Photo Credit by Meg Manion
Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on Julia Henry, the second of our four Mystery Writers we will be spotlighting on Author Spotlight Friday in the next month, and bringing in to the store for our exciting Mystery Book Celebration on Sunday, May 19th from 2:00 – 5:00 PM.
It’s a pleasure to have you with us, Julia! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?
I write under three different names. Julia Henry writes the Garden Squad series for Kensington. J.A. Hennrikus writes the Theater Cop series for Midnight Ink. And Julianne Holmes wrote the Clock Shop series for Berkley.
If you meet me in person, please call me Julie!
Here’s my first question to you, Julia: Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester –though they should totally check here first!)
Absolutely, support your local bookstore first and foremost. My books are also available through online retailers.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
My website is JHAuthors.com, and I’m on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest as JHAuthors. I also blog with the Wicked Authors (WickedAuthors.com) and Killer Characters (KillerCharacters.com). I also run YourLadders.com, an online source for artists who want to build their business skills.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from [newest release/spotlighted release]?
I write traditional/cozy mysteries. The focus of the books are the puzzle of the crime, and the characters in the book. My newest series, the Garden Squad series, focuses on Lilly Jayne, a 65 year old who lives in Goosebush, Massachusetts. She’s a recent widow, and is just starting to get back out into the world again. She and her friends, the Garden Squad, guerrilla garden around town. They “fix” gardening issues that need attention. They also solve crimes that come up in the meantime.
What was the inspiration for Pruning the Dead? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
My agent and I were talking about a new series, and he mentioned gardeners. We’d also been talking about older sleuths. I thought about them both for a while, and Lilly Jayne started to come together for me. I liked the idea of writing about someone closer to my age, and the community she’s built up for herself. My family lived in Duxbury, MA until I was in high school. It is a beautiful town, and inspired Goosebush for me. That said, I’ve changed the coastline and the town a lot.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
I like traditional mysteries, and always have. Writing cozies, a softer subgenre, was a natural path for me. I enjoy building the world for my books. Creating characters that folks get to know over the series. Writing a puzzle that the readers want to figure out, and doing my best to trick them along the way. This genre also makes a promise to the reader–that justice will get served. These days folks need to escape, and writing fiction that provides a respite is a privilege.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
I have worked in the performing arts for over thirty years, so the artistic path is not unfamiliar to me. And by path, I mean rollercoaster ride! Honestly, I love the entire process, though writing the first draft of any book can feel like walking through waist high jello. It took me fifteen years to be published. While I was impatient, I’m glad it took that long. My earlier books weren’t ready. My greatest lesson, and one that I teach my students, is to enjoy every single milestone on the journey. If you wait to celebrate until you’ve reached some level of success, you’ve missed the point. The journey is the point.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Take classes. Learn. Join organizations that will get you in the orbit of other writers. (If you’re a mystery writer, join Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.) Go to conferences, and start building your network. Don’t rush publishing, but also don’t stop working towards your publishing goal.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
Incredibly! All three of my series take place in Massachusetts. I may branch outside the state at some point, but why? We have everything packed into New England, which makes it the perfect place to set a mystery series.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
Tilling the Truth, the second book in the Garden Squad series, will be out in August.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
I have started an online resource for artists who want to build their business skills called Your Ladders. Supporting and empowering artists has been an important part of my career, and is a definite passion. Like many artists, I’ve always had to juggle two or three jobs to make my life work, and I’m grateful to include teaching as one of the ways I pull it all together.
What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?
Honestly, I’m going to say it’s been getting to know other writers. I blog with five other women on the Wicked Authors, and getting to know these women has been my favorite adventure so far. We are friends, cheerleaders, and a support system for each other. We all go on retreats together, meetup at conferences, and are in regular contact. I know that friendship doesn’t sound as fun as doing a drive around with a police officer (which I’ve also done), but friends make the journey a lot more fun, especially friends who understand your journey.
Julia, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions.
Join Julia, Clea, Liz Mugavero and Lisa Shea for a multi-author panel talk and book signing of their mystery titles on May 19th from 2-5 PM. They’ll be here to discuss their writing, answer questions about publishing, give insight into characters, and bring the world of mystery novels to tantalizing life! Light refreshments will be available. Come to Annie’s to meet these wonderful authors!