About Julie Young
Julie is the multi-award nominated author of six books including: A Belief in Providence: A Life of Saint Theodora Guerin, Images of America: Historic Irvington, Eastside Indianapolis: A Brief History, A Brief History of Shelby County, CYO in Indianapolis and Central Indiana, and Famous Faces of WTTV-4.
She is also an award-winning freelance writer whose work has been seen in a number of local, regional and national publications including The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Monthly, ADVANCE for Nurses Magazine, Catholic Teacher Magazine, and Evansville Living. She is the featured columnist for Michiana House & Home Magazine, Glo Magazine for Women and CNN.com. She was a writer with the Associated Press, has been a regular guest on radio programs such as Hoosier History Live!, First Day, and in 2000, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
On to the interview!
We'll start things off with the most cliché (but important!) question: What inspired you to write Fifteen Minutes of Fame?
Truth be told, the idea first occurred to me 25 years ago when I was watching the old cartoon show "Jem and the Holograms" The premise was that this music mogul Jerica Benton had this "truly outrageous" rock star alter ego named Jem. I began wondering if it would ever be possible to pull something like that off in real life. Could you turn one person into something else entirely and how long would it take anyone to figure out they had been duped?
Eventually, when I started really putting the storyline together, I read a lot of rock biographies and watched a lot of "Behind the Music" specials and every time there was a young kid involved it seemed like there was a pattern to their rise and fall, so I knew this character had to have a "crash and burn" kind of moment. Somewhere along the line I watched an old movie called Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn who plays a princess who "runs away" from her life in the palace and anonymously explores the real world. Once I had those three basic things, I knew what the story was about and where I had to take it.
What was it like writing about celebrities?
I found it easy, but then again I am used to writing non-fiction and I read a lot of celebrity autobiographies, so maybe I had an advantage there. Also, because I am a journalist in real life, I do get to interview celebrities from time to time so I have a feel for how they answer things, which issues they don't like to address, what they know they have to talk about, etc...
How did you come up with the name MonAmi?
Well I knew the girl's name was Megan and I knew I wanted one word with an M that sounded exotic- kind of like the Jem/Jerica thing. I thought about the words for "my friend" in French mon ami and thought if they were slammed together and capitalized it would have the melodious ring I was looking for. Kinda weird, huh?
Okay, I have to ask... How do you feel about Hannah Montana? Did you ever watch the show? Did it have anything to do with the writing process for Fifteen Minutes of Fame? (I say this as a former Hannah Montana fan. I even dressed up as her for Halloween in 5th grade. Hannah Montana is very important to me.)
Here's what's interesting…I had this idea LONG before Hannah Montana came out, so when it did I honestly wondered how Disney zapped it out of my head! ha ha! Seriously, I saw the premise and said "that sounds eerily familiar" and I wondered if it was a good or bad thing to write something with the same kind of storyline. For a while I even debated about EVER letting the book see the light of day! I'll let you in on a little secret though, since you are a Hannah fan, one of the early drafts of the book had a scene in which MonAmi stumbled onto the Hannah Montana show in her hotel room and freaked out thinking it was about her. Not knowing when it would be published, I thought, "let's just deal with the elephant in the room!" Later on when I was refining it, I decided that I didn't need the scene, especially after the show's run was over...In the end I had to contend myself with the fact that stories of mistaken identity and dual personas go back a LOT farther than Hannah Montana or Jem and the Holograms…Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Prince and the Pauper, Freaky , Twelfth Night, etc…there are no new plots under the sun.
Do you have a favorite character in Fifteen Minutes of Fame?
MonAmi of course, because she is somewhat based on myself. I have been performing since I was three. I was at Elvis' last concert when I was 5 (no, I'm not kidding), I dreamed of being "bigger than the Beatles" growing up and I literally hoped that one day some guy would knock on the door and say "Kid, we're going to make you into a star!" While she is a composite of about 10 different celebrities, at her core…she is me. I grew up where she grew up, her parents are my parents, things happened in my life that forced me to grow up quickly…I completely understand how surreal her "real life" can be at times.
Are any of the characters inspired by or based off of people you know in real life?
LOL yes…though I don't know whether or not I should admit to that. Three young ladies (aside from myself) inspired MonAmi. One had her first name, the other her last and one was a ridiculously talented singer who was given an amazing opportunity to study music at a fine arts school and who is currently training in Opera at college. Denim was very much based on someone in real life. MonAmi's parents and teacher were all based on real people and there are several "easter eggs" in the book that people locally will recognize as being real businesses and landmarks.
Oh it's all over the place! Anyone who has been serious about performing at a young age has delusions of grandeur and it was great fun to explore those feelings again. I was in bands with a lot of guys and sometimes it is hard to be the "odd girl out" so that isolation MonAmi feels is very real. Playing live on a regular basis can be exhausting (even when you love it.) So yes, there is a lot of that in the book. Also, one thing that is interesting…people ask me what's it like to go from playing music to writing. I often tell them, "It's the same business, it just looks different." I still feel the pressure to bring out a product people will like. I still have to be "on" for the public. I still feel isolated when I am on a tight deadline and have no life outside of my office. It's still amazingly cool when people line up to by my books and ask me to sign them…LOL I never thought about it when I started being an author, but as it turned out, in a way, as an author, I got to be the little rock star I always wanted to be!
Did you write all the song lyrics in Fifteen Minutes of Fame?
Every single one of them. If they suck, I apologize…it's very hard to go from poetry to prose and back again AND make the lyrics kind of fit the plotline. LOL
Besides writing, what are some of your interests/hobbies?
Hobbies…how do those go again? LOL Let's see…last year I finished my master's program so all of my spare time was spent doing homework, but I do love to read, go to movies, I play and follow tennis, I like to garden and run. To de-stress I cross stitch usually making my own patterns. (I have been working on a series of favorite book covers) and playing guitar.
What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?
I fell in love with the written word when I read "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" by Judy Blume. I grew up on Betty Miles, Ellen Conford, Paula Danziger (your readers are probably too young to remember any of these people!) and eventually grew into Danielle Steele (I felt so "grown up" when I started reading her.) I loved the Harry Potter series and consider that to be the best thing that has come out of Children's Literature since the Little House books or something of that kind of "classic status." I usually buy anything by Emily Giffin (and I did meet her two years ago) and I really like Jen Lancaster, Han Nolan and Sherri Woods Emmons.
Well let's start with the one's I've met/interviewed: Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, Pope Benedict XVI (yes, that's true as well) Gene Simmons of KISS, Dick Clark, Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, Peter Davison (Doctor Who), Ivan Lendl, Victoria Azarenka, John McEnroe
People who I haven't met: Jon Bon Jovi, Tom Hanks, anyone from Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, Dolly Parton (I think she would be so down to earth and funny) and…I'm sure if I listed them all, we would be here all day! LOL
Describe Fifteen Minutes of Fame in five words or less.
"Hannah Montana meets Roman Holiday."
Thanks for the awesome answers, Julie!
And now...the giveaway!
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And now...the giveaway!
Enter to win an official FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME tour pack including:
swag from MonAmi's favorite artist
MP3 file of new music from a FMOF supporting artist
a Rafflecopter giveaway