Wouldn’t You Like to Know . . . Julie Murphy
Starting her adventures in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with Mom, Dad, and big sister Jill before growing up, getting married, and finding a new world to explore in North Texas with husband Ian, our current author is full of fun surprises. Could one of those surprises be that Julie Murphy is a real-life, mythical creature? As one of the rare unicorns new authors to write a complete book during NaNoWrMo (http://nanowrimo.org/), get it published, and receive such a strong response from readers, fans might very well be right, this hard-working lady has a touch of magic in her. Graduating with honors in political science from Texas Wesleyan University, Murphy considered getting her master’s in constitutional law before being lured into the sweet world of the reference desk at an academic library. Now a full time writer, Murphy can find her own books in library catalogs and on the shelves. I can’t wait to see what the next chapter in her life brings.
SH: When I was a teenager, people would describe me as a: (jock, band geek, popular, goth, other, none?)
JM: Theater trash!
SH: The best/worst thing that happened to you in high school?
JM: Heartbreak. Easily the best and worst thing to happen to me. And it seemed like every day held new heartbreaks, too.
SH: Favorite childhood book? Favorite food? Favorite band or album? Favorite television show?
JM: Where the Wild Things Are, tacos, currently anything with Brittany Howard on vocals, and My Mad Fat Diary.
SH: Was there any class in high school you regret paying too little, or too much, attention? If you could add one class to high schools across the country, what would be the topic?
JM: I so wish I had actually attended more than half of my Spanish classes. I would love to be fluent. If I could add one class, it would be called The History of You and it would be all about focusing on what makes you special and different and how all of those things are good and valuable, despite what the world says.
SH: If you could be a character from any book, including your own, who would you want to be? Why?
JM: There are so many to choose from in other books, so, since I’ve only written two, I’ll choose one of my own. I would have to pick Millie from Dumplin’. She’s positive and self-aware and someone I might have made fun of in high school, because her confidence would have scared me.
SH: Is there a book, besides your own, of course, that you think everyone should be reading?
JM: It’s out in spring 2016, but I just finished If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. It’s about a transgender girl adjusting to life in a new town as she recovers from a recent attack in her former town. She falls in love. She makes friends. She has new experiences. It’s a book about a trans teenage girl, but more than anything, it’s a book about a girl. I was so impressed with everything about this book right down to setting. I can’t wait for it to be out in the world, because the world needs this book.
SH: Is there a story from your childhood that is told most often, either by you *or* about you?
JM: Ah, yes. When I was a kid, my parents had just started going to a nondenominational Christian church. Much different than the Catholic and Jewish upbringings they’d both had. I couldn’t have been older than three or four, but I had just seen The Goonies for the very first time. The next day was Sunday and after the end of the church service, anyone who needed prayer was invited to come down to the altar. As my mother stood and began to walk down the aisle, I squirmed away from my father and sister and stood on top of a chair and began to scream, “STOP! MOM! IT’S A BOOBIE TRAP!” My entire family had to be escorted out of the church as my dad tried to restrain me. I think that was the last week we attended that church.
SH: Do you have any favorite family traditions that might need some explanation to outsiders looking in? Do you remember how they started?
JM: I don’t know if it’s a tradition, because every year my dad begs us not to, but every Thanksgiving we all assault my dad with mashed potatoes. It started one year when I was younger and it was just me, my sister, my mom, and my dad. We were all arguing and the whole dinner was that heavy post-fight silence. Then, out of nowhere, my sister threw a fistful of mashed potatoes at my dad’s face.
SH: When asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, what did you say? Were you telling the truth?
JM: As a young kid, I wanted to be a chiropractor by day and a boxer by night. I blame this on a major car accident I was in with my mom that resulted in weekly visits to a chiropractor and my obsession with the Rocky franchise.
SH: Who was the first person who told you should be a writer before you knew it yourself?
JM: A teacher in high school who caught me in a lie. I think she was being sarcastic, but here we are.
SH: When you’re done writing for the day, or taking a little “me” time, do you have a hobby or special treat in which you indulge?
