Writer Spotlight: YA Author Inteview - Juli Helms

Juli Helms
Today I'm please to have Juli Helms here. Juli, thanks for stepping into the spotlight and welcome!! Love the picture, btw.

What manuscript do you have out on submission now? (genre, title, word count)

OPPOSITION, a 70,000 words YA Fantasy, is a mix of Greek and Chinese mythology set on an invisible continent.

Wow,  invisible!! That's different. Very cool.

Give us the three to four sentence pitch.

Sure! This has not been edited thoroughly, though, so obviously it’s not perfect.

LOL, do we ever think our work is perfect?

The Aerisians—people living on the invisible, floating continent of Aeris—were given a power beyond the elements and a legendary task centuries ago: protect the Yin Shadow and the Yang Light, the syzygy that makes up the balance of the Earth. But in the week Atalanta Raire turns fifteen, suddenly the Light is stolen, her sister goes missing, and the only thing Ata can do is go to the Earth Plane, where there are much more to find than just a lost sister and a pilfered Light.

Ooooh, nice!!! Love the name Ata, too.

Would you care to share the opening lines or paragraphs?

The first thing I see when I rise out of hiding is a stumbling sun. It used to be so bright. It used to warm my fingers, my skin, tickle my feet and glow just as bright. Now, as I see it again after a full year of darkness, it trips in its path and dips low over the horizon, spilling bucketfuls of light.
            Walls pressed around me before. Walls of flame, the Circle, fire licking my conscience and sanity until I went insane.
            Insane, like everyone else.

           Eisa--the first adult we've seen in a year--came to us today, finally, she opened the door for us. I have never felt so lonely. There was a hundred girls trapped with me.
            They stopped crying in two days.

            They stopped talking in a week.

            And they stopped thinking, stopped trying, in a month.

            Every time I looked at them, they would stare at me with glassy eyes, reflecting nothing but my own misery. They would pick solberries as silently as the dead; they acted like the dead. I tried to shake one of them out of their trance once, Laurie, and all I felt was cold.

Ominous beginning. Makes me wonder, stop trying to what, why were they locked away, why only one girl is able to be herself? I love the phrase, "stumbling sun."

The rest of the story isn't as direct/somber/horrific as this (mostly), I promise. :)

I like it. Sets the a nice tone.

What is your least and most favorite word? Use each in a sentence, writing in the voice of one of your characters from any of your manuscripts.

Oh man, this is a HARD one. Hmm...

Hee, hee, so I've heard : )

            Rachael’s paintings are such beautiful disasters. The brush moves in her hand more naturally than she breathes. Upon close inspection, the strokes are nothing but blossoms of ink. Farther away, they are connected arc by line, dot by dash, into the one thing her work is known for, the one thing that lights up the whole masterpiece, making the paint erupt with beauty: originality.

My least favorite word is probably “in”. In does more telling than showing, such as “she screamed in fear”, so I try to avoid it to the best of my abilities. :)


What are you working on while you wait?

I’m writing debate cases (I’m the first place speaker in my league, which adds a thick layer of pressure), music, and I blog. :)

Based on your picture, I wonder if photography is also a hobby of yours : )

What book have you read in the past six mo that’s inspired you and why? 

Definitely Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. Reading that book was like riding on a shooting star! The realism in that book makes a myriad of emotions explode in your chest, and that type of connection with the reader is definitely rare to find. Also, Across the Universe by Beth Revis. The horrifyingly beautiful beginning and unbelievably twisty ending both affected my writing, consciously and unintentionally.

Do you have (if you were a teen, or had when you were a teen) a literary-character crush?

Hands down Cricket Bell (from Lola and the Boy Next Door). He’s well-dressed, energetic, funny and, oh yeah, invents things. And he can do amazing things with your hair. He’ll also tell you these beautiful fairytale stories about his everlasting love for you. It sounds cheesy, but coming from Cricket, it’s more adorable than those cat pictures I know you all aww at.
Pictures like this:



Yes, AWWW!!

Any random fun-facts you’d like to share about yourself?

I like to impersonate accents. On a good day, I’ll just stick with the British. On a... not-so-good day, my native Chinese accent trying to speak Russian with a French accent is about as confusing as it reads. Also, my friend and I once performed as “ninja mimes with crêpes” for the Talent Show in middle school. Needless to say, the audience got quite the look on their faces, but that all changed when they got their hands on my friend’s famous crêpes (a crêpe, in case you don’t know, is a French dessert kind of like a pancake. It’s also the best thing in the world). Their expressions also changed when I stole the crêpes all back from them and ate it rapaciously, but that’s beside the point.

LOL, I would NOT have given you my crepe back without a fight :  ) LOVE crepes, especially with chocolate and strawberries inside. Sorry can't do that fancy carrot thingy above the 'e.' And if I could choose an accent for myself, it would be a British. Mostly, because of my desire to go to Hogwarts one day. The spells sound so much cooler with the accent : )

Thank you so much for hosting this fun interview, Paula! :)

Thank you very much, Juli. Best of luck finding the perfect home for OPPOSITION. Please keep us posted!!

Be sure to check out Juli's blog where you'll find awesome reviews, cool interviews, and a plethora of writer stuff. (Plethora, that one of the words I like : ) 


  1. Great interview Paula and it sounds like an exciting adventure, Juli. Best of luck with your book!

  2. Fun interview. :) I laughed a lot, which I needed today! And I love your first paragraph, Juli!

  3. Great interview! I love that you're going for atypical mythology, like Chinese. We need more of that. :)

  4. Hi Paula and Juli.

    Another great interview. Juli, your writing is splendid! (Said in my very proper British accent.)
    I think you're going to see success soon.

  5. What a fun interview ~ you're a fun host, Paula!

    Good luck to you Juli!

    Hey Paula .... you won a signed copy of POSSESSION! Shoot me an email with your mailing addres: ali at alicross dot com.

  6. Great interview, and fun. Love the first paragraph. Good Luck Juli with your book! :o)

  7. Great interview Paula & Juli. I LOVE the mix of Greek and Chinese mythology.

  8. Thanks everyone! And thank YOU Paula! Sorry I'm a bit late to comment (classes.. gahh!).

    I did the fancy carrot e thing with ALT 234. And yes, photography is definitely one of my hobbies! Haha. And you know, I like crêpes with banana and nutella. No, wait. I DIE for crêpes with bananas and nutella. Hmmm... *I may or may not be drooling*

  9. Juli's such a fantastic writer (LOVE that excerpt with "originality"...just beautiful writing), but moreover she's a fantastic person! Although I'd have to say, Juli...I would totally have nunchuck-ed you to fight over that crepe!!

  10. @Elaine Aw, you're too nice. THANK YOU!!!

    Hahaha, let's just say my black-belt does come in handy. Sometimes. ;)


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