Julie Klassen talks with Christel Jeffs about the busy writer’s life, favorite books, and writing influences.
Christel: What is a typical day in the life of Julie Klassen like?
Julie: My day begins with coffee, checking email and social media, and then working on whatever is on the schedule for the day (writing, editing, interviews, research) until my sons come home from school. Then I spend a little time with them and since they’re teenagers, I feed them. A lot. I try to walk on the treadmill every day (rewarding myself by watching “Call the Midwife” while I do). Then it’s time to start thinking about what to make for supper. Usually in the evening I get a second wind and work for another hour or two.
Christel: What lead you to be so enamored by historical romance, particularly the era of Jane Austen and Jane Eyre, and what keeps you inspired by it?
Julie: A favorite teacher read Jane Eyre aloud to us in school, and that book made quite an impression on me. Later, I became a fan of Jane Austen when I watched the 1995 BBC/A&E adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Seeing it led me to read all of Jane Austen’s books and in turn, to set my novels in the Regency period, when her books were published. I continue to be inspired by the chivalry, polite restraint, and romance of the era.
Christel: I imagine you have been writing for a while, including when you were working in publishing. How did you juggle your job and family/personal commitments with your desire to write?
Julie: My debut novel came out seven years ago. I continued to work part-time as an editor while I wrote my first four books. And it was definitely a juggle and a struggle to balance working, writing, and time with family. It is easier now that writing is my full-time job, but still a challenge. Thankfully, my husband and sons are understanding. They have learned to ignore the messy house and happily eat a lot of frozen pizza when I’m on deadline!
Christel: What are some things you can tell us that we likely don’t know about the life of a writer?
Julie: It’s not a glamorous life by any means. It’s endless hours alone, sitting on one’s rear, hunched over a keyboard. It’s hard work (at least for me). Yes, there are a few glittering moments: the book launches and awards and writers conferences. And there are definitely satisfying moments as well: the thoughtful reviews and the encouraging emails from readers from around the world. Like any profession, writing has its ups and downs, but there’s nothing else I would rather do. I’m very thankful–being a published author is my lifelong dream come true.
Christel: In what ways and to what extent does your faith influence the stories and characters you create?
Julie: I believe a novel must first of all be a good, compelling story. I don’t set out to teach or preach. Even so, my faith no doubt impacts what I write–and what I don’t write. I came to faith in my twenties. Like the characters in my novels, I have made many mistakes and am still far from perfect. But I have experienced forgiveness and second chances through Christ and this naturally weaves its way into my novels.
Christel: What is your favourite book that you’ve written, and why?
Julie: Probably The Girl in the Gatehouse. I fondly call it my “ode to Jane,” because it has the most nods to Jane Austen. Several of the book’s characters became quite real and dear to me while writing it. My newest novel, The Secret of Pembrooke Park, with all its layers and mysteries ranks up there as well.
Christel: Lady Maybe is coming out in July. What can you tell us about this book?
Julie: Lady Maybe is about a woman whose startling secrets lead her into unexpected danger and romance in Regency England. And then in December comes The Painter’s Daughter, which is my first novel with a marriage-in-name-only premise
Thank you for the interview!