Onirik : How did you succeed to get your first book published ?
Julie Cohen : I’d always read Harlequin romances for fun, so when I decided to start writing, it was natural that I’d try to get published with Harlequin. I wrote three full manuscripts, all of them rejected (some more than once). My fourth manuscript (Featured Attraction, published in France as Brulant face-a-face) finalled in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest, which is the world’s biggest contest for unpublished romance writers. A couple months after that, I went out to buy some chocolate for a dinner party and when I came back, there was a message on my phone from a Harlequin senior editor saying she wanted to buy my book. I nearly fainted.
Onirik : Who are you favourite authors ? Do they inspire you for your own books ?
J.C. : I have too many to count ! I love Marian Keyes, Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Rachel Gibson, and Kathy Love (all writing women’s fiction) ; in other genres I love John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood. Because I did my postgraduate degree in Victorian fiction I’m a fan of George Eliot, the Brontes, Thomas Hardy, and Charles Dickens. And because I’m from Maine, I read everything that Stephen King writes. I’m always inspired by what I read, whether by these authors or by others.
Onirik : When you write plots, do you have your own limits or criterias or do you have limits or taboos fixed by the publishing houses ?
J.C. : I’ve been fortunate to be able to write whatever I’ve wanted to, although I always think of the reader’s needs when I plot a story. For a Harlequin romance, the story has to be very focused on the hero and heroine’s romantic relationship ; for my other publishers, I can choose stories that have more characters and slightly odder plots. Obviously I can’t have space aliens coming down in the middle of my realistic romance, but other than that, I let my imagination lead me. My editors always tell me to write what I like, and they’ll rein me back if they need to...they haven’t reined me back yet, though.
Onirik : In driving him wild (la maison des amants), you suggest family misunderstanding. The hero has a heavy past, a father who abandoned his family, the young woman is always in conflict with her own family who doesn’t seem to understand her. The parents/children relationship subject is it something that you’re particularly interested in or is it the human relationship complexity that interests you best ?
J.C. : I don’t intend specifically to explore family relationships, but I always do. I’m interested in how our earliest relationships can form who we become, or reflect the behaviour patterns we take into our other relationships. For some reason, I always write difficult fathers, which is ironic because my father is the greatest. I’m thinking of experimenting with some happy families in my next books, though happy families are less interesting than unhappy ones.
Onirik : I’ve been quite surprised to notice that the writing in your novel does not follow the usual path of romance Harlequin. The double volume helped me compare a classical story and yours. The happy ending is not the usual one ( the conflicts with the parents are not resolved) both heros love each other but they still have doubts, they know that life is not always a fairy tale, the steamy scenes are really steamy (you avoid the usual metaphors). What kind of style are you trying to reach or avoid ?
J.C. : I’m really glad you noticed and liked the ending. I’ve found that as I’ve written more and more, I like endings which are satisfying, but all the questions aren’t completely answered. In Driving Him Wild, I hoped I’d hinted that Nick and his father do reconcile. The important thing, though, was that Nick understood how to handle and overcome his own anger at his father. I don’t know if Zoe will ever have a great relationship with her family, but Nick understands that her family do love her, and his understanding will probably help her in the future. They will both have to work to make their relationship last, but that’s what real relationships are like, aren’t they ?
I write the type of story that appeals to me, in a style that comes naturally. I like a complex conflict, realistic and likeable characters, sexy sex, some humour and a happy, though not necessarily neat, ending. I love traditional romances and have read them all my life, though I do try my best to give my own romances a little twist that interests me.
Onirik : What’s the common point between your heros apart from looking like hot actors like you seem (as I am)so found of ?
J.C. : They all have a sense of humour, they are all gorgeous, and they all have a sense of honour (whether they know it or not). I totally base the way they look on my favourite actors, which gives me an excuse to look at lots of photographs !
Onirik : Like Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Tami Hoag, Janet Dailey, Iris Johansen, Linda Howard, Jayne Ann Krentz, are you trying to make you novels evolve to a new genre (thriller etc) or are you comfortable in the format imposed by the publishing houses ?
J.C. : I love writing short romances for Harlequin, but I also write longer romantic comedies for Headline’s Little Black Dress imprint (the first will be published by Presses de la Cite in France). I think I’ll always write love stories, but I see my stories becoming more and more mainstream, hopefully longer and more complex. I want to be able to explore a range of emotion and experiences.
Onirik : You’ve been published for two years only, do you have a particuliar ambition or do you go where your inspiration leads you ?
J.C. : I haven’t been published for very long, but my eighth novel has just come out so I’ve been working very hard ! I hope I’ll be able to keep on writing the kind of stories I enjoy, and learn more and more about writing to make the stories better. Oh and I wouldn’t mind writing a bestseller, of course.
Onirik : I think that many stories have been told many times over but with different styles. How would you describe yours ?
J.C. : Sexy, funny, and emotional. And there’s often a bird in there somewhere.
Onirik : Do you have spoiler about the next novel which will be published in france ?
J.C. : Presses de la Cite have bought the rights to my novel Spirit Willing, Flesh Weak, although I’m not sure of the exact publication date or the translated title. It’s a romantic comedy that proves the course of true love is never predictable.
It’s the story of Rosie Fox, a fake psychic who accidentally makes a true prediction. She’s catapulted into a media frenzy, led by the gorgeous Harry Blake, a disgraced reporter who has a reputation for exposing frauds. She thinks she can fool him...but is she making a big mistake ?