An Interview with Julie Clark, author of THE ONES WE CHOOSE


Lisa Genova meets 23andMe in this exploration of the genetic and emotional ties that bind, as debut author Julie Clark delivers a compelling read about a young boy desperate to find his place in this world, a mother coming to terms with her own past, and the healing power of forgiveness.


"This chimera of heart and science skillfully produces an extraordinary breakthrough novel. I love smart fiction with a sharp heroine at the core. Julie Clark has perceptively given us that in The Ones We Choose. A story of mother and son and the ties that bind, right down to the marrow. Trust me, you're going to want to read this."

SARAH McCOY, New York Times and international bestselling author of MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES and THE MAPMAKER'S CHILDREN

“How could I not love a debut about science, secrets, DNA, and how the traumas of our ancestors still live within our very cells? With gorgeous prose, and a deep emotional resonance, The Ones We Choose is about the science of love, how our DNA shapes us, and a mother’s fierce battle to protect her son while confronting what really makes our identity ours, what and who we choose to let in, and what and who we don’t.  An absolutely dazzling, profound ruby of a novel.” Caroline Leavitt, New York Times Bestselling author of PICTURES OF YOU, and CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD


Julie Clark’s Biography

Born and raised in Santa Monica, California, Julie Clark grew up reading books on the beach while everyone else surfed. After attending college at University of the Pacific, and a brief stint working in the athletic department at University of California, Berkeley, she returned home to Santa Monica to teach. She now lives there with her two young sons and a golden doodle with poor impulse control. THE ONES WE CHOOSE is her first novel.

An Interview with Julie Clark

Julie Clark’s debut Upmarket Women’s Fiction novel, THE ONES WE CHOOSE, was published on May 8, 2018 by Gallery / Simon & Schuster.

Question - Where did you get the idea?

Julie Clark - I wanted to write about a single mother who wasn’t single by divorce or death, but rather by choice. Someone who chose motherhood on her own terms, in her own time, out of a profound love for the child she always knew was meant for her.

Q - What’s the story behind the title?

JC - I came up with the title, with the help of one of my best college friends and avid readers, Lori Sawyer. I was shocked that I got to keep it.

Q - No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

JC - Two people die.

Q - Tell us about your favorite character.

JC - I loved writing Rose (my main character’s sister) the most. She always said the smartest things.

Q - If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

JC - Definitely Jackie, my main character Paige’s best friend! She’s wild and fun, and such a good and loyal friend.

Q - Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

JC - All my imagination!

Q - How long did you take to write this book?

JC - I wrote a first draft from April 2014- July 2014. Then I revised for two years. I got my agent in 2016, and we sold the book in early 2017.

Q - What kind of research did you do for this book?

JC - Because THE ONES WE CHOOSE has a genetic subplot, I worked very closely with a geneticist to make sure my science was accurate, and I wasn’t drifting too far off the farm. I spent about two years emailing and calling him fairly regularly with questions.

Q - What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

JC - Originally, my main character, Paige, semi-stalks her potential donor before choosing him. And sort of falls in love with him. That plotline disappeared sometime in 2016.

Q - Are you a plotter or a pantser?

JC - Both! I like to plot out my character arcs and I like to map out how everything gets from A to B to C. But then I usually don’t look at that again. I just write. And all kinds of crazy things happen that usually drive my critique partners crazy.

Q - What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

JC - I love to journal out plot problems, or just journal out different plot points. I love writing about my book. And I love late revision the most. When all of the hard work of figuring out what the book is supposed to be is done, and I can just get in there and fine tune it. Make the language sing.

Q - What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

JC - Revising a first or second draft. It’s a lot of heavy lifting and it’s hard.

Q - Can you share your writing routine?

JC - I wake up every morning at 4, and write until 6. Then I have to get ready for work. In the afternoons I’ll sometimes get a little bit more done, but I do my best thinking in the early morning. I also write all weekend long.

Q - Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

JC - I pull out my sharpie pens and the journal designated for that particular book, and then start journaling out the problem on paper. Somehow, writing about the book usually knocks loose whatever is stuck.

Q - If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

JC - Keep going! And remember, this is supposed to be fun.

Q - How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

JC - One full unpublished novel, and I’m working on another one that’s about halfway done.

Q - Do you have any writing quirks?

JC - I have to write in Miquelrius spiral notebooks with colored ultra-fine tipped sharpies.

Q - Tell us about yourself.

JC - I teach fifth grade, and I’m a single mom of two boys ages nine and twelve. We have a golden doodle named Teddy.

Q - How did you get into writing?

JC - I’ve always wanted to write. I’m a total cliché.

Q - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

JC - I’m usually reading when I’m not writing. I also love to go out to lunch with friends on the weekends.

Q - Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?

JC - I’m writing for The Debutante Ball this year! We write about all things writing, and blog about our debut year.

Q - Which book influenced you the most?

JC - THE RED TENT, THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE, and everything by Jodi Picoult.

Q - What are you working on right now?

JC - I’m working on an upmarket women’s fiction with suspense elements, similar to Liane Moriarty or Sally Hepworth’s newest THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR.

Q - - What’s your favorite writing advice?

JC - Sandra Scofield says:

In order to publish your book you must:

  1. Think of yourself as a worker and
  2. Show up at the job.

I’ve always tried to follow that advice.

Q - The book you’re currently reading

JC - I just finished Jessica Strawser’s Not That I Could Tell. It was so good!

Links to Julie Clark


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