Saturday, July 14, 2012

Interview with Julie Murphy

Hi, everyone! We're continuing our interview-every-Saturday month today with an interview with Julie Murphy, author of SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY (Balzar + Bray/HarperCollins, winter 2014)! She is funny and wonderful and didn't scream too much when we coerced her into doing this :)

How long have you been writing for?
I've always dabbled in writing. Whether it was journaling (or really attempts at journaling), poetry, short stories, or screenplays (yes, even screenplays), storytelling in some form has been a part of my daily life for as long as I can remember. A little less than a year ago, I began to take writing seriously. And it's been quite the year!

Tell us a little about your book, SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY.
When sixteen-year-old Alice learns she is terminally ill, she makes a very surprising list of things to do–which includes settling some old scores. She’s made peace with her life—until she goes into remission. Now Alice must face the consequences of everything she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for the boy she pushed away when tomorrow wasn’t certain.

How did you celebrate The Call from your agent? 
Well, immediately after receiving The Call, I had a solo dance party and then went to work. Womp, womp. But a few weeks after that, I went out for a great big dinner with a few close friends. And I basically bought myself a cupcake every day for at least a month.

Which was harder: querying or going on sub?
Oh wow. Querying is hard. Really, really hard. But submission is a whole other animal. I think the hardest thing about going on submission is, that after querying, we're so accustomed to all the articles and the blogs that detail every square inch of querying. But when it comes to being on submission, you just don't find that same plethora of information out there. Usually, the reason for that is because submission is so very different for every single person.  I was lucky in that both the querying process and the submission process for SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY passed rather quickly. But if I had to choose one or the other, I would say that querying was the harder of the two. That's simply because, when I was on submission, I wasn't alone. I had my amazing agent going to bat for me.

How'd you get your agent? From the slush pile, a conference, a contest?
My dear, sweet agent, Molly, who I gush about at any given opportunity, plucked me out of the slush pile! I've got a detailed agent story on my blog for those interested.

Any strange writing rituals?

Heck yes I have strange writing rituals! Three in particular. The first is popsicles. Boxes and boxes of popsicles. You know I've had a good writing day when my office is littered with popsicle sticks. And then there are movie trailers. I sit down and watch a whole slew of movie trailers before writing. It's very therapeutic for me. The third isn't so strange, but I do a lot of writing longhand. It helps when I'm stuck. And, too, I find that some of my most organic work comes when I power down my laptop and put pen to paper. So there you have it. The secret to my success: popsicles, movie trailers, and writing longhand.

How excited were you when you got your editor?
I don't think there exists a tool on Earth to properly measure my excitement. I could not be more thrilled to be working with Alessandra and the whole team at Balzer + Bray. I don't think I'll ever get used to saying "my editor." My face has been stuck in this really goofy smile. It's kind of starting to hurt. ;)

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers? Anything specific for teen writers?
All the usual stuff, of course. Don't give up, keep on trucking, chin up, etc. But most importantly, READ. Everything of value that I have learned about writing has come from a book. Your favorite books make you feel the way that they do for a reason. Find out why. And here's my other piece of advice: don't take all of the advice. Pick and choose what works best for you. Otherwise, you'll just end up with a hodge podge of advice. Sometimes there's no right advice for you, and sometimes you have to set your own rules. In fact, that's one of the best parts about writing. There's no right way.

See? I told y'all that she was wonderful! Thank you SO MUCH for coming, Julie!


  1. Thank you so much for having me!

  2. This is definitely one I'll add to my TBR list. Unfortunately it's a while until it comes out, but for books like this, I've got the release date in my file so I know when to watch out for it.

    Congratulations on the quick sell, Julie!