I’m so excited to have Julianna Baggott on the blog today! Her brand new dystopian fantasy, Pure, is out today, and she was kind enough to answer a few of my questions! Also, up for grabs is one copy of Pure to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the end of the post.
Please welcome Julianna to the blog!
Julianna, you’re a very accomplished writer, with more than 17 titles in print under your own name, as well as a couple of pen names, and began publishing at only 22! Did you want to be a writer, even as a child?
I wanted to be a playwright. My oldest sister was an actress living in NYC by the time I was ten so I went to a lot of theater — a lot of those theaters were so small that if you had to go to the bathroom, well, there was only one. Backstage, so you’d have to interrupt the actors. I knew the nervous smoker in the back was the playwright, in charge of the words. I wanted to be in charge of the words. But then I realized in college that you have to rely on the actors. Novels were much more manageable than actors.
Your brand new novel, Pure, is out today! Can you tell us a bit about it?
It starts with Pressia, a girl who’s survived the Detonations, and is hiding in an ash-choked cabinet — a girl with a doll-head fused to her fist. Partridge survived the Detonations in the safety of the Dome. When he learns that his martyred mother may actually be alive, he has to try to find her. From that moment on, Pressia and Partridge’s lives are set on a collision course.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was the most profound early influence. I read One Hundred Years of Solitude at 17 and it was the most brilliant thing I’d ever read. I loved playwrights, too — Sam Shepard, David Mamet … They were gods in my house growing up. Eventually, I found poetry — Seamus Heaney, Margaret Atwood, Adelia Prado, Marie Howe, Olena Kalytiak Davis, Bridget Pegeen Kelly… And I fell for the tight imagistic burst of poetry.
What is one of your most unusual writing quirks?
Some books require being low to the ground. I can’t explain it. But some books, when you think of them, you can’t be sitting upright in a chair. You’ve got to get low. PURE, when visualizing it, well, I wanted to be closer to the dirt.
If you could read one book for the first time again, which one would it be?
I’ve found that when I pick a book up that I read twenty years ago … it is new. It’s startlingly different than the emotional stain it left. Sometimes disappointingly so and sometimes it’s new in a way that makes it even more compelling.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
After the Snow — a new novel, a debut, in fact, by S. D Crockett.
In addition to what must be a busy writing schedule, you also teach creative writing at Florida State. How do you balance teaching and writing?
I’m on leave now, but even still I continue to work with my graduate students as they work on their dissertations which are often novels, memoirs, collections of stories. What gets squeezed out is reading the new published novels I’m dying to read. My eyes have burned through my own work, the students’ works, and my eyes are simply tired. I read and read and yet don’t have enough time to read.
I read that you and your husband founded the non-profit, Kids in Need-Books in Deed! Can you tell us more about that?
It’s a small non-profit housed in the FSU Foundation. We get new and lightly used books to underprivileged kids in the state of Florida — mainly through book drives but also donations. We arranged for kid book author Laurel Snyder to read to 300 school children at a Title I school this fall, donating her time. Kids in Need — Books in Deed was able to get every child a copy of one of her books. We move books around and, finally, into kids’ hands.
How do you like to spend your free time, when you’re not teaching and writing?
I have four kids. When I’m not working, I’m still swamped. I’ll say this: when I’m in the car, I sing along to the radio. That’s about it.
Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
Pure is out now. Book two, Fuse, is in the works and scheduled to come out this time next year.
Keep up with Julianna: Website | Twitter | Pure Website | Facebook
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