I have two lives.

1. My Make-Believe, Head-in-the-Clouds, Imaginary Life.

This is the life that's fueled by the imagination. The life that takes me on journeys to different times and places, lets me be whoever and whatever I want to be, leads me to discoveries of unexpected wonders and delights. A life with magic and mystery and sometimes, danger — like explosions, avalanches and icebergs. But no matter what it throws me into, it gets me out without a scratch.

2. My Down-to-Earth, Eat-Food-Drink-Water Real Life.

This is the life that's full of facts.

Like these ones —

Born: November 9, 5:20 a.m. in Victoria, B.C.

Family: Mom, Dad, one brother (3 years younger), two sets of grand-parents, six aunts and uncles, umpteen cousins.

Early Years

Pets: two cocker spaniels (one golden, one black), 8 puppies (one summer), a canary that sang when I played the piano, a pretend horse, and a Very Nasty Cat.

Summers: Play Time and Holiday Time at our cottage on the Sooke Basin — exploring islands, beaches and woods, fishing, rowing, playing make-believes, goofing around, telling stories. And reading — on rainy days, sunny days, by the fire, on the beach, in the rowboat, in the tree fort and in bed.

Fall, Winter and Spring: Work Time (but not all the time) — going to school, to the library and to piano lessons, putting on plays and variety shows, riding my bike, reading and more reading, making up stories and typing them on my mum's typewriter. My first words in print! On yellow typewriting paper with red and black ink (the only choices on a typewriter ribbon). My parents and teachers said maybe I'd be a writer one day. I thought, Good idea! A little dream took hold.

Later Years

Graduated from the University of Victoria with a teaching certificate and a BA in French and English. Spent a year teaching in France and travelling all over Europe and Britain. Kept a journal, scribbled thoughts, rants, lists, ideas, poems, French recipes, travel plans, song lyrics and hundreds of letters home.

After that

Taught elementary school — Grades 3 to 5, French, Music, Drama and everything else. Wrote and directed plays for the Drama Club, led a Ukulele Club. Acted in community theatre productions, helped my husband build our house, raised chickens, played the piano, walked the dog, dreamed that one day I'd be a writer when I had the time, when I came up with an idea, when I got older

 

When I Got Older

An idea! A story called The Day Kenny Wore My Boots Home by Mistake. Wrote it in one night, sent it to twelve different publishers and received twelve REJECTIONS. And buckets of discouragement.


Ten Years Later

Turned forty. Time to stop dreaming about being a writer and do something. Seriously. Resolved NOT to get discouraged, even if I had to paper my walls with rejections. So! Took six months off teaching, wrote a story, sent it to a publisher (not one of the Twelve) and went to China.

Success! Signed a contract for The Sand Sifter, published in 1990. Signed contracts that same year for four new books with three different publishers — A Morning to Polish and Keep, My Grandfather Loved the Stars, The Dragon's Pearl and Kate's Castle — each one to be published in 1992. Took a year off teaching to celebrate and to write full time. Never went back.


Author Years

Thirty books later, I'm still leading a double life. Actually, make that a triple. There's my On-the-Road Life — the life that takes me to schools, libraries, conferences and festivals from St. John's, NL, to Inuvik, NT, and everywhere in between. It has also taken me to Dawson City YT where I spent a Fall and Winter as the writer-in-residence at Berton House Writers' Retreat.

My hope is that kids get the same pleasure from reading that I had when I was their age. I want them to feel for the characters, travel in time to experience history, get caught up in adventures and go sailing off on flights of their own imagination.


SPARE TIME
Walk time, gym time, yoga time, piano time.
Up time, clowning time, down time, town time.
Family time, friend time,
Party time? Anytime.
Reading time, movie time,
Favourite time? Travel time!

Listen to Julie's interview on CBC as she talks about her start as an author, her writing process, and the inspiration that led to her latest book, Ghosts of the Titanic.

Read an interview with Julie Lawson here.

Click here for a short, printable bio.

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