We are thrilled to welcome Julie Lawson Timmer to The Ball this week! Julie is a fellow debut author and her emotional novel, Five Days Left, has been lauded by Jodi Picoult as “unique, gripping, and viscerally moving.” I’m not sure that it gets much better than that!
Timmer stopped by to tell us a little more about herself — including her one-time dream of being an Olympic swimming coach.
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
From a writer’s perspective, Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood. I had always wanted to write, but when I was younger, I assumed had nothing interesting to write about. I lived an ordinary life in an ordinary family in an ordinary place (southern Ontario). Cat’s Eye is about an ordinary protagonist who grew up in an ordinary family in–of all places–southern Ontario. It hit me powerfully that Margaret Atwood had written a story that had entranced me because her protagonist had suffered all of the various childhood humiliations and hurts that I had experienced. I could completely relate to her, and for me, that was so much more important than whether her life–and the plot–was extraordinary. That was the first time I dreamed I could write about regular people too, and the first time I realized that in fact, the universal hurts and humiliations and fears and anxieties of ordinary life were the very things I wanted to write about.
What’s one thing that’s making you happy right now?
I am very happy that I seem to have figured out the secret to finally recovering from the hip surgery I had in May. I had one of one of my artificial hips revised, and what I anticipated would be a speedy recovery turned into anything but. Most noticeably, my gait has been very wonky. I walk a bit like a penguin without the cane–and it’s not like the cane makes my gait perfect, either. But a few weeks ago, I went mountain biking with my family, and I discovered that the long, hard bike ride seemed to “wake up” my walking muscles and improve my gait. So, I bought this very cool contraption called an “under-desk” bike and took it to my office, and I’ve been cycling while working for the past few weeks. Now, I can walk fairly decently at the office. At present, riding the bike doesn’t seem to have lasting effects, but I’m hoping it will as time goes on. I don’t think I’ll be walking properly by September 9 (the day my book launches), and that’s a great disappointment. But I can see a regular gait in the future now, and I couldn’t before.
What time of day do you love best?
As painful as it can sometimes feel, I love early morning best. I love how quiet and peaceful the house is–or the office, since I start work early. I also love starting my day productively; if I can write a scene, or get in a workout, or accomplish an important work task, before 7am, the sense of accomplishment sets my entire day off on a cheerful and productive trajectory. Of course, this means I’m useless past about 9:30pm, and it’s a standing joke in my family that it’s best not to try to have a meaningful discussion with me after that time.
Share something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh.
My eldest two children (my son and my eldest stepdaughter) love board games, and I love playing with them. For reasons no one can explain, the three of us tend to get inordinately silly when we play. We make up ridiculous rules (or ignore all the rules, as we do with our “Anything Goes Scrabble” game, which can get downright foul), we come up with all sorts of inane inside jokes, and we almost always end up crying with laughter before the game is over. We are funny only to us and annoying to everyone nearby–my husband usually leaves the room, shaking his head, to escape us.
When you were a teenager, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?
For a brief (and delusional) period of time, I thought I’d be an Olympic swimming coach. I was a swimmer in high school and college, but worlds away from Olympic caliber and it didn’t occur to me how unrealistic that career path was, given my unimpressive history in the sport. Wise adults told me I should consider the law, and I ignored them. I’ve often wondered why no one ever suggested I consider journalism. Then again, it’s clear I’d have likely ignored them if they had!
GIVEAWAY! Comment on this post by noon EST on Friday, Sept. 19th, to enter to win one of THREE copies of Five Days Left (U.S. only, please). Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!
Julie Lawson Timmer grew up in Stratford, Ontario. She now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband Dan, their four teenage children and two badly-behaved labs. She is a lawyer by day, a writer, mom/stepmom, fledgling CrossFitter and dreadful cook by night. FIVE DAYS LEFT is her first novel.