Julie Rubini’s love of books began with bike rides to the bookmobile for Nancy Drew mysteries. She began writing as a child, worked in sales as an adult, became a councilwoman, got married, and had a family. In addition to a freelance writing career, Julie wrote the children’s books Hidden Ohio (published by Mackinac Island Press) and Missing Millie Benson: The Secret Case of the Nancy Drew Ghostwriter and Journalist (published by Ohio University Press). She is also the founder of Claire’s Day, a book festival created in memory of her daughter. http://www.clairesday.org
Why did you start writing?
Julie: I suppose that’s like asking why a painter paints, or a racecar driver races…because we can, and we love being able to follow our passions. I’ve been writing since I was a child, so I’d have to say it was an extension of my natural curiosity and imagination. And, as I love to learn and share that knowledge, writing affords me the opportunity to teach in a creative form. As a children’s book author, the bonus is that it gives me time with kids of all ages. Nothing like a giggle with a kindergartener to make your day. Or a discussion with a middle-grader about the Nancy Drew series.
Children’s laughter definitely brightens my day. As a mother, wife, councilwoman, author, and participant in Claire’s Day, when do you find time to write?
Julie: Whew! My dad used to say that he got tired just hearing what I had going on during any given day. The answer lies within what I preach to my children: Balance. (and I add Moderation. They swear that they are going to use Balance and Moderation as my epitaph. I’d prefer something like, Woohoo, what a ride that was!) Truth be told, all of my roles take bits and pieces of my time. But, I’m pretty good about making sure I get my derriere in chair time. I get antsy if there is a day that I haven’t written something.
Speaking of derriere-in-chair, what is your writing process?
Julie: I’ve never experienced writer’s block. I’m literally knocking on wood as I say that. What I do suffer from is taking the time to block out for writing. So, dependent on the stage of a project, I either dedicate X number of hours writing or researching, or in the case of my YA novel, I’m shooting for 5000 words a week. I’m really good under deadline, which is a testament to my training as a freelance writer when all three of my children were young and I had articles due.
The Millie Benson project is a great example. I was contracted in March 2014, went to Iowa, her home state, and visited the Women’s Archives and family members. Then on to the New York Public Library for more research. I didn’t start writing in earnest until after Claire’s Day in May and set an August 1 self-imposed deadline. (I didn’t want to lose out on the entire golf season) I didn’t really realize the scope of the project until I took it on. I needed photos, permissions, and the footnotes! Critics have paid homage to the amount of research and documentation presented in the book. I’ve claimed the project to be a “thesis on steroids.”
What are you currently working on?
Julie: A YA novel based on a mission trip experience I had with my son’s youth group. The protagonist is 16-year-old who’s a bit arrogant and has this great internal voice that I love sharing. His journey involves discovering who he is through helping not the nasty alcoholic at home, but a young woman next door. I love Joey and his friends, and apparently they like me too, because they are nudging me in my dreams, and in my head when I’m doing something otherwise. I need to finish his story soon or I’ll start dressing like him.
I’m researching a biography on USA Today Sports columnist Christine Brennan and edits for the series on America’s most honored children’s book author, Virginia Hamilton. I’m honored to be sharing the life stories of incredible female writers and journalists.
Then there’s a picture book about my relationship with my late Uncle who had Downs Syndrome, and my completed memoir. I think I need to start seeking representation!
As a mother and writer, do you have advice for others on getting reluctant readers to read?
Julie: I think the key to encouraging reluctant readers is to help them to discover what they like to read, as well as determining why they are reluctant. Often times the two go hand in hand together. Maybe graphic novels, comic books or magazines are more to your child’s liking. If they are just starting on their reading journey, perhaps they are reluctant because they struggle with reading or have learning challenges.
It is important to take them to the library, to bookstores, to author events (Claire’s Day!) so they can see that reading can be fun, and opens their worlds up so much more than what is right in front of them.
Reading can be fun. I am tickled when kids relate tales or random facts they don’t realize came from a book they read.Okay, seriousness over. Ready for the fun questions?
Coffee or tea?: Coffee. Tea occasionally, with lots of honey.
Pie or cake?: Anything chocolate. (My thoughts exactly!)
Cat, dog, or goldfish?: Dog lover, allergic to cats, and had a goldfish when the kids were little, along with a chocolate lab who we loved dearly for 15 years. Luna, our yellow lab, makes me laugh, and gives me hugs when there is occasion to cry.
What’s on your bookshelf?: My bookshelves are filled with personally autographed books, writing guides, journals, and many inspirational works such as Night by Ellie Wiesel and biographies. It should be no surprise to me that since I’ve always loved reading biographies, that now I’m writing them.
All time favorite book? I know, this is a hard one!: Although I’ve read so many incredible books over the years, both nonfiction as well as fiction, I’d have to say To Kill a Mockingbird is my absolute favorite. I dream of writing of a young girl like Scout someday.
Julie is a fascinating woman. Stay turned for another interview with her about Claire’s Day. You can find out more about her at julierubini
A third degree black belt in taekwondo, HALLI GOMEZ teaches martial arts and writes for children and young adults because those voices flow through her brain. She enjoys family, outdoors, reading, and is addicted to superhero movies. You can find her on Twitter.