Today we’re part of the blog tour for Julia Vanishes, the first book in the Witch’s Child trilogy by Catherine Egan. This new fantasy series is filled with murder, magic, mystery, and betrayal. Fantasy lovers will be hanging on to every page as they become acquainted with Julia and the things she needs to do in order to get by—even if it leaves a mark on her conscience. Even as the line between good and evil seems to become more blurry every day. . . .
Check out our Q&A with Catherine Egan, who answered some of our questions about her debut novel, her writing process, and what she’s working on next:
What inspired you to write Julia Vanishes?
It was pure escapism! Writing stories is something I’ve done for fun since I was a kid, but I think I had more fun with this book than with anything else I’ve ever written – and it was at a time in my life when I really needed some fun.
I really enjoyed all of the magical and paranormal elements. What did you find most challenging when creating the world in Julia Vanishes? And what did you enjoy the most?
I tend to get very elaborate, which is fine in theory, but then I have to figure out how to scale it back and just include the necessary elements so the story isn’t buried in a huge info-dump.
World-building can also feel a lot like assembling a puzzle – but the image changes each time you add a piece. So you’re slowly assembling a complete picture, but the picture is morphing as you go, and it’s immensely satisfying to find a piece that fits perfectly and changes everything. I love taking a scrambled bunch of pieces and a vague idea of what the whole is going to look like, then putting it all together and finding the big picture turning into something quite different from my original vision.
What was your strategy while writing? i.e. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I think I’m some kind of stunningly inefficient combination of pantser and plotter. This is what I do: I make a very detailed outline before I begin, because I can’t write without a map, but then I write something totally different. Since I do feel the need for an outline, I stop my draft to make a new outline more in line with what I’m writing, and then I keep going. Inevitably I stray from that outline as well, so I keep pausing to make new outlines until – I kid you not – I make an outline of my complete draft. That sounds ridiculous, but actually it’s fairly useful to have the outline when it comes to revising.
As a debut author, what has surprised you the most about the process of publishing Julia Vanishes? Is there a moment that stands out to you as most special or enjoyable?
I was surprised at how long before publication the book is pretty much done, from my end at least! I didn’t realize before that ARCs went out so far in advance. My whole experience so far has been completely lovely, but I think the moment of finding out the book had sold was probably the most exciting. I couldn’t – and still can’t – quite get over the amazing fact that I would be paid for doing my favorite thing. It had always seemed like a total pipe dream, and then suddenly it was real life.
If you could have lunch with a character from Julia Vanishes, who would it be and why?
A very different question from who was the most fun to write! If it comes to sharing an actual meal and an hour or so of conversation, I might choose Professor Baranyi. He’s brilliant and unconventional and has been all over the world, so he would have a lot of great stories. I think Csilla would also be an entertaining lunch companion. She might never open up completely, though it would be fascinating if she did – she guards her secrets pretty closely – but she would definitely be fun and would know where to go and what to order.
What was your favorite book when you were a young adult? Did that influence your own writing at all?
In my early teens I read and reread Dodie Smith’s I Capture The Castle and Jane Gardam’s Bilgewater many times. Both informed my sense of first person voice, I’m sure. But even though I write YA, I find it’s my childhood reading that creeps into my writing more. We’re reading Diana Wynne-Jones to my older son – she was a huge favorite of mine as a kid – and I’m stunned to realize how much of my own stuff is absolutely steeped in hers, the Chrestomanci books in particular.
Can you tell us what is next for you?
I’m still working on the sequels to Julia Vanishes, but waiting not-very-patiently in the wings I’ve got a killer plant that’s trying to take over the world, the ghost of a long-dead sculptor luring kids to his museum, a haunted international school in Tokyo, an island cut off from the rest of the world with dragons nesting in its volcano, fraught family relationships and unrequited love, some first kisses, some last kisses, memory loss and a massive flood. Not all in the same book, of course. I’ve got enough ideas to carry me into my dotage.
About the Author:
CATHERINE EGAN grew up in Vancouver, Canada. Since then, she has lived on a volcanic island in Japan (which erupted while she was there and sent her hurtling straight into the arms of her now-husband), in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Beijing, on an oil rig in the middle of Bohai Bay, then in New Jersey, and now in New Haven, Connecticut. She is currently occupied with writing books and fighting dragon armies with her warrior children. You can read more about her at catherineegan.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ByCatherineEgan.
Thank you to Catherine Egan and Random House for introducing us to the world of Julia Vanishes. Make sure you check it out when it goes on sale June 7, 2016 – for now, you can preorder wherever books are sold!