Friday, 21 March 2014

Getting to Know...Julia Phillips Smith

by Julia Phillips Smith

1) What genre do you write, and what attracts you to that genre?
I write in the vampire genre, as well as dark YA fantasy. I’ve come to this realization about the YA aspect over time – my stories are definitely dark, even though the fantasy is a coming-of-age tale. Yet I kept
attracting YA readers for Bound by Dragonsfyre. It wasn’t until I was at the movie theatre watching Catching Fire that I put two-and-two together.

What attracts me to vampire stories? I’m not sure why I’ve been in love with vampires since my girlhood, but that’s when the love affair began. The brooding menace of a vampire waiting in the shadows to feed is hard for me to resist. I love the fact that vampires don’t have to do a lot of chest-pounding – when they want something, they get it, and that’s that. Also impossible for me to resist is the long lives they carry with them.

As for dark fantasy, for whatever reason, my stories need to have swords, warring nobility, servants trying to make sense of it all, some aspect of the supernatural and a good dose of heart-squeezing jeopardy for the hero – then I’m good.

2) What’s your writing strength? What do you think separates you from other authors?
I’d say my biggest strength is my world-building. That seems to be a common response from readers. I would say that my background with poetry has helped me out with that. Poems require a large impact to be made within short phrases. In my prose, I also try to keep word choice high and word-count volume low. When I’m in revisions, can I cut three sentences of description into one phrase? One authentic detail can give a scene the weight of reality.  

3) What’s your writing kryptonite? What is always tough for you to tackle?
Plotting out a story before I’ve had a chance to work it out in pantser mode is not my idea of fun. Luckily, I’ve had the benefit of over a decade of writing workshops through RWAC. Some of those plotting sessions have actually rubbed off on me, believe it or not. I’ll always see it as a necessary evil, however.

4) Do you work with critique partners?
I spent a year with two critique partners, and that was the moment that the revisions light bulb went on for me. Following that year, I developed a rhythm of writing a finished draft, giving it to beta readers, making final revisions before handing the manuscript to a professional editor, and then making FINAL final changes. I find this works the best for me.

5) Where are your favourite places to find inspiration for new ideas?
I’m film and ballet oriented, so immersing myself in a film or a miniseries that deals with my genre, the subject matter I’m writing about or the time periods I love is the way I light my inspiration flame. I also watch as much ballet on You Tube as I can find – a lot of narrative ballet is fantasy, so I disappear into the heart of what I’m writing about when I watch dance.

6) What piece of advice has stuck with you most since joining RWAC?
I don’t think it’s a piece of advice as much as realizing that everyone who had paid the membership fees to both the parent organization RWA and the local chapter were all declaring themselves to be writers. It’s a concrete piece of intention that goes beyond considering oneself a writer. Flowing naturally from that are all the many, many shared tips on how to carve out writing time in our busy lives, how to encourage support from those who miss us while we write, as well as all of the shared laughs over the things only other writers can understand.

7) Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
I’ve just re-launched Book 1 of my Brotherhood of Blood series this week – Vampires, Saints and Lovers with a new cover by the fabulous Kim Killion. Many thanks to my cousin and dear friend Julianne MacLean for her support with this re-launch. Peredur lives!

I’m also about to join several RWAC authors at the Halifax Author Event on Saturday, April 5th at the Lord Nelson Hotel, along with a wonderful group of local Atlantic authors from various genres. Check out the event Facebook page for more details --
In the meantime, I’m working on Book 2 of the Dragonsfyre series, which follows Scorpius deeper into the black heart of power – the flames of ambition threaten to bring down a noble house of the Eighth Dominion, while the burning scourge of the dragon plagues dukes and servants alike. The Lady Elysande offers sanctuary – until Scorpius finds himself in danger of losing himself to her.

Julia Phillips Smith

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  1. Love, love, love the new cover for Vampire, Saints & Lovers!

  2. Thanks, Kelly! I love the look in Peredur's eyes. He's a fantastic find.

  3. Best of luck with the re-launch, Julia.

  4. Congrats on the relaunch! Not surprised you're drawing in a YA set with Bound by Dragonsfyre!

  5. Thanks, Anne -- my web designer extraordinaire!

    Amy -- Kind of funny that I should realize it somewhat late in the game. It also took Brad and I awhile before we realized we were each other's 'The One', so I guess it's not too surprising.