Author Julie Weston – Letting my imagination run free

Today we begin a monthly practice on IdahoWritersUpdate.com: an in-depth profile of an Idaho author. Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter so that you’re alerted when a new one hits our website.

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!”?

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?

Plotting

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.

Find Julie Weston online: