Quick bio: Julia is a writer currently living in western Massachusetts. Fifteen years ago, a stack of pulp fiction written by her long-dead father landed on her kitchen table — most of the novels were interracial porn. Julia, a white woman, had been married to a black man for six years by then, and their first son was a toddler. Her memoir, The Book Keeper: a Memoir of Race, Love, and Legacy, tells the story of what happened when she finally faced her shame about her father’s secret career and cracked open those books.
Beyond the Bio: “I couldn’t have faced my dad’s books before I was 40. People talk about feeling more confident and questioning themselves less at this age; me, I still question myself all the time and confidence has never come easily. But something did shift after 40 that allowed me to face my legacy. I think it’s about the ability to feel vulnerable. I felt invincible in my 20s and a good chunk of my 30s. Now I know I’m mortal and it’s scary as hell, but those chinks in my armor mean I can let in other things — things that make my life more complex, and therefore richer.”
1. On the nightstand: The books I’m teaching this winter for the writing workshop I’m teaching at Williams College, “The Personal is Political”: My Time Among the Whites, by Jennine Capó Crucet, Heavy, by Kiese Laymon, I’m Writing You from Tehran, by Delphine Minoui, and Sounds Like Titanic by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindma.
2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Kissing my sons on the face and telling them how beautiful they are even though they squirm away and go about their business being teenagers
3. Jam of the minute: Lizzo’s “Good as Hell,” which so completely embodies that confidence I find so elusive and so desirable, and which in my best moments I can taste.
4. Thing I miss: Feeling invincible, even though I know its loss is another kind of gain.
5. 80s crush: Dennis Quaid
6. Current crush: Idris Elba
7. Will whine about: The current state of politics, the brokenness and divisiveness of these times.
8. Will wine about: Any topic at all, over a pinot grigio and if the women I’m so lucky to share this journey with come along.
9. Best thing that happened recently: After four months apart during my husband’s recent sabbatical, we reunited last month in South Africa with our kids, and instead of trudging through the two feet of snow that fell before we left home, we walked on beaches and explored places we’ve never seen.
10. Looking forward to: My book’s release on January 14! I’ve been working on it, in one form or another, for 15 years. I can’t wait to hold the real thing in my hands.