20 Questions with Juli Monroe

Today we have an interview with the fantastic Juli Monroe!

I found Juli's series The Warlock Case Files on Channillo and I am loving it. If you're into urban fantasy I definitely recommend you check it out. I really enjoyed hearing Juli's answers to these questions and I think you'll enjoy reading them. Lets get right into it!

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20 Questions with Juli Monroe

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

My mom told me at about age 10 that I was going to be a writer. However, I didn’t start seriously writing until college when I took my first creative writing class and started writing my first novel.

2. Are you a Plotter, pantser, or a bit of both?

I am definitely a pantser. I generally have a vague idea of the overall story arc, but the details come out as I write. Characters frequently surprise me, which sometimes leads to some major changes to the story. For example, in my current novel, one of my antagonist characters suddenly became a temporary ally, which I hadn’t planned for at all.

3. Do you have a writing schedule? If so what does it look like?

When I am sticking to it, I write for about 30 minutes on weekday mornings. Since I am a fast writer, I can write between 500 and 750 words in that time. However, life sometimes intrudes, and I can’t always stick to it. I am starting grad school this month, and I’m not sure yet what impact, if any, that is going to have on the schedule.

4. What does literary success look like to you?

Having people who read my works and enjoy them. I figure as long as I can increase my number of happy readers over time, some sort of financial success will come.

5. How are your written works published

All of my fiction books are self-published. I have one nonfiction book where a publisher has the paper rights, and I have the ebook rights. All of my fiction works are also on Channillo, for those who enjoy serial reading.

6. Where does your inspiration come from?

That’s hard to say. I don’t think of it as inspiration, per se. Mostly I have ideas that I like to run with and see where they go. My idea for my first book in The Warlock Case Files was pretty much, “What if a vampire were being haunted by a ghost?” Everything sort of happened from there. If I get stuck, I usually try to put myself in the mind of my character and figure out what he would do. Is that inspiration? If so, that’s where it comes from.

7. How do you select the names of your characters?

For my main characters, I used names that I like. The story of how Dafydd spells his name is from my own experience. My son is named “David,” and I had briefly considered using the Welsh spelling of his name. Sanity and good sense prevailed in the end. I knew I wanted my vampire to be named “Paul” because his appearance was loosely based on the artist Paul Van Dyk. I also knew I wanted him to be a descendent of an historical figure. Did you know that “Paul” apparently was not a popular name in the 18th and 19th centuries? I figured that out quite quickly, which limited his ancestry options.

For secondary characters, I’ve started using a website that lists popular names from various decades. I figure out when a character was born and use that site to pick a name.

8. What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Reading, mostly. I also enjoy playing video games, watching sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies. My husband and I also play Dungeons and Dragons.

9. What does your family think of your writing? Do they support it?

My son can’t believe that I write “crap vampire novels.” I don’t hold it against him. My husband supports it, but they aren’t his thing, so he doesn’t read them. He does give me wacky ideas for plots, though. The Case of the Dragon Egg was totally his idea.

10. How do you overcome writer’s block?

I don’t get it very often. I use the techniques from Writing Into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith. The main idea from his book is to go back and re-read what you wrote the previous day. That gets me into the groove, and I rarely get stuck when I do that. Sometimes I get a bit stuck in a fight scene, but, as I said above, putting myself mentally in my character’s place usually gets me unstuck quickly.

11. What writing tips have been the most helpful to you as a writer?

The book mentioned above. Another is not rewriting a book to death. I write fairly clean drafts, and I trust myself now and do very little re-writing, just editing and tweaking. Kris Rusch writes that the best marketing technique is writing the next book, which I definitely took to heart.

12. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Mostly it energizes. I enjoy writing , am good at it, and my morning writing routine puts me in a good mental place to head off to work.

13. What do you think makes a good story?

Something that you, as a writer, wants to read. I also write fanfiction on occasion, and in the latest fanfiction I wrote (for the show Supernatural), I took an element of a character that I thought had been underutilized by the show writers and worked it into the story. Many readers have said they were so glad I did that and that it was one of the best parts of the story for them. As an author, you first have to love what you are writing. Then you find readers who love the same things as you do.

14. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Taking the Cover Design class from WMG Publishing. I learned everything that is wrong with my current covers and why they are branded wrong. New covers, appropriate to the brand are coming soon. I even learned things in that class that I use in my day job.

15. Have you always wanted to be a writer? Or did you have other ideas when you were younger?

I wanted to be a veterinarian. At first, I only wrote because my mom thought I should. Then I learned to enjoy it for myself. However, it took many years to overcome the “my mom wants me to do this, therefore I shall do anything else” mentality.

16. Do you read much? What do you enjoy reading?

I read several hundred books a year, in a variety of topics. Fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, thrillers, some historical fiction, and, of course, business books, both on writing and on general business. I believe that writers need to be business people, and I am always learning new business skills.

17. Do you have specific messages that you put into your stories?

Not really. I write them to entertain. I leave the soap boxes and messages for other writers who enjoy that sort of thing. I enjoy messages in books I read; it’s just not my writing style.

18. How would you describe your writing style?

Light and entertaining. Although I also enjoy the research aspect of it. I have put a lot of thought into the magic system of my books. I wanted my magic system to hold together and be a little different from other fantasy magic systems. I wanted my warlock to use their wits as much as their spells, which is why there are no big “kabooms” in my magic system. Well, okay, I may be breaking that a bit in my current book, The Case of the Collapsing Building, but I created a special case for my villain in that book.

One of my favorite comments was from a beta reader who asked me “Where I learned all this magic stuff?” She liked my explanations and thought I had learned it all from somewhere. I told her that I made it all up, based on research, yes, but still, basically, it all came out of my head. But obviously, for her at least, I did a good job with the illusion that this was real.

19. Who are some of your favorite authors that have influenced in your work?

Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series was the major influence for The Warlock Case Files. I also love Brandon Sanderson’s writing and magic system. I don’t want to write books as long as his, but his well-drawn magic systems challenge and inspire me. For the record, he’s way better at it than I am. He’s in a class all by himself.

I also like several thriller writers, with Michael Connelly being one of my favorites. I admire him because the quality of his writing has stayed consistent over his entire career. He challenges me to always give my best effort on every book.

Considering that I write about vampires, of course, I must mention Anne Rice, although I much prefer early Rice to later Rice. 

20. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Fanfiction is a valid place to learn your craft. I was embarrassed about it for many years and didn’t think it was “real writing.” Of course, I couldn’t sell any of the stories, but I learned so much about storytelling and the craft of writing. Plus, I did have at least one idea that I worked into a published book. The Case of the Reincarnated Lover is a very loose adaptation of one of my old fanfics.

And finally where can we find you? (Social media’s website etc.)

Twitter: @WarlockWrtr

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/warlockwriter

Website: https://warlockwriter.com/

Thanks Juli!

A huge thanks to Juli for giving me some of your precious writing time to answer these questions! I'm certainly going to look at Writing Into The Dark (expect a blog post on it, a review or even a study series!)