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Author Showcase

Fall 2008 Featured Author Julia Rose Martinez

RT: Your first published book, The Gift Keepers, is a story about two cousins and their guardian angel. Together, they explore Heaven so the girls can better understand the role angels play in our lives. The kids are fictionalized characters, all with your grandchildren’s names. How excited were they to be part of the story?

Julia Rose: Yes, you are right. The characters are fictional, but the actual personalities of each of my grandchildren played a big part in making the story so much fun to write. They were absolutely thrilled and are my biggest fans. I would love for The Gift Keepers to be a bestseller someday, but if it never happens, the fact that they will always have a part of me in everything I write is worth more than money. If you had the pleasure of knowing them, you would understand that their personalities in the book are identical to their personalities in real life. When I first started writing The Gift Keepers, I had decided to make each of them three to four years older to fit the storyline of my book. That made Jessie and Rebecca only three to four-years-old in the beginning. They were pretty young and didn’t quite understand that although much of what I wrote was taken from actual events in our lives, so much more was my imagination. I remember sitting with Jessie to read a chapter about that involved her character, and she told me quite emphatically “Grammy, I never said that to you!” Then explained how writing works! I have been to all of their classrooms at one time or another, and it doesn’t matter if it is the little ones or the older ones, they sit glued to my side during the entire event. They are proud of me as I am of them.

RT: How did this story come to you? Did you share your ideas with your grandkids as you were writing, or did you surprise them once the book was finished?

Julia Rose: It wasn’t long after I decided to get back into writing full-time that writing a book about angels became our obsession. My niece Suzanne had done a lot of research and study about angels, so we had decided to look for a good angel book for all of the kids for Christmas that year. We went to almost every bookstore in the area looking for just the right one. We found a few, but the contents were very limited, so we went home empty handed. I knew what I was looking for: I wanted a book that would take you on a journey into a fictional world that had a foundation of real truth. Suzanne called me later that evening and said “I’ve been sitting here meditating and a huge thunderbolt hit me and I realized that we couldn’t find exactly the book that we wanted because it wasn’t out there, you have to write it!” With her vast knowledge and my huge imagination, the series began.

My kids and grandchildren were a part of the writing of the book every step of the way. They would call me to ask where I was and wondered if I happened to be writing about them that day. The day I put the finished book in each of their hands, they could hardly wait to read the parts about themselves. One other thing that made me so happy was that while writing The Gift Keepers, we found ourselves discussing angels and heaven and what their thoughts were on the subject. It opened up a whole new avenue of thoughts and ideas.

RT: Your website, www.twinheartseries.com, suggests that you have a series planned for this book. Do you have other adventures planned for Rebecca and Jessie? Or do you envision other grandchildren taking center stage?

Julia Rose: Yes, the Twin Heart Series is meant to be ongoing. I left the ending of The Gift Keepers wide open for the reader to believe whatever they wanted. For someone w ho believes in the angel realm, the book will have more of a spiritual meaning to them. For others, the sheer fantasy of the series will take them to a whole new genre of imagination. I am almost finished with book two, but much to the dismay of my grandsons, Jessie and Rebecca will continue to be the heroes. They will be normal children by day and super angels (keepers of the gift) by night, by fighting the good cause and helping a wounded world heal.

My other grandchildren will take center stage, but in other stories. I am writing two books simultaneously. I am working on the sequel to The Gift Keepers and am also writing a picture book that has no connection to the Twin Heart Series. Jacob is the star of Quigley Please Get Back in Line! It is a picture book about a quail family. His other siblings will play a featured role. My illustrator is very excited about this one.

RT: Do the kids have ideas about what should happen next?

Julia Rose: Yes! They tell me about things that have happened to them that they think would be great in a story. It is really quite helpful! Every time I see one of their friends, they ask me if they could be in my next book. One little girl asked if she could be an angel in the next one, and I fit her in. Her name was perfect: Angel Amber.

RT: If you had only one sentence to describe what you hope children take away from the story, what would it be?

Julia Rose: Never lose your faith or your imagination, because dreams can come true!

RT: Although this is your first published book, you aren’t a new writer. You have authored poems and short stories, too. What inspired you to change genres and write a full-length novel?

Julia Rose: My gosh! I have been writing stories, poems, and skits since I was a child. If I had a dime for every one of those I would be rich! Even writing a full-length novel wasn’t new. The new part was having faith in myself and losing my fear of rejection. Maybe the inspiration to change genres was inside me all the time. Timing is everything and my time is at hand!

RT: On your website you say that you believe in the saying “write what you know.” How much research goes into pulling together the stories for the Twin Hearts series? Do you feel you are truer to the research or more liberal, i.e., used your poetic license?

Julia Rose: Wow! That is a great question. Suzanne researched for months. As a student of the angel realm, she had numerous contacts to go to for information. I was very fortunate to have her by my side. W both were very true to the research, but when the time came to use my poetic license, I used it quite liberally. I have to admit that I was quite challenged by the fact that I had to take her research and use it correctly in my fantasies. I had a wonderful time with that challenge.

RT: Are/Were there other children’s books about angels that you enjoyed reading with your children or grandchildren?

Julia Rose: The Gift Keepers came about because I couldn’t find what I was looking for. My idea was not to preach to children or adults about angels and heaven but to get my point across in a story. The only book I can think of that I loved as a child was about a baby angel (cherub) that fell down to earth and thought he was a child. My mother used to read it to me, but for the life of me I cannot remember the name.

RT: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Julia Rose: Yes, I would like to add that I am thrilled to be a part of The Reading Tub®. I am looking forward to adding book after book to your list of good reading for children. I thank you and all your efforts towards the literacy of children.

Website: http://www.twinheartseries.com


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