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Inkcouragement: Julie Murphy Talks NaNoWriMo and Dolly Parton

It's our last Inkcouragement post of 2015, and we've got Dumplin' author Julie Murphy here to talk the post-NaNo process!

Inkcouragement: Julie Murphy Talks NaNoWriMo and Dolly Parton

It's no surprise that when Dumplin' hit the FYA HQ shelves, we unabashedly loved it. Between the body-positive message, Texas, a beauty pageant, and Dolly Parton drag queens, it's like Julie Murphy was speaking straight to our souls, and it's now the June 2016 FYA Book Club selection. (One of the best parts? Julie herself is a member of the Dallas-Fort Worth FYA book club!)


Inkcouragement editor Jennie with the gloriously flamingo-clad Ms. Murphy at ALA 2015!

But did you know that Julie's first novel began with NaNoWriMo? It did! Side Effects May Vary was published in 2014, and Julie's here with the story about how her NaNoWriMo experience became a publishing contract reality. 

Take it away, Ms. Murphy:

So, you hit 50k, you got your NaNo winner badge, and you started revising. What was the biggest change between your NaNo draft of Side Effects May Vary and the published version? Did any of the post-NaNo changes surprise you?

That book changed so much over the course of the editorial process. In fact, what was the ending at the time I sold it became the climax of the finished version. Now, looking back, that comes as no surprise. But at the time, it felt like an entirely different book and I couldn't believe how different each incarnation of the book became. I was still such a young writer at the time, and it was my first experience working with a professional editor, so I hadn't quite given myself over to the idea of just how freeing it can be to put everything on the chopping block in edits.

You've done NaNoWriMo/Camp NaNo more than once, and mentioned that you love the community and the deadline aspects. Did NaNo help you develop any long-term writing habits? Were you able to find the community and "deadline" in other places before you were published?

I think, NaNo along with the short story blog I take part in, have taught me how to write on command. Even when I'm feeling uninspired! NaNoWriMo is sort of like that excitement of a new relationship. The deadlines, the community--those are all present in the world of publishing, but NaNo is the pressure cooker version of it all. So, yes, I've definitely found my tribe and the deadlines are there, too, but it's not quite as intense as NaNo is--thank goodness!

50,000 words might be the goal for November, but today's YA books are often longer. What word count range do you end up in? Did the post-NaNo writing go as fast?

A first draft for me is anywhere between 60k and 80k. Of course that will vary for most people based on genre and audience. With Side Effects, I was so on fire for that book, that I just couldn't stop myself from finishing it. But I can see how once the excitement dies down, it might be hard to return to your NaNo project.

Half the fun of writing on a deadline is making up reasons not to write. What's your favorite method of writing procrastination?

Like most authors, "research" always gets me. I can talk myself into thinking anything from a trip to the beach to a Dawson's Creek marathon is research.

Ed. note: Boy, are you in luck!

And of course, we've got to ask, in honor of Dumplin'...if Dolly Parton wrote a NaNoWriMo novel, what would it be about?

Hmmm...maybe one of her great childhood stories. Or she could do a mystery about wig thief in honor of her extensive wig collection!

Thanks for having me here on, Inkcouragement!

Ed. note: Thanks for joining us, Julie! We can't wait to see what you write next...and in the meantime we'll be furiously writing Willowdean + Dolly Parton's Wig Collection fanfic.

Wanna know more about Julie?

Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times Bestselling author, 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 cats, she can be found reading, traveling, or watching movies so bad they're good. Her debut contemporary young adult novel, Side Effects May Vary, is out from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins and has been well-received by Kirkus, School Library Journal, VOYA, Booklist, Seventeen Magazine, and Teen Vogue. Dumplin', Julie’s sophomore novel has received glowing reviews including three stars from Publishers Weekly, SLJ, and Booklist. Film rights have been optioned by Disney.

Jennie's photo About the Author: Jennie Kendrick lives in San Francisco and has an excessive fondness of historical fiction, spreadsheets, turquoise sparkly things, and bourbon. She is also a literary agent. When she's not reading, writing, or writing about reading, she cooks obsessively, and thrifts for vintage everything.