With a background in pediatric nursing, Julie Anne Grasso has spent many years witnessing the courage and resilience of the children she cares for. This inspired her to write stories about a little girl elf with the same tenacious spirit. Enjoy this interview as Julie shares her experiences from her first foray into the world of self-publishing. If you'd like to sample Julie's book, an excerpt from "Escape from the Forbidden Planet" is included in a sampler Kindle ebook "Love Middle Grade Actually," which will be available for free between February 7th and 14th. As part of the fun, search the sampler for hidden clues to try to win a Kindle Fire in the Love Middle Grade Actually contest on February 14th.
Q: What caused you to decide to write your book, "Escape from the Forbidden Planet"? Have you always been a writer, or was writing something that you began to explore as an adult?
Julie: When I was in high school, the kids used to call me "Pixi" because I am pretty small in stature and have fairly elf-like features. As my bio mentions, I'm also a pediatric nurse. I've used a lot of nerdy medical technology over the years, so I decided I wanted to write a story about elves that have special healing abilities. I am also a cupcake fanatic, so the result was "Escape from the Forbidden Planet." I haven't always been a writer, but I used to dream of writing books for kids while I was nursing. However, it wasn't until I had some time off from nursing that I began to research and explore how to write a children's book.
Q: Who are your favorite authors? Who do you think of as a mentor in your writing craft, and why?
Julie: I really love middle grade books, but I am a huge science fiction fan, so Anne McCaffrey, Jasper Fforde, Douglas Addams, and Frank Herbert are my favorites. I also love forensics, so I have every Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell on my bookshelves. Through Twitter and Goodreads I have made some great author friends who have encouraged me greatly along the path to self-publication, but I would have to say my two sisters, who are voracious readers, have really mentored me.
Q: When did you come up with your idea for "Escape from the Forbidden Planet"? Was it your first story idea, or did you consider other ideas, too?
Julie: I came up with the idea about four years ago, and it was my first book. I have had other ideas since, but I think this book best incorporates the concepts that I am passionate about.
Q: How long did it take you to develop and write your book?
Julie: I took about two years to get it to a point where I was ready to submit it to publishers and agents. In that time I had a professional manuscript reviewed twice by a well-known children's book author at Writers' Workshop. She gave me a helpful but fairly brutal critique that really helped me to develop my story and hone my characters.
Julie Anne Grasso lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Danny and their own little elf Giselle. Stop by Julie's website to find out more about her and her writing. Don't miss the rest of her interview tomorrow.