As promised, July's author of the month Julia Wolf is back to discuss her novel, 'Cut Short' and give us some insider details.
'Cut Short' is the first book in a series of romantic comedies that focuses on a group of women who work at a hair salon in a small Maryland town. I personally LOVED this sweet and sexy read, and it was a true pleasure to chat with Julia about everything that went into creating Rachel and Joe's story.
Read on to find out what real-life details inspired the book, what Julia's personal favourite scene is, and whether or not she shares her heroine's love of baths!
The sense of place and the descriptions of the setting were one of the highlights of the novel for me. Is the Baltimore area an important place for you personally, and if so, what draws you to it?
Cut Short takes place in a small town, which is based on a real town, and in Baltimore. I live in Maryland, so I wanted to write what I knew. Tiber City is based on a town called Ellicott City, which has the sweetest Main Street. It's a special place that my family loves going. Sadly, a flash flood struck the town at the end of May, and many businesses were destroyed and the town was devastated. Now my books are kind of a time capsule, because some of the places I described are a thing of the past.
I also wanted to show Baltimore in a different light than what's always on the news. Yes, there is crime, but it's a lovely city with a deep history where real people live and work and love. The architecture is beautiful and very unique to the city and the people are varied and vibrant.
I loved all the female friendship in the story and the support Rachel and her friends showed for each other. Do you feel that's an important aspect to include in a genre that's very focused on the stories of women?
For me, to show the whole character, she needed other people around her besides the man she was falling in love with. I think a lot of women, like me, struggle to make friends in adulthood, so reading and writing their close bond is part of the fantasy. One reviewer said that Cut Short was as much a love story between friends as it was between a man and woman. I really liked that.
Did you always plan for the book to be part of a series, or was that a decision that was made along the way?
When I started writing, I had no plans. I just wrote. But once I'd formed these other characters and given them backstories, I knew they had to have their own happy endings.
I read in your author bio that you used to be a hair stylist yourself! Did any real-life details make it into the book?
A lot of the details in Cut Short were lifted from my life. Rachel's ex-husband was based on one of my client's ex-husbands. I had a client who asked for a ruler to measure her hair, every single time. And the bond I had with my co-workers was close. We weren't BFFs like Rachel, Frannie, Eliza, and Laurel, but you can't help but bond with people who you work next to five or six days a week. It's a very social environment and we really got to know each other over the years.
If you could meet one character from the novel, who would it be? Would you have anything to tell them, or anything to ask?
I want to say Frannie, but I think she'd intimidate me. Rachel is most like me, so that might be fun. I think it would be Joe, though. I'd really want to pick his brain about why he rejected Rachel back then, and find out what he was up to in New York for all those years. He's got to have some good stories.
Do you have a favourite scene from the story?
My favorite scene is in New York when they're snuggling and watching Scream. When Joe tells Rachel that he'll protect her from all the scary parts, but she says he can't protect her from everything. It's the start of them really coming together and it makes me a little giddy.
Rachel's dream house is a major feature of the book. Have you ever had your own special house you dream about owning each time you walk by it?
I don't have my own special house, but the "stone house" really exists!!
I think I got that idea from the feeling that I had up until adulthood of not having a home base. I was an Army brat, so we moved every few years and never lived near extended family. I always longed to be settled and really dig into one spot. I think that's what Rachel really wanted too.
Do you share Rachel's opinion that all important decisions should be made in the bath tub?
Ha! I'm so not a bath person! If I was a character in a romance novel, I probably would be though!
If you haven't done yourself the favour of picking up a copy of 'Cut Short' then head on over here ASAP to get in on the action. You can also find more details about Julia on her website.