Jules Wake is a powerhouse of romantic fiction, and I’m proud to say those words “I knew her before she was famous!” She will probably cringe at that and insist that she isn’t at all famous, but bearing in mind she’s about to have her TENTH novel published I think I can safely get away with saying it.
Born but not bred in Yorkshire, Jules resides in the Chilterns and other than her family I think I can say that writing is her great passion…And it’s passion that she loves writing about the most. A match made in heaven.
Ive read several of Jules’ books and it’s hard to pick a favourite, although I have a sneaking suspicion that it might be a toss up between “A Girl’s Best Friend” and “The Little Brooklyn Bakery” which is written under her pseudonym ‘Julie Caplin’.
Luckily for us, Jules has stopped typing her next novel long enough for me to squeeze in a few questions…
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I’m not sure this counts as a literary pilgrimage, but as child I went to the local library every single week, it was a good long walk for a ten year but I would come back with as many books as I was allowed to take out. I devoured books and in the summer holidays would often go every other day.
I have been to the parsonage at Haworth and even as a Yorkshire lass, I remember being struck by the bleakness of the moors and the sense of isolation. No wonder the Brontes wrote such brooding dark novels. It’s easy to see how Jane Eyre was born out of that landscape
What is the first book that made you cry?
What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. When she realises that she’s going to be permanently bedbound after her accident
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Self doubt. It’s a horrible insidious thing that whispers in your ear. With every book, I think it’s absolutely dreadful and the worst thing I’ve ever written. Worst of all, I don’t get an ounce of sympathy despite my wails of “no but this one really is”. My husband, agent, publisher and writing buddy all take great delight in reminding me I said the same thing about the last book.
Usually by the time I’ve been right through the editing process, which involves lots of rewriting and tweaking, I’m much happier with the book and almost like it (I’m stressing the almost here!).
How did you celebrate your first book deal?
Oh dear, this sounds deeply shallow but with a Tiffany charm bracelet. I treat myself to a new charm each time I sign a new contract. And I choose a charm that reflects the title of the book. I still need to buy a ballet shoe charm to celebrate my last book Covent Garden in the Snow. It’s lovely to have a memento for each of my books.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
As one of my research subjects, Sherry, you know the answer to this! It usually involves arranging to meet up with someone plying them with wine and picking their brains! Although to be honest, every book its different. With my new book The Little Brooklyn Bakery, I had been to Brooklyn and the Hamptons before so I used all my photos to remind me of the places I’d been, but I’m not a baker, so I did need to check some of my facts.
However if I haven’t been to a place before or not for a while, I will go on a research trip! Recently I’ve been Copenhagen and Paris, which sounds rather self-indulgent but it makes a huge difference and will often inspire particular scenes or ideas.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I don’t tend to have a problem with writing male characters. As long as you are clear in your head on their goal and motivation, you work with tehm was you would with any character. Occasionally I might ask my husband what he thinks about something as a quick reference check but that’s rare.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I’m in the fortunate position that characters pop into my head complete with names, which is rather handy. It’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about. Occasionally I’ve had to change a character’s name half way through a book which is difficult.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
The average writer earns £11K. Most of my writing friends have a day job as well as the writing job. I’m lucky that I’ve had quite a bit of success and I could probably give up the day job now but actually I find it keeps me sane.
On the days when your writing isn’t going so well, you can really lose your confidence. Heading off to the day job really takes my mind off things and reboots my confidence. I work as a School Business Manager three days a week and I like to thing I’m quite good at my job, after a day at work where I feel I’ve achieved quite well I can go back to writing feeling much more positive.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Oh God yes! The good ones are easy, you think nice thoughts about those people. The bad ones, you read, read and read again, they hurt! I keep meaning to adopt the jelly baby technique. You squish a jelly baby imagining it’s the person who left the bad review and then you eat it! My favourite review was a three star one by a lady who had also left a five star review for an Addis Bin and one star review for Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. It tickled me that I wasn’t as good as a bin but I was better than a classic much loved book.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Yes! But if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you. They tend to be things that friends might know or real events that have happened that only a few people would know about. For example in my new book, there’s a scene in the Hamptons and my friends who live there mentioned that on Friday nights they used to see Chris Martin from Coldplay on the train out from New York to Long Island playing his guitar, so I pinched the story and used it in my book. It’s only something my friend Roberta would know I’d done.
Although I have just remembered, I recently used a friend’s quite unusual surname for my main character in A Girl’s Best Friend and I forgot to mention it to her, she was reading the book on a plane and when she realised she burst out laughing much to the consternation of the people sitting net to her.
What is your favourite childhood book?
I was such an avid reader, I’m not sure that I could pick a favourite. I really enjoyed the Malcolm Savile Lone Pine books but then I also loved Monica Dickens books and I adored Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea series and then there were Elinor Brent Dyer’s Chalet School books.
What are your favourite books to read?
I’ve got very eclectic taste, but I think romance is probably my favourite, but I like all of the sub genres, I love a good paranormal romance as well as a contemporary and a historic. I’ve just re-read Persuasion by Jane Austen for what must be the sixth or seventh time.
Is there a book that has inspired your life?
I was very taken by Steven Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s certainly made me think differently about how I approach things and has made me a much more positive person.
Where do you get your ideas from?
The radio is a fantastic source of ideas and I quite often just hear a snippet of something and my imagination takes off. My book From Italy With Love came from hearing The Chris Evans Breakfast Show when the programme featured a children in need segment, where listeners had won bids to be one of a group that got to drive some of Chris Evan’s vintage car collection. When I heard the dragon’s roar of one of the Ferrari’s engines starting up, I started to wonder what it would be like if a very ordinary person ended up with a very expensive Ferrari and the whole story grew from that.
Do you put elements of yourself in your protagonist?
Oh gosh no! I hope my protagonists are a damn sight more interesting than me! They get to do all the things I can only dream of … and they always spit out the witty comebacks right on cue. You know, the ones that usually pop into your head three days after the event.
For more information about Jules Wake visit her website www.juleswake.co.uk