Julie Stock is an author of contemporary romance novels and short stories. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme and an Associate Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors.
When she is not writing, she works part-time as a teacher. She is married with two teenage daughters and lives with her family in Bedfordshire in the UK.
What is your latest book?
My latest book is also my debut novel and it is a contemporary romance called From Here to Nashville. It tells the story of Rachel Hardy, who dreams of being a country music singer in Nashville, 4,000 miles away from her life in Dorset in the UK, and Jackson Phillips who is in the UK for his cousin’s wedding and scouting for talent for his record label, back in Nashville.
Is your recent book part of a series?
No, it’s not part of a series, although there could definitely be more books about the characters in From Here to Nashville.
How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?
I’ve always loved reading romance stories of all kinds so it made sense to me to write in that genre. The story of From Here to Nashville kind of presented itself to me, fully formed so I went from there.
I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?
I am just about to self-publish From Here to Nashville. It will be available w/c February 16th, 2015.
If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?
‘I Love You From Here to Nashville.’
What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?
There is still the belief that if you self-publish, your book won’t be as professionally produced as if you were traditionally published. Most indie authors I know are working really hard to have their books professionally edited and proofread, as well as organising professional cover design. The Alliance of Independent Authors is doing lots of work to show how much pride indie authors place in their books, along with a number of other organisations around the world.
What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?
I love the freedom you have when you’re writing your first draft. I find the rewrites after that very draining. I hope this is something I will get better at as I become more experienced.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
I write a first draft, without editing and when it’s finished, that’s when the editing and rewriting starts.
Do you have any advice for first-time authors?
I think you have to try and write every day, in some form or another. This could mean working on your current work in progress or it could mean writing your blog. My blog has been such a source of pleasure for me since I started it in 2013. I write a post every Monday and I take part in #MondayBlogs which has helped me make many new friends on Twitter, some of whom have become writing partners. I have interacted with a whole host of writers on Twitter and via the organisations I’ve joined and this has helped me to improve my writing as well. In addition, you should go on as many writing courses as you can afford and read everything you can lay your hands on to help make your writing better. I clip all my useful articles into Evernote and can then go back and refer to them whenever I want. You need to try and keep learning all the time.
Can you tell us about your road to publication?
I started writing my debut novel nearly two years ago. I had an idea for the story and just wrote until I reached the end. During this time, I joined Twitter and found out about National Novel Writing Month in November. I took part that year and also used some of their Camps to help me finish writing From Here to Nashville. I heard about the New Writers’ Scheme run by The Romantic Novelists’ Association and decided to try and join at the beginning of 2014. I was lucky enough to get on to the scheme and had my book read and critiqued by a professional author. That gave me the confidence to push on and finish my rewrites. By this time, I was pretty much decided on self-publishing and so I joined the Alliance of Independent Authors as well, after hearing one of their members speak at the RNA Conference. Since September, I have sourced my own cover, had my book edited and I expect it back from the proofreader’s this week. It is very hard work to self-publish, there’s no doubt about it but I am pleased that I’ve had the freedom to do what I wanted to do for the first book and to understand how everything works.
Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?
I did invite a few close friends and family to read my first thirteen chapters before I’d even finished the first draft. They all loved it, of course! I found my first proper beta reader via NaNoWriMo/Twitter. She read my very first draft and gave me lots of detailed feedback. I also sent it to the RNA for a professional read-through. I then asked another RNA friend to read the final version after it had been professionally edited. I don’t think I would show my next book to anyone before the first draft is finished.
We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?
My cover design was very important to me. I’d had a provisional cover for a long time and I wanted the actual cover to be very similar to it, just much more professional! I was lucky that my cover designers were very patient with my lack of knowledge about cover design and although it took a while to get there, I’m so pleased with the final result.
Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?
I live in a small, rural village in Bedfordshire in the UK. I would like to live by the sea, either in Norfolk or in Cornwall. I don’t think I’d like to move country, although I love to travel, especially to France. I did live in France for the best part of a year when I was at university and that kind of convinced me that as much as it’s wonderful to travel, it’s always great to come back home.
Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats
I don’t mind travelling by train, plane or car but I really don’t like boats that much. I can manage a ferry across the English Channel but you would never catch me on a cruise! I have a bit of an irrational fear of large expanses of water – Titanic syndrome perhaps.
If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
I learnt the piano for a few years when I was young but I gave up. I really wish I hadn’t so that I could play confidently now and accompany other people. It’s so much harder to pick up when you’re older though.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
My degree was in French and I also learnt Spanish and Italian. My love of languages came from my grand-dad who was born in Czechoslovakia but moved to France during the war. I have kept my spoken French going all my life and as a result, I still speak it pretty fluently. I love speaking the language when I’m there. I hope to go there again this summer to the Alsace region. My next book will be set there.
What music soothes your soul?
I love all kinds of music but my favourite band of the moment is Lady Antebellum. I have all their albums and often listen to them on a constant loop! I was lucky enough to see them in a small gig in the UK last October and I’m seeing them again in March. My character, Rachel, sings one of their songs in ‘From Here to Nashville,’ along with a number of other country music songs and some of her own songs.
Music has always been an important part of my life. I have always loved to sing and in fact, I met my husband when we were singing in the same London choir nearly thirty years ago!
If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?
My husband and I are knee-deep catching up with Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones at the moment. We really enjoy them both. We also love the TV show Nashville which inspired my book but we’re not sure yet if the UK will get the third series. We’d be really disappointed if we didn’t get it!
What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?
One of my favourite films is Truly, Madly, Deeply with a very young Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson. I can hardly ever watch it without crying my eyes out. One of my favourite books is The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, which has exactly the same effect on me!
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