Saturday, 6 April 2013

Interview with author Julia Phillips Smith

What or whom inspired you to become a writer?

That’s pretty hard to put a finger on. The moment I could put together little printed words on those spacer-lined sheets in first grade, I was already writing stories. I do remember being very conscious that the fictional little girl Laura Ingalls was in reality the author’s name on the front cover.

What types of books do you read?

My fiction reading has gone way down since I began writing books. I used to read on the bus to and from my day job, but for a while now I’ve been using my bus commute as naptime. I do love fantasy, and horror but not contemporary horror—I’m much more of a Gothic horror fan. Historical fiction, darker historical romance and every now and then a quirky contemporary novel like EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED.

What well-known authors do you admire most?

Mercedes Lackey, Roger Zelazny, C.S. Lewis and Sergei Lukyanenko for fantasy.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Anne Rice for my spooky fix.

Geraldine Brooks and Diana Gabaldon for historical fiction.

Jo Beverley, Anna Campbell and Julianne MacLean for historical romance.

What were your writing habits while writing Bound?

This story began as serialized fiction posted once a week on my blog. I only knew what was going to happen when everyone else did. BOUND BY DRAGONSFYRE was meant to be the boyhood backstory to the grown-up Scorpius I was already writing about, a way to get to know my character better and to take part in that serialized online fiction project.

Reader reaction to the backstory made me realize that this coming-of-age tale was turning out to be a book in its own right. The events that took place in this opening act of Scorpius’ story altered some of what I’d been writing in the grown-up Scorpius storyline. I’m currently revising that original tale which will be Book 2 in the Dragonsfyre series, due to release this summer.

As for writing habits: I work a full time day job during the week, so I write in the evenings from 8:00 to shortly after midnight, and also on the weekends. I’m a night owl, so I don’t feel as creative in the daytime, for some reason.

How did you come up with the plot?

I tend to be what writers call a pantser, or someone who writes by the seat of her pants. I just start writing and the story takes me along for the ride. Before I start writing, however, I need to be struck with a vision-like set of scenes in my head, as though I have my own personal movie network running in there. Luckily for me, there’s no shortage of those.

Once a character comes to me this way, I do have to spend some time figuring out what all that hubbub was about, since I always seem to get the Dark Moment scenes. I figure out who is in the thick of things, why he’s there, and where it’s all happening. Then I just start writing.

Because I wrote this for the serialized fiction project, every time I sat down to write the next installment, I was just as anxious as anyone else to see what new trouble had come up for Scorpius. However, once I got to the revision stage and knew that Book 1 would have to fit into an overall series story arc, I had to break out my plotting tools.

What is your favorite part in Bound?

I have several favorite parts, all of them among the darkest scenes. There’s a sequence that takes place at the falconer’s cottage where thirteen-year-old Scorpius realizes just how cruel the nobles can be that I consider a major set piece in the novel.

I also love all the scenes between Scorpius and his second master, Lord Thibault. All of those scenes were fun to write.

What was the hardest part to write?

The set piece scene I just mentioned was really hard to write, because of what happens between Scorpius and his first master, the falconer. My first online readers also reacted strongly to that section. That’s one of the reasons I like that sequence so much. The bond between abandoned Scorpius and the falconer who claimed him for an apprentice is so strong by then, it’s hard when they lock horns.

What character is the most/least like you, and in what ways?

Although there are many aspects of myself in Scorpius, I think I’m much closer to the falconer, Richolf. Having worked as a nanny for two different families in my younger days, I can really relate to Richolf’s desire to shield his apprentice from harm even though they are not family in the strictest sense of the word.

One would hope the character I’m least like is Lord Dirske, who orchestrates a night of entertainment out at the falconer’s cottage, forever referred to by Scorpius as the Nightmare Hunt.

What would your ideal career be if you couldn't be an author?

Filmmaking is my first love, and I graduated from Ryerson University with a film degree before moving into writing novels. I’ve worked on several productions over the years, with my very first paid writing gig being a script for a television documentary. It was a thrill like no other thrill on earth to step back onto a set as director when I made my book trailers. I’m giving a massive shout-out to my producer Tara MacDonald for bringing that joy back into my life.

Things have brightened for me in that department, and I can see more film projects for myself in the coming years.

Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?

I love reading reviews. Of course, who doesn’t love to read glowing reviews of one’s work? The not-so-glowing ones can be funny, even. Yet they always have something important to say, and I pay attention. Is the bad review basically saying the polar opposite of the good review? What that says to me is that I’ve struck a strong chord in both of those readers, attracting one and repelling the other. I would rather have a passionate response either way to my work than shrugging disinterest.

Which question are you most sick of answering in interviews?

BOUND BY DRAGONSFYRE is only my second book release, so I haven’t answered enough interview questions for the novelty to have worn off, let alone get sick of answering them.

Do you find it hard to balance your writing with your personal life?

The only hard part of it is trying to squeeze too much work into too few hours. The casualty there is always sleep. I’m chronically shortchanging myself on that.

Do you have any other books in the works?

I do—Book 2 of the Dragonsfyre series will be released this summer, bringing Scorpius into a new court of intrigue, presided over by his master Lord Thibault’s beautiful cousin. She and the captain of her guard share secrets that could radically change the power structure of the Eighth Dominion. If Scorpius is unlucky enough to discover them, will he survive long enough to share his own secrets in time?

Do you have a blog, website, or links to share?

I’m a longtime blogger, currently taking part in the A to Z Blog Challenge—you can find me at A Piece of My Mind.

My website is: You can watch both of my book trailers there.

I love interacting with readers at my author Facebook page:

I also make 140-character observations on Twitter:

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About the Author:

Award-winning filmmaker and author Julia Phillips Smith lives on Canada’s east coast with her husband and her mom, where the rugged sea and misty forests feed her thirst for gothic tales.

A graduate of Ryerson University’s film program, Julia’s previous writing credits include scripts for radio and television, along with Book 1 of her Dark Ages vampire series.

A longtime blogger, she invites you to visit A Piece of My Mind (

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for interviewing me today, Billy! I really enjoyed your questions. I'm also glad to drop by your blog again, as I was here before with my SAINT SANGUINUS tour. Always nice to see a friendly face!


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