Today we’re celebrating the release of
Julie L. Cannon’s novel Twang from
Abingdon Press, about twenty-three-year old Jennifer Clodfelter’s journey from
rags to riches as she pursues her dream of becoming a country singer in
Nashville. Julie is the author of the award-winning Homegrown series, published by Simon & Schuster, described as
“Southern-fried soul food.” Her novel, I’ll
Be Home for Christmas made the CBA Bestseller Lit as well as Nielsen’s Top
50 Inspirational Titles. Her next novel, Scarlett
Says, will hit the shelves in October 2013. Prolific Julie lives in
Watkinsville, Georgia, and when she isn’t tending her tomato patch, she can be
found listening to some great country music or teaching memoir-writing
workshops. Recently she took some time out from her busy life to answer some
us about Twang and the inspiration
Conway Twitty said, “A good country
song takes a page out of somebody’s life and puts it to music.” I’m a big
country music fan and it seems every article I read from a star’s perspective
has some bit about how their great songs spring from tortured times in their
past. There’s a saying that you can’t be happy and write good songs. Then, I
thought about how, for me, my writing is cathartic, and that is when I decided
to write about a wounded girl named Jennifer Clodfelter, with a childhood
straight from hell, who runs off to Nashville to sing and escape her past. But
her manager convinces her to dig up those old bones and write hit songs from
them. Ultimately, Twang is about how
cathartic art is. My prayer is that this novel shows how the seemingly
unredeemable things in life can be used for good. Fellow author Walt Larimore (Hazel Creek and Sugar Fork) says – “Twang is powerful and moving . . . with
profound insights into finding grace, even beauty in the ugliest memories and
are your current favorite country music artists? And is there anyone in
particular who Jennifer is based on?
My current favorites are Alison Krauss and Josh
Turner. But I feel as guilty saying this as I would naming any of my three
children if someone were to ask: Which is your favorite child? I've got dozens
of country music stars who are my favorites at different times for different
reasons - from Glenn Campbell to Tanya Tucker.
As for Jenny, she was inspired by Taylor Swift and Loretta
Lynn. I borrowed Taylor Swift's intensity and Loretta Lynn's rags-to-riches
book(s) on craft have inspired you most throughout your writing career?
Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray, which relies heavily on
dissecting one of my favorite novels, Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist to guide a fledgling writer in sculpting a
story. Next, the Writer’s Digest Novel
Writing Workshop (published 1996) which I poured over for years, and most recently,
Donald Maass’s Writing The Breakout Novel.
are usually big readers too. How do you make time for reading and what are you
reading at the moment?
I rarely watch TV, and I steal time away from
things like cleaning the house and cooking nutritional (time consuming) meals
for my family. Here’s my motto: ‘A Tidy House is the Sign of a Misspent Life.’ Right
now I’m reading Mia Farrow’s memoir, What
Falls Away and Save Me From Myself
by Brian “Head” Welch, former lead guitarist of Korn, and I just finished The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve.
do you approach writing a novel? Do an outline of the plot, start with a
I’m the belt-and-suspender type, and so I
outline extensively. In The Weekend
Novelist mentioned above, there’s an extensive examination of plotting
which includes Aristotle’s Incline; a diagram/arrangement of the parts of your
novel from the opening scene to the wrap up. I tape three pieces of blank paper
together to make one long strip and then I hand-draw this ascending plotline
and obsessively fill in each act and plot point and the catharsis, along with
symbols and lists of scenes. Then, I write a long and detailed synopsis in the
your writing routine and schedule.
I’m a lark married to an owl, and so, like
today, I can hop out of bed while it’s still dark and get my 1,000-word minimum
for the day done before noon, sometimes before my beloved even awakes! Then I
try to handle stuff like marketing that uses another part of my brain. I’m not
much good for writing or hawking my wares after 8 PM.
do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love, love, love reading, listening to music,
and hanging out with my family and friends.
is your advice for those who are looking to get their novel published?
Don’t be afraid to murder your darlings. By
that, I mean to really LISTEN to criticisms from your writer’s group, from
editors/publishing houses or agents who have rejected your work. When you do
hear criticism, don’t get discouraged. Get right back up on that horse! Never
stop studying your craft, read constantly, and write unceasingly.
next for you?
Says is coming out in October of 2013. It’s about a
woman in her 30’s who suffers from extreme social anxiety. Here’s the elevator
pitch: “Lonely, yet nervous in social situations, Atlantan Joan Meeler is the
secret hostess of a wildly popular blog called Scarlett Says. She falls in virtual
love, gets married on-line and enjoys much conjugal bliss in the virtual
boudoir. When her husband decides to travel from Manhattan to Atlanta for the
75th anniversary of the film Gone
With the Wind, Joan prays she can channel enough of her heroine’s
feistiness to be able to come out from behind the keyboard.” It’s a story about
the transforming power of words, both good and bad, and those vulnerabilities
that hold us back from our potential.
You can visit Julie at her website
HERE, connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at @JulieLCannon.
Here’s hoping you go triple platinum with Twang,