It’s our pleasure to welcome June’s featured author Julie Berry to the Lightning Blog today!

What stories have inspired your writing the most?

Fairy tales run deep in the blood, both for me personally, and for our culture collectively. I read fairy tales, folk tales, and fables a great deal as a child and I know they were foundational for my imaginative life. I’d put Bible stories in the same inspiration category. I was also deeply inspired by the Narnia books.


What classic are you ashamed to admit you haven’t read?

Well, there are scads of them, for one thing, though I wouldn’t use the word “ashamed.” I just now Googled a list of the 100 Greatest Novels Written in English and found one published by the Guardian newspaper. Of their 100, I’d read 25 ½ (1/2 because I think I read The Golden Notebook during my sophomore year, but I’m not absolutely certain. I own it, at any rate.). I will say that I think this list is missing some crucial titles (Pride and Prejudice, anyone?). But I digress. Here’s a smattering of the classics I’ve started but never finished, which I’d like to remedy: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky, anything by Faulkner, and a good handful yet of Dickens novels.


Which hero/heroine/mythological/ medieval character do you most admire or despise? Why?

St. Francis of Assisi is one of my heroes. If you’re talking about fictional characters, I’ll say Joan of Arc, because even though she’s a real figure from history, she’s become as much of a fictional construct, it seems, as Robin Hood. In both cases, Francis and Joan, I admire their fearlessness in living life on their own terms, defying social convention and public opinion, and risking grave personal danger, to live their one life the way they believed it should be lived.

If your writing life were a sport, which one would it be?

Samurai wrestling. Because a great deal of eating is necessary for peak performance.

What are your writing quirks?

I’m not a very quirky writer, I’m afraid. Or rather, I’d like to think the quirkiness finds its way onto the page, but it’s not very apparent in my process. I don’t like writing in coffee shops; I don’t listen to music. Solitude is ideal, though I don’t always get it. I don’t have any special routines, good-luck charms, or gizmos. Pajamas are my main staple for workplace fashion.

Tell us what’s coming for you in the rest of 2017.

I have a middle-grade novel coming out in June called The Emperor’s Ostrich (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan). It’s a lot of whimsical mayhem. (If you like book trailers, we just made a fun one for it, which can be found here.) Other than that, there’s just a heap of writing to do. But that’s a very good problem to have.


Win a copy of Julie’s latest book, The Passion of Dolssa!

The Printz Honor winner that garnered five starred reviews and was hailed by the New York Times as “magnificent”!

The Passion of Dolssa
Dolssa is an upper-crust city girl who’s been branded a heretic, on the run from the friar who condemned her mother to death by fire and wants Dolssa executed, too. Botille is a matchmaker and a tavern-keeper, struggling to keep herself and her sisters on the right side of the

law in their seaside town. When their lives collide by a dark riverside, Botille rescues a dying Dolssa and conceals her in the tavern, where an unlikely friendship blooms. Aided by her sisters and Symo, her surly but loyal neighbor, Botille nurses Dolssa back to health and hides her from her pursuers. But all of Botille’s tricks, tales, and cleverness can’t protect them forever, and when the full wrath of the Church bears down upon them, Dolssa’s passion and Botille’s good intentions could destroy the entire village.

From the author of the critically acclaimed and award-winning All the Truth That’s in Me comes a spellbinding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page and make you wonder if miracles really are possible.

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Meet the Author

Julie Berry grew up in western New York. She holds a BS from Rensselaer in communication and an MFA from Vermont College in writing for children and young adults. She now lives in southern California with her husband and four sons.

You can find her online at and on Facebook and Twitter.