Today I have Julie Tuovi as my guest. She is the YA Fantasy writer of the Sirens of Falkeld series. Her news novella is The Last Nine Winter of Aidan Finley. If you’re as much of a fan of fantasy and sirens as I am, I know you’ll enjoy her visit. :)
Welcome, Julie! Please tell us about your current release.
My latest book is called, The Last Nine Winters of Aidan Finley…
Aidan Finley dreamed of marrying the girl with the red hair who stole his heart as a lad. He dreamed of a family and growing old together in a cottage atop Muireall’s wind-swept cliffs.
But Aidan didn’t know what swam beneath the island’s dark, fathomless waves.
He never realized what fragile things dreams can be.
After a storm ravishes the island one summer day, he finds a creature caught beneath a rock in a cave. His choice to save her will alter his world forever—for even dreams aren’t safe from the siren’s song.
I have to give a huge shout out to the fans for this one. Aidan came about—in large part—because of them clamoring for more Aidan after I released The Sirens of Falkeld. With requests like that, what’s a girl to do, right? Write! Hopefully fans of Sirens will love this further glimpse into Finley history!
1. What inspired you to write this book?
My DAD was the first person to inspire me to write about mermaids (if you can believe it!) He said it in passing one day, and I honestly wasn’t too interested. I wanted to write something dark and gritty, and at that point, I was a little mermaid sheltered, and didn’t realize mermaids were capable of being dark.
Aaand then I saw a certain Pirates of the Caribbean movie...
Um, hello there, evil mermaids!
After a little digging, I realized that almost every culture and every country in the world has SOME type of mer-folklore, and that most of them actually aren’t your Disney-princess-sparkly-nice in the slightest. After that realization, there was no going back. From there on it was all folklore, myths and research and I’ve loved every second of the journey. Thanks, dad ( ;
2. I loved those evil mermaids! What books would you compare to The Last Nine Winters of Aidan Finley?
There are TWO books that I absolutely love, and actually reread a couple times while writing my own book, because they were good at getting me in the mood:
1. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and
2. The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
Both of these books are FABULOUS! They are both a bit darker and more moody, and they also both deal with aspects of Celtic folklore. (Win, win!) If you’re into that kinda thing, you’ll definitely want to read these!
3. Is this part of a series?
Yes! The Last Nine Winters of Aidan Finley is actually a companion novella that goes with The Sirens of Falkeld. Technically, it’s a prequel. But I highly recommend reading Sirens first, as it gives you context to the world and characters that will make Aidan a more interesting read!
4. Why did you choose the setting of Scotland?
I knew when I started, that I wanted a setting that would reflect the mood of the novel I was going to write. I basically just looked at a map and decided that the cold seas, high cliffs and rich folklore history of Scotland fit the bill perfectly! (Super scientific, I know)
5. If you have a pen name, can you explain how you came up with it?
Julie Tuovi is my real name… although Tuovi is technically my middle name. When I was in junior high, it embarrassed me so bad. That’s the age you just really want to fit in, ya know? And my middle name most decidedly, did NOT fit in! I tried to keep it on the down low, until one day, I was at a party, and somehow the topic of middle names came up. I grudgingly mentioned that my middle name was Tuovi, at which point my friend exclaimed, “Tuovi?! You could be famous with a name like Tuovi!” Haha! I seriously doubted her mental stability at the time, but when it came time to picking a pen name, I decided, “Why the heck not?!”
(P.s. I don’t hate the name anymore… I’ve actually grown rather fond of it! Thanks, ‘rents!)
6. I think that's a neat middle name. What are a few things we would find in or on your desk?
A mess. (HA!) Consisting of knickknacks, a miniature grand piano, a little ceramic orange bowl I made in kindergarten (currently serving as my push pin holder), post it notes, LOTS of pictures, multi-colored pens and markers, oh and lookie here—fingernail clippers!
7. Fingernail clips. haha Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
I self published The Sirens of Falkeld, last year (2015), after being rejected about a billion times by agents. I got lots and LOTS of full ms requests, but for some reason or another, I couldn’t—for the life of me!—get one to stick! Frustrated, I decided to put Sirens out there on my own. I wanted it to get read, and I didn’t want to wait around any longer *puts foot down*!!
Fast forward a year later… I’m getting ready to release Aidan, meanwhile, another book I had on submission was getting some hits by agents (Yessss!!) One of the agents I queried was Moe Ferrara of Bookends Literary. I found her through a blog contest hosted by Miss Snark’s First Victim and thought she sounded like a great match for my book. I sent her a cold query and she requested a full! A few months later, I noticed Moe was attending a writing conference I was planning on going to. I emailed her and asked her if she’d like to meet in person (because, you know… why not?) And she did! We met, and the first thing out of her mouth was, “Heeeey, I actually wanted to talk to you, do you mind stepping out into the hall with me?”
*cue hyperventilating into paper bag*
She then proceeded to tell me she loved my book and wanted to rep me! AHHHHHHH!!! I totally played it cool (HA! Not.), but there was much screaming and jumping up and down in the bathroom afterwards.
A few days later, we made it official and the contract was signed! *squeeeee*
You guys, THIS ALL JUST HAPPENED, so I’m kind of still in freak out mode here. But when I’m not still scratching my head and reminding myself that—yes, I DO (finally!) have an agent—you can find me working on some revisions to said book. Once it’s in tip-top shape, hopefully we’ll be able to go out on submission sometime this year!
8. Share three random facts about you.
1) I can’t crack an egg to save my life—I get bits of shell in the pan EVERY time!
2) I can wiggle my nose the way some people can wiggle their ears
3) My thumbs are double jointed
9. I can't wiggle my nose or ears! Do you listen to music while you write?
Sometimes, but it HAS to be wordless. Lyrics mess with my mind when I write! If the music has words, I’ll inevitably start singing along, which is kinda detrimental when you’re trying to think of your own words.
10. Share your advice to new writers.
NEVER give up. NEVER stop improving!! I’m 1,000% convinced that the vast majority of success stories out there are because they were just too stubborn to let go of a dream! BE STUBBORN, OKAY?!!
Julie Tuovi is a read-a-holic, Diet Coke addict, and like her maighdean mhara, loves all things sparkly. Especially nail polish. In her spare time Julie likes to hunt zombies, debate the merits of pirate v. ninja, and rescue small kittens from trees. Oh . . . and plot ways to take over the universe. A history enthusiast, concert pianist, and attorney (but only when there’s nothing better to do), she currently lives in Ohio with her knight and wee baby princess, where you can often find her writing and dreaming of far-off, magical places. She is represented by Moe Ferrara of Bookends Literary.