Novelist, New York Times Bestselling Miss Julia Series
Ms. Ross was so thorough in answering my questions that I felt it was necessary to post them in two parts. Here is the link to Women and Adversity: Ann B. Ross, Part I
https://wp.me/p4szxH-MV. I went to Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC on April 3 to hear her presentation on her recently released Miss Julia Takes the Wheel, the 21st in the series. She exhibited her delightful sense of humor and southern charm, as usual.
JAM: Did new or unique obstacles occur as you wrote each book? ABR: Yes, always with determining the plot for each one. My stories are obviously character driven, not plot driven, so deciding what Miss Julia will do in each one is always a problem for me. What will the major conflict be? What will be the subplots? What will keep a reader’s interest?
My biggest problem, I realized, was that I had limited my stories to a small Southern town where nothing much ever happens so that it’s news when Thurlow Jones gets a haircut. That meant that I had to rely on the personalities of the various characters to generate conflicts interesting enough to keep a reader’s attention, as well as mine. And more and more, I began to depend on revealing the humor in the situations and in Miss Julia’s attitude toward them.
JAM: What obstacle/s do you face now as a writer?
ABR: The fear that readers will have grown tired of Miss Julia. Each of my contracts have required that the novels feature her, so the stories have to revolve around her. (The Etta Mae book was a one-off, which is why Miss Julia is a secondary character in it.)
Each time that I’ve begun a new book, I worry that I won’t be able to come up with an interesting conflict——something for her to do. Yet each time, I just begin writing, sometimes with dialogue between Julia and Lillian or Julia and someone else, or I begin with her thoughts and gradually something begins to happen——someone new may ring the doorbell, a telephone call may bring news, or Julia’s worries may begin to come true.
Something always happens that will lead to something else——at least, that’s the way the books have always come about. But, of course, I am working on the next Miss Julia book (for 2020), and I worry that maybe this will be the time when nothing happens.
JAM: You can add anything you believe is pertinent.
ABR: For writers working on their first book: If your story doesn’t fully engage you, it won’t engage a reader.
May 9 | Nina Amir, Bestselling author of 18 books, including How to Blog a Book