Friday, September 25, 2015

Guestopia: Interview with author Julie Fison

Today I am delighted to welcome Aussie author Julie Fison to YAtopia.
Click for OptionsJulie is the author of eleven books for children and young adults. The latest, Counterfeit Love, about an ambitious young television reporter trying to make a name for herself, was inspired by Julie’s time as a reporter in Hong Kong. Her books also include the Hazard River series for young adventure lovers and titles in the Choose Your Own Ever After series for girls aged 10 to14.

Is this your first published book?
Counterfeit Love is my third YA book. The other two are Tall, Dark and Distant and Lust and Found – part of the Smitten series (Hardie Grant Egmont). I have also written a series for young adventure lovers – Hazard River (Ford Street Publishing) and two books in the Choose Your Own Ever After series. The stories have multiple endings and let the reader decide how the story goes (How to Get to Rio and The Call of the Wild).

Which genre?
It’s a contemporary romance.

Which age group?

It’s promoted as a book for young adults (14+), but plenty of fully-fledged adults have also enjoyed it.
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Is it a series or standalone?
Counterfeit Love is a standalone novel.

Are you an agented author?
I don’t have an agent.

Which publisher snapped up your book?
Counterfeit Love, along with Tall, Dark and Distant and Lust and Found were published by Hardie Grant Egmont.

Do you have another job?

I have two teenage sons who keep my busy. I also write the occasional travel story and do some marketing work.

Did you receive many, if any, rejections prior?
I pitched the idea of Counterfeit Love to Hardie Grant Egmont, after writing two other YA books for them, and they agreed to take it. This was a very fortunate position to be in. But I had plenty of rejections before I got my first publishing contract.
What created/what were you doing or watching when the first idea for this book sneaked up on you?
Counterfeit Love is about a young television news reporter, trying to make a name for herself in Hong Kong. She falls for a guy who turns up unexpectedly as she tries to get to the bottom of a big story. The novel was inspired by my days as a television news reporter in Hong Kong. Lucy Yang certainly isn't me, but I used my experiences as the basis for the story.

How long did you plot/plan until you started writing it?
I spent a few months letting the story ferment in my head, before I got started. I always know where a story will start and how it will finish – the details in between are generally a bit scant and tend to evolve as I write.

Once you started, did the story flow naturally or did you have to step in and wrestle it into submission?
Once I got started, the story flowed pretty quickly. I write an average of 2000 words a day.

How many drafts did you write before you let someone read it? Who was that someone?

I sent the first four chapters off to my publisher and we thrashed out a few character problems before proceeding with the rest of the first draft.
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How many drafts until it was published?
The story went through three draft stages before it was ready to be published.

Has the book changed dramatically since the first draft?
The plot is largely unchanged but the pace of the romance is different and my editor was able to smooth out the rough edges of my characters. I love the way she can do that!

Are there any parts you’d like to change even now?
I don’t ever reread a story once it’s published because I would not like to find things that I wanted to change!

What part of writing do you find the easiest?
Once I’ve got an idea in my head, I love immersing myself in the story and pounding away on the keyboard.

What part do you find hardest?
Self-doubt is a terrible thing. I feel that the more I know, the more uncertain I am of what to write.

Do you push through writing barriers or walk away?
If I get stuck with something I literally take a walk with the dog, throw on a load of washing or take a nap. I need to let my subconscious mind recharge and let ideas drift of their own accord. I can’t write my way out of a problem. I just end up writing rubbish.

How many projects do you have on the go at the same time?
I have my head in one story at a time, but once I have a first draft written I might go on to something else. This means that I go back to my first draft with fresh eyes because I have forgotten the details of the story.

Do you think you’re born with the talent to write or do you think it can be learned?

I think a lot can be learned. I know I’ve learned a great deal since I started writing fiction. But of course there is also natural talent and great writers obviously have plenty of that.
How many future novels do you have planned?
Click for OptionsI have loads of ideas for stories, but I can’t say how many will actually become novels.

Do you write other things, such as short stories, articles, blogs, etc?
Click for OptionsI blog on writing, travel and parenting. I’ve also just written a short story for Rich and Rare – a collection of Australian stories, artwork and poems for teens, published by Ford Street Publishing. That one comes out later this year. I have also written the first draft of a gothic play for high school students and I will get back to later in the year.

What’s the highlight of being published so far?
I was pretty elated when Ford Street Publishing agreed to take four books in the Hazard River series. It’s also incredibly rewarding when a shiny new book arrives in the mail from the publisher. Seeing one of my books in a bookshop is exciting, too.

Give me five writing tips that work for you.
1.       Give your ideas a chance to germinate before getting started.

2.      Write as much as possible without going back to edit it.

3.      Each day reread the previous chapter so you are back in your character’s head at the point you left off.

4.      Be tough with yourself when you edit. If there’s an inconsistency in the plot that you hope a publisher won’t notice, change it. The publisher will notice it!

5.      Try to engage your reader, not impress them with fancy writing that doesn’t fit the story.
And one that doesn't.

Click for OptionsFollowing a trend.

Can you give us a clue or secret about the next book?
I’ve just started working on another YA novel. It’s a contemporary romantic thriller with a hint of gothic menace. The idea came to me while I was visiting New Zealand last year. The wilderness is so beautiful but it has that lonely, remote feel to it. It’s very inspiring.
Thank you so much, Julie. Good luck with all of your novels, new and old!
If you'd like to find out more about Julie and her books, check out the links below.


  1. Thank you for having me on YAtopia, Kate. Catch up again soon, I hope!