Before I turn things over to Catherine, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:
Julia has the unusual ability to be…unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people’s senses.
It’s a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it’s a useful trait for a thief and a spy. And Julia has learned—crime pays.
Her latest job is paying very well indeed. Julia is posing as a housemaid in the grand house of Mrs. Och, where an odd assortment of characters live and work: A disgraced professor who sends her to fetch parcels containing bullets, spiders, and poison. An aristocratic houseguest who is locked in the basement each night. And a mysterious young woman who is clearly in hiding—though from what or whom?
Worse, Julia suspects that there’s a connection between these people and the killer leaving a trail of bodies across the frozen city.
The more she learns, the more she wants to be done with this unnatural job. To go back to the safety of her friends and fellow thieves. But Julia is entangled in a struggle between forces more powerful than she’d ever imagined. Escape will come at a terrible price.
Julia Vanishes is first in the Witch's Child series and I have been dying to read it for ages now! I'm super stoked to dive in. I will be posting my own review of the book later today, so do be sure to check that out.
And now, here's Catherine Egan!
Where did the idea for Julia Vanishes come from?
My favorite answer to the question “Where do you get your ideas?” comes from Emma Donoghue (who wrote Frog Music and Room, among many other amazing books). She says, “It's like asking someone where they picked up a cold.” Sometimes you know exactly where you got it. Other times, you have no idea. It could have come from anywhere.
I can’t pin down a single moment of inspiration, but I can trace parts of Julia Vanishes from a few directions:
1. A failed book
While I was pregnant with my first child, I started writing a middle-grade novel about a stolen jewel with magical properties, the children of a witch, a professor with amnesia, and a crew of scabby, nefarious pirates. Our apartment was filling up with new and bewildering objects: a crib, a baby car seat, boxes of diapers, piles of swaddling blankets. I sat with my back to these things and wrote my story as if it was the last thing I’d ever be able to write. It was a very bad book.
2. A failed short story
In that first chaotic year of parenthood, I didn’t do a lot of writing. At some point, in a sleepless haze, I wrote a short story about a woman who runs away from her own life. I called it Julia Vanishes. It was cathartic to write but it wasn’t a good story. I liked the title, though.
3. My lost freedom
I got pregnant again when my first child was a year old and finally napping predictably – giving me an hour a day to write. I opened the file of my jumbled magic-jewel-heist book. I went salvaging for parts: witches who can only cast spells by writing them down, a brother blighted by a horrible plague, a fanatical, witch-hunting prime minister. I put a child in danger, and a mother powerless to protect him, because that was the nature of my deepest nightmares now. I was still stuck on the title Julia Vanishes, and so I made the protagonist a girl who can (sort of) vanish.
Julia herself appeared as I started to type and I can’t say for sure where she came from, except that at this point in my life I was less free than I had ever been, and remembering how I used to look at the adult lives around me and see no desirable path for myself. Julia was someone who could blaze her own path, no matter what the world put in her way. She was freeing and exhilarating to write – perfect, thrilling escapism at a time when I was feeling so confined. Writing her energy, her hedonism and daring got me through those sleepless, relentless years with tiny children, and for that I am forever grateful to her.
About the author: CATHERINE EGAN grew up in Vancouver, Canada. Since then, she has lived on a volcanic island in Japan (which erupted while she was there and sent her hurtling straight into the arms of her now-husband), in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Beijing, on an oil rig in the middle of Bohai Bay, then in New Jersey, and now in New Haven, Connecticut. She is currently occupied with writing books and fighting dragon armies with her warrior children. You can read more about her at catherineegan.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ByCatherineEgan.
Big, big thanks to Catherine for being here today and for the folks at Knopf for setting up this post.