Julia McDermott Q&A:
1. Describe your books and your publishing journey.
I self-published my first novel, Make That Deux, in October 2012. Set in France and with a college student as its protagonist, it also fits the (new) “New Adult” genre (older sibling of Young Adult, whose main characters are in high school). I released my first psychological suspense novel, Underwater, in August 2013. It’s the story of CEO Candace Morgan, whose brother cons her into funding a luxury spec home for him, just before the housing market plummets. The following April, the acquisitions editor at Thomas & Mercer discovered the novel and offered me a contract. Six months later, they rereleased it in paperback, e-book, and audio book, and had it translated into German. My third book, creative nonfiction All the Above: My Son’s Battle with Brain Cancer was published in March 2015. The true story of my youngest son’s diagnosis and treatment, it became a Top 20 Kindle Bestseller, and was awarded Finalist, Georgia Author of the Year. My latest novel, psychological suspense, Daddy’s Girl, was published in April 2016.
2. What is it about? Is it a sequel?
Daddy’s Girl is the story of Valerie Mitchell, an entitled princess, who, counting on a nice inheritance, quits her well-paid marketing job to join a technology startup. But when her father dies, he leaves his money to his second wife, and then the startup begins to implode–sending Valerie on a downward spiral heading toward murder. Like Underwater, Daddy’s Girl is told in 3rd person from alternating points of view. It’s not a sequel, but is a companion novel, borrowing a few minor characters from Underwater and turning them into major ones.
3. What makes them psychological suspense?
They are suspense, because there’s a slow, steady buildup of tension, pushing someone to the edge. They are psychological, because that tension is mental, not physical. An even better description is the new term, “domestic psychological suspense,” meaning many characters are related by blood or marriage.
4. Both novels feature female protagonists who are successful in business–why? How did you connect their professional lives with their personal ones?
I like reading about the lives of the wealthy; as author Dominick Dunne said, “People are fascinated by the rich: Shakespeare wrote plays about kings, not beggars.” And I wanted to create believable characters to which readers could relate, and whose professional and personal lives are deeply intertwined. I once heard, “Work is home, and home is work,” and I’ve certainly felt that way before. So I let my characters deal with difficult personal relationships as well as stress at work. Both protagonists have a romantic interest (and Valerie works with hers), and both have relatives who cause problems for them professionally or financially.
5. Let’s back up to the book you wrote about your son. When did the events detailed in the book take place? Were you writing fiction at the time? When did you write this book?
Jack’s journey with cancer began on his 19th birthday, May 8, 2010, when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor after experiencing sudden vision problems. I had finished writing Make That Deux and was working on a sequel, which I later abandoned. During the six months he battled cancer, I put my writing on the back burner and was his caregiver. I began writing this book three years later, and had finished it by the time Underwater was rereleased by Thomas & Mercer.
6. Was it hard to return to writing fiction with Daddy’s Girl afterward? What was your inspiration for that novel?
It was difficult. But even though All the Above chronicles true events, my knowledge and experience in writing fiction helped me write it. I told the story the same way I would write a novel, complete with a hook, plot points, midpoint, and climax. I’ve been told that it reads like a medical mystery/suspense, and that readers find it hard to put down. Since they say that a good nonfiction book reads like a novel (and a good novel reads like a true story), I take those remarks as compliments.
My inspiration for Daddy’s Girl was an article published a few years ago in the Wall Street Journal, describing the cancelation of a medical technology startup’s initial public offering, or IPO. The voiding of an IPO almost never occurs, but it can happen, and when it does, there’s a good reason. I created a different type of tech startup that sells a device for bricks-and-mortar retailers to match online prices, and its IPO is canceled in the first scene of the novel. I added a range of characters affected by it, and described the havoc it causes in their personal relationships. Some of them handle it much better than others do!
Julia McDermott is a multi-genre author of three novels and one work of creative nonfiction. She grew up in Atlanta and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, where she majored in Economics, minored in French, and spent her junior year in the South of France. After college, she moved to Dallas and worked in banking and IT. A year after she had twins, she retired from the work force, had two more children, and moved across the country four times. She is a member of writers’ organization Sisters in Crime, the Atlanta Writers Club, Alliance Française, and serves on the board of the Atlanta Toulouse Sister Cities Committee. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and family, and she loves football, most kinds of art, and all things French.
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