What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?
Requiem for a Wren by Nevil Shute was wonderful. It’s a bit of a forgotten classic but a perfect read for fans of World War 2 historical fiction!
Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?
After reading Requiem for a Wren, I realized that it’s been too long since I read a classic. I think I might go back to something by Anthony Trollope, who has been a favorite of mine for a long time.
Do you re-read books And if yes, what was your last re-read?
I’m not a great re-reader, but there are a few books I go back to again and again. Most recently I re-read Persuasion by Jane Austen, and I’m thinking about re-reading Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. (Fun fact: I’m actually named for a character in that book!)
What are your go-to genres?
I love historical fiction and mystery. I used to be a voracious romance reader, but it’s been too long since I revisited the genre—something I should fix!
What is your favorite childhood book?
I loved the Dear America series that featured stories from girls who were witnessing different moments in history. It is probably one of the many reasons I write historical fiction.
What books are on your bedside table right now?
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett, The Barbizon: The New York Hotel that Set Women Free by Paulina Bren, and Miss Dior by Justine Picardie.
Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?
What is your ideal reading setting?
I love laying on the sofa covered in a blanket, but I will happily curl up in an armchair with my legs thrown over the side. Bonus points if there is a fire going and/or a glass of whiskey or a cup of tea close at hand.
Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?
I love Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California. I grew up in the neighborhood, and Vroman’s was a family staple. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable, and they have the best recommendations.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I realized that books had the ability to make people cry and laugh all within the space of a few pages.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I was thrilled to visit Bath for the first time after being a life-long Jane Austen reader, and I still love the city to this day. I also have had drinks at the Algonquin Hotel as a nod to Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table.
Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?
I write at my desk, which sits in a bay window looking out over the street. Once a week I go into the London Library, which is a member’s library in central London that was started by Charles Dickens, among others.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I find first drafts mentally exhausting, and I will admit that by the time I hit the middle chapters of a book, I always have a sense that I just have to grind through until I reach the end. However, I love the editing process, and that can’t happen until I have words on the page.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have so many half-finished books and ideas, especially from before I was published. I keep them all, although I rarely go back to them.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I usually check in on Goodreads when a book first goes out to early readers just to make sure that the reviews aren’t throwing up something glaringly wrong. However, after that I step back. I really do try to live by the mantra that reviews are for readers, not authors and after a book is out in the world you have to let it go.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Writing for a living is a very long game that will have ups and downs, but it is worth it to keep the faith and keep going.
When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?
My fiancé and I are both big foodies who love our wine, and also watch a lot of sports so there’s often a combination of cooking, drinking, and watching going on during any given evening. I’ve also been a knitter since my mother taught me as a little girl, so I always have a project or two on the go.
What are your three favorite things right now?
- I was given a new handbag for Christmas that actually fits all of my work gear for when I go to write in a coworking space, which is life-changing.
- I can’t stop raving about Jones Road What the Foundation.
- Because I can’t help myself and I’m sometimes sentimental, my engagement ring. It’s an emerald cut garnet in yellow gold, and it’s absolutely perfect for me.
Your favorite travel destination and why?
I love Scotland. I think Edinburgh and the Highlands are wonderful places to visit for wildly different reasons, but I recently traveled to Shetland. It was unlike anywhere I’ve ever been, with some of the warmest people I’ve met while traveling. I highly recommend going if you have any interest in knitting, yarn, or history. Also the seafood is incredible!
What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?
I love an old-fashioned made very simply but with excellent ingredients.
What six people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?
I think that Dorothy Parker, Emma Thompson, Jane Austen, Miss Piggy, and Mae West would make for a pretty riotous group of dinner companions. Stanley Tucci can come too because I feel like he would appreciate all of those irreverent women.
If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, and who would play you?
I hope that it would be a romance! And I suspect that I would have to be played by Julia Stiles who I’ve been told is my celebrity doppelganger if you squint enough.
What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?
My fiancé and I watch Casablanca every year for Valentine’s Day. It’s one of those films that never gets old because everything from the script to the lighting to the costumes are incredible. Not to mention some of the most iconic performances on film!
You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?
I don’t do karaoke! I will gladly dance or speak in front of hundreds of people, but public singing makes me want to break out in hives.
If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?
Persuasion by Jane Austen.
Buy The Lost English Girl by Julia Kelly from: AMAZON / BOOKSHOP
Looking for more historical fiction books to read? See our historical fiction book lists here.
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