Julia Keanini is the author off the Skinniness is Next to Goddessness? series of Young Adult fiction. Her books are Lacey’s Story, Anna’s Story, Jamie’s Story, and Tina’s Story with more on the way. She writes about girls who deal with what life throws at them and always about love, cause she LOVES love.
Julia talks about her series, the decision to self-publish, and more in this Author Q&A.
What inspired you to write the “Skinniness is Next to Goddessness?” series?
I had an eating disorder in high school and didn’t even know it. As crazy as that sounds, my disorder couldn’t be put in either of the anorexic nor bulimic camps (I cut down my calories to 200-300 a day). The more I spoke to people, the more I saw I wasn’t completely weird in my issues with food. So I set out to write my series. I wanted to write a brighter twist on a dark subject, I wanted to entertain, and most of all I wanted to let people know they aren’t alone.
What was your favorite part of writing this series? The greatest challenge?
I think my favorite part and greatest challenge are one in the same. I LOVE getting to know my characters. They are all so different and they demand their stories be told a certain way. And although the characters are awesome, it is sometimes pretty difficult to stay true to each voice. To tell their story in the right way. I’ve been known to throw away hundreds of pages when a characters voice isn’t being heard in the right way.
How are you dealing with tackling such a serious subject for YA readers?
I kind of spoke on this earlier, but most, if not all of the eating disorder fiction I’ve read is very dark. I’m not discouraging or disparaging this way in any form. I understand that for so many people this darkness is real life, especially with an eating disorder. But I got to wondering, if my life when I had an eating disorder wasn’t dark, I still went to football games, played sports, and hung out with my friends, basically my life went on. Couldn’t there be other girls like me? I’m not trying to retell anyone else’s story, but put an alternative out there.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I went the traditional publishing route for years. Not with this series, but with another book. That didn’t work out and I decided to set out on the same process with this series. About a month into the traditional publishing process, I felt strongly that wasn’t the road I was supposed to take. So I wondered, what other roads are there? I started to research self-publishing and saw what an amazing option it was for me. It gives me all the control and also all of the blame, exactly how I like it.
How did you come up with this production schedule?
My production schedule is kind of ridiculous right now. I’ve put out four books in three months and two more books will be out soon. I wanted to get six books out quickly in order to get my name out there. It’s not a road I’d advocate, I might have lost my mind somewhere along the way, but it is working (kind of) for me.
What was your process for writing it? Formatting it?
Lacey’s Story took me forever to write and edit and write and edit. When I finally got it to an okay point, I sent it to my editor, another editor, and then a proofreader. My writing and editing process has stayed the same throughout the series, but I’ve gotten much quicker and hopefully better at it. I hired an amazing formatter, Colleen Sheehan, because I’m rubbish at anything like that.
Additional advice for Young Adult writers? Fiction writers?
Find something you’re passionate about before you write. It doesn’t have to be what you know, necessarily, but if you feel a passion for it, you’ll wake up each morning excited to write.
Advice for those who want to self-publish?
Don’t waste your time on the parts you hate to do or aren’t any good at. The best thing I could have done for my books was to hire out the parts that would have held my books back if I had done them myself, like my covers. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started writing this series?
I was going to say how hard it all is, but thank goodness I didn’t know that. I don’t think I would have ever started if I knew just how bumpy that road was and is. I guess my wish would be to know what a supportive husband and son I have. I’ve always known they were incredible, but this process has brought out their best. I might have been much more inclined to take the plunge and known to be much more grateful.