Author Highlight--Juli Caldwell
Well, 'tis the month for spookiness and I wanted to feature authors who have written haunting stories. The first is Juli Caldwell. I like this writer for a lot of reasons, but I really enjoy reading her stuff because of the strong narrative voice she creates within her characters. Her main character in Psyched is a teenage girl thrown into a dangerous quest as she battles a very witty demon who has more control over her life than she realizes. Here's my review of Psyched:
"This is one of those books you just can't put down. What I love about Psyched in addition to a great, spooky story is strong characters and narrative voice. Aisi is the most awesome chick, strong-willed, sassy, and deals with some crazy stuff happening with a spunkiness that I loved. I'm familiar with this author and her work and she really breathes her own quirks into her characters and the effect is hilarious. Which seems odd, I know, considering the demon factor, but it works. In addition to the memorable characters, Psyched is well-written, riveting, surprising and genre-busting. Teens will love this book, but it definitely has a more wide-ranging appeal."
It is my pleasure to highlight Juli Caldwell. Enjoy!!! Don't forget to support your local authors:)
Where did the idea for a snarky demon come from?
I was a student at the time, sitting in one of my boring, long night classes. I started doodling (because honestly, there’s only so much modern American lit a girl can take before she’s just done) and in my mind I started hearing a conversation between Aisi and Malus, so I wrote it down. I don’t do scary very well, which is odd for someone who wrote a scary book, so I tried to make Malus sarcastic and obnoxious so he was a little less scary in my head...but the tit-for-tat going on in my head really worked for me. I was laughing as much as freaking myself out, so I ran with it.
Do you outline your story first or jump right in and see what happens?
While I definitely see the advantage of outlining, I have a hard time going there in my head. There’s a lot of debate among writers about whether we plot it or pants it. Guilty—I’m a total pantser. As a bonus, I’m just as surprised as anyone else where my stories go.
That said, I had to make a rough outline for Freaked, the sequel to Psyched. I had so many ideas where I could take it and so many things I wanted to do, so I had to focus it a little. I don’t do that well, though, so a member of my critique group stepped up and helped. I think I owe him a plate of brownies for that!
Does music have to be playing for you to concentrate? What kind?
It depends on what I’m writing. Sometimes I need it to be totally quiet. Other times I crank my Pandora station. And I listen to anything and everything as long as the musicians are talented. I’ve been listening to a lot of Alex Boyé’s Africanized rock lately, since African mythology plays a significant role in Freaked.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve been writing since I can remember. I think this was always something I had to do...the only question was whether it would be a vocation or an avocation. I’m really blessed that for now it’s my vocation. Anything can happen and that may change down the road...but even if I’m waiting tables at Hooters or selling phones from a mall kiosk, I will write. It’s who I am.
Did something specific happen that convinced you?
I took a job right after graduating college because I felt the pressure to get my student loans paid off. It was an easy job, and thankfully I worked with wonderful people, but I spent a good portion of my time wishing I were writing. When my loans were paid off I saw no reason not to pursue my passion any more.
Why did you decide to indie publish Psyched?
My first novel came out through a traditional publishing house. While I have absolutely no complaints about them or the traditional publishing process, I wanted more creative control over what I wrote, and I didn’t want to wait years to see the fruits of my labor. I started writing Beyond Perfection with a friend when I was barely pregnant with my youngest. That book hit bookshelves when she was three! It takes awhile to go through the process. With Psyched, I decided in March that I would publish by the end of May. Indie writers have to take care of all the littler details by ourselves, so it was a challenge, but I know myself. I’m a slacker. I had to set that goal or I’d probably still be working on it! I’m notorious for thinking what I write is awful after a little while. I had to get it out there while my critique group and test readers said they liked it. So I did it. It still blows my mind that I did...but I did it!
Where to find me online: