Interview with author Julie Gilbert


Hi Julie! Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
The book in question, Ashlynn’s Dreams, is about two girls reflecting upon the shared experience of their kidnapping. Jillian can shape dreams, so the scientists who altered her genetic code to make that possible snatch her to train her. Danielle, a high school junior, gets taken to force Jillian to cooperate with the dream shaper training. My latest book is actually the fourth in the series kicked off by Ashlynn’s Dreams.

What inspired you to write it?
Every summer I try to pick a new project to work on. Over the years, many of these summer projects have either been science fiction or Christian mysteries. A few summers ago I wanted to write something “normal” that still featured a kidnapping. What I got was Ashlynn’s Dreams. I think it sort of hits both the science fiction and mystery threads. The sequel, Nadia’s Tears, was meant to continue talking about Jillian and Danielle’s post-kidnapping life, but human trafficking became a central theme because by that time one of my students mentioned that human trafficking still exists. The third book in the series, Malia’s Miracles, was inspired by the desire to pit these characters against the problem of cancer.
I knew I wanted to include Jillian as a character because I’ve loved her attitude and voice since her time as a short story star in a series of writing exercises I did in college.

How did you come up with the idea for the cover?
Audiobook cover
The cover has undergone several permutations. The original cover was based off of a description I gave the publisher. The current cover was inspired by a bookmark my friend Tim and I had designed earlier for the series. We wanted something unique, fun, and pretty. My friend did all the hard work, but we tossed about a dozen thumbnail ideas back and forth before choosing the first, large face in background, smaller figure out front. Tim’s a comic book artist, so what we got in terms of a cover is something suitable for that medium. I’ve received comments that go both directions, some people love them and some think they’re misleading.

If it was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
I always struggle with this question. I think current google research indicates thatRachel Hurd-Wood would make a decent Jillian. Somebody like Teresa Palmer orDianna Agron would suffice for Danielle. I mostly use google images to get a feel for hair style or eye color. Sometimes that all comes together to give me a decent picture that matches my mental snapshot.

What is it about this genre that appeals to you so much?
Young Adult is a wide-open genre and science fiction in its truest sense is about testing and redefining boundaries. There’s incredible freedom in writing YA sci-fi. I enjoy setting things in the real world because it saves me the time of describing every object. At the same time, it’s fun to let the imagination take over and run with any idea. The mental test then becomes, can you make the incredible seem believable?

What made you want to become an author?

I just wanted to write stories. To me, the difference between writer and author has been that an author is more of a mind to share the stories. Promoting, while still not my favorite aspect of the field, has given me the huge privilege of getting to know a lot of awesome people.

How do you come up with character names?
Character names depend on what type of writing I’m doing. If I’m working on a set in space sort of science fiction story, then I go with a series of basic rules I have about names. Female names tend to end with an “a” while male names tend to end with an “n.”
In this series, the characters sometimes have two names. The project names have specific meanings, so I spent a fair amount of time on baby name sites looking up meanings. There’s also a certain ring to names in general. If I’m really stuck, I’ll just grab a blank piece of paper and start listing options or open a new word doc and keep playing until the name strikes me as right. Jillian Marie Antel Blairington might be sort of long, but it’s true to who she is since her mother remarried.

Name one of your all-time favourite books.
I only get one? Horrors. Okay, let’s go with The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill. A princess with a really long awkward name becomes queen at a really young age and has to unite various factions to beat back the evil empire. What’s not to like?

Who, or what, inspires you?
God and students.

Where is your favourite place to write?
I actually only write in the basement because that’s where the computer is located. I’m not patient enough to write on an actual piece of paper, though I will occasionally outline on real paper.

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Skip all that angsty teen mess in the middle of the long book and just get to the action.

Name two of your favourite authors.

Dee Henderson – Christian suspense. Brandon Sanderson – science fiction and fantasy.

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?

Taylor Stevens. Judging from her emails, she seems very down to earth and is probably hilarious in conversation.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I like Darkside skittles, but in video games, I’m a hopelessly light side/paragon player. I just can’t bring myself to do the mean things you need to for earning dark side/renegade points.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
I think Grace Park or Qi Shu would do fine playing me, but you’d have to lose the makeup and give them more gray hair.

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.
I live in a state that looks like a money symbol, what’s not to love about that?

What are your (writing) plans for the future?

Every summer, I plan to write a new novel. The current series I have are on their 4thor 5th books, so I may need to switch to a new genre or a new series some year soon.

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.

Funny you should ask that because before yesterday I didn’t really have a bucket list. Yesterday, I decided that I want to send either a paperback book or postcards to every state in the Union and as many countries as possible. I’ve sent things to 31 states and 6 foreign countries so far. I’m missing Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Favourite myth / fairytale?
Beauty and the Beast. Sadly, my knowledge of fairytales is limited to Disney movies.

Who did you want to be when you were a kid?

I honestly never thought that far ahead. I guess I was always happy enough just being me. I didn’t consider teaching or writing until college and before that, I didn’t give careers much thought. If I had to pick a dream job, I’d say FBI agent. I was also an X-Files fan, so perhaps I just wanted to be Scully.

Julie is a multi-genre writer, a chemistry teacher, an amazon reivewer, and a book addict. Her newest adventures include bringing some of her stories to the audiobook format, finishing book 4 of the Devya's Children series (Ashlynn's Dreams is book 1), revamping a science fiction adventure story, and going into denial over summer's pending end. She enjoys teaching, writing, long walks, hot tea, decaf coffee, and reading while pacing.
Twitter: @authorgilbert
Facebook: Julie C. Gilbert FB page and Ashlynn's Dreams FB page
Radio Interview: interview podcast link

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