"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!" (Mary Quallo, St Louis)

"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!"  (Mary Quallo, St Louis)
Coming next week - Carla Eatherington

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Julie Cassar: Rubies, pearls and other gems

Julie Cassar is one of a raft of American YA novelists capturing the wider attention of young readers. I was introduced to her by Matt Posner, himself a NA/YA enthusiast and writer, and eagerly, I got on the Wizphone to ask her about her work, particularly the Ruby Blue series. Her debut novel spent weeks on Amazon's best seller lists and is a firm favourite with the Goodreads YA community who enjoy it's optimistic undercurrent, dry wit and clean, transparent writing. 

Here's what she had to say when we connected around the Cauldron.

Tell Wizardwatchers here in the UK about yourself, Julie?

I started writing in 2010 but my background is in fine art.  I have worked as a graphic designer and painter, and that’s really helped out with being an Indie author, because I also design all of my own book covers. I’m a mother of three and for the past 12 years I have worked part time as a legal assistant. In between family, work, painting, photography and writing, I recently started running and ran my first half-marathon in October, 2011. 

I love coffee, ice cream, wine, chocolate, really good pizza and dancing at the local pub (not necessarily all at the same time! Haha!) I’m pretty much an all-around optimistic goofball. 

Dancing in South London pub (back in the day)

What genre do you write in and why?

I write YA-NA Fantasy/Paranomal. I love reading YA and I love the idea of magic and supernatural things. I love the idea that fairy tales can come true, that we can create our own magic, that miracles happen every day.These kinds of books offer a great escape from the real world. 

Julie in cheerful mood

Do you write full time?

Ha! I wish! Unfortunately, I work three days a week… and I cram in the writing whenever I can. I don’t really give myself deadlines for books… they happen when they happen.

What is the nicest thing a reviewer has said about your work?

I have been very lucky in that Ruby has seemed to capture the hearts of many. Thankfully, I have a lot of very positive reviews. I guess some of the really nice ones are when reviewers compare me to some really top-notch, super-popular authors, like Judy Blume or Stephanie Meyer. Regardless if you like them or not, they sell a gazillion books and have a huge fan base. To be put into their category is quite humbling. 

Judy Blume - YA superstar

You have 151 reviews of Ruby Blue. I am impressed! What is your opinion of reviews? Do you mentally alter your future work depending on what people have said about you?

I love reviews. I love when readers take the time to do it. It especially helps Indie authors and I think a lot people do look at reviews when they are deciding whether or not to purchase a particular book. I don’t really alter my future work based on reviews... But, I do take their opinions into account, because I think it can help me to be a better writer. 

Industrious at a book signing

It’s not that I would change my style or storyline, but I like to stay open-minded and consider ways to improve my craft.  I just had this conversation with my brother the other day. He is always my final beta reader on my books, and we always have a great critique session. 
” Crits aren't about taking all of someone's suggestions, they are about the exchange...feedback is learning. Learning doesn't necessarily change one's tastes or views...it just adds another view to access when needed for reference. I am glad you don't take all of mine or anyone else's suggestions...” (Julie's brother)
What books have you written so far?

So far, I have written five novels. 

Popular origin story for Ruby Blue

My first novel was a memoir and is still unpublished. The other four make up the Ruby Blue Series (“Ruby Blue,”  “Deja Blue,”  “Sky Blue” and “Forever Blue.”) I just completed book 4 to the series, “Forever Blue,” and it’s now in the hands of my editor. I hope to release that book within the next few months. 

Tell us about your latest work?

My latest work is “Forever Blue”, and I really think it’s my best work to-date. It’s the final book to the series, so it wraps everything up. I actually cried quite a bit while writing the final chapters. I do have lots of other ideas simmering, and just started a work in progress that will be NA Paranormal. 

You are also an artist? Tell us about that. 

Yes! I actually have a Bachelor’s Degree in fine art, specializing in Design. I love drawing, painting and photography…although I merely dabble in taking pictures. 

Photography is an art - the classic architectural beauty of
Nottingham Council House

Are the disciplines of art and writing mutually exclusive?

I don’t think so. They both channel the imagination. One is through words and the other is through imagery. Every picture tells a story, just as every book does. I am lucky in that I see things in different ways, and have been blessed to be able to communicate them in different ways as well.   

Classic Magritte - Menil Collection

Which do you find easier to do?

They are both hard work at times, and they are both incredibly easy as times. There are moments when I’m painting, that I get lost in the work, and the colors and composition just flow. That goes the same for writing. 

Sometimes, I’ll sit and write 4,000 words...they just come out. But then, there are days when I can barely get 300 words written.  Likewise, there’s always a point in a painting, where stuff looks muddled…wrong. I have to stop and take a step back.  

There’s that critical moment in both writing and art, where you can push it too far. You have to figure out the balance between giving just enough, and not overworking the piece. Both of them bring out the passion in me. 

Give Wizardwatchers three books, two CDs and DVD’s for your Desert Island sojourn

Argh!! So hard to choose!! Okay, for books I would bring: 

Brent Carter’s “Carter Finally Gets it”;

Shannon Hale’s “Austenland”; 

Stephanie Meyer’s “Eclipse” (from the Twilight series)

MUSIC is a tough one for me to narrow down. I have really eclectic tastes, and love all kinds of music… My go-to painting music is always Green Day’s Dookie CD, so I suppose I’d bring that… 

And, as for the other… It’d have to be a greatest hits but I can’t decide between Maroon 5, Bare Naked Ladies, Journey, Joshua Radin, U2… ahhh! See? You’ve stumped me with this one, Wiz!

I am a happy-ending, Disney gal at heart, so Disney’s “TANGLED” is definitely coming and probably some fun, romantic comedy chick flick that’s sappy and sweet and makes me giggle.  

What food are you eating right now?  And what is your favourite?

Hmmm… Last night, it was pizza and red wine for dinner. This morning was coffee with fancy creamer and a banana. I love Italian and Mexican… and pretty much anything smothered in cheese! 

Saturday night special for Julie and the rug rats!
And, you can never go wrong with anything chocolate or fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies! Do you get the sense that I LOVE food?!?! 

and what do fans of Julie Cassar have to look forward to in 2013/2014

Well, lots I hope! I plan to release the fourth Ruby Blue book, “Forever Blue” in September, 2013. 

Next, I’ll be putting together a few extra surprises for the e-book-box set of the series, which I hope to release by November, 2013. 

Then, I hope to finish my new work-in-progress for release in 2014. I also have an idea for a Ruby Blue novella, and a possible spin-off series (which the fans seem to want!) I definitely have a lot to keep me busy over the next 12 months! 

What a fantastic interview, Julie. I'm buzzing for you, and I'm sure your fans will be delighted at all this activity!

I hope so, Wiz! hahahha.

 Julie, it's been a pleasure to meet you and I wish you every success. 

It's been a lot of fun, Wiz. And thank you...

Contact, sales and links can all be found here:

Julie, one of your fans swears this is you
back at college! :-)


  1. Interesting interview with great graphics and youtube selections. Best of luck with sales, Julie. Looking forward to reading more of the great Wizard's interviews - good stuff - keep it up!

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