Monday, April 09, 2012


ABOUT AUTHOR: Julie Klassen I worked in publishing for sixteen years (first in advertising, then as a fiction editor) and now write full time. Two of my books, The Girl in the Gatehouse and The Silent Governess won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Girl in the Gatehouse also won a Midwest Book Award and The Silent Governess was a finalist in Romance Writers of America's RITA awards.

I graduated from the University of Illinois and enjoy travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps, and coffee with friends. My husband and I have two sons and live near St. PaulMinnesota.

What have been the benefits to you in having relationships with reading groups?

I have enjoyed talking with book clubs on the phone and in person. It’s been a strange and wonderful experience to hear people talk about my characters almost as if they were real people. I thought I was the only one who did that!

Where would you like to see your relationship with reading groups grow? How do you think your goals can be met?

 The marketing folks and I have been dreaming up ways to make group discussions about my books more fun and interesting. To accomplish this, we’ve provided group games, recipes, and of course, discussion questions. I’d love to hear ideas of other things book clubs would like to see.

Do you have a set size a reading group has to be before you'll talk to them on the phone or in person? What do you feel most comfortable doing? 

No set number. And as far as by phone or in-person, it really depends on the distance. Anything over, say 40 miles from St. Paul, MN and phone is the way to go.

Which type of book club meeting do you prefer? Why?

 I’ve attended meetings in churches, coffee shops, and homes. Whatever the location, I prefer informal meetings where the groups proceed with their usual agenda of treats, chatting, and discussion. I like to take part in the conversation and answer questions to give a “behind the scenes” look at my books. But I prefer not to give a formal presentation or dominate the meeting.
Julie researching servant life in old England (May 2011)
What have you learned about your book and yourself from book club meetings? If so, what?

I’ve learned it makes me feel oddly self-conscious to listen in as people talk about what they liked or wished had been different in one of my books--something I have created in quiet solitude. Don’t get me wrong--people are always kind. But it is still a strange experience sitting there on the “hot seat,” awaiting the group’s “verdict.” :)

Something I have learned about books, is that everyone sees the characters differently, even though they’ve all read the same description. I once took a “quiz” of the actors I had in mind when describing each of five romantic possibilities in one of my books (The Apothecary’s Daughter). The women loved taking the quiz and several exclaimed how easy it was. They were sure they’d gotten them all right, only to be completely “wrong.” (The images in their minds weren’t “wrong,” just not the same as the author’s.) It was fun and eye-opening to hear all the different comments. I think of the group of about 10-12 people, only two matched the characters the same as I would.

Did you learn more about your characters than what you had originally intended? If so what?
Julie researching servant life in old England (May 2011) 

Beyond my answer above, I can’t think of a specific example, but I love it when people fall in love with my characters--just like I do!

Have you been surprised by readers’ eactions to one of your books? Characters? If so, which ones?

 A small percentage of readers were pulling for a different romantic interest than the man my heroine ends up with in The Apothecary’s Daughter. It’s the book for which I probably receive the most requests for a sequel.

Has your book club experience - getting feed back from reading groups - helped you in writing future books? If so, how has it helped you?

Yes. I think it helps any author to have a clear picture of his or her readers--whom they are writing for and what kinds of characters, situations, twists, and endings will please them.

What would you like to see in reading groups that you haven’t experienced yet?

Maybe a “murder mystery” featuring characters from one of my books? Maybe everyone coming in period costumes? Ok, either of those would be way above and beyond the call of duty! Or, maybe some intrepid hostess might try preparing one of the meals or baked items mentioned in the book. That could be fun and delicious. I hope!

What was your most memorable reading group experience? What made it so fun?
Julie visiting a church’s book club (June 2011)
I’ve been to several really enjoyable reading groups, so it’s hard to choose. I’ve enjoyed those where the hosts have put on an “English tea,” and others that were super casual but the group was obviously comfortable with each other and enjoyed laughing and talking together--and included me in their fun.

What is it that draws you to writing in the Regency time period?

It’s all Mr. Darcy’s fault. I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen’s other novels and the costume dramas based on them. It was a romantic time (at least if you had money!) and I’m drawn to the chivalry of the period, the courtly behavior at a ball, the dresses and up-dos, and the gallant gentlemen in those tall Hessian boots. On a deeper level, it was a time when being a true “lady” or “gentleman” was something people aspired to. A time when many in society followed polite rules of conduct and a high moral code. Things not always as evident today.

Why write Christian Fiction? What is the draw for you?

I write Christian fiction because my goals in writing are to delight readers and to glorify God. I hope to include Christian content in a way that is natural and seamless to the story.

What do you hope readers take away from your new book?

In The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, I hope readers learn as Margaret does not to judge (people or situations) by appearances alone. I hope they are reminded that though we all make mistakes, we have a merciful Heavenly Father waiting to forgive us and offer us second chances. Readers are also really going to enjoy learning more about the Upstairs-Downstairs world of servants and those they served in a country estate--a special treat for fans of the PBS series, Downton Abbey. 13.

Can you give us a peek at what you are working on now? When will it be out?

I am writing away on my next Regency stand-alone novel with romance and mystery. It is due out December 2012. Please sign up for my email list at  and I’ll keep you posted. Or find me on Facebook.


 Thanks Julie for stopping by and I appreciate you talking about Book Clubs. A topic near and dear to my heart. Looking forward to your next Regency!! It was great working with you for The Book Club Network 10 book giveaway.


Nora :o)
The Book Club Network 


Michelle Griep said...

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall is fan-freaking-tastic! Check it out, everyone. Great read.

Julie Klassen said...

Thanks for having me here--fun interview! (And thanks for the plug, Michelle. :))

Nora St. Laurent said...

Thanks for the fun interview Julie. I'm looking forward to reading your book! It was great fun to have you at The Book club Network!!


Nora :o)

Anonymous said...

This woman is simply phenomenal! The best part is her giving the glory to God. She's not full of herself as so many writers are. Can't wait until December!!! A devoted fan!