Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Josie A. Okuly Spotlight

Josie A. Okuly is a self-professed explorer of imaginary worlds, but she does more than explore them. She populates them with complex characters whose stories of redemption she tells in books like A Mermaid in Paradise (a 2006 Ecataromance Reviewer's Choice Award Nominee), Trimagon Hall, and Pacific Breeze Hotel. Her work has been described as "spectacular," "wonderful," and "filled with suspense." I know you're filled with suspense about her interview, so without further ado, here it is!

Name three novels that left you with lasting impressions.

Menfreya in the Morning by Victoria Holt, Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.

If one of your books was made into a movie, who would play the lead characters?

If my historical romance Castle of Secrets was made into a movie, Sean Bean would play Ronan Tremayne and Sophie Marceau would be Syriana McCourt. If Trimagon Hall was made into a movie, it would star Clive Owen and Kate Winslet.

Do you have a core theme that appears in all your books?

I hadn't really thought about it, but now I see that redemption is the central theme in most of my books. Ronan in Castle of Secrets struggles with the guilt he feels because he couldn't save his best friend's life during the war. Devlin in A Mermaid in Paradise still carries the guilt about his alcoholism, and all the people he's hurt. In my new work-in-progress, two of the characters are tortured by inner demons. Desmond lives with the stigma of being labeled a coward, and his best friend's conscience torments him because of the way he's treated women all his life. I enjoy it when my characters find true love, happiness, and redemption at the end of the story.

How important do you think it is that a writer read? Do you get enough time to read?

I wish each day was about a hundred hours long because I would love more time to read! I read so much when I should be writing. I can't help it because reading has always been my favorite thing in the world. Reading literary masterpieces has taught me so much about writing, but I believe reading mediocre books has taught me even more about what not to do.

One of your works-in-progress is Goodbye Ugly Duckling, in which the heroine transforms herself into a "beautiful swan" with the help of plastic surgery. What physical characteristic of your own would you change if you could?

Where do I start? LOL! Truthfully, the first thing I'd do is try for fuller lips. I love that pouty lip look. If I had the money, I'd then do a complete overhaul on face and body from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.

What’s your favorite possession?

He isn't a possession but my son is the dearest, most precious thing in my life. As far as material things, I have a storybook my father bought me when I was nine years old. Sometimes I take it out and flip through the pages. I wrote messy notes in the margins and colored the characters with crayons. I never once colored between the lines, and I like to remind myself that it's okay to express myself creatively just as I did in childhood.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I used to be incredibly spur-of-the-moment when I made decisions. After high school, I wanted to enjoy myself before starting college. I quit my job and bought a ticket to Seattle so I could visit relatives. However, I forgot to buy a round-trip ticket. I flew there in the middle of a violent thunderstorm and the plane had to make an emergency landing. By the time I got to my uncle's door, I was dizzy and vomiting. I'm sure he thought I was on drugs! After spending the summer with my relatives and blowing all my money, I told my uncle I'd hitchhike back home. He asked me if I was completely insane. (I guess I was at that age.) Long story short, I borrowed the money and flew home to start school.

Have you ever cried while writing an emotional scene?

Yes. Some things hit very close to home, and I can't help but cry when my characters suffer. I have a novel that I've put away because I couldn't finish it. It's about a homeless teenager and her struggles to educate herself and find a happier life. I cried and cried as I wrote it. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer.

Tell me about the work-in-progress that you’re most excited about.

I've recently started work on a cozy mystery, and I'm thrilled because it's a genre I've never tried before. I personally like the heroine because she's wounded and flawed and just the type of person I'd want as a friend. Despite her flaws, I've given her the characteristics I admire: courage, fierce intelligence, and an ability to laugh at herself and the situation she's found herself in.

The big decision you’re currently wrestling with is...

Whether or not to work less hours so I can have more writing time. Can't really afford it, so I continue to write whenever I can squeeze in the time.

Here's hoping she finds more writing time so we have more books to enjoy! Click on the book titles to buy them: A Mermaid in Paradise, Trimagon Hall, Pacific Breeze Hotel. Or visit her at her website and/or blog.



Blogger Josie said...

Thanks so much for having me here. Enjoyed visiting your pretty site!

8:58 AM  
Blogger Kate Willoughby said...

My pleasure, Josie!

3:31 PM  

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