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Julia Kelly: An Exclusive She Writes Interview
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
February 2019
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
February 2019

Author Julia Kelly's most recent novel The Light Over London was released in January and she took time to chat with us about her writing routine, the ways authors can build a thick skin, and her tribe of HBIC's that get her through it all.

Describe your writing routine.

The short answer to the question “What is my writing routine?” is that I really just sit down and write.

I have a day job which means that I’m always finding pockets of time to get words in. Fortunately, I used to be a journalist which trained me to be able to switch on wherever and whenever.

Most nights, I’ll come home, cook dinner, and then sit down for a couple hours of writing or editing. I also try to get some solid hours in on the weekends. Sometimes, if I’m really up against a deadline, I’ll wake up around 5 a.m. during the week to make sure that I finish my draft.

Whatever it takes to get across the finish line!

What was the first/worst job you ever had before becoming an author?

The worst job I’ve ever had has to be when I was a waitress and shop girl in a tea shop the summer before I started college.

We served high tea three times an afternoon, every day. I did everything from shopping for the ingredients to cooking and assembling the food to actually serving the tea and cleaning up. My boss didn’t believe in things like lunch breaks so the other waitresses and I had an elaborate system of covering for each other while we snuck to the back to eat whatever we could grab as quickly as possible.

There was, however, always a pot of tea on which is part of the reason why I can still drink tea any time, day or night.

When was the moment you started to feel like a writer?

I’ve always felt like a writer because I’ve always written. However, the first time someone reached out to say that they’d found and read a published book of mine felt like a banner moment as a published author.

What is the number one piece of advice you'd give to aspiring authors?

Keep writing and do the work.

It can be difficult to stay motivated when you’re working through a first draft, but it’s good training for the difficulties that inevitably come up with pursuing both traditional and self-publishing.

There is a point in your career when you’re going to struggle to find a publisher, get your book in front of readers, make the sales that you think you should be making.

Persevering with your writing practice is going to help you build the resilience you’ll need throughout your publishing journey.

Who inspires you?

I have a group of writers, the HBICs, who are my best friends, confidants, and inspirations all at once.  We all write different things and have taken different approaches to our writing careers as we’ve grown over the years. However, each of them is so supportive of whatever decisions the others decide to make. They are all fierce businesswomen who also make it a point to reach out to other writers and help however they can.

We’ve actually built a writing community called HBIC Nation to help support women at all different stages of their writing careers.

Why is it important for women to tell their stories?

When I studied history at university, I realized not only the degree to which women’s stories have been forced to take a backseat, but also how much we lose when we don’t hear those stories.

In my most recent book, The Light Over London, I told the story of a woman who joined the Gunner Girls during World War II. These women manned the anti-aircraft guns in mixed gender batteries and were an integral part of the defense of the Home Front during the devastating air raids that destroyed parts of Britain. Some of them also went over to Europe and saw action there.

A reader reached out to me the other day to let me know that he felt a special connection to The Light Over London because his mother had been a Gunner Girl. She hadn’t shared many stories before she passed away, but after reading the book he felt motivated to pick up some of the resources I mentioned in my author’s note and begin to learn a bit more about what his mother’s life would’ve been like during the war. It’s incredible to think that a novel could help someone learn a bit more about the women in their own family.

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