I am incredibly excited to introduce you to Julia Bennet! It’s actually a bit of a funny story how I came to represent her. This is what happened. I was going through submissions one Sunday night and opened up Julia’s. I normally don’t read the synopsis first, but I did in her case. And, as I told Julia on the phone the next day, it was terrible. Based on the synopsis, I was sure it was going to be a quick rejection, but, because I’m fair, I opened up the manuscript to give it a few pages. Well, I was hooked. I did not put it down till I’d finished reading. And, let me tell you, that is an especially big deal because it was the night of the Walking Dead season premiere. Julia’s manuscript was so good I skipped watching the Walking Dead and I have absolutely no regrets about that. –Jessica Alvarez
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
I try to write every day. It’s much easier once the children are at school or after they’ve gone to bed. I like to draft each scene in longhand. The process of typing in what I’ve written enables me to spot problems and streamline the prose as I go. That way, when I start the second draft, I’m working from something much cleaner that it would’ve been otherwise.
Do you have any writing rituals?
When I’m stuck, I have lots of tricks to get myself in the right frame of mind. Each book has a Pinterest board with inspiring images, links to historical research articles, and even songs/music videos. I write late-Victorian historical romance, but I don’t limit myself to music from that period. For one manuscript, when I wanted to slip into a particular character’s skin, I would listen to The Kinks ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’. Now, when I hear that song, I’m still transported into that story.
What do you love about writing romance?
I think it’s the same thing I love about reading them. Romance novels are just so positive and life-affirming. It’s a great headspace to be in.
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
To be honest, I feel like it chose me. I’ve always written romantic stories. Once, when I was about thirteen, I got in trouble at school for writing a sex scene. Little did my teachers know, I’d one day find a use for that particular skill.
What book do you wish you had written, and why?
Anything by Cecilia Grant. She’s such a wordsmith. Whenever I read her books, I’m in awe.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
Hanging out with my husband and children. And sleeping. I sleep far too much for someone who hasn’t been a teenager in a very long time.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
My website: juliabennet.com
On facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliabennetauthor/
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/J_BennetAuthor
On Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/juliabennetauthor/
What’s the last book you read?
Lady Audley’s Secret. I ended up rooting for the villainess.
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
I can write anywhere. My real dream is to hire a top notch cleaning lady so that my house is always shiny. Piles of dust aren’t conducive to romance.
What’s your favorite quote about reading or writing?
“He knew everything there was to know about literature, except how to enjoy it.” I don’t think Joseph Heller meant those words as a defense of genre fiction from literary critics, but they work.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received?
It has to be the Nora Roberts classic: “You can fix anything but a blank page.” When I read those words, something clicked and I was suddenly free of the need to be perfect. My first drafts can be as bad as they need to be because I know I can fix the problems later.
Plotter or pantster?
A natural pantser who aspires to be a plotter.
Synopses, love them or hate ‘em?
Oh, hate. The synopsis for the book that got me my offer of representation was … not good. I’m lucky my agent decided to read the manuscript anyway. Thank you, Jessica!
Do you get inspiration from any TV shows or movies? If so, which ones?
Only once so far. My first manuscript was inspired by watching ‘The Age of Innocence’. I think the story would have had a much happier ending if Newland Archer had behaved more like a romance novel hero, so I decided to write a romance with similar themes. And though it seems ridiculous now, I settled on the late-Victorian era because of the bustle dresses in the film. It must have been fate because the happily ever after of my story ended up hinging on laws that didn’t exist before that time.
Drink of choice when writing? When not writing?
Iced coffee during the day. White wine at night. And water with lots of ice.
What excites you most about joining the BookEnds family?
Everybody has been so welcoming and mega efficient. The query process is strangely lonely, so it’s amazing to have people to collaborate with. Jessica’s enthusiasm for my work has been such a gift.
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
Writing is subjective. Listen to constructive criticism but remember that so much of this is down to finding the right person for your project. A rejection doesn’t always mean they didn’t like it. And whenever the rejections start to get you down, go to Goodreads and read the one star reviews of your favorite books. No matter how good you think it is, someone out there probably hates it.