Julia Lynn Rubin
author of Burro Hills, out March 20
Author, I Never is a segment in which I interview fellow authors about the writing process, breaking into the industry, and breaking rules. I ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never to find out what cardinal writing rules we've broken.
Question the first: Julia, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I remember in first grade, we were given these blank, white, bound books and told to write and illustrate our own stories. It was probably the most fun, thrilling assignment I’d ever been given. I still have that book. I think it all started around then. I just kept going from there, writing books, poems, stories, and anything and everything. I never stopped.
Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?
Probably signing with my agent. That was so validating, and I’d worked so hard and been so intensely persistent for months. I’d also considered giving up on that book at one point. She believes so much in my work and my talent, and it was really surreal to have lengthy conversations with someone over the phone who loved this thing I’d been working on mostly in secret solitude for years.
That's such an incredible moment. Question the third: At what point did you think to yourself "I've made it" or at what point do you think you'll feel that way?
Honestly, I’m not sure. With each rung in the ladder you climb, the more that the elusive thing we call “success” feels just out of reach. When you’re trying to finish a novel, it’s “when I finish my book.” When you’re querying, it’s “when I get an agent,” and so on. Even if you sell a book, you have all these doubts about how it’ll be received, how your next one will do, how long you’ll last in the industry, and so on. I think for me, the “I’ve made it” feeling will probably start to happen when I meet my first passionate reader, and they tell me what my book did for them, how they connected to it. That would be magical.
I can only imagine! Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?
Yes, absolutely! I recently graduated from The New School’s MFA in Writing for Children program, and I had some fabulous mentors there. Coe Booth was my thesis advisor, and she always gave great counsel. Tor Seidler and Ann Hood were also amazing teachers who both pushed me to finish my second book. And there was Siobhan Vivian – who actually just so happened to be one of my writing teachers in college – who was so excited to give me advice and encouragement when I reached out to her. Just being a debut author and networking in the last few months, I’ve met so many warm, lovely authors and editors who are full of words of wisdom. It’s an incredible community.
Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?
Definitely. I struggle with anxiety and depression, so that can really make it hard for me to write and to muster up the mental energy to work on projects and see them through to the end. I worry a lot, I catastrophize about worst possible scenarios – I think those are both quite normal things for creative people to go through. I also second-guess myself quite a bit, my career, where I’m going and where I’ll end up. Querying agents was hard, but being on submission was brutal. I think it was around then I really began to panic.
I hear you. Big time. Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?
I don’t remember exactly where I was, but I know I was unable to access a phone, laptop, or a pen and paper, and I had a really great idea (or so I thought). That’s definitely happened to me on more than one occasion.
Nooooo! My kingdom for a writing instrument! Question the seventh: What do you love most about your most recent book? The characters. They feel like real people to me. I love them so, so much, and I’m excited (and very scared) for everyone to meet them.
Nor can I. Speaking of no and no, it's time for the...
I Never Round
The basic rules of I Never, the kid friendly version- I state a generally established writing rule (or at least a norm). If you've broken that rule, state your guilt for the record.
I never made up a word in my manuscript, and stood by it during copyediting. NEVER. At least, not yet…
I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important. Guilty.
Fair. Sleep is good. I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub. Guilty.
Hey, consciousness starts with waking up. I never worked on two manuscripts at once. Guilty.
Limitless. I never went several days or even weeks without writing. Guilty.
YOU ARE ON FIRE, JULIA! I never wrote "for a long moment." Guilty!
SO ON FIRE! I never cheated during NaNoWriMo. NEVER. But I’ve never tried NaNoWriMo!
And the streak is broken. But I'll have to look back and see if you just set a record :) Thank you so much for appearing in Author, I Never! When and where can we look for, preorder, or buy your next or most recent book, and where can we follow you on social media?
You can follow me on Twitter @julialynnrubin, and check out my website, http://julialynnrubin.com. I’m also on Goodreads and Instagram (@swissbeauty). Please connect, I love meeting new people!
And one last question. If your book had a theme song, what would it be? “Every You, Every Me” by Placebo. Thanks so much, Dana! This was awesome.
Awesome choice. DJ Spotify, if you haven't already, learn the movie Cruel Intentions. There's no AI in it and the technology is primitive but it's super fun and I know we're on the same page when it comes to heartbreak, betrayal, and revenge. And of course, it features this song.