Julie O’Neill has a degree in Exercise and Sports Science and a Masters Degree in health education. She’s a full time English and Spanish teacher with a passion for healthy, active lifestyles for both adults and children. She has been backpacking for nearly twenty years. Off the trail, Julie enjoys running, yoga, and lots of reading. Her writings about the importance of keeping kids active and unplugged have been published in the nationally distributed magazine, Guideposts. She has spoken at numerous events and venues including REI.
Julie lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children. Living Without Walls is her first book.
What is your writing process?
Often I write in the field as I am writing about adventures I'm having. I carry a little notebook and a pencil, secured in a Ziplock bag, in my backpack and whenever I need to, I pause, sit down on a fallen log or granite rock and start writing. So that the ideas don't disappear into thin air, after sufficient time to mull over these pencil captured accounts has passed, I start typing. After considerable time on the trail, we often return to our trailer to regroup for a few days before heading back out to the trail. On that little kitchen table in the middle of another National Park is where our adventures come to life in the retelling of our tale.
I find that I can't force when inspiration will come. I just wait. I go for runs and think about things. I hike and think about things. And when the ideas are ready, things just suddenly connect. I've learned to not second guess but in order to respect the process I dutifully sit down and start typing. If I don't have my laptop nearby, I pull out my notebook and start writing. These connections have to be captured when they come or, as I've learned the hard way, they will just disappear as fast as they came.
Julie O'Neill chronicles her family's journey along the John Muir Trail in the High Sierras as she battles her inner fears reliving a backpacking adventure turned disaster that almost took her life 16 years earlier. Part memoir, part manifesto, Living Without Walls is a testament to the power of nature to tend to the whole person as portrayed in this blazingly honest and entertaining account.