Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?
TOGETHER is an epic love story, told backwards, with a devastating twist. It’s the story of Robbie and Emily, and it begins in 2016, when they have been together for 50 years. Robbie wakes up, leaves his wife a note, walks into the sea, and drowns. The book then goes backwards, in stages, to 1962 when they first met, exploring their relationship and the secret at the heart of it.
You should read it because it will make you cry, and when you’ve finished you are going to want to discuss it with someone else right away—so it’s a good book for book clubs!
If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?
MORE TEA PLEASE
What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?
This is probably not the strangest, but it was one of the most surprising and delightful. Several years ago I wrote a book called GIRL FROM MARS which was about a female comic book artist. It was being discussed on an online forum, and a reader who had Asperger’s syndrome said, “I think the heroine of this book, Fil, is an Aspie like me.” Several other readers who were on the autistic spectrum or who were close to someone who was, chimed in to say they agreed, and the forum became a discussion of this book’s positive portrayal of someone who wasn’t neurotypical, but who was creative, intelligent, and loving.
Now, I’d never intended for my heroine to have Asperger’s! It wasn’t in my mind at all when I wrote it. But I was delighted that readers found themselves in my book. It was one of my first experiences of one of my stories having a life far beyond what I’d intended for it to have, and that’s a humbling and miraculous experience for an author.
If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?
My best and dearest friend, Rowan Coleman. One day we will have the time!
Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).
I love cooking and trying new restaurants and gourmet food, but one of my favourite foods is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from a box. Whenever go back to the US I always bring several boxes back to the UK with me!
Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.
THE SUMMER OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS by Rowan Coleman. It’s a breathtakingly emotional and beautiful story about time travel, love, and the bond between mother and daughter.
PAST MORTEMS by Carla Valentine. This one’s a bit gruesome—a non-fiction look into what happens to us after death, written by a former autopsy technician. Funny and fascinating.
WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams. I loved this as a kid and recently re-read it—it’s stunning, complex, and makes you look at rabbits and humans in a completely different way. Not just for kids, and not about fluffy bunnies.
Who is Julie Cohen?
Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for The Guardian and Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold nearly a million copies; DEAR THING was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.