A member of the Historical Novel Society, Julie earned a B.A. in Humanities (San Jose State University) and an M.A. in English (University of Virginia). She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and loves reading, following the San Francisco Giants, watching episodes of Doctor Who, and enjoying the amazing natural beauty of Northern California.
Julie: It's so nice to be with you again! And, thank you so much for the kind words; enchanted, moved, inspired is what I was hoping readers would feel, so that is very gratifying! The book is rooted in Norway: its incredible natural beauty, its rich cultural traditions, and its resilient people.Oleanna was inspired by the lives of my great-grandfather John and his sisters Elisabeth and Oleanna. It's not a retelling of their lives, but an imagining of what their lives were like, left behind on the farm in rural, rugged western Norway. We have so many wonderful stories about the immigrant experience in America, but not many about the lives of those that stayed behind.
Here's the official blurb:
Set during the separation of Norway from Sweden in 1905, this richly detailed novel of love and loss was inspired by the life of the author's great-great-aunts.
Oleanna and her sister Elisabeth are the last of their family working their farm deep in the western fjordland. A new century has begun, and the world outside is changing, but in the Sunnfjord their world is as small and secluded as the verdant banks of a high mountain lake.
The arrival of Anders, a cotter living just across the farm's border, unsettles Oleanna's peaceful but isolated existence. Sharing a common bond of loneliness and grief, Anders stirs within her the wildness and wanderlust she has worked so hard to tame.
When she is confronted with another crippling loss, Oleanna must decide once and for all how to face her past, claim her future, and find her place in a wide new world.
Stephanie: With this story being inspired by the lives of your great-great-aunts, when did you decide you wanted to write your inspiration?
Julie: It came to me very suddenly, actually. I had never planned to write about my family, had never considered it. I was working on another story at the time, and it just wasn't working, and suddenly the image of Oleanna on the top of a mountain came to me. Pretty soon thereafter, she and Elisabeth started chattering at me, and from the moment of inspiration to committing to writing the novel was less than a day.
Stephanie: Did you work with an outline or just write?
Julie: The answer is yes. I wrote the initial scene, where Oleanna is hiking up to their summer grazing lands, pretty quickly. After getting a few images and scenes down on paper, I did a rough outline; the story is more character-than plot-driven, so it made sense for me to understand Oleanna a bit and see what she needed to tell me. The overall story ultimately changed in the writing, and I revised chronologies, outlines, and to a lesser extent, character arcs as I went along.
Stephanie: Were there any writing challenges along the way?
Julie: Most definitely. The subject matter—loneliness, grief, trying to understand one's place in the world—were very close to my heart when I started writing, and the process helped me work through those issues, but it meant a lot of stops and starts. Honestly, I was also pretty nervous, though I'd written two books previously, and another simultaneously with Oleanna. The problem was, I really, really wanted to do right by the story, and by my family, so an element of perfectionistic procrastination crept in as well!
Stephanie: How long did it take to write your story?
Julie: I started writing in early November 2006 and completed the 8th and final draft in the summer of 2011.
Stephanie: Congratulations on winning the B.R.A.G. Medallion by the way. Please tell us why you decided to self-publish and how this experience has been for you.
Julie: Thank you very much, I'm honored! Self-publishing has been a good experience for me. I really enjoy both the freedom and control I have; I succeed or fail on my own efforts, and I've always loved a challenge (and self-publishing is most definitely a challenge).
Stephanie: Are you working on another book project now? And will you self-publish again?
Julie: I am! I've got two stories going at the moment, actually. One is set in Tunisia and England in 1935 and is a bit of a love letter to Indiana Jones and Nick and Nora Charles; the other is set in California in 1906 (and is in very early days so I don't think I'll say much more). In terms of self-publishing, we'll see how it goes. I'm certainly not ruling it out.
Stephanie: Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Julie: I'm so thrilled to be able to share Norway with so many people; if you ever make it there, please post photos to my Facebook! And, it goes without saying but I'm going to say it anyway: I'm so very grateful for your support!
Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?
Julie: Oleanna is available in paperback and ebook from pretty much any online book retailer you'd like, including Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's, among many others.
Thank you, Julie!
Julie K. Rose's novels feature complicated, compelling characters seeking to overcome their pasts--and themselves. Her stories evoke a vivid sense of time and place through a keen ear for dialog and beautifully elegant prose. (From Julie's Goodreads page.)
Stephanie Hopkins is a respected book reviewer at Layered Pages. She conducts author interviews and helps promote the B.R.A.G. Medallion. She has reviewed books for the Historical Novel Society, is co-admin of English Historical Fiction Authors Group on Facebook, and is an avid reader of historical fiction, non-fiction and history. She currently has several writing projects under way. When she is not pursuing her love of a good read, chatting with authors and fellow readers (which is pretty much 24/7), Stephanie also enjoys creating mixed media art on canvas. She is also into health, fitness and loves the outdoors. These days she has no idea what rest is!
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