Julie Weston – Letting my imagination run free

Julie Weston

Julie Weston’s books include the three Nellie Burns and Moonshine Mysteries:

  • Moonshadows
  • Basque Moon
  • Moonscape

She’s also written a memoir, The Good Times Are All Gone Now: Life, Death and Rebirth in an Idaho Mining Town.

Her most recent project is a coffee table book, the stunningly beautiful The Magical Universe of the Ancients: A Desert Journal, a co-creation with photographer Gerry Morrison.

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I like to brew a hot cup of tea and then sit down to write. I often write in a lined spiral notebook with a pencil. Then I transfer that writing to my computer, usually editing as I go along. Once I get to the computer, however, I first read whatever I worked on during the previous day to set the scene for my new writing. When I write in pencil in a notebook, I am often perched on a window seat in our home. My computer/laptop is in my office in a sort of mezzanine above our kitchen. I have no set time to write, but usually in the afternoon for several hours.

What do you do when you hit a wall in your writing?

If I hit a wall, and I do, I leave my computer. Sometimes, I take a walk on a road near our house, surrounded by sagebrush and grasses. Sometimes, I grab a pencil and notebook and retreat to my window seat. Or I stop trying for the day and pick up a book I am reading and simply read for an hour or two.

The eternal question: Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter”?

I am a pantser.

What’s the last book that made you go “wow!”?

Julie Weston

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

What book or author do you often find yourself recommending, and why?

For mysteries, I recommend books by Louise Penny, Jaqueline Winspear, Marvin Walker, and James Benn. I also enjoy any of Craig Childs’s books; my favorite is House of Rain. And any Terry Tempest Williams books.

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

It’s a long list — nearly all on my bedside stand:

  • Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald
  • The Way to the Salt March, a John Hay Reader
  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
  • Walking the High Desert by Ellen Waterston
  • Daemon Voices by Phillip Pullman
  • Working the Wilderness by John McCarthy
  • Why I Read by Wendy Lesser
  • Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
  • A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How to Do by Pete Fromm
  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
  • Rage by Bob Woodward

What advice do you have for readers?

Read anything and everything. Make reading a priority in your life. You will learn about amazing things and characters, and most of all, you will learn empathy.

What author, past or present, would you wish to have a long conversation with?

Terry Tempest Williams or Louise Penny

What’s the first book you remember reading on your own?

The Burgess books, which featured animals as characters

What books and/or authors have most influenced you as an author?

The Nancy Drew mysteries, Chaim Potok for the exquisite detail, Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Brown (she taught several writing classes I attended), Carolyn See, Craig Lesley, Robert Michael Pyle, and Craig Childs.

Books that influenced me include:

  • Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird
  • Carol Bly’s The Passionate, Accurate Story
  • Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction
  • Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams

What do you most enjoy about being a writer?

I enjoy writing nonfiction because I love the research involved, delving into the past, spending time outdoors observing, and finding just the right word and detail. I enjoy fiction because it takes me into different worlds and characters and lets my imagination run free.

What do you least enjoy about being a writer?


What would you tell a new writer?

Read, read, read about anything and everything. Building up your fund of knowledge gives you a wider range in your writing and improves your writing. Persevere. Attend writing workshops to meet other writers. Join a writing group.

What might people be surprised to know about you?

I practiced law in Seattle for over 30 years. I ski-raced as a teenager and continue to ski now in my 70s.

Thanks to author Julie Weston for participating in our Idaho Author Interview series. If you’re interested, contact the IWU website editor.

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