Wise Ink author Julien Bradley recently launched their debut novel Beneath the Bedrock. Set in the oilfields of North Dakota, the book is a timely romance and intergenerational inquiry into ownership, loyalty, and love.
We reached out to Julien to learn more about their experience with the writing process and, of course, how their book launch went!
Tell us about your book, and what inspired you to write it.
The book is an adult family drama/romance set in modern time. It is about a middle age woman and her struggle coping with the untimely death of her husband and her father. Associated with each death, she is tasked with the decision of carrying on each man’s legacy or choosing to live a life of her own design.
My writing inspiration: My daughter, indie author, Kimberlee Ann Bastian. Her drive and daringness to follow her dream and passion rekindled a fire so deep within my soul it was impossible to ignore. Her encouragement to pen my thoughts to page and connecting me with the team at Wisk Ink made what was only a pipe dream in my mind a reality. Because little can be accomplished by oneself, this team turned my dream into a cohesive story. Born out of a desire to become a better writer, something that can only improve through practice, I was able to find repose from the scripted, technical aspect of writing required by my given profession and truly enjoy the process of writing.
What made you choose your launch venue?
My launch venue: The Blue Heron Coffeehouse located in my hometown of Winona, MN, is a favorite haunt. The café owners Colleen and Larry Wolner are avid supporters of local artisans and writers. He had formerly teamed up with Chris Livingston, who’d once had an independent bookstore in the coffee house. Unfortunately Chris no longer has his bookstore there, but the Blue Heron continues to host book signings and readings. It should also be mentioned they have a terrific menu with vegan and dairy- and gluten-free options. (They have the best in-house baked gluten-free bread I’ve ever eaten.) Their food is locally sourced and organic whenever possible. They also have terrific coffee and teas.
What was your favorite part about the launch?
Easily the Q & A portion of the event. I love talking about my journey in becoming an author. I love sharing the research required along the way and telling why I chose this path. I think there is a great teaching opportunity in sharing one’s adventures and hopefully this sharing may inspire a spark in others to follow their dreams. I am a firm believer in succession planning.
What are some “next steps” for your book?
Promotion, promotion, promotion! I plan to do a series of book touring with Kimberlee (it’s a mother/daughter thing) at different author events around Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. I plan to use social media some, Goodreads, and bloggers who enjoy romance stories to review and critique. I plan to meet with Wise Ink’s marketing Roseanne Cheng to discuss additional marketing strategies. I would like to offer to book clubs discounted rates for discussing my book in their book clubs. I am a firm believer that word of mouth, and making a personal contact, is the best approach to marketing.
How would you define success as an author?
My knee-jerk response to this question would be to make money off of my work and be self-sustaining as an author. I thought at first that success would be the actualization of a piece of written work in print. Now that I’ve accomplished that part of the journey, I want more, so much more. I want to succeed in bringing a romantic story into mainstream that is realistic in nature, not just the glamorous people who live in exotic places and have beautiful bodies and endless satisfying sex. I want my readers to relate to the ordinary people in this story who make choices, good and bad, try and fail, and try again in order to create meaningful lives, do good things, and struggle a bit in finding those moments of bliss in human sexuality. I want to bring awareness of the negative impact in frack mining and drilling for oil. I want to bring to the forefront the forgotten plight of the Vietnam veterans in this country. Achievement in any of these areas of passion would be my definition as a successful author.
Because Beneath the Bedrock is part of a series, can you give aspiring authors some insight on how to plan and execute a very long work?
As I am moving into the second book, I find that I am missing the element of free writing. I cranked out 1,100 pages in the course of a summer and had the luxury of having to whittle the story down into a novel length story. I need to get back to that mindset, to let the unveiling of the story take its own natural course and flow with it.
What I would say to an inspiring author is, create characters you know like your own family, your own person. Your personal life is chux full of experiences that you can weave in and through these characters and will sustain your work with relatable, interesting storylines that readers will want to learn more about.
What surprised you about the writing process and the road to publication?
The marketing power of a professionally done book cover. Tasked with looking at hundreds of book covers to stimulate ideas for my own, I knew that I was in way over my head. I didn’t think that I had an eye for such thing, but now I believe I can tell a professional cover from one that is not. The road to publication is a team effort. It is this team which brings creation to fruition. I am grateful for the professional talents of my cover design artist, Steven Meyer-Rassow. I didn’t want faces to be seen on my cover. I didn’t want my reading audience associating the characters on the cover as the faces of the characters in the book. Yet every time I look at Doris’s pose and modesty of her expression in the embrace of her husband, Kieran, I find a beauty that prose cannot convey.