An Interview with talented novelist – Julia Wild
Firstly, I must thank Lizzie Lamb for inviting me onto this wonderful blog.
Julia, you have always been unfailingly kind and supportive of New Romantics Press so it is our pleasure to have you on our blog. So, pull up a pew and tell us something about yourself.
I’m the current Hon Secretary of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, I’m just beginning my third year in the position. The post involves dealing with day to day admin of the RNA taking and producing minutes after meetings. I’m lucky to be working with such a fabulous bunch of hard-working committee members. Until I joined the committee, I had absolutely no inkling of all the effort that goes on behind the scenes of the RNA.
My writing life began in childhood when I would dream up stories to star in. As time went on, I wrote stories for chums, involving them and their choice of pop star/film star – or boy in our class. It was always romance, at its most innocent.
Before I married I had a variety of jobs, bank work (was politely asked to leave due to numeric dyslexia, which I didn’t know I had) Nightclub waitress (mini-skirt, butcher’s apron, white knee boots) loved it – but had all my tips stolen from apron pocket. Needlewoman Shop assistant in Regent Street, legal secretary…
As you do I married, had children, and then one fateful Saturday in 1989, I was given a Saturday job looking after a double glazing showroom. Well, as you can imagine, it wasn’t the busiest shop in the street! Once I’d done a bit of dusting and hoovering, I pulled a romance book from my handbag and began reading… And pretty soon thought: ‘I can do better than this.’ Anyone who writes knows – it’s seriously not that easy and there is so much you can only learn by actually writing. The obsession began. I wrote tomes – a contemporary crime/romance, three whopping historicals – 250 thousand words each – typed and retyped many times!
In 1993, I won a competition to spend a week on a historical writing course and whilst on this, one of the tutors, the late Pamela Cleaver said I must join the RNA. I joined the New Writers’ Scheme and spent until 1997 submitting a variety of historical, contemporary romances and medical romances until in 1997, my book was accepted for publication. It was called Dark Canvas and went on to win the RNA’s New Writers’ Award (now the Joan Hessayon Award). Since then I had another four books published and Illusions won the RNA’s First Romance Prize (now the Rona Rose) in 2003.
The publishers closed though in 2003 and in 2014, when I was made redundant from my library post of 18 years– I decided to go through the process of publishing my backlist. Once I obtained the rights back, with the help of the Society of Authors, who are amazing. I had help and advice on self-publishing from several RNA members – Lizzie Lamb included (thank you, Lizzie!) Freda Lightfoot and Jenny Haddon. I’m sure there are more who I spoke with – apologies for not mentioning your names.
One of the highlights of self-publishing was to bring out a new book, Moon Shadow – a book that was accepted by two publishers but never made it to print. In 2016, I brought this one out and it felt wonderful to free it from the office drawer at long last. A lovely university art graduate called Bori worked on the covers for me, and as anyone who has been involved in this process will know – it does take a lot of tweaking.
I write as Julia Wild and have recently freed my 18th Century romances from their corsets in the cupboard. One of them is currently with my editor friend who will tell me honestly whether it is worth working on! I hope so – I did shorten it from 250 thousand words to 96 thousand words, and I think when you do that, you can never be sure it has worked! Time will tell.
Before I leave, I must say thank you again to Lizzie Lamb and the New Romantics’ Press Blog for generously inviting me along here.
The pleasure has been all ours, Julia. See you very soon.
Julie Vince (Writes as Julia Wild) – do go over to her Amazon page for reviews, blurbs, and much, much more about her books.
‘I have always maintained the importance of aunts.’
‘Aunts are not bad but they are inclined to be soppy and call you darling chiz chiz chiz.’
‘Aunts,’ someone said recently, ‘seem to have starring roles in all of your stories.’
Do they? Well yes, I suppose that they do.
I think the stiff-as-sticks Beatrice and Eugenie, from An Englishwoman’s Guide, were probably summoned-up by Lady Bracknell – Algy Moncrief’s awful aunt in The Importance of Being Earnest.
Lovely Leonie, from The 20’s Girl – who taught her niece to dance the hoochie coochie and the turkey trot, while wearing ostrich feathers and waving an Egyptian cigarette in a long ebony holder – is possibly more like Auntie Mame, who sent her nephew to a school where all classes were held in the nude, under ultra-violet ray!
I adored my own aunts. I was the first girl in my mum’s family, and her sisters completely spoiled me – sitting me on their knees, twirling my curls around their fingers. Sigh.
PG Wodehouse seemed to have a thing about aunts, too. As a schoolboy, he was passed around between quite a few of them, apparently.
In his stories, they keep being blamed for all ills and failures.
‘Behind every poor innocent blighter who is going down for the third time in the soup,’ Bertie Wooster moans, ‘you will find, if you look carefully enough, the aunt who shoved him into it.’
Then, there are Agatha and Dahlia – sister’s to Bertie’s father in The Mating Season. Agatha, according to Bertie, ‘is the one who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth.’ She has ‘an eye like a man-eating fish and wears barbed wire next to the skin.’
Who could resist characters like that?
This picture of my mum and her sisters, Nell and Kath was taken in Somerset, when they were all in their late eighties. We were spending a few days together at a hotel in Somerset. I have never got through so much brandy in my life. ‘Ooh, just another nip, ducky! Helps you to sleep, y’know.’ All three lived well into their nineties.
I think of them every day.
Eccentric, exotic, mad, bad or dotty – for me, aunts do seem to offer a new angle on the world and on my writing. Does anyone else feel the same attraction?!