Julie Kibler began writing Calling Me Home after learning a bit of family lore: As a young woman, her grandmother fell in love with a young black man in an era and locale that made the relationship impossible. When not writing, she enjoys travel, independent films, music, photography, and corralling her teenagers and rescue dogs. She lives in Arlington, Texas. Calling Me Home is on the February 2013 IndieNext List and is a SIBA Winter/Spring 2013 Okra Pick. It is her debut novel.
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
I read The Kite Runner in about three hours on a Sunday afternoon (see, I even remember the day several years later). I could not put it down. I learned so much I didn’t know about the history of the conflict in Afghanistan, but Khaled Hosseini’s true feat was putting such a human face on it. I cared desperately what happened to his characters. It’s on my top ten list of books I always recommend.
Do you have any phobias?
When I was a child, I had an unreasonable fear of going blind. I created this ritual where I turned off my bedroom light at night, then opened one eye until it adjusted to the dark and I could see something. Then I closed it and opened the other one until I could see. Why this fear? I have no idea. I was very interested in the character of Helen Keller, so maybe that was it. But I’ve been extremely claustrophobic as long as I can remember. Perhaps, in my mind, blindness would have been the ultimate experience of being closed in.
I am also terrified of dancing in front of anyone but my kids. You think I’m kidding, right? Nope. It’s a weird one.
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
The summer after my freshman year of college, I worked for a company called Rent-A-Mom, where I cleaned or babysat or performed other household tasks for complete strangers. Not long after I was hired, I stayed an entire week with an infant and a toddler after meeting one of the parents for only thirty minutes.
This still blows my mind—I rarely left my children with babysitters, much less ones I hadn’t vetted and gotten to know. For those kids’ sake, I was thankful I was trustworthy and took good care of them. Even weirder, I left a sweater at their home and went back to pick it up a few weeks later and the house was empty. Hey, this sounds like a great idea for a novel …
Where do you love to be?
More than almost anything, I love sitting in movie theaters, watching the previews roll, and then films I’ve been anticipating. My husband and I drive miles to see films that aren’t playing in our area (often, unfortunately, as we live in a pretty suburban community and we like indie movies and foreign films!).
It’s no surprise that writing, for me, is like watching a movie in my mind, then recording what I see and hear. I can’t write a scene until it’s clearly playing before my eyes. This is also how I choose point-of-view. If it’s playing as though I’m watching the main character, I write in third-person. If it’s as if I am the main character, I write in first person. I find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to switch point of view after that.
Which talent do you wish you had?
I’d like to have the limited ability to see the past. My grandmother inspired my novel. I know that she fell in love with a black man when she was young, and that they weren’t allowed to remain together. I know few details beyond that. I didn’t learn this until long after she died. I would love to know the true story and the fine details of what happened. I believe I’d probably be very surprised by some things, and not so much by others. If she were still alive to read Calling Me Home, I hope she would be happy with what I wrote and proud of me.
And now it’s your turn… and your chance to win a free book! Comment below and tell us what part of the past you’d like a window into and you could win a free copy of CALLING ME HOME!