Writer of the Week: Julie Dawn Baker

Julie Dawn Baker

Kicking off the New Year with a bang, our Writer of the Week is our wonderful debut author Julie Dawn Baker.

Julie’s first story for “The People’s Friend” is featured in Special 219, available now. It’s a sparkling romance, just perfect for New Year!

What inspired you to write “Light Up Your Life”?

Last summer I heard fireworks going off one night and was reminded of the New Year’s Eve when our neighbours put on a midnight display that was “better than Sydney Harbour Bridge” according to my husband — who does like to exaggerate.

The fireworks were pretty spectacular though, and the people who were at the club across the sports field behind our house came out onto the balcony to watch them.

There might even have been a rocket or two embedded in the pitch the next day!

Do you have a favourite genre to write in, or do you go wherever your ideas take you?

Recently I wrote a novel length rom-com, so I guess romance is my favourite genre.

Most of my ideas for short stories come from the little things that happen to me or people around me, so I find my short stories tend to be about family relationships and friendships.

I recently had an idea for a cosy mystery, so that might be my next project.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? What has your journey been to get here?

Yes, I have always loved writing and wanted to be a writer.

I had some success writing short stories for magazines when I was younger but gave up the dream of being a full-time writer after penning a couple of novels that weren’t published.

I became an English teacher instead, so I was always reading and writing but rarely had the time to focus on my own stories.

Since leaving teaching, I’ve rediscovered the joy of fiction writing and the thrill of being published again.

Do you have a personal connection to the “Friend”? What drew you to submit a story to us?

I started reading the “Friend” last year and love the variety of short stories that you publish.

Having followed some of the “Friend’s” regular writers on Twitter, I really wanted to join the fun.

I had to wait for a while because of lockdown, and I was very excited when you switched to email submission.

What are your writing goals?

I’d like to see many more of my short stories appearing in the “Friend” and other magazines, and of course I’ll never give up on that dream of one day getting a novel published.

Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?

My first draft is written on a pad of lined paper with one of my favourite fibre-tipped pens. Then I transfer to my laptop.

I tend to be wordy, so I usually go through multiple drafts before I get the story right and at the required word count.

Because I’m easily distracted, I find I’m most productive if I write at my desk.

Originally, my desk faced a blank wall, and I didn’t like that. However, if I face the window, I spend too much time people-watching. Now I face into the room but can still catch a glimpse of sky and trees.

What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?

Believe in yourself and never give up! I guess that’s two top tips, but they’re linked. I’ve never had a lot of self-confidence, and when I was younger, I gave up writing fiction because I didn’t believe I was good enough.

Now that I’m older, I know there are many reasons why writing is not accepted, and I’ve developed more resilience. I submitted three stories to the “Friend” before “Light Up Your Life”.

Each rejection made me more determined to get it right. I wasn’t going to give up until I had an acceptance, and I’m glad I kept trying!

Read more interviews with our writers here.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.