Author of the Irish Fortune Series
One of the best parts of interviewing published authors, is that I am meeting some fascinating people from all over the world. Also, I’m getting to talk to people who write in different genres than I’m used to reading, which is always a great way to expand the mind. Take Juliane Weber, for example. She is a historical fiction author that will be releasing her second book this fall (2022). She resides in Germany, but has lived in South Africa, too. These are both places that many of us have never been, so imagine the rich material she has for her books! She can take us to faraway places with starkly different cultures and mindsets than we’re used to, and that is always exciting as a reader.
Juliane is a scientist, a mother, and a lover of world history. She is in the middle of her first series, the Irish Fortune series, which is set in 19th century Ireland and tells about some of the challenges people faced in Ireland around the time of the Great Famine. I, for one, know nothing about that piece of history. In fact, so much of what we learn in American classrooms only covers US history. Through historical fiction, we can glean insight into vital times and peoples all over the globe!
Juliane took some time to answer my questions, and I think you’ll be both surprised and enlightened when you learn of her theories on writing, publishing, and why she considers self-publishing her first book to be one of her best decisions.
L.A. Can you introduce yourself to my subscribers, tell them a little about yourself, where you’re from, how long you’ve been writing?
J.W. Thank you for featuring me on your blog today. My name is Juliane Weber and I write historical fiction set in 19th century Ireland. I was born in Germany but spent most of my life in South Africa, before moving back to Germany with my husband and two sons in 2016. We now live in the town of Hamelin, made famous by the story of the Pied Piper.
L.A. Did you have a career before writing? If so, what was it, and at what point did you transition over to writing full-time?
J.W. Before I became a novelist, I was a medical writer, a career I fell into while studying biology at university, when I realized I preferred writing about scientific research to conducting it myself. Although I had thought about writing a novel for many years, I only started writing my first book, Under the Emerald Sky, shortly after we moved to Germany. It turned out to be a great escape from the stress of it all!
L.A. When did you first realize you might be a writer?
J.W. I realized I had a knack for (and love of) writing during my studies. Although the formal scientific writing I was doing at the time was quite different to writing a novel, it nevertheless made me think that I’d like to write a book myself one day.
L.A. How old were you when you wrote the first book?
J.W. I was 35 when I started writing my first book.
L.A. Can you talk a little about your writing process? (Do you write at the same time each day? Where do you do your writing? How long does it take you to complete a book?).
J.W. I try to write mostly in the mornings, when the kids are at school, although I do also write at all hours when I’m particularly inspired. I have recently progressed from sitting with my laptop on the couch to having my own office in which to write, which does make me feel a bit more professional, I must say (although I do still sometimes find myself on the couch). It takes me about two years to finish a book in my series.
I generally let one idea lead to the next and the next, and so on, with the story unfolding along the way.~Juliane Weber
L.A. Do you write with music, or do you need it quiet while you work?
J.W. I like it to be quiet when I write, although there are also times when I’m so immersed in my writing that nothing and no-one can distract me.
L.A. Do you outline your stories before you begin writing them?
J.W. I do not outline my stories before I begin writing and wouldn’t be able to do so if I tried. I don’t write chronologically either and jump back and forth in the manuscript as inspiration comes. I generally let one idea lead to the next and the next, and so on, with the story unfolding along the way.
L.A. Can you tell us about your experience getting a novel published for the first time?
J.W. With the industry being as competitive as it is, I found it difficult to find an agent and eventually decided to self-publish my first book. I made every mistake imaginable, but it was nevertheless the best decision I could have made as it allowed me to finally get on with writing the second book, after having felt quite stuck while the first one lingered unpublished. I have learned a lot since then and have become much more professional in my approach, from the cover design to the marketing, and everything in between.
L.A. What is it like connecting personally with fans on social media and in person? How does that touch your life as a woman and a writer?
J.W. It’s a wonderful thing having a complete stranger tell me that they loved my book. It makes all the months of hard work worthwhile! On a personal level, positive feedback inspires me to continue this journey, even on days when I feel like giving up.
So many so-called writing rules are very much dependent on individual style and personal preference (of the writer and the reader) and none of them can guarantee the success of your book.~Juliane Weber
L.A. How do you handle negative reviews and general criticism of your writing?
J.W. It’s a challenge to deal with negative reviews and criticism, as so much time and effort goes into writing and publishing a book. Most criticism also tends to be entirely subjective and not at all a reflection of the writer or the quality of the work as such. I try to remind myself that no book is going to appeal to everyone and focus on the positive feedback instead (although this can be difficult at times!). If something in particular about the story or my writing style is criticized, I try to think about it objectively to determine whether there is anything in that criticism I can use to improve my writing in the future, and then I try to ignore the rest.
L.A. What advice would you give to someone who has writing ability, but is stuck in fear and can’t go the distance with a full-length manuscript?
J.W. Write for yourself first. Forget about writing rules, reading trends, what will happen when you’ve finished your manuscript, whether anyone will ever read (and like) your book and everything else, and just write the story that’s inside of you. After that, take one step at a time, always remembering the old saying: nothing ventured, nothing gained. It’s not always an easy journey, but you’ll never know what you might have achieved if you never finish that novel in the first place.
As far as writing advice is concerned, pick that which works for you. For example, if you like to write with an outline and in chronological order, do it; if you don’t, don’t. So many so-called writing rules are very much dependent on individual style and personal preference (of the writer and the reader) and none of them can guarantee the success of your book. There is no single way of writing a good book, so do what works for you!
L.A. What is the one thing that surprised you regarding becoming a published novelist?
J.W. What surprised me is just how difficult it is to break into the industry. With so many books out there, it can be a lot of hard work to get anyone to notice you (and your book)!
L.A. Who are your favorite authors? (This can include who inspired you in the early days, all the way up to what you’re currently reading).
J.W. My favorite author is Diana Gabaldon of Outlander fame. I’ve probably read everything she’s ever written. It was in large part her story that inspired me to try my hand at writing a novel myself, as she’s also a scientist turned novelist.
L.A. What are you currently working on?
J.W. I’ve just completed the second book in my Irish Fortune Series, which is called Beneath the Darkening Clouds and will be released in autumn 2022. The book continues where Under the Emerald Sky left off, telling the story of Englishman Quinton Williams and Irishwoman Alannah O’Neill as they navigate the challenges of 19th century Ireland around the time of the Great Famine. Romance, adventure and Irish folklore are intertwined with the more serious historical content of an era that had a huge impact on the course of Irish history.
Did you know? US President Joe Biden is the descendant of Irish emigrants, who fled to the USA from Ireland to escape the devastating effects of the Great Famine. So, too, was President John F. Kennedy.
Having completed Book 2, I will soon be starting work on Book 3, for which I already have several ideas. But no outline, of course! 🙂
Thank you so much, Juliane Weber, for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me about your work, your writing habits, and your experiences in publishing. We wish you the best in your future writing endeavors, and look forward to seeing what else you have in store for us!