If you missed the first part of our Author to Author series, do read Tuesday’s post. We’ve invited Julie Lawson Timmer and Carrie La Seur to interview one another on She Reads this week and they’re talking about being debut authors, attorneys, wives, and mothers. It’s a fascinating look into the lives of first time authors and the way their worlds have changed now that they have published books. Today Carrie La Seur interviews Julie Lawson Timmer about her novel, FIVE DAYS LEFT.
We have a copy of FIVE DAYS LEFT up for grabs today. See the entry form below for details.
Carrie: Hello Julie! I’m enjoying your book but I’m really afraid to find out how it ends. You’ve written about an experience – facing a terminal illness – that’s difficult to get inside of without a fairly unpleasant outcome. How did you research the reality of being Mara, and her decision? Have you had feedback from people living with Huntington’s about your portrayal?
Julie: Hi, Carrie! What fun to do a Q+A with another author! I did a great deal of research about Huntington’s, first reading every book, newspaper article and online resource I could find, and then talking to experts who work with HD patients. It was vital to me to get the details of Mara’s condition accurate. I’ve received feedback from people in the HD community, and so far, it’s been good. As I hoped, they’ve said FIVE DAYS LEFT is a help, both in its realistic portrayal of HD and in its explanation of the disease to readers who might not have been aware of it. Nothing would make me happier than to hear that others in the HD community found the book to be helpful, and that those outside the HD community were inspired by the book to donate to HD research.
Carrie: How has publishing your novel changed your sense of yourself as part of a community of writers? Did you have a writing group or friends who are writers before now?
Julie: One of the best things to have come from writing FIVE DAYS LEFT is the relationships it’s allowed me to form with other writers. I have loved meeting other authors, both through social media and at bookish events. In the early days of writing the book, I went to a writer’s conference and met a group of terrific people, and we have remained close ever since. We have read each other’s chapters and queries and supported each other through times of frustration with our writing, and through successes. The writers in the group live far from Ann Arbor but drove up for the launch anyway, and I can’t adequately express what that meant to me.
Carrie: You make an intriguing choice by including a couple of characters who were adopted from India. For you, is this an important element of the story? How do you think this cultural connection affects their response to tragedy – or does it?
Julie: For me, Mara’s heritage doesn’t impact her response to her diagnosis. It is simply who she is. And this might sound crazy, but I didn’t consciously make Mara Indian, or decide to have her adopt her daughter Lakshmi. When I first conceived of the concept for FIVE DAYS LEFT and started making notes, Mara’s character came to me, almost fully formed. In my mind, I saw her traveling to India with her American husband and Indian parents. I saw them making the trek to an orphanage–the same one Mara had been adopted from herself. It was almost like I was picturing a movie I’d seen before–it was like this trip had happened, and I was simply reporting it.
Destined to be a book club favorite, a heart-wrenching debut about two people who must decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice for love.