Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Julie Gilbert, author of numerous YA novels. Julie is also one of my favorite type of authors: a high school teacher.
First, a bit about Julie:
I teach high school chemistry, sell Legos, drink tea, and write books. I enjoy getting to know people via email, though I do occasionally indulge in writing a normal letter.
Why did you pick to write books for YA readers?
The gravitation toward YA came about quite naturally. In general, YA books have all the action, suspense, drama, romance, adventure, and mystery that’s packed in an adult book with less chance of stumbling across a plethora of four letter words. Teens are curious critters. They’re especially inquisitive when trying to distract me from the chemistry lesson. No matter which book I write, I always go for something I can proudly present to a young adult audience, so even the adult Christian mystery series is kid-safe. On the other hand, I try to make the YA books adult-safe. People occasionally get the impression that only kids should be reading YA books. If that were the case, I doubt there would be any great YA books written because I’m pretty sure most YA authors read heavily in the genre. That’s the long-winded answer. The short answer is because that’s the sort of story I love.
What types of books do you like to read?
I grew up reading a steady diet of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, along with a fair amount of Star Wars Expanded Universe novels. These days though, I generally read books I’m asked to review or audiobooks I can snatch from the library shelves. Mysteries and thrillers are typical audiobook fare for me. When actually reading, I occasionally go for a video game spinoff book, but I’ll also read random things I discover at book sales. It’s always fun to go treasure hunting for the next great read.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
Since I confine most of my writing to the summer, there’s a lot of time that I’m not actually writing. I do enjoy teaching, but I wouldn’t categorize that as a hobby. I’ve only recently started selling Legos; it’s an interesting pastime. Playing long, epic RPG video games with intricate stories and great dialogue is fun. Reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, watching movies/TV, and hanging out with friends also fit the bill for happily filling time.
Tell us about Devya’s Children Books 1-3 and how the story came to be.
This book is the combination of the first three stories in the Devya’s Children series. Back in college, I was part of an online writing group that gave weekly prompts. Out of the writing prompt “cereal surprise” came a short story called Helping Mr. Blairington. I instantly loved the main character, Jillian, so a few years later I brought her back and featured her in a longer summer project that became Ashlynn’s Dreams.
Book 1: Ashlynn’s Dreams is about Jillian and her babysitter getting kidnapped because she has the ability to shape dreams. The story’s told from Jillian and Danielle’s perspective. There’s an emphasis about how hardships change the nature of the girls’ relationship from babysitter and kid to lasting friendship. This book also introduces Jillian’s genetically Gifted siblings who have powers ranging from telepathy to physical healing.
Book 2: Nadia’s Tears features Jillian and Danielle again, but the focus shifts to Nadia and the very real problem of human trafficking.
Book 3: Malia’s Miracles pits Jillian, her siblings, and Danielle against several foes seen and unseen, including cancer.
Each book builds upon the last, but hopefully, they can be enjoyed alone as well. I provide a summary at the beginning of the latter books to help catch people up.
Here's a peek at Ashlynn's Dreams:
Before she was kidnapped, Jillian Marie Antel Blairington was just an average bright, brave, headstrong child. She was excited for life in a new house with her Momma and new Daddy. Afterward, she's all that ... and so much more.
Held in a scientific facility, Jillian discovers her past-a family she never knew and a power she doesn't understand. With her ability now activated, she can enter and even shape a person's dreams. Jillian's been kidnapped, and her Gift has been triggered, so she can locate and save Benjamin Connelly, a brother she never even knew she had. She'd better master this strange ability quickly, though, because her life isn't the only one at stake. Her babysitter, Danielle Matheson, is being held as a hostage to ensure Jillian's full cooperation. Slowly Jillian begins to learn more about her captor and the other genetically altered children held at the facility.
Join Jillian as she tries to survive the training being forced upon her, find her unknown brother, escape with Danielle, and work her way back to a normal life once more.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
Book 4: Varick’s Quest has been written, but I’m still in the proofing stage with that story.
The other series that’s available is Heartfelt Cases. The first three Christian mystery novellas, which have been combined into one book, are The Collins Case, The Kiverson Case, and The Davidson Case. The Collins Case features a pair of FBI agents and a desperate search to save a kidnapped family. The Kiverson Case has the agents facing off with a madman with a score to settle. The Davidson Case has one of the agents scrambling to find out who wants her sister dead and what knowledge could warrant such a hit.
The 4th Heartfelt Cases Book: The Keres Case is written, but I’ve been distracted with other works. It should be released sometime in 2015. This time, it’s a cold case coming back to haunt the FBI agents. A serial killer takes a special interest in the pair and their friends.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
In 2014, I moved to get several of the stories available on audio format. Ashlynn’s Dreams, The Collins Case, and Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts are now available from audible.com as well as amazon. That’s the old news. The newer news is that I’ll be exhibiting at Book Expo America 2015 (Jacob Javitts Center NYC, May 27-31). Along with my books, I’ll be representing some select works from a few other indie authors. I’m excited for all the books I’m showing off, especially the YA Time Travel Thriller by Jill Cooper called 15 Minutes.
I haven’t quite decided on a summer 2015 project. It could be the 5th book in the Devya’s Children series or the 4th in a separate science fiction series or something completely new.
What advice do you have for other authors?
There’s nothing wrong with “traditional” or “self” publishing paths. They’re just different. Do the research and find which one works best for you and your needs. Write because you love to do it. Publish because you want to share stories. Support others where and when you can.
Anything else you want readers to know?
I have a personal goal of sending bookmarks/postcards to every state and as many countries as possible. I’m missing Arizona, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. If you live in one of those states and would like to help me reach my goal, please email your mailing address to email@example.com. It would help to know if you prefer Heartfelt Cases postcards or Devya’s Children postcards. Please see the amazon page for pictures of the covers. If you live in a state I already have, you’re still welcome to request bookmarks/postcards too. These are just the ones I’m actively hunting.
I do actually check my email obsessively. If anybody’s going to Book Expo America, stop by Booth 2358 and say hi. I’ve got lots of goodies to give away as well as a ton of contests to run. Come win a Kindle Fire. I’m always happy to hear from people who like the stories. Ashlynn’s Dreams and The Collins Case should be free kindle downloads for the foreseeable future. If you like them, please let me know either directly or by posting a review. Writers can’t make it without readers. Thanks for listening to me ramble.
Where can readers find you and your books?
Emails are always welcome. Devyaschildren@gmail.com
The easiest way to find most of the books is to head over to my Amazon Author Page
Devya’s Children Series:
Book 1: Ashlynn’s Dreams
Book 2: Nadia’s Tears
Book 3: Malia’s Miracles
Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts
Combo book: Devya’s Children Books 1-3
Julie C. Gilbert
Jillian and Danielle (character twitter)
Julie C. Gilbert Facebook Page
Kristin Condon’s ( Ashlynn’s Dreams narrator)