We have a lot of fantastic debut authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. Today, we’re talking to Julie Murphy. One author, Four questions. Here we go!

You could say I like cats.

You could say I like cats.

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen?

The short version is that I wrote a book and my agent (Molly Jaffa) sold it soon after! But, seeing as I write novels, I’ve never been prone to short storytelling. So here goes: about two years ago, I graduated with my Bachelor’s in political science. I was torn between graduate school and law school when I decided to take a year off to write–something I’d always wanted to do. SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY was the second book I wrote that year and the one that landed me an agent. Last August marked the end of my “Year Off to Write.” As of right now, I don’t have any back-to-school plans, but I hope to go back someday. One of the most well known phrases in publishing is, “Hurry up and wait.” My journey to publication was sort of the antithesis of that and I know just how rare that is. I always like to give the disclaimer that my story is not the norm. My dear friend Jenny once told me it takes two of the following three to get published: luck, persistence, and talent.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book? Any cool details? What inspired you to write it?

Former ballerina, Alice, learns that she’s terminally ill. In response to this news, Alice makes a list of things to do and people to ruin. She enlists the help of her kindhearted childhood friend Harvey. All of Alice’s scores are settled until she goes into remission. SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is about how you go on living after you’ve already learned how to die.

What most people don’t know is that not only is SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY non-linear, but it is also told from both Alice’s and Harvey’s points of view.

I’ve always been obsessed with the ways people die, (How morbid is that?) and last words and meals, but especially with the things we might do in those final moments. I think it’s easy to have this beautiful image of deathwith dignity and honor in our heads, but I think death is such an ugly thing. This is bizarre, I guess, but I remember, from a very young age, being obsessed with prisoners on death row. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of knowing that death was coming inevitably soon. I’m not kidding. In sixth grade, I did a research paper on death row and obsessed over this list of last meals I’d found in one of my books. I was a strange child. And I’m rambling. What I’m trying to say was that the inspiration was always there.

The rest is kind of a funny story. Until recently, I had worked with teens at a public library. At one of our gatherings, the teens and I got into a heated discussion about the zombie apocalypse and where we would all barricade ourselves should we be stranded in the library. This topic quickly evolved into a discussion about all the things that we weren’t allowed to do in a library that we might do if all bets were off. That combined with my weird childhood obsession gave birth to SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY. Am I so weird? Are y’all still reading this?

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

Would it be so shallow of me to say that I can’t wait to see my cover? Ha! I’m in the midst of the editorial process, and it has been so incredible to see where my novel started versus where it’s headed. I’m also scared/excited/nauseated for that moment when readers will (Hopefully!) connect with Alice and Harvey.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

  • As a kid, I wanted to be a chiropractor.
  • I’ve written a screenplay that currently resides beneath my bed. It’s horrible. No, really.
  • I don’t cook, but love to bake.
  • I can’t tell time, but you can stick me in the middle of nowhere and I can tell you North, South, East, and West.
  • I hail from Bridgeport, Connecticut.
  • I have a pretty sizable WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE tattoo. (I also have a Harry Potter tattoo!)
  • I’ve lived in nineteen different residences.
  • In college, I participated in Model Arab League–much like Model U.N., but nerdier.
  • I graduated college with honors, but barely graduated high school.
  • Despite popular belief, I am an introvert at heart.
  • I celebrate Halloween like it’s a sport. (Growing up, we didn’t celebrate Halloween, so I overcompensate now.)
Julie Murphy lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cats who tolerate her. When she’s not writing or trying to catch stray animals, Julie can be found on Twitter or in a library smelling old books and manning the reference desk. SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray) is due out in 2014.

26 thoughts on “Julie Murphy: SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY

  1. AHHHHHH! Julie, I love this. (Did you know that I was also a poly sci major? I studied to be a social studies teacher…No wonder we’re on the same wavelength!)
    Also. I. Can. Not. Wait. to read SIDE EFFECTS. I know it’s going to indie and fresh and voice-y and literate and cool. Just like you. 😀

  2. Julie, I was in Model Arab League too! (For a brief stint, anyway.)

    Love that you were so obsessed with Death Row as a child. I’m starting to see a trend of strange obsessions here on this blog.

    SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is going to have an awesome, awesome cover. I just know it. And everyone in the world will read it.

  3. JUUUUUULLLIEEEEEEEE! How much do I love you? SO MUCH.

    How desperate am I to read SEMV? Like, can’t even stand it.

    I am so happy I smuggled my way into your life, and I’m so excited that your journey is so fabulously a-typical.


  4. I love the premise of the book, and good God, I can relate on the death obsession when younger. I did a whole paper in high school on medieval torture practices, and my teacher couldn’t stomach it.

  5. I can’t wait for Side Effects to be published! I’m going to force a copy into the hands of everyone I know so they can all love Harvey and Alice just as much as I do. So honored to be your critique partner!

  6. I will harangue certain agents for sneaky-peaky ARCs of Side Effects May Vary when they are available. Mark my words, Miss Julie!

    You can identify North, South, East and West because you read the stars? The moss on the trees? You are the reincarnation of Pocahontas? HOW? This is a very valuable skill. Especially post-Apocalypse.

  7. Magellan! Look at you, containing multitudes all over the place. When this book arrives, it is going to ARRIVE, and I can’t wait. I’m such a f(r)an, man. Oh and a heartfelt thank-you for all the good work you and the other fantastic admins do on behalf of Team OneFour!

  8. I was in Cupid’s Blind Speed Dating contest the same time as you, and I remember watching you destroy the competition–it was no shocker when you announced your agent and then your deal so soon thereafter. Can’t wait to read it!

  9. Pingback: Cover Reveal: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy | The In-Between Place

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