Wednesday, October 28, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Julie Saffrin

Tell me about yourself.

My husband and I live in a western suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. We have three sons, two daughters-in-law, a golden retriever Mickey, and are excited to become first-time grandparents at the end of November 2015.


What got you started in writing?

I started writing because of one teacher, Pat Fatchett, who was my seventh grade English teacher. She made us write in a journal every day and toward the end of the school year, she challenged us to write about something we’d always wanted to write about. I chose to write a short story, the Thief, part Nancy Drew, part Dragnet. Whenever I questioned myself or doubted my abilities to write, I went back to the words and marks on my stories I’d saved, and they gave me courage to keep writing.

A MUST LISTEN!! https://vimeo.com/108838043 Video of Julie giving a BlessBack® to her seventh grade teacher.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

In an ideal world – one in which I have complete control of the day, I write from 8 a.m. to noon. I am most comfortable writing in my local Dunn Bros. coffee shop where I do a bit of people-watching. Once I put on my headphone set, thought, that’s my cue to discipline myself and start writing.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?

I prefer to write on a laptop, at least I did until last month when, while holding onto it, I tripped going down the stairs and my laptop tripped along with me. There’s now a gaping hole beneath the mouse pad so now I write with my laptop screen in front of me, but I use a wireless keyboard and a mouse along with it.

What's your favorite part about writing?

In writing fiction, my favorite part of writing is when I’m passed the uncomfortable and uncertain beginning and am in “the flow,” where I’m taking chances with my sentence structures, where worry’s been tossed overboard, and I’m in complete writing reverie.

Your least favorite part about writing?

My least favorite part of writing tends to be starting a story. I think it must be similar to a musician’s struggle to find that first note. What key do you start the piece in, what’s the tempo? Is the piece going to be jazz, blues, country, pop or rock n’ roll?

The more I force myself to sit down and just write, the more I find that as letter upon letter influences the white rectangle of space, the more I start to hear the story that wants to be told. Like a composer, I keep working until I find the key, rearrange the notes until they are just right, and play with the tempo using dialogue or narrative. Before I know it, a story has spilled onto the page. All I’ve had to do was listen to the characters who showed up.

With my non-fiction book, “BlessBack®: Thank Those Who Shaped Your Life,” my favorite part of writing was connecting with people who had taken the time to look back over their lives and thanked those who had significantly shaped or influenced them. Hearing their stories of connecting and how it had affected them, as well as how it had affected their receivers, was a powerful and life-changing experience. Over and over I was reminded that we really do hold the power to give someone a good day, just by saying, “I’m thankful to you for…”

Get the Book at Amazon

How did you come up with your book idea?

My book originally started out as a collaborative effort with another author. Unfortunately, she had to back out when her husband came down with a life-threatening disease.

But in the process of writing the book, what became clear to me was that I had given BlessBacks my whole life. Realizing that enabled me to write the book and embrace and love the stories given to me.

How long did it take you to write your book?

I spent five years collecting stories from people who had looked back at their lives and remembered those who had left an indelible impression on them and made the effort to find and thank them.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I write a blog, put out an e-newsletter several times a year, and am engaged in social media such as Facebook and Instagram, but I find the best kind of marketing I can do is to be face-to-face with people. Having tables where I sell my books and note cards at boutiques in November and December is what works best for me.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I’ve got a short story coming out next year in an anthology. And I’ve just released a book of my favorite quotes called “Kissing the Shoreline:  Quotes and Reflections to Live By.”

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

My back burner project has actually moved to the front burner. I’m working on my first novel. Learning curve? Huge! But, I’ve loving it and hopefully, someday soon, it will be out for readers.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Quote a few years ago, I met Jan Karon at a booksigning in Faribault, Minnesota. I asked her something similar. She looked me square in the eye and said, “I do have advice for you, but I don’t know that you’ll do it.”

I promised her I would take her advice.
She said, “Never, ever give up.”

I’ve kept my promise. I’ve kept at the keyboard, worked out the words, worked at my craft, and not given up.

My advice to others echoes Jan’s to me. Never give up. For if you do, doing so only ensures that you won’t be a writer.

Another bit of advice. Put words on the paper. You’re not a writer if you only think about a story you’re going to tell. If you’re stuck with how to begin, start like Maria von Trapp did in “The Sound of Music.” “Do-re-mi. the first three notes just happen to be, do-re-mi.”

In writing this is translated as “Once upon a time.” You won’t keep those four words of course, but putting them down will get your started in your story, article or even your blog.

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1 comment :

  1. Lovely interview! It's fun to learn new things about you, Julie. And the video was heart-warming.

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