JM: There is currently so little “me” time, but I love traveling (exploring my huge, never-ending home state of Texas, especially!), working with animal rescues, and watching horrible movies.
SH: If you had an important secret or story to share, who would be the first person you’d turn to?
JM: It depends. I have different people I turn to in different sects of my life. If it’s personal, I turn to my husband, mom, or best friend. If it’s publishing related, I’ve got an incredible group of peers on whom I rely.
SH: Is there one moment in your life you’d love to live again? To either change it or to enjoy?
JM: Honestly, the months leading up to and after the release of Dumplin’. So many amazing things happened and several of my dreams came true, but I was so often too anxious and overwhelmed to fully enjoy it. I would force myself to slow down and take it all in.
SH: What three words would you use to describe yourself? What three words do you think other people would use to describe you?
JM: Moxie, introvert, and calculating. Bossy, confident, and passionate. I’m a Slytherin, if you can’t tell.
SH: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
JM: Humble bragging. It’s the actual worst.
SH: If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
SH: You are sitting down to dinner with five people, living or dead, who you find fascinating. Who is at the table and what are you eating?
JM: I’ll stick to living people, because there are way too many to choose from. Roxane Gay, A.S. King, Channing Tatum, Malala Yousafzai, and Dolly Parton. We’re eating at my favorite Greek restaurant. That was so hard . . . I can easily think of at least ten more people.
SH: You get three wishes, what are they? (Yes, you can wish for more wishes but are you *that* person?)
JM: 1. World peace. That’s so cheesy, but we need it so badly.
2. A beautiful house for my parents to retire in.
3. Unlimited travel funds.
Bonus wish: No more writer’s block!
SH: Do you have a phrase or motto that inspires you?
JM: I am apart of all that I have met. – Alfred Lord Tennyson
SH: A series of choices: Comedy or drama? Five star hotel or rustic camping? Cats or dogs? Phone, email, or text? Sweet or salty? Early morning or late night? Movie, music, or TV? Elevator, escalator, or stairs? Planes, trains, or automobile?
JM: Comedy! Five Star Hotel! Both! (Fine. Cats.) Text! Sweet! Late night! We are in the golden age of television, so TV! Escalator! Automobile! (Or whichever offers the most scenic view!)
SH: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten, at any age?
JM: In college, a professor of mine told me to figure out what I wanted to do and treat it like my profession, because no one else would treat me like a professional until I treated myself that way. When I started writing, even though I had one full time job and an additional part time job, I carved out time for writing and held myself to it like it was another one of my jobs.
Side Effects May Vary
SH: You do a great job at showing how Alice’s illness affects everything, but making sure there are plenty of other reasons that we’re reading this book. What was the hardest part of balancing all the different aspects of Alice and Harvey’s story?
JM: It really came down to the timeline and dual perspectives. Since the book was non-linear, it was important to make Alice and Harvey’s story just as much in the past as it was in the present. Their individual perspectives came naturally, but nailing down the timeline deciding exactly what aspects fed their character arcs was the most difficult challenge.
SH: Have you ever wanted to create and execute a list like Alice’s, either in high school or today, real or imagined? Or what kind of list would you make instead?
JM: I’m a big list person. I make lists for everything, but never any quite like Alice. However, by the time I bought my own first home, I had lived in over twenty-three places. My family moved a lot, so I knew what it meant to say goodbye. Every time we left a place, I would fantasize about what it might be like to have a sort of grand finale exit where I gave everyone a piece of mind. You could say I was a dramatic child.
SH: Have you ever had an encounter somewhat similar to the one Alice and Harvey had with Goliath, on either the giving or the receiving side?
JM: I work with lots of local animal rescues, so yes. All the time. It’s so heartwarming to save an animal, but it is equal parts hard to let them go once they’ve found their forever home.
SH: What do you think Alice and Harvey are doing five years after the book ends?
JM: I’m not entirely sure, but I think they both went through quite a bit, so I would think they’ve done a lot of growing and are both pretty happy. I think Alice would make a great choreographer or even a lawyer like her mom. And maybe Harvey returns to piano—or if not, I imagine he finds something that makes him truly happy. I can never decide if they end up together. There might be too much history there for it to work out.
