I am just absolutely thrilled and honored to have as my guest today Ann B. Ross, the New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Miss Julia series of books. I have loved Miss Julia since the very first book and with the publication of the current book, ‘Miss Julia Knows a Thing or Two’, and the books in the series number 22! I first met Ann many years ago at a book signing in Forest City, NC, and we have kept in touch all these years. Ann insists she is not the least bit funny, yet her Miss Julia books will have you falling off your chair laughing! Miss Julia has brought me many hours of wonderful entertainment and I highly recommend this series of books. So, let’s get started. Ann, I am so happy you agreed to join us today and I know my readers are going to enjoy hearing your answers to my questions.
1. When you wrote the first Miss Julia book, did you have any idea how popular she would turn out to be?
Not at all! I could hardly believe it when a literary agency agreed to represent that first book and even more thrilled when it was accepted for publication by a major publishing house. But I quickly came down to earth when I learned that not only did they want the first book, they wanted three more Miss Julia books. And I wasn’t sure that I could write even one more. I thought I had said all I had to say in the first book which just goes to show how little I knew my own character. That woman started talking and she hasn’t stopped yet.
2. How did you come to write the books?
I always thought that I would write some day after, that is, I had found a class or a book that would tell me how to do it. Well, I never found either one, but I did find a lot of books and a lot of classes that told me how others had written. So if I may offer a little advice to those who’re thinking of writing, it is this: Read! Read and see how it’s been done and is being done. Looking back now, I can see that the hardest part for me was finding Miss Julia’s voice. Not that I was looking specifically for her, but I had dallied with the voice of a nurse, of a young girl of the 19th century, of a detective, of a damsel in distress, and none of them had worked very well. So when I began to ‘see’ a mental image of an older woman who was fired up over something as she walked down a sidewalk, holding the hand of a little boy, I wondered who they were, where they were going, and, most of all, how they were related. Then, Miss Julia began to tell me.
3. Can you share with my readers how you get ideas for the books?
I get ideas from any and everywhere! From overheard conversations, from memories that go back to my own childhood, from television news, from chit-chat at the hairdressers, from local gossip, and from taking a mental stroll along the streets of Abbotsville. The easiest books to write are those for which I have a clear picture of the ending—I can write ‘toward’ that. But I’ve often started a book with absolutely no idea at all as to what it will be about. But each time that’s happened, one or more of the characters comes up with a problem (because, of course, a novel has to have a problem to solve), and then the book is off and running.
4. Do you have more Miss Julia books planned?
I rarely think beyond whatever book I happen to be working on. In fact, I finished the current new book, MISS JULIA KNOWS A THING OR TWO, last summer. Since then I’ve been working on the next Miss Julia book, due to be released in April, 2021, title not yet confirmed.
5.How old is Miss Julia now?
She won’t tell me, and I don’t have the courage to ask. All I know is that she thinks it is rude beyond belief that some twit of a secretary or receptionist asks her date of birth. Let us just say that she is the age that each reader thinks she is.
6.And one last thought: I sure do wish Lillian would write a cookbook. Her dishes make me hungry, especially her chicken salad.
Ha! I think it might be her making and serving it that makes it so good. But, you know, I made a stab at a cookbook of sorts in MISS JULIA STIRS UP TROUBLE which included recipes from many of the characters. I was quite proud of it until a newspaper reporter made the remark that all authors wrote a cookbook when they’d run out of other ideas. There have been seven additional books since that one, so he was wrong.
There you have it, folks. I’m sure we all loved hearing Ann’s answers to these questions regarding her Miss Julia books. If you’d like more information about the books, including tour events, contest winners, etc., I encourage you to visit the MissJulia.com website. It’s full of great information.
Thanks so very much for visiting with us today, Ann. It was my great pleasure to have you as my guest today. We all look forward to hearing more from Miss Julia.