Julia Phillips Smith
Cate: Woo hoo! Julia is here to help us Celebrate Amore. Julia, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Julia: Cate, this is fun to drop by and celebrate this romantic season with you and your readers.
A special shout-out to my grandmother Viola since today is her birthday!
I grew up in an arts-oriented family, surrounded by musicians, painters, photographers, a filmmaker, a stained-glass artisan and in my generation, writers. As a child I self-identified myself as a writer and a poet, always writing ‘novels’, short stories and poetry. My personal interest in acting and directing led to a film degree, but my husband’s bipolar disorder with intense agoraphobia meant he could only work part time jobs, so I pursued a fulltime day job with benefits and a pension. In the meantime, could I stop myself from creating stories? Of course not. I learned to write novels, which didn’t require a crew, who didn’t need to be fed, and it didn’t matter what the weather was doing or not doing. Always a silver lining!
Cate: Happy birthday to Viola! And it's my birthday too. :) What do you love most about Valentine’s Day?
Julia: I’m a total romantic, through and through. Even glancing at rows of red and pink Valentine’s Day cards in stores makes me happy. I’m a complete sucker for red roses, so the profusion of roses at this time of year just makes my heart smile. I’m also a big fan of Victorian ephemera, so I can’t resist the Victorian valentines that emerge from the 19th century to visit with us in the 21st.
Cate: Do you have a favorite Valentine’s Day memory?
Julia: During my university days, I worked as an usher at a performing arts theatre. For the February ballet season I immersed myself entirely into whatever love story was unfolding onstage that season: Romeo and Juliet, Florimund and Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, Petruchio and Katherina from The Taming of the Shrew, Basilio and Kitri from Don Quixote, Colas and Lise from La Fille Mal Gardee, Danilo and Hanna from The Merry Widow—they usually scheduled the happily-ever-after ballets for the Valentine’s season and left the more dramatic couples like Seigfried and Odette from Swan Lake and Albrecht and Giselle for the fall seasons. Romeo and Juliet are technically too tragic for Valentine’s Day, but are so associated with the ultimate love-struck couple that they made the February winter season by default.
Cate: Do you have any romantic Valentine’s Day traditions?
Julia: Not really. In the course of our twenty-year marriage, one or both of us were often working an evening customer service job on Valentine’s Day. Sometimes it was the fact that my husband’s agoraphobia made staying home a much more appealing option. But sometimes we’ve gone out for a romantic dinner out, and we have restaurant reservations for this year. He’s doing pretty well these days.
Cate: Tell us about your latest release, and where readers can find it online.
Julia: My latest release BOUND BY DRAGONSFYRE actually came out in May of last year, but I’m currently working on book 2 in that series, so it’s a great time to discover the Eighth Dominion.
This is a dark fantasy political intrigue with a strong coming-of-age theme.
Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt?
When Alegreza left, Scorpius stood as the obedient apprentice beside Richolf, suddenly sick to death of suppressing his every desire in order to serve, always serve. Scorpius spun on his heel and made to bolt away from this hideous ache in his chest.
Richolf yanked him to an awkward halt. For a split second, Scorpius nearly threw his master off.
“Oh no, you don’t,” Richolf said, pulling him close.
Scorpius stiffened, looking at the empty bend in the road.
“You are not going to ruin her chance for a good life,” his master said, shaking him slightly.
“Please stop saying that.”
“Are there?” Scorpius dared not look at Richolf now. The fury that built inside him was too wild.
Richolf loosened his grip slightly. “Believe me, Scorpius. If there is anyone who knows how you feel…”
Scorpius couldn’t bear it. He wrenched free, thrusting his arms forward with all of his considerable strength, pinning his master against the cottage.
“Why? Did your master sign Ingerith up? Is that how it’s done?” Scorpius’ anger didn’t soften the stab of regret coiling through his gut.
He shouldn’t treat his master this way. He let Richolf go and took a step back.
Before he could blink, Richolf grabbed hold of him, switching places to slam Scorpius face-first into the stone cottage wall.
“Of all people, Ingerith deserves better than what she’s endured,” Richolf said in the most chilling voice, shoving Scorpius painfully against the cottage.
Scorpius pressed his forehead against the cool stone, breathing deeply to bear the pain.
“I understand how you’re feeling, Scorpius. I have wrestled with those feelings every day, since before I brought you here from the nursery.”
“Just because you’re used to it doesn’t mean it should be this way.”
His master let him go. Turning as quickly as he could, Scorpius kept Richolf squarely in his sights.
“No,” his master said, eyes dark with warning. “It shouldn’t be this way. No one should have left an embarrassing reminder of an unseemly affair at the nursery, either. Why raise you to be a noble if they were going to hand you over to someone like me?”
Darting a glance at the empty bend in the road, Scorpius felt Alegreza’s absence like a severed limb.
“Get inside before I lose what’s left of my temper,” Richolf said.
With heavy steps, Scorpius turned and made his way through the door of the cottage. Everything felt like a nightmare. Nothing made sense anymore.
According to Richolf, he should be grateful that his sweetheart headed for the arms of a noble. Why not? That’s how his master’s lover made her way through life, through this unfair life full of cruelly-used slave girls and abandoned market girls. To the nobles, they were all game hens, anyway, weren’t they? Flapping madly in a doomed bid for life, while the hawks calmly climbed to that sweet spot in midair before diving in for the kill.
Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Julia: A writing exercise at my yearly writers’ retreat almost five years ago gave me the adult character of Scorpius. Then in April of 2010 I stumbled upon an online serialized fiction hub, which I joined. Because I’d already met Scorpius through the writing retreat exercise, and had begun work on his adult storyline, I decided to turn to him in order to begin my serialized tale.
It seemed easiest to go back to Scorpius’ boyhood, as I figured it would help me get to know the adult character even better. I launched the tale, little knowing that by its conclusion, this back story would gather a passionate following who wanted the younger Scorpius to have his own book.
Cate: Very cool! Anything else you’d like to share?
Julia: It’s been fun chatting with you and meeting up with your readers. Hope everyone has a lovely Valentine’s Day!
Award-winning filmmaker and author Julia Phillips Smith lives on Canada’s east coast with her husband and her mom, where the rugged sea and misty forests feed her thirst for gothic tales.
A graduate of Ryerson University’s film program, Julia’s previous writing credits include scripts for radio and television, along with Book 1 of her Dark Ages vampire series.
A longtime blogger, she invites you to visit A Piece of My Mind (http://julia-mindovermatter.blogspot.com/).
Cate: Woot! Julia has a Valentine’s treat for you guys!
Julia: I’m giving away a copy of the winner’s choice—e-format or paperback—of BOUND BY DRAGONSFYRE to one of your commenters, winner to be drawn randomly by the still-popular paper-entries-in-a-basket technique. Good luck!
Cate: Thanks for joining the party, Julia! Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!