Sunday Brunch: A Chat with Authors Julia Lynn Rubin and Kim Neville

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[Note from Frolic: Our resident YA expert Aurora got the chance to chat with authors Julia Lynn Rubin and Kim Neville and ask them a few questions each! Up first, Julia Lynn Rubin!]

Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel? 

Julia Lynn Rubin: I’ve always been a big cinephile, and Thelma & Louise has been one of my favorite movies for years. It has such a Sapphic subtext, and I thought, it would be so cool to tease that out and turn it into an angry, unapologetic YA novel about two teen girls. I volleyed the idea around with some writer friends and all of them were extremely excited about it, so I decided it was going to be my next project. 

What character in this novel do you most relate to and why?

I relate most to Trixie, in part because I wrote her voice directly, and while she’s very different than me, a lot of her thoughts, feelings, observations, and grievances are ones that I share. As for a minor character, I also really relate to Lizzie. I almost feel like that’s who I might’ve been in another life…or at least the kind of character I’d love to imagine I’d be.

 

Why do you feel novels with powerful and unique characters are so popular and have such a voice right now? 

I honestly think that this has always been true to an extent, but right now, I think people are really craving connection. Togetherness. A sense of shared humanity. Novels with fascinating characters draw us in and hook us and make us really feel. We get attached to them like they’re our own friends or family, and that can be addictive and powerful. I think we also see ourselves in these characters to a large extent; like Lizzie for me, they’re who we imagine we would be if we were born in a different time and place. They say the things we secretly want to say and the do the things we long to do. They live out our fantasies.

Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from it. 

My latest book is dark, unflinching, honest, and often hard to stomach. I have a content warning at the very beginning which states that Trouble Girls explores themes of sexual harassment, assault, racism, sexism, and the like. There’s also some violence and blood. While it can be brutal at times for some readers, it’s also full of anger and drive and intense, burning love…and a dash of hope.

What’s next for you in the bookish world? 

I have another YA novel coming out with Wednesday Books next year. I can’t say much about it now, but I can tease that it’s a Sapphic horror story, and I pull no punches.

Who is your current favorite writer? Why? 

I would have to say Tiffany McDaniel. Her first two books blew my mind in ways you only dream about as a voracious reader and book lover. They were like the books I’d always wanted to read. They made me cry, like really cry, and they swept me away with their gorgeous prose and incredibly real characters. After I finished her second book, Betty, I sent her this really personal email about my reactions to it, and her response was so warm and lovely and engaged. We ended up chatting back and forth and I hope we keep in touch. She’s fantastic. I also kind of admire her absence from social media.

Any writing advice for aspiring writers? 

Read a lot. Read in the genre you write it and outside of it. You don’t have to read what you don’t like or enjoy, but read widely, and pay close attention to techniques the authors use that you notice and like. Jot them down and try and replicate them or write your own version of a chapter or story. Imitation is honestly how you learn, and it’s how you begin to develop your own style. It’s how I learned to write, and how I developed my voice.

Up next, author Kim Neville!
Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel? 

Kim Neville: The Memory Collectors is the story of two women with a shared gift: they can sense the emotions and memories left behind on objects. The spark for the novel came from my curiosity about how we as humans relate to physical objects. We ascribe meaning to them, and even imbue them with magic, based on our stories about them. They are inanimate and yet they can hold such power over us. I find this fascinating and I wanted to write about it. Ev fears this ability and seeks to protect herself and others from it, while Harriet sees it as a gift and one of the great joys in her life. I wondered what might happen if these women crossed paths.

What character in this novel do you most relate to and why? 

Definitely Ev. I can relate to how she fears her own power, and to her survival technique of keeping people at arm’s length in order to avoid harm. 

Why do you feel novels with powerful and unique characters are so popular and have such a voice right now? 

I would argue that such novels have always been popular. Speaking as a reader, those are the novels and characters I’ve always been the most interested in. I can’t say I’ve ever sought out a book about a forgettable character.

Please describe the content of your latest romantic read and what can readers expect from it. 

Probably the last book I read with a strong romantic element was Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah. I was sucked in by the central mystery of the book, of a young girl found wandering in the woods and claiming to be an alien, but the romance between the two people who befriend the girl fits beautifully with the overarching theme of healing from trauma. It builds on a slowly growing friendship and on the difficult process of breaking down each characters’ barriers to mutual trust. 

What’s next for you in the bookish world? 

I’m hard at work on my second novel about a family of witches that I’ve been pitching as Little Women meets Practical Magic. 

Who is your current favorite writer? Why? 

I think Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of the most interesting writers in the book world at the moment. She’s published across several genres and I always look forward to seeing what she’s going to do next. I enjoy her protagonists, bold women who are unsatisfied with what they have and hunger for more, sometimes unlikeable on the surface but with hidden tenderness. I’m happy to see that, after the success of Mexican Gothic, some of her previous titles will be re-released this year.

Any writing advice for aspiring writers?  

It’s all about persistence and patience! I started writing at age 30 and am now, at 47, finally seeing my debut novel in print. Focus on goals you have control over, such as finishing a project, rather than the ones you don’t, like getting a publishing deal or winning awards. Enjoy the process: the deep practice of working on your craft and seeing improvement over time. And don’t forget to celebrate your personal successes.

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