Please help me welcome Julie Golden, author of the debut novel Vagilantes (Abbott Press, 2012), in which a group of women find the strength to recover from childhood abuse – and take revenge against the predators who once viewed them as easy prey.
I met Julie through her blog (http://www.vagilantes.com) and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, a fantastic organization based in Colorado (though you need not live there to join or to enjoy the benefits of RMFW membership).
Thank you, Julie, for joining us today and telling us about yourself and Vagilantes!
And now, on with the interview:
1. Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in a small community on the northern California coast.
2. What inspired you to start writing?
Stories were my refuge from reality, as a kid living in an abusive home. I read everything I could get my hands on, and I wrote about imaginary lives with a bent for romance. I was the editor of my high school’s fiction anthology.
I stopped writing when the things I wanted to express became too dangerous to record. Several times, as a teenager, something I wrote caused trouble at home. (Gee, what are the chances of that happening again with the publication of Vagilantes?) Shamed and lacking confidence, I stopped making up stories and turned my focus to business and political writing.
3. If you could go back in time and share one writing lesson with “new writer you” before starting your first manuscript … what would that be?
Don’t worry about publishing. Just do the hard work of writing and polishing. When the time comes to let Vagilantes out into the world, everything will fall into place.
4. What inspired you to write Vagilantes?
Daily news reports of men sexually abusing children. In our enlightened society, this shouldn’t still be happening and talked about in hushed tones. These guys are our neighbors and, too often, they are family members. I wondered how I could stop them. I used my computer to create a weapon that is wrapped in a really good story.
5. Was your novel based partly on real events? If so, can you tell us a little about how you changed (or didn’t change) those events for the novel?
I have memories of being sexually abused by my father before I was three years old. I was sexually abused, by a different man, from age five into my teens. These memories are clear – unlike recalled memories that some victims reclaim. But, if I had written Vagilantes only about me, the story would have been far too small.
Characters in the book represent a mix of personalities. This is a murder mystery too, with a snoopy detective, questionable confessions, unsolved crimes … things I haven’t personally experienced. This book will appeal to many readers – not just people who have an interest in pedophiles. Religious and spiritual issues play a strong role, as they have in my life.
In Vagilantes, ALL EXAMPLES OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE ARE TRUE AND HAPPENED TO REAL KIDS. Some are from my personal experience, and some were told to me. It was important to me that these examples not be exaggerated or underplayed. Pedophiles are a real scourge in our society, so these stories are true.
The examples of murdered pedophiles in the book are not all false. Vagilantes are among us.
6. Do you have a favorite author? If so, who and why?
David Foster Wallace, because he twisted words and wrote from the depths of his heart. He challenged perceptions and didn’t tiptoe around the ugly side of life. (An interesting website, http://iwl.me/, reports that I write like DFW. Unfortunately, they don’t give reasons for the comparison. I’ll take this high praise.)
If I may have a second favorite: Michael Brown wrote The Presence Process, which guided me in erasing the emotional pain of my past, and opened my eyes to what is right in front of me. It changed my life.
7. Please tell us about the last book you read, and what made you choose to read it.
11/22/63 by Stephen King. While waiting for the first copies of Vagilantes to be delivered, I wanted to read something that would hold my attention and take me into another world. You can trust Stephen to entertain, educate and enlighten. He’s a master. (Every writer can learn from his book, On Writing.)
Diving into 11/22/63 was an unexpected treat, because several of his scenes are so close to those in Vagilantes. (One example: a character furiously scrawled on paper and then immediately burned it.) I loved the spiritual connections between our books. I don’t mean to imply it’s all about me. Stephen wrote a brilliant story that might make you reconsider the impact of each little thing you do.
8. Which character in Vagilantes do you, personally, relate to the most?
In the beginning of the writing process, it was Rayanne because she’s traumatized by sexual abuse. Rayanne then took off in a different direction from my experience. Now I relate best to Linda. She’s not going to waste time rehashing the past. Linda welcomes opportunities. Put a pedophile – or a woman in need of help – in front of Linda, and she’ll do what needs to be done.
9. What did you enjoy most about writing Vagilantes? What was most difficult?
I enjoyed learning something new every day from my characters, from my critique partners, and from generous posts on the web by the writing community.
It was difficult to make this hideous topic into an approachable and exciting story without being preachy. My very first unsolicited reviewer specifically said that I pulled this off. She read Vagilantes in one big bite and stayed up, into the wee hours, to finish the book. (Happy dance!)
10. Do you have any hobbies aside from writing? Which is your favorite?
I’m a serious hooper, (hula hoop). I really rock a plastic tube! I could write for days about hooping. Check out www.hooping.org for inspiration and instruction.
On my sixtieth birthday, I celebrated at HoopCamp with about 350 other hoopers. Instead of blowing out candles on a cake, I hooped fire on and off my body, behind my back, under my leg kicks, then I made a wish and blew out the last wick. Thrilling!
And now, the speed round:
– Plotter or pantser?
– Coffee, tea, or bourbon?
Coffee, straight up
– Socks or no socks?
– Cats, dogs, or reptiles?
– For dinner: Italian, Mexican, Burgers or Thai?
Italian with extra garlic
The official (Amazon) summary:
There are many fine points to planning a murder.
Rayanne’s life is one of dangerous secrets. Deep within her, she keeps buried the details of the horrific sexual abuse she suffered as a child. Her public face is one of a competent professional who works hard to control the loose ends of everyday life for her clients in Boulder, Colorado. But behind that façade lies the heart of an antisocial, wounded animal—one that will soon become a predator herself.
When she realizes that the star of her childhood nightmare has moved in next door, she is frozen with fear and indecision. Tapping into the feminine power she thought he had stolen from her all those years ago,she finds the strength to control her panic and to take justice into her own hands. She’ll now make certain that he will never hurt another innocent kid.
Someone else unexpectedly confesses to his murder and her life becomes complicated again. Four women are drawn into her drama with a larger mission to fulfill—and soon, more pedophiles die.
A little more about Julie:
Julie Golden has yet to murder a pedophile. She lives in Boulder, Colorado. Vagilantes is her first novel.
Thank you again, Julie, for joining me here at Spann of Time and telling us a little more about yourself and Vagilantes!
And in case you missed it earlier: CLICK HERE for a Free Sneak Peek at Vagilantes!