JULIE GARWOOD has clearly earned a position among America's favorite fiction writers. Her reputation as a masterful storyteller is solidly founded in her ability to deliver stories with appealing characters, powerful emotions, and surprising plot twists. Her latest are THE CLAYBORNE BRIDES and COME THE SPRING, narrated on audio by Mikael Naramore. Also FAST TRACK.
AUDIOBOOKS TODAY: You come from a large Irish family, growing up in Kansas City. Any other storytellers among your siblings, and what are your earliest memories of reading or writing?
JULIE GARWOOD: Everyone in my family is a storyteller. When we get together, it's always fun, and sometimes a little noisy from all the talking and laughing. My very earliest memories of reading aren't pleasant ones. During second grade I was kept out of school for an extended period of time because of complications after a tonsillectomy. When I finally returned, I had fallen behind in reading. My mother eventually saw how much trouble I was having and got help. She took me to Elizabeth, a nun at our school and a wonderful woman who opened up a whole new world of books for me. It was because of her that I learned to love the written word.
AT: You have an interesting website. The back yard seems to have a gazebo and a castle in the distance. Mostly imagination, like Wizard of Oz, or does your backyard hold similar surprises?
JG: My back yard isn't quite like that. I do have a beautiful view of trees, but there isn't a castle beyond them. That view is just in my imagination!
AT: How would you describe your latest book, and are you working on a new one now?
JG: FIRE AND ICE was a romantic suspense novel about a reporter for a local Chicago newspaper who thinks she's covering a routine and rather uninteresting story, but behind that story is a mystery that takes her all the way to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The idea actually came to me after watching a Science Channel documentary about polar bears. Yes, I'm working on the next book now. Until I've got most of it down, I don't give out too much information. I made the mistake several years ago of telling about the story I was working on, and then in midstream I changed my mind and wrote a completely different book. I'm still getting emails from people who are looking for the first story. As soon as I've written most of the current book, I'll post some information about it on my web site.
AT: Do you have a preference between contemporary and historical or regency, and do you find that your readers have preferences too, or is romance universal?
JG: I love writing both historical and contemporary novels. The story usually dictates the setting. Most of the readers seem to have a definite preference. I've discovered from their comments that they tend to favor the type of book they read first.
AT: You're not going to write a paranormal vampire romance one day, are you?
JG: The paranormal genre certainly has become popular, but I don't have plans to write about vampires. I've never really been drawn to the subject; however, I do understand the appeal. There's something intriguing about that combination of danger and romance.
AT: Literacy is one of your interests, which is important. What do you do to help the cause, and how can readers get involved?
JG: I try to support literacy programs as much as I can. I'm especially sympathetic to local libraries who are struggling to stay alive. I used to visit schools often to talk to students about reading, but unfortunately my schedule lately hasn't allowed as much time for that as I'd like. My recommendation to anyone who wants to help is to get involved with your local library. There are so many programs and fundraisers that could use volunteers.
AT: We sometimes review audiobooks for truckers, and were surprised to learn that many macho truck drivers--guys you'd think would be watching Steven Seagal movies while drinking beer--are actually fans of writers like Janet Evanovich or Nora Roberts. Have you encountered any wrestling fans at your signings, and what advice would you give men about reading romances so that they can learn to be more romantic by understanding their wives.
AT: I don't recall any wrestling fans at signings, but you'd be surprised by the number of men who write to me. They usually say they got turned on to my books by their wives. In fact, I received an email just yesterday from a man who said his wife reads my books to him when they take long car trips, and now he's hooked. And for messages like that I say, "Thanks, ladies!" I definitely think men will understand women better if they read romances, and there's a strong possibility that these same men will discover they actually enjoy the books themselves.