Thursday 1 March 2012

A Place in This Life blog tour stop: Author interview and more to come!

For Natalie Miller, it’s just another family vacation. For someone else, it’s the opportunity he’s been waiting for.

With only a single peck from a guy named Frank, Natalie’s anything but experienced with boys. But when Todd pops out of the water, says hi, and tells Natalie he has leukemia, all of that changes.

She’s never had attention like this from a boy, let alone one who’s a real charmer with sex on the brain and the experience to match. Drawn to Todd like a magnet, Natalie gives him her friendship, her love, and her body. Even when she’s tempted by gorgeous, healthy schoolmate Alex, Natalie’s desire to love and care for Todd pushes her to see how far love can go in spite of the potential for death of the relationship — and death of the one she loves.

First of all, thanks so much to Amanda from Stuck in YA Books, who has put together this tour and Julie Duck for letting me be a part of this tour! I'm nearly done reading A Place in this Life by Julie Duck and I must say, I loved how unflinchingly real it was! That's what really grabbed me. I'll be sharing my review of A Place in this Life very, very soon. I'm also doing an author interview of the very awesome Julie Duck!

Author interview

Hello, Julie. Welcome to my blog, on books! Tell us a bit about yourself and what made you start writing.

I started as an artist - loved to draw. In the third grade, I picked up a copy of Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was hooked after that, devouring her books and those by Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume (woo woo!). I wrote and illustrated my first book at that time, and entered every poetry contest that was around. It was a hunger I couldn't satisfy.

It must've been hard writing a novel as intense and real as A Place in This Life. What were the parts you enjoyed writing and what were the hardest parts?

I enjoyed writing the beginning, where they meet, because it brought back memories of when I actually met the real Todd. I could smell the ocean, feel the dusty path at Two Harbors, and see Todd's face. The hardest parts were writing the chemo section, which also brought back memories, as well as the part at the end where Todd's family gathers at Ortega Highway. By this time, I'd done the research and found that the real Todd had died of leukemia at an Orange County children's hospital about a year after we'd met.

Natalie's experiences felt painfully, wonderfully real. That was what I liked best about A Place in This Life! What was your first relationship like? (if you don't mind me asking)

I was 14 when I met Todd A. on Catalina Island. He scared me because of how forward he was. But that was also the reason I liked him. There is something about a dominant guy! Todd really did extend himself to know me, actually taking that bus trip to my house without my knowing he would do that... and going through a chemo round with him. I saw and heard and felt things that were so real, so deeply emotive that I protected them inside my heart and mind. It was only when I thought I might have a life-changing illness myself, some 25 years later, that I released it all. Glad I did.

In the end, I let fear reign and I broke up with Todd before anything really big happened. It's quite a lot to take on at such a young age - a boyfriend with a ton of "experience" who also happens to be very ill.

What are you working on now? Can we have a small excerpt from it? 

I am wrapping up a male POV novella called The Joy & Torture of Joshua James. It has been fun to write! You can find the first chapter on my blog, but here's a snippet of how Josh thinks:

Keeping to myself, I ate at the block wall that surrounded the tables. It was easier this way, because I could watch who was coming and going, and make a clean getaway as soon as the last bite went in my mouth. Or so I thought. 
She appeared in front of me, and that last bite almost went down my windpipe. This was no time to spit out food, but I couldn’t help it when the chewed-up wad of pizza landed at her feet. Her lips broke into a smile. 
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to make you choke. You okay?” She hunched her silky shoulders, her long blonde hair curving beautifully over them with ease. I hopped off the wall and cleared any residual bits out of my throat. My neighbor was looking me right in the eye — something I wasn’t used to. 
“Yeah, I’m okay. Not used to people sneaking up on me like that.” 
“I wasn’t trying to sneak. I think you were zoning out.” She hunched again, a signal that she was right and I was wrong. It wasn’t hard to agree with her body. 
“Maybe. This is school. The best place to space.” I tried to give her what I thought was a killer grin, but oregano was surely plastered somewhere on the front of my teeth. 
“You’re the new neighbor, right?” 
“I’ve seen you around,” I said, recalling her car washing skills. The hose. The lather. My tent pole. 
“I’m Jordan.” 
She reached out her hand, and I had to wipe the pizza grease off mine. But I had no napkin and wiping it like usual on my pants wasn’t an option.  
“The pizza – I don’t want to get your hand dirty.” I air-shook her hand and she laughed, which could be a good thing, or not. Girls usually did this when they realized I was a dork, made a polite excuse to exit, and never appeared again.

I definitely want to read more about Josh! As a self published author, do you have any advice for people thinking about getting self published?

Make sure you have the best story possible, formatted properly and with no errors. Nothing looks worse than an e-book with misspelled words - except one with bad transitions and no train of thought. Get at least one person to beta read your work. Opinions count! Then follow the platform formatting and uploading requirements - for Amazon, B&N and Smashwords there are separate, unique ways that your manuscript needs to be formatted. I found Bookiejar a delight - very easy to work with them, whereas Smashwords had a bible of how they wanted things. No matter what, do as they say and you should come out fine.

Also, make sure your cover art is pro. I had an artist friend, Cathy Hebert, create the cover for A Place In This Life. There are several e-book cover artists out there. Please feel free to ask me for a referral!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog!

A Place In This Life has earned 4 and 5 star ratings across
the board for its intimate portrayal of a teenage girl whose first love is a boy
with leukemia. There are no dry eyes when you join the hundreds of readers
who have been touched by this deeply moving story.

A Place In This Life now available on: 


  1. Great interview and the book sounds good :)

  2. Oh my God, it breaks my heart that Julie actually met the real Todd when she was 14 years old! It's such a young age to fall in love, especially having a relationship with a guy who's suffering in Leukemia! It's really sad that the real Todd died a year after meeting her. This interview really intrigues me to read the book! Thank for the amazing interview, Ajoop! :)

  3. I think this is a far cry different than the book I just finished Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. It sounds like such a great read, real and moving and for $.99. I like that the author drew upon real life experiences, I think that is why it spoke so much to you Pooja!
    Have a great weekend.

  4. Great interview!
    It seems like a beautiful story and I must get my hands on it :)

    New follower

    Nick @ Nick's Book Blog


HI. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment. :)