Monday, December 2, 2019

Q&A with Julie Valerie

Julie Valerie is the author of the new novel Holly Banks Full of Angst, the first in her Village of Primm series. She lives in Virginia.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and for your character Holly?

A: Much of my inspiration comes from being a mom and experiencing all of the wild and wonderful zaniness that Mom Life brings. Holly is close to my heart because she tries so hard to succeed amid women she perceives to be more accomplished at motherhood than she is.

But what Holly Banks fails to realize is this: we're all trying our hardest in this high-stakes game called motherhood. Most of us, like Holly, are "less-than-perfect moms searching for mostly happy in a pretty good life."

Q: The novel is set in the Village of Primm. What inspired you to create Primm?

A: The Village of Primm juxtaposes the conventional with the absurd. Through humor with touches of satire, I've mapped a village to play "home" to the aspirations we carry within us.

I was inspired to create the Village of Primm, and, to a lesser extent, neighboring Southern Lakes, to explore societal ideals and the tensions caused by those societal ideals.

I'm always curious to learn from my readers where they'd most want to live: in the aspirational Village of Primm, despite its high price, both literally and figuratively or Southern Lakes, where life isn't as picturesque but a lot more relaxed? 

Q: What do you think the novel says about trying to be perfect?

A: I think the novel presents a unique and compelling picture of the pursuit of perfection and the costs associated with that pursuit.

Told with humor and poignancy, I employ satire, allegory, and other literary devices to tell a tale of modern motherhood through the lens of a less-than-perfect mom, newly moved to a picturesque village, where established rules and hierarchies all point to the town and its inhabitants’ "true north": the pursuit of perfection; perfect families in perfect homes attending a perfect school in a perfect village.

Impossible to achieve? Of course. But, hopefully, my readers will enjoy the many ways the quirky residents of the Village of Primm attempt to answer the call.

Q: What are some of your favorite novels?

A: My reading tastes are broad and eclectic, but there is a thread through.

First, I'm inspired by inventive storytelling, from the multifaceted S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst to the contemporary telling of Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

Second, I admire the masters of their genre, in particular, the trailblazing work of Jane Austen and her "study of manners" told through irony, realism, and satire.

Third, I'm awed by series fiction authors and the sustained commercial appeal of their work. I'm awed by creators of binge-worthy, television series. And I love reading scripts like Downton Abbey, trying to crack the code that underlies different forms of writing and storytelling.

And four, I greatly admire Helen Fielding for creating a character so iconic that character became a literary archetype. I mean, come on. How cool is THAT?

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Currently, I'm working on Book Two in the Village of Primm series, due to my publisher a week before the pub date for Book One.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I love connecting with my readers through my once-monthly author newsletter, the primary source for the inside scoop into my writing life and the world inside my books.

In my newsletters, I give readers a glimpse of life in the Village of Primm through character gossip and village happenings. Expect a magazine-style mashup of favorite things. Seasonal features. Home decor. Specialty drinks. Color and trend forecasts. 

Learn more here.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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