Please join me in welcoming Julie Christine Johnson, author of In Another Life, to A Literary Vacation! In Another Life sounds PHENOMENAL and I'm really excited to read it as soon as I get the chance. In the meantime, Julie has graciously agreed to answer some questions for me that I hope will really get you excited to read her new book. And, as usual, I'll have information on her book after the Q & A. Please enjoy!
Colleen, I’m thrilled to be here! Thank you for making time for me and In Another Life on your beautiful blog!
I have been a huge fan of historical fiction novels, especially those that jump back and forth through time, showing how the past inevitably affects the present characters, for a while now. There just seems to be an unlimited amount of angles, events and approaches to tackle this story style and satisfy a readers longing for both history and a contemporary setting. In In Another Life, you take the reader to thirteenth century Languedoc and Paris as well as to modern-day Southern France and present a cast of characters battling with both historical fact and mystical belief. Where did you come up with the idea?
I’ve lived in and traveled throughout France, so it seems natural that my first novel would come from this place that is my heart’s second home. In the spring of 2011, my husband and I spent a few weeks in Languedoc and we fell deeply under the spell of its haunting beauty and history. We spent our days clambering around medieval ruins and our evenings reading up on local history, particularly the Middle Ages, while sharing a bottle of gorgeous Languedoc wine. I had no idea then that I was researching a novel, but an image remained with me that I couldn’t shake: a woman, deep in thought, standing on a cliff overlooking the Corbières valley. From the ruins of a Cathar citadel behind her, a man steps out and joins her. I was aching to find out who they were, but I was certain she was from the present and he, from the past. Then I read about the Cathars’ belief in reincarnation and I knew I had my way in to the story.
What draws you to historical fiction? Are there any particular times in history you gravitate towards or do you just enjoy history in general? Are there any other turning points in history that you would love to write about?
This is where I tell you that it amazes me that I wrote a work of historical fiction! I never thought I had the patience for the research, or that I’d be able to pull off a believable world. But I’m a voracious reader, much of it historical fiction and non-fiction, so in many ways, it felt very natural. Continental European, British and Irish history of any era has always held my attention, as well as that of the Levant. I do have a WWII-era story idea set in France and Germany I’d love to explore.
What does a typical day in your life look like? When do you fit in time to write?
These days, it’s more a question of finding time to fit in the rest of life. I’m a full-time writer, which means every day, seven days a week. I’m an early riser—I get up around 4 a.m. Those quiet, predawn hours are precious times to write and read. Then I work out, have breakfast with my husband, run errands or clean house, and I’m back at my laptop by 10 a.m. I work until 3 or 4, get out for a leg-stretching, head-clearing walk. Evenings are for cooking, yoga classes, reading. I also lead a 2-hour novels-in-progress workshop two afternoons a/week and I’m a freelance story/developmental editor.
A lot of authors have become huge on social media, not only promoting their work but interacting with their readers and offering up giveaways, book recommendations, etc. Are you a big proponent of using social media in this way? How do you prefer to interact with your fans?
I don’t know that I’ll ever be comfortable using social media as sales mechanism. I’m there for the conversation, the interaction, and discovery. Writing can be such a lonely endeavor, and engaging with readers and writers is a way to get out of your own head and open it to different perspectives, to share your joy and seek support and offer your heart and help to others.
Having said that, I will be raffling off copies of books I love to subscribers of my newsletter. It’s my way to support other authors, to share books that have touched and inspired me. And to give something back to my readers!
I’ve noticed that a lot of authors are also big readers. When you have time for leisure reading what sorts of books do you gravitate towards? Have you read anything good lately?
Reading is not only my escape, I consider it an essential part of my job description as a writer. I have at least two books going at any one time, a novel, a volume of poetry, and some sort of writing guide as inspiration and motivation. I just checked my Goodreads stats: 132 books read in 2015. ☺
Are you working on any future books at this time? If so, can you tell us a little about it?
At the moment, I’m plowing through revisions of my second novel, The Crows of Beara, which will be published in September 2017 by Ashland Creek Press. Crows is set in contemporary southwest Ireland, with a thread of magical realism woven through (of course: it’s Ireland!). My agent is reading a draft of my third novel (title TBA), which is set in New Zealand, where I lived in the mid-late 2000s. The narrative goes back and forth between an American woman who immigrated to New Zealand and her next-door-neighbor, who is a little girl of Maori descent. I’m also researching a possible sequel to In Another Life. I’ve got my ideas-it would be another past/present setting–but I’d treasure knowing which characters readers would love to see again.
Thank you, Colleen!
Thank YOU, Julie! Your upcoming books sound wonderful and I'm loving how unique the premises are. That has got to be a hard thing to do with all the books out there, so bravo!! Everyone, check out more about In Another Life below and be sure to pick up your copy as soon as possible!
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2016
It is January 1208 and in a village on the border between Provence and Languedoc, a monk whispers a benediction over the body of a slain papal emissary. The Cathars—followers of a heretical faith—are blamed for the assassination. The Pope declares a holy war and Languedoc is forever changed.
Eight hundred years later, historian Lia Carrer returns to southern France to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. Instead of finding solace in Languedoc’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, the woman trying to heal risks love, and loss, again.
Reincarnation is familiar ground for Lia—an expert in the mystical beliefs of the ancient Cathar faith—but to reconcile the truth of that long-ago assassination, the logical researcher must accept religious fantasy as historical fact. Three lost souls enter her life, each holding a key to the murder that launched a religious crusade in the heart of Europe.
In Another Life is set amidst the medieval intrigue of thirteenth century Languedoc and Paris, intertwined with Lia's modern quest to uncover the truth of an ancient murder and free a man haunted by ghosts from his past.
Praise for In Another Life
“Delicate and haunting, romantic and mystical, IN ANOTHER LIFE is a novel with an extraordinary sense of place. Fans swept away by Diana Gabaldon’s 18th-century Scotland will want to explore Julie Christine Johnson’s 13th-century Languedoc.” Greer Macallister, author of The Magician's Lie
“In this lovely novel, Johnson shows us the redemptive power of love and second chances through the ages. Evocative of Outlander, In Another Life is a thrilling combination of romance, adventure, and history.” Margaret Dilloway, author of Sisters Of Heart And Snow and How To Be An American Housewife
“Johnson’s heartbroken researcher wends through the lush landscape and historical religious intrigue of southern France seeking the distraction of arcane fact-but instead, like the reader, is transformed by the moving echo of emotional truth. An imaginative, unforgettable tale.” Kathryn Craft, author of The Art Of Falling and The Far End Of Happy
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About the Author
Julie Christine Johnson’s short stories and essays have appeared in several journals, including Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt, and the anthologies
Her second novel, The Crows Of Beara, a finalist in the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, has sold to Ashland Creek Press for publication in fall 2017. In this work of women's fiction, a struggling American PR executive and an enigmatic Irish artist face off over the development of a copper mine in rural Ireland, finding love and redemption amid the rugged, mystical land.
A runner, hiker, and wine geek, Julie makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State with her husband. In Another Life is her first novel.