Monday, September 16, 2013

Welcome Julia Asel Thomas and a Guest Post: "Life Experiences in Fiction"

Welcome Julia Asel Thomas, author of Loving the Missing Link, with the fun topic of “Life Experiences in Fiction”. As I am a writer of fiction as well, I know that I am always weaving bits and pieces of my own experiences into my writing.  It seems nearly impossible not to pull from your own life!  And, as I read different works of fiction, I'm always wondering what inspired the writer to create a certain character or if the setting is a real place.  Thanks, Julia, for explaining how reality and fiction can mix together to make one great story!    

Life Experiences in Fiction

In my first formal creative writing class, my writing professor told the class, “Write what you know.” I hadn't heard that old standby before, and it baffled me. I asked my teacher how I could write what I know without writing an autobiography. The older gentleman smiled indulgently and said, “You couldn't write the truth if you tried.” Again, I was confused, but over the years I have come to understand exactly what he meant.

What I was worried about back in the class so long ago was whether I would inadvertently reveal secrets or flaws of my family and childhood friends. What I have learned is that, although I use plenty of the details and emotions from my life, I only use them as raw material for a story that has little or nothing to do with my own reality.

Imagine if you were given a beautiful Persian rug and told to make it your own. The way I write fiction is like unraveling that rug until all I have left is colorful threads. I take some of those assorted threads and design a new creation. The new work will be different from that beautiful Persian rug even though the material came from that same place – in writing, it all comes from my life, experiences and research I do on my own. Yet, the end result will have its own character, its own picture and its own effect on the viewer. Heck, it might not even be a rug, but it might be a hat or a shawl. The important thing is that I begin with what I have been given in life and craft the pieces together in a new way to make my own creation.

            One way I achieve this is to give my characters some of the technical skills I have learned over the years. For instance, I once took a course in electronics design and repair. In the book I am currently working on, there is a male character who is in electronics school. His experiences are and will be completely different from the ones I had while studying electronics. But I make the story more believable and authentic by using the jargon, references to the equipment and technical details I learned in the class. The same is true of the bassoon player in Loving the Missing Link. Yes, I did study and play the bassoon, and I use those details to enhance my character’s story.

            Another ploy I use is to ask, “What if … “ constantly when I am re-sculpting my experiences into fiction. In my debut book, Loving the Missing Link, I asked myself many questions as I developed the story. What if I had been an only child instead of one of seven? What if my mother had been a helicopter mom? What if my family had not been so well-respected in my small town? What if I had dropped out of high school to run away from the possibility of failure? The questions led me to surprising answers that helped me craft a story that is, at the same time, me and not-me.

            And in the end, I think that is what all of my fiction is. It is the meeting place between the person I am and have been, and a different me that exists only in my imagination. The results can be surprising, fascinating and unique. What they never are is a direct rendering of the events and people in my life. I leave history to historians and choose to spend my time and energy creating my own alternative universes. Write what you know? Definitely. Write the events of your life as they happened? Well, for me, the answer to that is no, no, never in a million years. I’m here to write fiction and that is what I am committed to doing.

Stop by The Muffin for a wonderful interview with Julia!

Meet Julia:

Julia Asel Thomas writes stories with vivid descriptions, authentic dialogue and revealing narration. Her debut book, Loving the Missing Link, presents the engrossing and moving story of a young, small town girl who grows up, lives and loves while trying to find a balance between despair and hope.

Like the protagonist in her debut novel, Loving the Missing Link, Julia Asel Thomas knows small town life. However, Julia's experiences were quite different than Cheryl's. Julia is the middle child of seven children and the daughter of a church organist and a business manager. Growing up in the small town of Hamilton, Missouri, Julia's family enjoyed a reputation as a bright and interesting family. Julia thrived on the quiet and carefree life she lived in that gentle place.

When Julia was in high school, she earned a scholarship for a trip to Cali, Colombia as a foreign exchange student. The experience, although it only lasted a few brief months, had a profound influence on the rest of her life. After her time abroad, Julia realized in a very real way that, although customs may differ from culture to culture, the substance of human emotions is constant. We all need love. We all need to feel secure. We all have happy moments and sad moments. Back from Colombia, Julia become ever more interested in capturing these human emotions through music and writing.
After high school, Julia took a break before going on to college. During this time, she married her husband, Will. Will joined the Air Force, and Julia accompanied him to bases around the country, taking college classes in each town where they resided. Their two children were born in Las Vegas, Nevada, while Will was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base. Married in 1976, Julia and Will are thrilled to celebrate each new anniversary and look forward to staying together for life.

Julia began writing fiction at the age of ten, when her 5th grade teacher gave her the assignment to write about "My Worst Day." Julia took the opportunity to concoct every possible disaster a young child could face during the course of a normal day. The teacher loved her work and asked her to read it to the class. From then on, Julia wanted nothing more than to be a writer.

In 2007, Julia began earning her living by writing articles, press releases and website content for a number of clients. As she settled into a routine of working every day on her writing, the old urge to write fiction resurfaced. In 2012, Julia started with a story she had written in 1985 and continued it to create the story in Loving the Missing Link.

After Julia's husband, Will retired from the Air Force, they moved back to Missouri and now live in Kansas City, Missouri. 
Find out more about this author by visiting her online:


Loving the Missing Link

Young Cheryl struggles to find her place in the world beyond her small Missouri Hometown in this debut New Adult novel by Julia Asel Thomas.

Julia Asel Thomas tackles several 'big issues' (acceptance, self-education, and self-understanding to name a few) in Loving the Missing Link. For Cheryl, things are a little more complicated than the ordinary low self-esteem of a lower class teenager girl in a small town, and the ending was full of twists and turns I hadn't expected. The main character, Cheryl, struggles to find herself amidst the demands of her mother, expectations of her teachers, and the unconditional acceptance of her boyfriend, Jerry. Cheryl is very much a loner who has trouble expressing her thoughts and feelings to others; she finds a haven in her journal and what is so difficult to express in life is captured on those safe pages. 

Readers will find themselves cheering her on as she began on the path to self-understanding.


  1. A journey to self understanding - who can't relate to that? Kudos to Julia on a great first book - can't wait to read more!

    Thanks Audry for hosting this fabulous WOW! tour - you're the best!


    1. Thanks Crystal! And thank you, Julia, for a a wonderful guest post!

  2. Audry: Thanks for being an important part of my blog tour! I enjoyed writing this post because it is a subject I have thought about for years. After I began writing the way I described in the post, I finally was able to finish my novel - a work in progress for over 25 years. I hope it helps writers out there who are struggling with how to remold what the facts they know into stories that are fresh and new. I also hope it will show readers a glimpse into the process I used to create my story and helps them understand that, even if they know me, none of my characters are meant to be direct representations of anyone. Thanks for giving me this platform and featuring my book today!

    Crystal: Thanks for getting me together with this wonderful blogger!

    1. Julia, it was a pleasure to have you on All Things Audry!

      I could completely relate to your post. While it's true that none of my characters are an exact representation of anyone I know, I need to pull inspiration from real life to have anything to write. I loved the "Persian Rug" imagery to describe this process!

      Best of luck to you, Julia!


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