Today, I’m delighted to welcome Juliane Weber to the blog. I love her story of becoming ‘the accidental novel(ist).’
The accidental novel(ist)
I seem to have done quite a few things in my life by accident, or at least, without a great deal of planning. When I was at school, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation and eventually decided to go to university and study my favourite subject, which happened to be biology. This ultimately led me to completing a PhD in physiology, which in turn resulted in me accidentally becoming a medical writer and editor.
During these various, unplanned activities, I continued—as I had been doing for many years—to read a lot of books! While at university I discovered the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon, which turned out to be some of my favourite books. When I found out that Diana Gabaldon is a scientist turned novelist, I thought: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could also write a book one day? That was the first time I ever thought about writing a novel. I immediately knew that I would write historical fiction with a dose of romance but had no idea when or where the story would take place.
Over the next few years, my hypothetical novel remained frequently in my thoughts, but I kept waiting for inspiration to come as to the actual content.
Some brilliant moment of enlightenment perhaps?
A scene that would come to me in a dream?
A character that would emerge from the depths of my mind, sparking an idea?
Unfortunately, none of these things occurred…
The turning point came in 2016, when I moved with my family from South Africa, where I had lived for most of my life, to Germany, where I was born. Before I knew it, I found myself in a town I’d never heard of before, with two small children, a dog and a cat that had travelled with us, and a husband who had to spend most of his time away from home for work.
Peculiarly, during this fairly stressful time, I became quite obsessed with writing my book! (Clearly, my mind was seeking an escape…) When inspiration still eluded me, though, I turned to Google for help, where I searched for interesting times in history or some such. I immediately steered clear of several of the more popular historical eras—untrialled novelist that I was—but soon found myself drawn to another event of immense historical importance: the Irish Famine. Although I only had a vague idea of the subject from a long-ago history lesson, the Famine nevertheless intrigued me as a potential setting for my book. I liked the idea of the 19th century; I liked the idea of Ireland, with its beautiful scenery and its myths and legends; and I liked the idea of writing about a historical event that hadn’t been written about quite as much as some others.
And so, finally, I had an idea! As to the details…
You may have realised by now that I’m not one for meticulous planning (although I am actually a fairly organised person). The same was to be true for my novel writing, with nary an outline in sight! Having decided on a setting, though, I could at last contemplate my characters. Why not create a little conflict by having an Irishwoman and an Englishman take centre stage, I thought? And why not give the Irishwoman an Anglophobic brother to make things a bit more interesting? One idea led to the next and the next and so on. I had no exact plan but knew that I wanted my novel to include a sweeping love story, and to have the potential to make readers laugh out loud and to make them cry. And so, I wrote scenes as they came to me, with the story emerging little by little, until I realised that I was not, in fact, writing just one book but an entire series.
I enjoyed every moment of writing Under the Emerald Sky in this meandering manner, as much for the joy of writing as for discovering myself how the story would end. I love the way it turned out, unplanned though it was! I continue writing in this fashion as I work on the second book in the series and wouldn’t have it any other way.
As I’ve discovered: there is no single way of writing a good book!
Thank you, MJ, for letting me share a little about my authoring journey on your blog today.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I love it. I think I can certainly see quite a lot of myself in there as well. Good luck with the new book.
Here’s the blurb:
He’s come to Ireland to escape his past. She’s trying to run from her future.
It’s 1843 and the English nobleman Quinton Williams has come to Ireland to oversee the running of his father’s ailing estate and escape his painful past. Here he meets the alluring Alannah O’Neill, whose Irish family is one of few to have retained ownership of their land, the rest having been supplanted by the English over the course of the country’s bloody history. Finding herself drawn to the handsome Englishman, Alannah offers to help Quin communicate with the estate’s Gaelic-speaking tenants, as much to assist him as to counter her own ennui. Aware of her controlling brother’s hostility towards the English, she keeps her growing relationship with Quin a secret – a secret that cannot, however, be kept for long from those who dream of ridding Ireland of her English oppressors.
Among the stark contrasts that separate the rich few from the plentiful poor, Under the Emerald Sky is a tale of love and betrayal in a land teetering on the brink of disaster – the Great Famine that would forever change the course of Ireland’s history.
Violence, sexual content.
This novel is available to read for free with #KindleUnlimited subscription.
Meet the author
Juliane is actually a scientist. She holds degrees in physiology and zoology, including a PhD in physiology. During her studies she realised, however, that her passion lay not in conducting scientific research herself, but in writing about it. Thus began her career as a medical writer, where she took on all manner of writing and editing tasks, in the process honing her writing skills, until she finally plucked up the courage to write her first historical novel, Under the Emerald Sky. The book is the first in The Irish Fortune Series, which is set in 19th century Ireland around the time of the Great Famine.
Juliane lives with her husband and two sons in Hamelin, Germany, the town made famous by the story of the Pied Piper.
Connect with Juliane