Website: Julie Berry

Find Her: Facebook, Twitter

Thanks so much for stopping by Literary Cravings, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your road to publishing?

I grew up in western New York, on a farm, and I’m the youngest of seven children. Now I live with my husband and four young sons in eastern Massachusetts. I work as the director of sales and marketing for a software company. I earned a degree in communication from RPI, and then, after my youngest was born, I entered an MFA program in writing for children and young adults. In January 2008 I graduated from Vermont College of the Fine Arts with an MFA. Along the way I’d queried an agent I met at a conference, who signed me on as a client, and sold my first novel, The Amaranth Enchantment. So when I left school, I had a book contract in hand, but only barely just.

How did you come up with the idea for Secondhand Charm and what was your writing process like?

I knew I wanted to write another fairy-tale fantasy with a strong heroine. The idea of charms, such as for love or luck, caught my attention. Even in our “rational” world many people carry little talismans for superstitious reasons. What if my girl heroine obtained such charms, only to find that when she put them on, they really worked? So well, in fact, that the results were almost embarrassing? That’s how the idea began. Then I had to ask myself, what would make my heroine have such an innate ability to magnify the small magic found in little handcrafted charms? From that question came the larger mythology and magic that Evie goes on to discover.

Did you do any research for this particular book?

I always do when I write stories set in the past. I research the time period closely so that my details of dress, language, currency, weaponry, travel, dining, commerce, and so forth are consistent. Even though my kingdom of Pylander doesn’t exist, I want my world to feel authentic. I research the etymologies of words I use to make sure they existed in English during the time period of my story. Fortunately, much of the research I did for my first book helped sharpen my instincts for the second.

I’ve noticed a theme of jewelry some of your stories, Do you have a real interest in jewelry?  If so what pieces do you covet the most?

You’re right. Jewels and ornaments do keep popping into my stories, don’t they? I have to watch out for that next time or it will become my trademark. Jewelry is convenient in fantasy stories because we’re very familiar with the notion of gems, rings, amulets and pendants being endowed objects full of power and significance. The beauty and permanence of jewelry makes it a coveted object; even in our non-magical world we know that jewelry is wrapped up in romance and in inheritance. As for me, I’m not blingy at all. My interest isn’t in jewelry but in gemstones. I find them fascinating, the way light and color play upon and inside them. For me it’s not about diamonds or the value of a stone, it’s about their beauty. Blue topaz is one of my favorite stones, and since it’s less rare you can actually find huge, gaudy, gorgeous ones. I bought a whopper on eBay once that I hope to set someday and wear as a tacky necklace when I’m an old lady. 

What are your must haves during writing?

Oh, not much. A power outlet for my laptop. A desk is a bonus but I do lots of writing in bed. Relative silence helps, but I’ve learned to tune out noise fairly well. A single subject notebook and pencil for outlining, recording questions, and working out problems. A good night’s rest beforehand is probably the best indicator of a good writing day today, and that’s something I too rarely get.

Do you have any niches you do while writing? Like listening to music,est? If so what do you do or listen to?

I don’t have any special rituals when I write, and I don’t like to listen to music while I write because it distracts me. I love music, and when it’s playing I want to be able to give it more of my brain than I can spare when I want to write a story. When I’m not writing, I enjoy singer-songwriters, crooners, bluegrass and folk, some Latin, some pop, show tunes, and classical music, including classical vocalists.

Who was the easiest & hardest character for you to create?

Main characters take more work than secondary characters, for me. Both kinds need to feel authentic and convincing, but generally secondary characters are hired to perform a specific job, which colors their character, whereas main characters are surrogates for the reader to some extent so they can be a bit more nebulous. I find male love interests especially troubling because I have a horror of writing a guy character who feels like a Ken doll rather than an actual human male.

Since your story is all about magic, if you could posses a power which would it be and why?

I would be Elastigirl from “The Incredibles” if I could. Her speed, flexibility, and quick thinking helped her always protect her children, even in the face of terrible danger. Wishing for the power to protect is a way to imaginatively compensate for the vulnerability a mother feels, I expect.

Since writing your latest book what are you working on next?

Whenever I finish a book I have some catching up to do with my family, my reading, and my sleep. I tend to cram a lot of intense writing or revision into the last days and weeks before a deadline, alas! I’m now working on two new possible projects, one set in the 19th Century, and another well into the future. Both intrigue me. I look forward to seeing where they go.

*Be sure to get Secondhand Charm out Now!!!*