Wednesday, February 7, 2018

IWSG & Author Interview with Julie Dill

For new visitors, IWSG Day is a monthly event where authors in the blogosphere can share about insecurities...or in my case sometimes, just  thoughts on various subjects. Today's IWSG question is: What do you love about the genre you write in most often? Well, I can dish on what I love about any genre I write in. Since I'm working on a YA food novel right now, I will say that writing or reading about food allows me to think about something I enjoy doing, which is eating good food. Nom nom nom! 

Back in December, I shared here that I would like to profile authors here regularly again. 

For my first author interview of this year, I bring to you Julie Dill, an Oklahoma City resident whose debut young adult novel BLUFF (Amberjack Publishing) was released in 2017. You can follow Julie on Twitter @JulieDillOKC.

In BLUFF, 17-year-old Chelsea struggles with managing her cheer team expenses and her financially struggling household consisting of just herself and her single dad. Secretly, Chelsea assumes a new name and takes up playing poker at a local casino. Luck is on her side and a series of big cash wins at the table motivates Chelsea to keep returning. Things get challenging when sparks fly between Chelsea and a young pit boss. The pit boss doesn’t know that she’s an underage gambler. To keep up with her new hobby, Chelsea has to keep lying to those around her, and then things start to get out of hand...

What inspired you to write BLUFF? It’s weird how a character evolves. I really tried to create a unique character- a high school girl who wasn’t the norm. My personal life, as a teenager, could not have been more opposite than Chelsea’s so I really had to get outside of what I knew and what I was comfortable with to get in Chelsea’s head. I was reflecting on my first visit into a poker room, and in the early nineties there were hardly any women at all. Even today, you can still walk by a poker room and notice that the majority of the players are men. I think when you’re developing a character it’s important to raise the stakes as much as possible (pun intended). With BLUFF, I really wanted something different and that wasn’t already “out there.”

While BLUFF can be regarded as an “issues” story about a girl’s oncoming gambling addiction, I also considered this a fantasy fulfillment story. It was fascinating to observe the life of a teen who masquerades as a grown-up with some success. And don’t many teens wish they were adults? What would you say this story is about? Initially, it was Chelsea's attempt to try to get some quick cash. But long term, it became escapism for her. She could enter this world where she didn’t have to think about all of her responsibilities and just escape. My hope is that readers will recognize how easy an addiction can form.

Though I was often concerned for Chelsea’s safety and didn’t necessarily agree with her choices, I found myself looking forward to seeing what she’d do next. Tell me more about the character development for Chelsea.
Life is never easy for Chelsea, and that's what gives her some grit. She manages. She doesn’t have a choice. I think down deep Chelsea is longing for some maternal guidance, and that’s why I wanted her to have Ms. Stella. Overall, I view Chelsea as a good kid making bad choices, and that informed a lot of my decisions.

What books/authors did you enjoy reading when you were younger? THE BOXCAR CHILDREN was always my favorite. I still have the copy from my childhood with my name printed in the front. Bill Wallace (A DOG CALLED KITTY) visited my school when I was in fourth grade. I'll never forget it. I still have his book, too!

Tell me about the sequel for BLUFF. Will readers get to meet Chelsea’s mom? I continue to work on the sequel. Ms. Stella is my favorite character, and readers will get to spend a lot more time with her.