HALLIE EPHRON: One of the great pleasures of being a long time member of Sisters in Crime has been watching fellow writers hone their craft, put themselves out there, and then earn (!) a publishing contract.
The latest in an impressive array of New England writers to go down this path is J.A. (Julie ) Hennrikus. She also happens to be president of New England Sisters in Crime.
Julie has had a stellar career in the arts as executive director of StageSource, a service organization for Boston area theater artists and companies and she teaches arts management classes at Emerson College. Now she can add "published mystery writer" to her resume.
Because we all love to hear the gory details Julie, as a mystery writer how long have you been at it, and what was the charm?
JULIE HENNRIKUS: First of all Hallie, thank you and the Jungle Reds for inviting me today. You were the President of Sisters in Crime when I first joined. The meeting was at your house, and I was a wreck. But you were such a great host, and the members could not have been more welcoming.
Though I have been writing my entire life, I really think it was joining Sisters in Crime that turned a corner, and helped me say aloud that I wanted to be a published author.
The charm? What is the phrase, luck is preparation meets opportunity? The preparation includes two books in a drawer, the outline for another cozy series, tons of classes and workshops, some luck publishing short stories, and a willingness to write for the market.
HALLIE: Or, as somebody said, "there's nothing to writing, just sit down and open a vein." How did you find your agent?
JULIE: Well, here’s where the opportunity came in. Two years ago an agent named John Talbot contacted Sheila Connolly, who was then President of Sisters in Crime New England. He was looking for some cozy authors to work with on proposals. Rather than pick and chose a few people, Sheila sent it out to the membership.
I think he was flooded with responses—I was one of them. Several friends got book deals (including the Wicked Cozy Authors), but my initial proposal didn’t sell.
I stayed optimistic, and was enjoying my friends successes. And John and I had a nice conversation at Crime Bake in 2012, and kept in touch. So when the opportunity came up to work on this proposal, my name came up, and I jumped at the chance.
I’ve mentioned the Wicked Cozys—Barbara Ross, Sherry Harris, Edith Maxwell, Jessie Crockett, Liz Mugavero, and I started a group blog (inspired in no small part by this blog) a year ago. We are all writing cozy series, and are at different stages of writing and publication. We are also an amazing support system for each other.
As important as my agent has been to this process, these women (Barb Ross especially) have been instrumental to helping make this happen.
HALLIE: Do you remember what you were doing when you heard you had a publishing contract?
JULIE: Of course! I was at work, and it was my birthday. John called and told me that the proposal had been accepted. It took a few weeks for the contracts to go through, so only a handful of people knew right away. But it was, by far, the best birthday present ever.
HALLIE: Can you give us a teeny tiny peek at what we have to look forward to with your first book?
JULIE: I will be writing the Clock Shop Mystery Series for Berkley Prime Crime under the name Julianne Holmes. The cozy series takes place in the Berkshires. The protagonist goes back to her grandfather’s clock/watch repair shop to heal a rift, and she finds him dead. So she sets out to solve his murder.
It is a wonderful setup for a series, and I am having a great time doing research. The first book is due this fall, and will be out in 2015. Which feels far away, but I know it will be here soon.
HALLIE: Julie wears the most spectacular jackets and necklaces and scarves, the envy of any author who's had to get dressed up for a signing. So Julie, favorite places to shop for your treasures??
JULIE: What a lovely compliment! My grandmother wore scarves all the time, as does my mother, so that is in the genes. And I work in theater, which allows me to be a little bolder in my accessories. My favorite places to shop? I love craft fairs, where you can unique pieces of jewelry. And my scarves? I’m embarrassed to say that Michaels (yes, the craft store), H&M, Target, and street vendors are a huge part of my collections. I was also lucky enough to go to Egypt four years ago, and I got a lot of wonderful scarves there. And Nordstrom Rack is a great place to find treasures.
My best piece of advice for accessories—if you are drawn to something, and can afford it, don’t hesitate. Get it. I found a necklace a couple of years ago, and I hesitated. Happily, my mother was with me, and said that if anyone could pull it off, I could. So I bought it, and always get compliments. I’ve been known to work an entire outfit around a pair of earrings, but it is always worth it.
Imagine the fun I’ll have dressing up as Julianne Holmes to go out and sign books about clocks. The mind reels!
HALLIE: Julie, we all can't wait to read your first (published) book.
Accessories, accessories? Where do you get your favorites?