SH: Everything’s bigger in Texas, right? Have you ever been the recipient of a Texas-style mum? Or, what’s the most Texas-style item you’ve ever gotten/given?
JM: I have. I went to high school in Texas and while they were much smaller when I was in school, mums were definitely a part of my high school experience. Though, if I recall, I only had a mum one out of the four years.
SH: I love that Dolly Parton is such an inspiration to so many in this story. How did you choose “Jolene” as Lucy and Willowdean’s favorite Dolly Parton song? Do you have a favorite Parton song?
JM: I chose “Jolene” for many of the reasons Willowdean loves it. It’s a really raw and vulnerable song. Dolly Parton, one of the most confident women in the world, is singing about a time when even she has doubted herself. That’s hard not to relate to. Personally, my absolute favorite is “Little Sparrow.”
SH: Have you ever participated in a Sadie Hawkins dance? Who did you ask (or who would you have asked) and why?
JM: I didn’t, but I did hang out with lots of guys and probably would have asked some of them to go as friends. I had a few high school boyfriends who were older or went to different schools, but I was too concerned with acting cool in front of them and wouldn’t have ever asked them to a dance.
SH: Lucy was a compass for Will. Did you have a special aunt or important adult, other than a parent, in your life while growing up?
JM: I had several, for sure. My Aunt Flo (yes, a real Aunt Flo) was the first plus-sized woman I had ever known. She wasn’t always confident, but she was in love and mostly happy and never acted like she deserved any less. Basically, she lived a normal life and I know it might seem ridiculous to be inspired by that, but sometimes when you’re the fat kid—or whatever it is that makes you feel different—sometimes you just have to see someone you can relate to living an average life to know that normal is possible. She never had to say so, but just by being married to my tall, thin uncle, she was proof that everyone deserves love and all bodies are good bodies.
SH: What did you buy with your first paycheck as An Author? Was it a planned or an impulse purchase?
JM: I think I paid a few bills. My husband was recently unemployed at the time, so it was pretty boring. But since he’s found his calling as a high school psych teacher and wrestling coach, we’ve done some traveling and even bought new furniture. I’ve always wanted my own photo booth though, so if I ever received a ridiculous check that I could be totally frivolous with, I might consider it.
SH: What’s been the most surreal experience of being a published author? At least, so far?
JM: The first time I had a big author moment was my first time at the annual Texas Library Association conference as an author. I was racing to my signing with my book in hand to put on the display table when a woman stopped me, motioned to the book, and said, “Oh my God! Is she signing here?” I was sort of shocked into silence for a moment before explaining that I was the author. But honestly, it’s all so surreal. I come home from events and travel, and just sit around with my pets and husband, completely amazed and grateful that this is my life.
SH: When you sit down to write, what do you need around you? Do you prefer a certain time of day or is it more spontaneous? How do you approach the creative process?
JM: I really love writing in bed and editing at my desk. The divide in location is oddly helpful. I am definitely a night owl. I wish I was organized enough to really have an approach, because on most days, it feels like throwing spaghetti on a wall. I guess what matters most to me is remembering what inspired me to start a certain project and always letting that be the driving force. I like to think of that initial inspiration as bumper car cables.
SH: If someone wrote a book about your life, who would you want as the author, what kind of book would it be, and what title would you give it?
JM: I know without a doubt that I would choose Jennifer Mathieu (The Truth About Alice and Devoted) and I think it would be a collection of essays or short stories gathered from loved ones. I would call it Let the Wild Rumpus Start!
SH: Finally, is there a question you wish someone would finally think to ask?
JM: To be honest, I think I’ve been asked almost everything at this point, but there are always a few surprises!
Books by Julie Murphy
Side Effects May Vary. Balzer & Bray, 2014. 330p. $17.99. VOYA April 2014. 4Q 4P S
Dumplin’. Balzer & Bray, 2015. 375p. $17.99. VOYA August 2015. 4Q 4P S
Julie Murphy on the Internet