Interview with Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members

dear committee members1. Can you tell us a little about your book? Is it your debut novel?

Dear Committee Members is the first book I’ve written for adults in about 15 years: I published five novels for kids while my own kids were young, but now that they’ve turned into adults, I’m writing for the big folks again. But I enjoy writing for both audiences.

2. Are you a plotter or a free writer?

Generally a free writer — although that makes the process sound like whimsical good fun, when often it’s not. I wish I were more of a plotter. As a freewriter, I sometimes feel I’ve gathered the bits of a Frankenstein’s monster around myself, and then I’m faced with the grisly work of sewing the corpse together.

3. Is your book part of a series or a standalone?

Dear Committee Members is a standalone. Generally after I’m finished with a novel, I’m tired of the characters and wanting to move onto something else — a more cooperative (haha) group of people.

4. Do you require silence when writing or do you listen to music?

Definitely silence. I think only younger, more hip people write while listening to music, because they grew up with a forest of electronic devices chirping away on their writing desks. I grew up with a pull-chain bare bulb over my desk (which seemed romantic to me; I loved it) and a pad of paper. That’s still what I prefer.

5. Are you writing your next book? Can you share a little about it?

I’m working and re-working the next book, but it’s not yet cooperating, so I don’t want to talk about it here…. Thanks for the opportunity, though — as well as the reminder that I need to get back to work.

6. How long were you writing before getting a publishing contract?

That’s hard to say, because I was writing when I was in high school, and then in college, and then in grad school. I sold my first novel, The Body Is Water, after working on it for 6-7 years. My theory is: you have to write because you love writing, not because of the contract.

7. When does your book release?

Dear Committee Members came out in August of 2014; the paperback (same handsome cover, but less expensive) came out a month ago.



Julie Schumacher grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and graduated from Oberlin College and Cornell University.  Her first published story, “Reunion,” written to fulfill an undergraduate writing assignment (“tell a family tale”) was reprinted in The Best American Short Stories 1983. Subsequent stories were published in The Atlantic, MS, Minnesota Monthly, and Prize Stories: The O.Henry Awards 1990 and 1996.  Her first novel, The Body Is Water, was published by Soho Press in 1995 and was an ALA Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Minnesota Book Award. It was published in translation in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Israel, Greece, and Korea.  Her other books include Dear Committee MembersAn Explanation for Chaos, and five novels for younger readers, all from Delacorte.  Ms. Schumacher lives in St. Paul and is a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota.

(Taken from Julie’s website)


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