Julianna Baggott publishes an astonishing variety of things under an astonishing variety of names: novels, poetry, essays, blogs. It’s no accident that her website—Baggot • Asher • Bode —gives the impression of a group endeavor. Plus she has a very active family. I’ve been reading her absolutely charming blog for some time; it has become one of my favourites. The one thing you can count on from anything from Baggot, Asher or Bode is wit and heartfelt charm.
Today is the launch day of Julianna’s latest novel, The Province Cure for the Brokenhearted:
I ordered it on Kindle and it just this minute arrived on my iPad. I know from its perfect first sentence that I’m going to love it:
Here is one way to say it: Grief is a love story told backward.
Plus: it’s set in France. Need I say more?
Lest you remain unconvinced, here are a few advance reviews:
“Fans of Under the Tuscan Sun will adore this impossibly romantic read.”— People Magazine
“Readers who enjoy … Lolly Winston’s Good Grief and Jane Green’s The Beach House or travel-induced transformation books like Frances Mayes’s Under the Tuscan Sun and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love will find common themes … and become quickly invested in the lives of the deftly drawn characters.”— Library Journal
“Unabashedly romantic … a real charmer about a Provencal house that casts spells over the lovelorn.” — Kirkus Reviews
So now for something about the author:
Julianna Baggott is the author of seventeen books [did you catch that? seventeen], most recently THE PROVENCE CURE FOR THE BROKENHEARTED under her pen name Bridget Asher, as well as THE PRETEND WIFE and MY HUSBAND’S SWEETHEARTS. She’s the bestselling author of GIRL TALK and, as N.E. Bode, THE ANYBODIES TRILOGY for younger readers.
Her essays have appeared widely in such publications as The New York Times Modern Love column, Washington Post, NPR.org, and Real Simple.
Her blog is a mix of writerly subjects, home life accounts (I particularly enjoy these) and author interviews. The author interviews are called “The 1/2 Dozen” because she gives authors a list of questions and asks them to pick 1/2 dozen to answer.
Julianne’s questions are delightfully quirky (as you will soon see), and so, for this launch day interview, I thought it appropriate to give her back her own list of questions.
A 1/2 Dozen for Julianna Baggott:
What’s your advice to someone who’s fallen in love with a writer?
If you’re charmed by neuroses, double down. If you see poverty as an adventure, go for it. A writer’s upsides tend to be: witty banter, imagination, insights, close observation. I would make sure you’re completely compelled to love this writer if the dark sides show up: biting snark, self-centric imagination, doomed global thinking, scrutiny. It helps if you both think you’re funny. It helps if the other brings out your best self.
What’s your advice to a writer who’s looking for a lifelong partner? Any particularly useful traits to suggest in said partner? (Do you want to tell us a brief love story here?)
Make sure they truly get obsession; preferably from the inside out. If you are their obsession, this might not work out so well, as you’ll be absent a lot and, when you return, you’ll be tired and thirsty and hungry. It’s better, I think, if you both show up at the end of a long day tired and thirsty and hungry, and ready to take turns leaning and boosting.
What kind of child were you, inside of what kind of childhood, and how did it shape you as a writer?
I was supposedly sickly, except that I wasn’t. I was just raised by a hypochondriac. I was really small and very underweight and wiry and tough, though I cried easily, that type. I was raised among older siblings and adults mostly, in a family that told a lot of stories. My parents took me to a lot of plays. I had a large vocabulary and oversized eyes and a very skinny neck. I hated the nickname Puppet. All of this applies to my work.
Some writers hate to write. Other writers love being engaged in the creative process. How would you describe your relationship with the page?
It’s a wild relationship. As volatile as it gets, I think we knew we’ll always get back together. Without it, I’d be heartbroken. I’m compulsive about the page, obsessive in my imaginative dwelling. I wouldn’t know what to do without writing. It’s the disease and the cure.
Criticism. It’s part of the territory. How do you handle it? Is this the way you’ve always handled it?
In early stages of a novel, I can’t hear much of it. If I look for the fault lines too early, they’ll be all I see. But then at 50 pages, I need someone to weigh in, imaginatively. Sometimes it’s a relief to hear, “Nope, not working. Pull up the stakes.” Then, after a first draft, I want as many critics as I can get — in the ideal range for the audience. I want it all. Heaps of it. After I’m finished and it’s been edited madly and it’s in book form, I’m not interested in hearing what I should have done differently. It’s like watching people drown and you can’t save them, and someone’s there, telling you that you could have avoided the lake altogether. Where were you then? I want to say. Too late, too late.
Are you bloggish?
I am bloggish. Sandra, here, has turned the tables and sicked my own questions on me. So, yes, I have writers and agents answer questions. I blog about my own weird, loud, rambunctious household. I blog about bookish things, pop-culture, and distinctly un-bookish things. It’s like the caverns of my pocketbook — be careful. You could find ANYthing in there and wander off lost… Here’s the dangerous link: http://bridgetasher.blogspot.com/
Thank you so much, Julianna! And to readers of this blog: Julianna’s warning is well heeded. It’s hard to dip into her world without wanting to stay for a very long time.
Have you read one of her books or her blog? Are you likewise addicted?