Julie Halpern is the author of one novel for adults, one picture book, and six young adult novels. Her humorous books have made numerous “Best of” lists and won awards, including a National Alliance on Mental Illness Ken Book Award for Get Well Soon and a South Carolina Young Adult Book Award for Into The Wild Nerd Yonder. Her newest book, Meant To Be, makes its debut a week early at the Sheboygan Teen Book Festival!
Prior to her life as full-time mom and author, Julie was a school librarian. In her imaginary spare time, she enjoys traveling, watching television for grown-ups, and eating baked goods. Julie lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, author and illustrator Matthew Cordell, and their two children.
Learn more about Julie Halpern on her website.
We caught up with Julie for a few minutes and here are the things we learned about her during our Q&A.
Q1: What three things would we always find in your creative space/studio?
Julie: I don't technically have a work space. My house is very small, so I sign up for a room at my public library to write. It is very stark, and sometimes I can hear people in the next room watching movies on their computers.
All of my first drafts are handwritten, so I always bring at least one notebook, several ballpoint pens (for when they run out of ink), and earplugs to block out distractions.
Q2: When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
Julie: I have always been a pen pal, a thank you note writer, a journaler, and I took creative writing classes throughout high school and college. For ten years, I was a school librarian, surrounded by books, and writing my own book felt like the natural next step.
My first novel, Get Well Soon, was based on my experience with depression in high school, and it was a story I needed to tell. That book was ten years and seven novels ago, but I've only recently begun thinking of myself as an "author."
Q3: What authors have most inspired you?
Julie: The works of Arnold Lobel and James Marshall inspire me in the way they tell stories so beautifully and concisely.
Louise Rennison, who wrote the Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging series, showed me it was possible to write books for teens that were truly laugh-out-loud funny.
Lynda Barry writes both hilarious and devastating comics, and I am always in awe of the sincerity in her work. I think she is absolutely brilliant.
And, my daughter, Romy, is also a huge inspiration. She is a talented artist in so many different mediums, and she makes the world a better place.
Q4: Our festival theme this year is Twists & Turns. Which would you rather play, Twister or dominoes?
Julie: I'm relatively short, so Twister has never been my jam. Plus, it's only cool when you're a kid. At this age, I feel like Twister, unless it's with my kids, is questionable.
I like the sound dominoes make and have stacked them many-a-time, but admittedly have never played them as a game. So, dominoes for the win!