Sometimes you read a book blurb and your reaction is “meh.” Then there are other moments when you ready a summary and think, “I need this book in my hands right now!” That is how I feel about today’s featured author, Julie Murphy’s, debut novel, SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY. I love the concept of righting wrongs at a cost and having to deal with the eventual fall out of those actions. For me March 18, 2014 cannot get here soon enough!
Many thanks to Julie for sharing her writing odyssey today…
Julie: My reading tastes have always been pretty evenly split between adult and YA. So when I decided to write, I never really made a conscious decision to write YA, but the story that came out of me was undeniably young adult. It had those key components like voice and immediacy.
Amy: How many completed manuscripts did you query before one garnered interest?
Julie: I (unwisely) queried one manuscript before Side Effects May Vary.
Amy: If one manuscript was continuing to get rejected, how did you know it was time to move on to a new project?
Julie: My first manuscript was broken and I didn’t know how to fix it. The query stats didn’t lie; this book was not ready. I didn’t even know how to properly punctuate dialogue. When I started Side Effects May Vary, I decided to do it right. I was going to seek out critique partners and do my research. (I would also like to point out that Molly rejected my first manuscript–and rightfully so!)
Amy: Did your query for SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY come easily or did it go through many drafts?
Julie: My query went through several drafts, but improved with each round thanks to some pretty wonderful critique partners.
Amy: Did you have critique partners for SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY? If you did, how critical were they to your writing process?
Julie: I most definitely did. They were absolutely indispensable. I think that a good group of critique partners can take your writing from slush pile to request or even offer. That being said, having a good critique partner is just as important as being one. There are lessons to be learned from both ends of the spectrum. Critiquing is an art that only improves with practice. If you’re interested in honing your critiquing skills, I wholly recommend Natalie C Parker’s Critique Camp. http://nataliecparker.com/critique/
Amy: How many agents did you query for SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY? Did you receive immediate responses or did you have to wait a while for replies?
Julie: Oh, goodness. This is a rough number, but I queried about nine or ten and snagged ten to twelve requests during the many contests that were going on while I was querying. Molly (who I queried) offered representation within a week of reading, so there really wasn’t much of a wait on my end.
Amy: What can you tell me about your “call” with your agent, Molly Jaffa? How did you know she was the right fit for you?
Julie: I can tell you that I was so nervous and kept thinking, “What if I have to pee?” (Have I mentioned that I’m eleven years old?) No, but seriously, I had lengthy list of questions, many of which Molly had answered without me ever having to ask. What can I say? My girl is on the ball. Because my brain was so frazzled during that phone call, Molly was kind enough to go over some of the finer points with me again later that week while I was making my final decision. (Bless her!)
Amy: Was there ever a time you thought about giving up on your writing dream? If so, what motivated you to keep writing?
Julie: There was and there are. Maybe I’m alone in this, but despite having a book on its way to the shelves, I still have these crippling moments of self-doubt. Though, before signing with Molly, those moments felt much worse. Lots of stumbling in the dark. What’s motivated me–with or without the book deal–has always been my love for writing. It’s the only place I truly feel at home. I am also fortunate enough to have an incredible support system of people who won’t allow me to quit.
Amy: If you met an aspiring writer at a book signing and they told you they were about to give up on their publishing dream what would you say to them?
Julie: I would tell them that the fastest way to ensure you will never be published is to stop trying. The pain is heavy and the wait can be long, but for as long as you love writing, you owe it to yourself to keep on trucking.
(Release Date: March 18, 2014)
What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?
When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.
Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?
Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.
Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she’s not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie’s debut novel. Check out her website or follow her on Twitter @andimJulie