Interview with Julia Proud

Describe your desk
A glass of water, a pen, a notebook, a used napkin from when I almost spilled water on my laptop, a random fork my son has just brought me, an eraser my son was trying to eat earlier(he's a one year old, stop giggling) and that's it. I'd add my sweat and tears but that sounds a little bit too dramatic, even if it's true.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Working on the world and characters and trying to find their stories. The real stories. The hidden ones that are made up of my characters' fears, secrets, regrets, pains and disappointments, but also of their dreams, aspirations and hopes. In a nutshell, my greatest joy in writing is getting to know my characters.
When did you first start writing?
When I was nine I decided I could write stories that I'd share with the entire world! Obviously, I thought I was really good at it. Then, a week later, when I read those glorious pages of my first novel I realized I was no good at it, and I've been constantly trying to improve ever since.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. It was about a tree growing and needing to be helped to grow straight while it was still a sapling. The story tried to answer how children are similar to the trees, and that if they're to grow well, they need to be helped to do that while they're young. It was a school assignment. We were supposed to write a story with this subject of straightening trees and kids. I was eight years old. I wrote from my heart, but for the life of me, I can't remember how the story went exactly. The only reason I recollect this school assignment and consider this my first story is because that had been the first time I had done my homework and the teacher doubted I had been the actual author of that story. She thought my mother had written it for me. That was both an insult and a compliment. I had to spend the next years trying to prove to my teacher that I had what it took to actually write that tree story. So, in a weird way I owe that teacher for my early interest in this craft.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No. I remember the first stories I started to read though. The first years that I learned how to read I had this awful habit of starting a book and as I approached a certain point (usually the middle of it) I abruptly gave up on reading it. But not for lack of interest for reading. But for a deep desire to continue the story myself. I used to imagine all the possible outcomes from the point I had abandoned the story. The possibilities were endless and I loved that.
What's the story behind your latest book?
A Good Car was born out of my need to write more about Ed Valenti, the main character of my first book, A Dead Man. Ed's life is a series of ups and downs, but the ups are only a step away from the ultimate down - the constant abyss of violence, addiction and sorrow that always hovers over Ed. It will ultimately engulf and transform him, but I can't say more about that - Ed won't completely give into the darkness for another couple of books or so.
Obviously, I'm obsessed with the man, so I guess you could say that the story behind the story is that I want to share as much of Ed with my readers as possible.
What are you working on next?
A novel. It's actually a series of three novels. I call it the Naked Figure Series. It's not what it sounds like. The Naked Figure Series is part of the Jazz Noir Collection, meaning that it shares the same world as my currently published works. Ed Valenti, for instance, will appear in two of the three Naked Figure novels.
The title for this series is inspired by a painting entitled: Nude Descending a Staircase No.2. It captured the moving naked figure of a person as they descend a staircase, by showing the poses of the figure on the steps it had left behind, like a trail. That trail is something that only a filming camera can capture, and the subject matter of this painting has been inspired by a film study showing a naked woman coming down a staircase. In animation, such views that simultaneously display poses of past and even future actions are known as onion skins.
The Naked Figure Series will attempt to capture the movements of one character in particular as seen by several eyes as he passes through their lives, while he descends the staircase of live, if you will. A person's trail of past deeds can't really be contemplated unless there are enough witnesses gathered to offer a full, complete picture. But, in the end, none of them will see the person's actions the same way, will they? It's a matter of perspective, illusion and impression. It's a matter of the naked truth that can't be seen, especially when it comes to finding out the naked truth about ourselves.
How do you approach cover design?
A cover needs to transport the potential reader into the world they're about to experience once the book is opened. I try to find an atmosphere fitting the story and then work with my illustrator to try and capture that atmosphere. But I also look to integrate symbols and metaphors into the cover illustration, just to intrigue and amplify a certain meaning attributed to an object or a place. When the illustration is done, then the rest just falls into place.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Daydreaming. But seriously, I spend most of my time with my son. I also enjoy watching movies, reading, drawing and playing video games. I seldom get to do these things I enjoy, but I can't complain. Writing has always been my favorite activity, so it's the thing I enjoy doing the most. Lucky me.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. I don't mean to sound exaggerated, but really, think about it. I write and share my work hoping it will affect people in some way. I hope to make them feel what my characters feel. I hope to make my readers, gasp, cry, laugh and clench at the book (or e-reader) in suspense. I think there's a connection there between writer and reader, especially if that reader becomes a fan. If I make a person feel those sort of emotions then I am basically in a relationship with that person. A relationship where I promise to make them feel even more the next time we communicate. I like to keep my promises. I write for my fans, and they mean everything to me.
Published 2014-09-14.
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Books by This Author

A Dead Man
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 34,100. Language: English. Published: September 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
When a woman is murdered, Detective Valenti must do everything he can to bring the guilty to justice. Otherwise, what’s the point of wearing a badge?
A Good Car
Price: Free! Words: 14,620. Language: English. Published: September 14, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General, Fiction » Historical » USA
Ed Valenti is stuck in a loop of booze and gambling, constantly losing track of time and happily numbing his memories whenever possible. One night he wins a car at a game of poker. That car will bring to his doorstep a worried father looking for his son and from that moment on Ed's life won't be the same.