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Author Interview: Julia Cowan

1. What inspired you to become a writer?

Very cliched but I started writing as a child. I enjoy the escapism and creating your own world and characters.

2. What's your favourite book of all time?

Can I only choose 1?! Top five (so far):

* The Woman in Black (Susan Hill). This is my favourite horror story as I genuinely feel spooked reading it.

* Goodnight Mister Tom (Michelle Magorian). A favourite whilst I was growing up.

* The Bunker Diary (Kevin Brooks). I’ve only discovered this recently. It’s a depressing read but I think it’s well written.

* Misery (Stephen King). His best book in my opinion.

* A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess). I read this whilst I was at university. I could only read a few pages at a time because of how it’s written.

3. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Keep writing. It’s true what people say in that writing is very subjective. Some may not like your work but then someone will love it. Also, hire an editor if you can. They find so many mistakes. I saw an agent interview where the advice given was have someone read your work that you wouldn’t lend money to. I had a colleague (who has taught English for many years, so she tells me) read ‘Cells’. She hated my first ending so I ended up changing it.

4. What is the most frustrating thing about being an author?

Probably the opinion that traditional publishing is a sign you have ‘made it’ and if you’re published any other way, then your work is not as good.

Lots of people complain about writer’s block but I would never sit in front of my laptop if I didn’t have an idea. I’ve left gaps of months when writing as I’ve not been sure where the story if going. Then an idea will come to me, usually when I’m driving to work or something.

5. What's your favourite movie?

I loved horror films growing up but now can’t handle jump scares very well. I do like the ’28 days later’ film and its sequel. Guilty pleasure is probably the Twilight series.

6. What's better, dogs or cats?

Cats of course! I’m not really a dog person as I find them too high maintenance. Cats are definitely more chilled.

7. If money was no object, how would you spend your life?

I’d have several houses around the world. I’d spend time in each one and also own a private island.

8. Do you draw from personal experiences when you write?

Yes. However, sometimes a story in the news may inspire me. The idea for Cells came about from a recurring thought I had of wondering what would happen if someone set up their own prison. Similarly, my next novel is along the same lines of ‘I wonder what would happen if…”

9. What is more important? Strong characters or a strong storyline?

Storyline definitely. If I’m not compelled to read on in a book, I won’t bother.

10. What advice would you give to first time writers when submitting their work to publishers or literary agents?

I think it’s all been said before about not giving up. Oh, and be patient because it’s a long process. Some rejections are harder than others but just keep going.

Julia Cowan is the author of Cells, for more information or to purchase a copy click here.


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