my mouth watering. Do you consider yourself a foodie? Do you check out new spots with an eye for book research?
Julie: I like going out to restaurants, but I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a foodie. (I’m more knowledgeable about wine.) But I do use many of my favorite restaurants in my books.
Me: Can you tell us about any research you did specifically for Something About You?
Julie: I’m fortunate to have a couple good friends in the Chicago U.S. Attorney’s office (where the heroine works), and I asked them many, many questions about the life of an Assistant U.S. Attorney. I’ve also taken tours of both the Chicago FBI and U.S. Attorney’s offices. The FBI building in particular was amazing, and the media representative there was extremely gracious in showing me around.
Me: I read in an interview you did regarding the writing of JTSMA that you “heard” the character of Jason in your head. I’ve learned that some authors work more visually (with juicy photos for inspiration!) and some more aurally. In your case, what do you use for inspiration? And did the voices from my head surprise you when you listened to the audio version?
Julie: Out of all my characters, Jason is probably the one I heard most vividly in my head. Truly, at times during the back-and-forth banter between him and Taylor I felt like I was more a stenographer than an author. And I had a smile on my face every time he walked onto the page. Yes, he’s cocky–what man wouldn’t be in his position?–but he’s just so darn charming about it. As for inspiration, although I sometimes have a photo in mind, I’m mostly inspired aurally. I always hear the characters; usually the physical description comes later in the process. And I thought you were spot on with the audio version!
Me: [PHEW!] From your tweets, I know you’re a mom. I know that becoming a mom has affected my own work life and schedule tremendously. Have you changed when or how much you write since having kids?
Julie: I got my first book deal ten days after my first child was born, so I’ve been a mom for the vast majority of the time I’ve been an author. That being said, I’m continually trying to strike the right balance as a working mom–something a lot of women struggle with. Frankly, it’s the main reason I only do one book a year right now. Darn kids. : ) But as they get older (right now I have a five year-old and a twenty-month-old), and as I refine my writing process, I hope to pick up that pace!
Thanks for joining us, Julie. We’ll be eagerly awaiting your next book!
For a chance to win a copy of the CD version of the audiobook Something About You, just fill out the form below. (18+ entrants and Continental US addresses only, please.) A winner will be chosen randomly on Tuesday, July 3.
And for another chance to win the book, check out Julie’s giveaway (and interview with me!) on her website.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED.
Congratulations to the winner, Justine!