Author Interview: Julie Stone

Meet Julie Stone and read more about her and her book, He’s With The Band (Published Jan 2022) – which of course features an older protagonist, Campbell, who’s looking for a fresh start after her twenty-year old marriage.

After twenty-three years of marriage to an utter jackass and beige décor as far as the eye can see, Campbell Cavett is now divorced. Officially. But how did she lose herself for all these years? Somehow she went from being a bold, starry-eyed young groupie who followed Golden Tiger on tour to…snapping photos of snot-nosed kids for their Pinterest moms at the local Portrait Hut.

But she takes her Divorce Party one bottle of Pinot Grigio too far and wakes to discover she’s quit her boring-ass job, arranged to sell her house, and has tickets to the Golden Tiger reunion show. Which is exactly when fate and Campbell decide it’s time to pick up where she left off all those years ago.

Now Campbell’s on tour as the official photographer of her favorite band and living the life she’s always dreamed. But backstage access means that she’s about to discover a whole lot. Not just about herself, but about a blast from her past who looks way hotter than he has any right to twenty-plus years later. Plus there’s that mind-blowing secret Golden Tiger’s been hiding from everyone. They say time can heal anything. But is six weeks on the road enough to truly start fresh?

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I am a native Iowan and graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in English. My husband and I have two kids who are both graduates of Iowa, too. (They were indoctrinated early in life).  We lived all over the Midwest but settled back in Iowa, where according to him, the main topic of conversation is the weather.  I grew up in in the best decade, the Eighties. You’ll find a lot of nostalgia for that decade in my books. He’s with the Band is no exception. Especially if you, like me, cannot get enough of Eighties Hair bands. Campbell sure can’t, especially Golden Tiger.

Tell us about the genre you like to write, and how is it similar / different from other women fiction genres? I think my genre is actually a little bit of a hybrid, which is a nice way of saying mutt. It isn’t a traditional rom-com or romance, but it isn’t women’s fiction either. My stories have a good chunk of romance in them, but they also have a focus on the heroine’s personal growth, and her relationships with her friends. Something I really enjoy diving into as a writer. As we get older, our girlfriends really are such an important part of our story. Throw in a dash of comedy because the world is serious enough and you’ve got my blueprint. I don’t think that formula is unique to me, but I do think focusing all of that with an older heroine is pretty rare.

What are some of the biggest challenges authors of older protagonists face today? Frankly, getting it on a shelf. At least when it comes to Rom/Com. I think traditional romance has found a footing. But there’s a different kind of humor with an older protagonist. It isn’t slapstick, or situational, more quick wit and banter. Observational. Its mature, which isn’t always an easy thing to pull off. Older women speak sarcasm pretty fluently.

Given the ongoing popularity of chick lit, where do you see light-hearted fiction for older readers ten years from now? I hope going strong!  I think older readers are looking for more relatable to them story lines. They don’t want to feel like they must parent the heroine. They want to see themselves and their experiences reflected in the stories. They have earned that perspective, are smart witty and have zero time for nonsense. That’s why I love writing for them.

When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be a writer? When I was in Junior High, we had to do journaling every day in English class. We were allowed to write personal things and then were supposed to write “do not read” at the top and our teacher swore she didn’t, but I wasn’t so sure about that. So, I would write these elaborate stories as a distraction in hopes she wouldn’t read the personal entries, or at least forget about them. I am pretty sure that didn’t work, but she did always have nice things to say about my stories.

Do you have a day job other than being a writer? No, I am very lucky to get to do this full time.

What are some things that inspire you to write? I hear so often that women feel like they become invisible once they hit a certain age, and I really want to throw a light on making that not the case. Showing independent, capable women doing interesting things, and falling for men who add value to their lives is important to me. And for daily inspiration: music. I cannot write in silence so there’s almost always something playing in the back ground.

What is your typical writing routine like? I like to get to my desk early, with my cup of coffee. I Try for ten pages a day. A lot of writers go by word count, but for me pages is just easier. I keep a little list of the page numbers and tick them off as I complete them, a trick I learned from another writer friend. Some days I am done by noon, but some days it takes me all day. I like to stop when I know what is going to happen next, so I am not starting from scratch the next day.

What kind of message do your book (s) convey to readers? That you are never too old for a happily-ever-after. Whatever that looks like: romance, new jobs, loving yourself, and your life. Campbell is the epitome of all of that. Yes, this book is a romance, but it is also a book about a woman falling back in love with herself and creating a life that reflects that. Which is something that is relatable to an older reader.

Does your book (s) incorporate certain aspects of your own life (and / or that of others)? As of today, no band has asked me to become a groupie, but I totally would if the opportunity presented itself. Other than that, my love of live music is certainly relevant to this book.  I wrote this book during the Covid lockdown, and that was something I missed terribly.

Who are some of your favorite authors and why? Currently I love Abby Jiminez and Emily Henry.  Their latest books are smart and funny with great characters. Jane Green is always a writer I’ve admired for her honest portrayal of difficult things women face. Outside my genre, I love Nikolas Butler-he writes about male friendships in a way that is so unique and intriguing.

Any advice you’d like to give for aspiring writers over 40? Keep working. Our voices are so needed and so are our stories. I wish I had something more inspiring to say, but truly, I do believe that a good portion of achieving goals is just not giving up.

Connect with Julie Stone here:
Twitter: @writergirl70
Instagram: @juliestoneauthor
Facebook: Author Julie Stone

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