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A quick word from Bobbi Dumas, your host.
Hi everyone! Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month. You can find out more about this fun, month long event here. And check out all the great authors taking part this year on the calendar, here.
The theme this year is The Romance Of Reading, The Magic Of Books and we have an awesome assortment of writers – both romance and mainstream fiction authors – sharing about books, reading, romance & magic. I hope you’ll visit everyday.
(Also, be sure to check in to The Romance Of Reading FB page, where one of the RARM authors will be hosting the page each day in August. Today Karen Hawkins will also be on the page.)
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Julie Ann Long – Reading Makes Us Better
I can only see the back of the women’s heads: One of them has a brunette bob threaded with silver. The other has has curly blonde hair; the lavender-tinted ends of it brush her shoulders. They’re sitting on the seat in front of me on the N Judah train in San Francisco, and the cadence of their conversation makes it clear they’re friends.
“I told you about him, right? I had the worst crush on him in high school.”
The brunette speaking.
The word “crush” pings my radar. Suddenly, despite myself, I’m listening.
“…I mean, everybody did. God, you should have seen him back then. The hair! He didn’t know I was alive. So anyway, I haven’t seen him in what…decades? But get this—” she pauses.
I approve of her sense of drama. “….he shows up today in the office.”
“No way,” her friend breathes.
“Three guesses why.”
A pause or two of dumbstruck silence, and then she says: “Oh, my God. He’s the guy who transferred from corporate?”
Brunette nods slowly.
By now, as you might have guessed, I’m fully invested in this story.
“He’s gonna be on my floor. And, Sonja…if I thought he looked good then, you should see how—”
Annnndd that’s when we reached my stop. So I had to get off the train.
I think I would pay to know how this story ends. But that’s the magic of storytelling. That two-minute snatch of conversation exerted a pull in large part because it contains so much of our universal human experience: friendship, yearning, suspense, surprise, unrequited crushes, secrets.
And this is why we read. It’s about the search for and reveling in a shared experience, an opportunity to root for each other, an opportunity to vicariously, briefly, live another life. It’s an opportunity to feel empathy.
Ultimately, reading makes us better and deeper humans.
The story begun by the woman on the train is not a new or original story.
But every human is an original human. And every human contains an entire world of potential stories.
I think this is why there are so many books that feature walking through portals into other lands—from the wardrobe in Narnia, to Harry Potter’s Platform 9 ¾, and more—because both readers and writers understand that yearning to transcend our current existence and to experience another world.
How lucky we are that all we have to do is open a book.
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Julie Anne recommends:
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
Just a few minutes ago, sitting out in the backyard, witnessing how the blossoms turn into berries, watching butterflies float by, watching a hummingbird pause for a breather on the fence. I believe everything is magic. It amazes me that gorgeous food grows from the dirt.
How lucky are we? What an extraordinary planet.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
The Once and Future King, by T.H. White, is one of the first to fascinate me. The first half is the famous “Sword and the Stone” part about Arthur growing up under Merlin’s tutelage, and he learns lessons by by becoming various creatures—fish, ants, a falcon, and so forth.
I found this enthralling. It’s dark, whimsical, scary, funny and sweet all at once, with an underlying melancholy, and great depth. The second half, about Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot, is a beautiful, painful, nuanced study of friendship, love and betrayal. It’s a depiction of Lancelot we seldom see.
T.H. White was a wonderful writer.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
There have been so many. Recently, my deadline schedule was accordioned by the Camp Fire disaster in Paradise. Finding pockets of peace and concentration amidst the upheaval in order to write was so challenging. And yet, toward the very end of my deadline, when I was exhausted and my whole body ached and my eyes felt like sandy, hot cueballs in my head, everything just flowed, and I got it done.
And a few minutes ago, when I thought everything burned in the Camp Fire, including my Rita and my Rita pins—I found one in a little box at the bottom of an overnight bag. I had no idea it was there. I am just astonished.
For writers who use magical aspects in their books, what attracts you to those elements? For those of you who don’t, are there specific themes or elements you’re attracted to and find yourself going back to? Why do these resonate with you?
I love bringing together a hero and heroine who, on the surface, could not be more different, but who, because of the circumstances that have shaped their lives, ultimately see, appreciate and understand each other in ways that no one else can—which means that they become what each other wants and needs. I think that longing to be understood is universal.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
In the past, I’ve compared my writing process to walking down a twisty hall in a dark museum armed only with a penlight—I can only see what’s just ahead, and it’s full of surprises. Or sometimes to an archeological dig: I unearth fascinating pieces out of order, and I’m not quite sure where they go, only that they do. So it is indeed a pretty mysterious experience. Sometimes it flows; sometimes aspects of the story decide to reveal themselves in their own sweet time. To nudge the process along if I’m feeling log-jammed, I’ve learned things like a long walk, a change of scene—sometimes even just working in another room—and meditation all help.
And lots of inspiration can be found in the shower. 🙂
Drawing – Julie Anne is generously giving away a copy of Lady Derring Takes A Lover (U.S. only apologies to international friends.)
To enter, leave a comment below. Open until August 17, 2019 11:59 PM EST.
Also, all comments will also be entered to win a bundle of books from the Week 2 participating authors. You may enter by commenting on this original blog post and/or on the Read-A-Romance Month Facebook page post, here.
Each first unique comment at each space offers an extra chance to win, so check in with each author. Must comment by 8/21/19 11:59pm Eastern to enter.
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USA Today Bestselling author and Rita Award winner Julie Anne Long’s books have been translated into eighteen languages, nominated for numerous awards, and have appeared on dozens of “Best of the Year” lists. NPR named her Pennyroyal Green series as one of the Top 100 romance series of all time. She currently lives in Northern California with a talkative, one-eyed cat.
Discover all of Julie Anne’s books:
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