Meet Julie Reece, YA author of Crux

Today, one of the best YA books of the year, Crux, releases to the world.  I’ve had the opportunity to read this novel and it is fantastic!  A must read.  No wonder I’m floating on cloud 9 since author, Julie Reece, agreed to do a blog takeover.  So, without further ado, please welcome the lovely and talented Julie as she talks about what inspired her to write Crux. Take it Julie!

What is a heart story?

Ugh.  At first blush, this sounds cheesy, doesn’t it?  Well, bear with me a second. I read somewhere, sorry I don’t remember where, (if it’s you, thank you) that most writers’ have one or two ‘heart’ books inside them.

New writers write from inspirations and ideas closest to their hearts. The emotion is usually raw, the descriptions vivid, and the angst, well, it’s often something we’ve experienced or empathized with as someone we knew suffered. We might be living an unattainable dream through our character or creating the person we wish we were. The details are, of course all make believe, but the strength of character and plot comes from deep within each writer.

So what? You write one or two books and it’s over? No, if anything, a writer will probably grow and improve. The point is, if you agree with this hypothesis, that no matter how many books you write, it’s those early works that retain a special place in the author’s heart.

When Jenny invited me to appear on her blog, I was so excited.  Jenny’s a great writer and runs a fantastic blog (so no pressure).  She urged me to share what inspired me to write Crux in the first place, so what the heck, I’ll take a stab at it.

Atlanta, like plenty of other big cities, has a homeless population and that unfortunately includes its share of runaways and prostitution.  My family has spent time working in a soup kitchen downtown, handing out clothing and trying to serve people who’ve had a hard time. Some of those people are teens. I have two teen daughters myself.

So I’m sitting on the asphalt at a downtown shelter, across from a young woman who appears mentally ill. She’s pretty. The girl rambles incoherently, but I hardly hear her, because as she picks at her cornbread and nibbles at her chili, I’m thinking: Who are you? How did you get here? I wonder about her parents, and how her mind became so broken.

Cold seeps from the ground penetrating my jeans and numbing my butt. I’m not saying anything though, this girl might sleep out here and who am I anyway? She lets me brush her hair, and I feel the honor keenly. I hand her a coat that’s been donated, a bag of toiletries and a bottle of water. The day ends, but I’m thinking of her, and hundreds like her.

Quite a while later I had a dream, a blonde, barefoot teen in a nightgown was running through the wet streets of Paris after a man with a suitcase. When she caught up to him, he stopped to open his case and I woke up. I wanted to know what was in that case, dang it, and I wanted it to help the girl on the street.

So I wrote Birdie’s story. From the heart.

Do I think I’m writing an ending for the girl’s life I met at the shelter? I wouldn’t presume. But I can’t deny life’s experiences all mesh together to make us who we are. They do, and who says that’s a bad thing?

Everyone has at least one heart story, whether or not you write it down, and now I’m wondering about you. What in life has affected or inspired you?

Everyone, give a big round of applause to Julie and make sure you head over to your bookstore of choice and pick up your copy of Crux.

Thank all of you for stopping by and please feel free to leave your messages for Julie.  She’ll be around for the next day or so to answer whatever questions you may have.  In addition, if you would like to win a signed Crux bookmark, please be the first person to answer the following question:

 In J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”, which stone did Bilbo give to the Elvenking to aid him in his negotiations ?

You can leave your answer in the comments below.  Thanks for playing and good luck!

Julie’s Bio:

Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.

I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.

Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.

Then I thought I’d write one down…

Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!

I live in the metro Atlanta area with my incredibly supportive husband and daughter, and our twenty-two pound cat, Hurley.

Where can you find Julie:!/JulieAReece!/julie.reece.351