Julia Buckley, Author

portrait 200Julia Buckley is a Chicago writer. She debuted with THE DARK BACKWARD in 2006; she followed that with the Madeline Mann trilogy and several stand-alone novels, now available on Kindle.

She has two upcoming series with Berkley Prime Crime; the first book, THE BIG CHILI, comes out on October 6.

Her hobbies are reading, writing, binge-watching tv series on Netflix, and hanging out with her husband, sons, and three cats.

Visit Julia at her website – LINK

book cover 200THE BIG CHILI

First in a delicious new mystery series filled with casseroles, confidences, and killers…

Lilah Drake’s Covered Dish business discreetly provides the residents of Pine Haven, Illinois, with delicious, fresh-cooked meals they can claim they cooked themselves. But when one of her clandestine concoctions is used to poison a local woman, Lilah finds herself in a pot-load of trouble…

After dreaming for years of owning her own catering company, Lilah has made a start into the food world through her Covered Dish business, covertly cooking for her neighbors who don’t have the time or skill to do so themselves, and allowing them to claim her culinary creations as their own. While her clientele is strong, their continued happiness depends on no one finding out who’s really behind the apron.

So when someone drops dead at a church Bingo night moments after eating chili that Lilah made for a client, the anonymous chef finds herself getting stirred into a cauldron of secrets, lies, and murder—and going toe to toe with a very determined and very attractive detective. To keep her clients coming back and her business under wraps, Lilah will have to chop down the list of suspects fast, because this spicy killer has acquired a taste for homicide…

Her Amazon Author’s Page

Now from Julia

(1) Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
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I had written a mystery set in the 1980s about a woman who owned a Hungarian restaurant. One of her employees was murdered, and the clues to the killer traced all the way back to the Hungarian Revolution in the 1950s. I sent it out to several agents, three of whom really liked it, but couldn’t quite figure out what “niche” it fit. Oh, those dreaded niches!  One of the three agents, though, told me that although she couldn’t find a place for my book, she liked my writing and was willing to dialogue with me about writing a slightly more “cozy” mystery. I ended up chatting with her via e-mail, and after I heard what she was looking for, (and after she gave me the seed of an idea that the agency had worked up just for me), I wrote three chapters of a book, along with a proposal for a three-part series, and she liked it. She had me tweak it a bit, and then she said she wanted to send it out.
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I still love that first book that led me to agents and got them looking seriously at my writing, but I also love the new book that I created after the generous help and dialogue from my agent, Kim.
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(2) How do you get inspired to write?
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Some days I truly am inspired. I can write for hours and barely realize that I’m writing. I fall into what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “FLOW,” and I let the story come pouring out of me. On these days writing seems akin to magic (which is exactly what the Romantics like Mary and Percy Shelley thought about those ideas that come into our mind out of nowhere–that they were literally magic–and on some days I agree with them).
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There are other days when I want to write, but nothing will come out.  They call this writer’s block, and I suppose I have experienced it, but I will also say that writer’s block can be conquered by simply pushing through. It’s much harder work, when the writing doesn’t flow, but it is often these days of pushing out the text, trying to get to that next scene, that are the real work and reward of writing. Sometimes I will drag myself through an hour or two of writing and realize I’ve only managed to scrape out a few pages, but later I’ll find that those pages are not bad; in fact, they can often be just as good as the passages written in “flow.”
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My favorite writing times, obviously, are those inspired moments where I have an idea, and something clicks in my brain and I realize how the story should move forward. I practically run to my computer to get those thoughts down. At those times my computer is my beloved companion. On other days, when I avoid it, it feels as though my laptop is looking at me, judging me.  🙂
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(3) What are you currently working on?
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Thanks to my agent, I am writing two separate series for Berkley Prime Crime.
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One centers around a culinary whiz named Lilah Drake who makes money by creating delicious covered dishes for friends and acquaintances and letting them take the credit. This becomes complicated when Lilah’s food is poisoned and she has to choose between telling the police the truth and protecting her secret business–and the clients who want her to remain anonymous.  The first book, THE BIG CHILI, comes out in October, and I’ve already written the second book. This summer I am working on the third.
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The second series, called The Writer’s Apprentice series, involves a young woman named Lena London, who idolizes a writer of Gothic Romantic Suspense Novels (someone like Mary Stewart, Phyllis A. Whitney, Victoria Holt). Through a series of serendipitous events, Lena gets to meet her idol. She ends up being hired as a ghost writer, and she moves into the very Gothic house of the famous Camillla Graham. Suddenly Lena’s life becomes as mysterious and dangerous as the lives of the heroines she admires in Graham’s books.
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I have turned in the first book in that series, and this summer I am working on the second one, alternating with work on the book in the other series.  This is sort of an interesting brain challenge.  I’ll write on one book until I get sort of tired of it; then I take a break and work on the other book.  But this means I have to keep both stories fresh in my mind, which is difficult after a while.  I do a lot of re-reading.
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(4) What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
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I would tell aspiring writers (which I am as well–all writers aspire to that next best piece of writing), I would say that it is about talent, but even more so it is about persistence. That is true of more than writing–I’ve come to believe that one can reach any goal through persistent pursuit, and that is in fact how I reached mine. I contacted close to 70 agents with my last query, and three of those showed interest, and from those I winnowed down to the agent I’m working with now. She is my third agent, but she seems to be a good fit for me.
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If I had only sent my book to one or two agents and then given up, I would not have gotten to this point in the publication process. If you get a rejection, take a day to be sad, and then send something out again in the morning. Hope springs eternal, and you should always have a query out there to keep hope alive.
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Once you do start getting feedback from agents, even if it’s in a rejection, that’s a sign that you’re getting closer. Pay attention to that feedback; I did, and it helped me.
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(5) What’s the best thing about being a writer?
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Writers today can do all sorts of connecting with readers and fellow writers via the Internet and conferences and bookstores, and I’ve had some highly rewarding experiences in that regard.  When it comes right down to it, though, I’m an introvert, and my favorite part of writing is sitting down with my laptop and telling stories.  I’ve loved to do this since I was a small child. I still have little poems that my mother saved, some that I wrote as early as first and second grade, and I’ve been writing ever since.
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Because I have always loved reading, I turned naturally to writing as an extension of that. I loved reading stories and novels, which led me to start writing stories and novels. My Writer’s Apprentice books are truly an homage to my love of reading, especially those great Gothic suspense novels of a bygone era.  So another great thing about being a writer is the chance to connect with the things you love the best in a fantasy world of your own creation.
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(6) How do you deal with writer’s block?
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As I mentioned above, I simply power through writer’s block, but it’s not a pleasurable activity. Since I have experienced its opposite, though, I am willing to plow through at low speed in hopes of eventually building back up to that state of flow.  We’ve all felt it, in one activity or another, and it’s worth working for.
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