Interview + ARC Contest: Don’t Stop Now, by Julie Halpern

31 May

You guys, I am so excited: today we have two first-ever events here on the blog!

The first first-ever event? An interview with fan-freaking-tabulous author Julie Halpern, whose books I love.

The second first-ever event? A CONTEST! Julie’s third YA novel, Don’t Stop Now, hits shelves NEXT WEEK (June 7)—luckily I have an ARC and am willing to part with it (but only because I have a hard copy pre-ordered). Be sure to check out how to enter, right after the (long but fabulous) interview.


What inspired you to write Don’t Stop Now? I knew a girl who faked her own kidnapping, actually, and I was the only person she told.  I lied to the police and the FBI; it was ridiculous.  The girl and I never really talked about things after I eventually turned her in, but I thought it was bizarre to fake ones own kidnapping.  That inspired the opening and the catalyst for the road trip in the book.  In real life, I’m a huge road trip planner, so it was a nice excuse to write a road trip book with a little mystery on the side.

I’ve read all three of your YA novels—Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, Get Well Soon, and Don’t Stop Now. I LOVED these books! Do you have a favorite? If so, which one and why? Get Well Soon is probably my favorite all around, since it was my first and it is based on my actual life.  However, that doesn’t mean I want to read it again.  I had to reread it to write the sequel (my fourth novel, which will be out in fall of 2012), and it was hard to see all the imperfections of a first novel.  So far it has reached and affected the most people, so that also makes it special.

It’s fascinating to get a glimpse into other writers’ processes. Do you prefer the first draft phase, or the editing phase? I enjoy the first draft phase, since I’m not a huge planner and writing the draft is almost like reading someone else’s book; I rarely know what is coming next.  I am always terrified of the first round of revisions when they come back from my editor, but that usually ends up being pretty fun and not as painful as anticipated.  I handwrite my books, so my least favorite part is typing up the pages.  It takes forever, and I’m not the best typist.  It’s a big revision, though, so I get that out of the way.  My last novel was 400 handwritten pages.  My fear is that I’ll lose the first, handwritten draft in a fire.

Aaaaaand, now for a few out-of-nowhere questions that are basically just fun to read…

Did you ever write fan letters to your favorite celebrities? I TOTALLY did this—mine were Ariana Richards (the girl from Jurassic Park) and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I am a firm believer in writing letters to people you love, and I still do it (with mortifyingly few results).  My biggest letter was to the band on the Nickelodeon show “Don’t Just Sit There.”  My favorite band member wrote me back twice.  It was love.  At least on my end.  I’m facebook friends with him now.  Not that we write, but I like knowing he’s still there.

Do you smuggle candy/snacks/lattes into the movie theater? (Yes, lattes. It can be done. I know this from much experience.) Always.  Usually a bottle of water (or an environmentally friendly thermos) and a box of Dots.  But my husband and I always buy popcorn, too.

What’s your position on karaoke? In the past, I was insanely into karaoke.  There was a club in Chicago called Lounge Ax.  It’s actually the club in the movie High Fidelity, where John Cusack goes to see Lisa Bonet.  I was an extra in that scene, and you can totally see me, by the way.  The actual club used to have karaoke the first Sunday of each month, and it was hosted by Fred Armisen, now of Saturday Night Live and Portlandia fame.  He was insanely funny and would dress up as different characters each month.  I became a regular, which gave me the perks of going up as often as I liked.  I was rather incredible, if I do say so myself.  Someone was filming a documentary, either about Lounge Ax or karaoke, I’m not sure, and I remember saying that Lounge Ax karaoke changed me as a person.  It gave me an immense confidence and showed me I was a decent public performer. Then the club closed.  So sad.

Don’t Stop Now features a road trip. Let’s say you can drive over oceans and, if you need to, even into outer space. What’s your dream road trip? I guess it would be an unlimitedly funded trip across and around America.  I have already been to 46 states, and I never tire of the weirdness that is the U.S.A.  I also lived in Australia, so I would love to take the time to road trip around there with my family.  Also with unlimited funding, of course.

And now, for one last writing-related question…

When you hit rough points with your writing—whether in the drafting, editing, or waiting-to-be-published phase—what inspires you to keep moving forward? I talk to other people in the writing business to remind myself that those feelings are normal and experiences are shared.  My biggest issue is feeling like I’m a loser and no one likes my books or cares about me as a writer.  Hearing from other authors about the pace at which they also experience things in the biz is helpful.  As far as writing roadblocks, I either stop or push through.  It all depends on my mood.  And what’s on TV.


TO ENTER: simply leave a comment.

DEADLINE: Monday, June 6, at 11:59pm. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 7. [Side note: sorry if there was any confusion over the deadline date—it originally said June 5. I've updated it now to reflect the correct date!]

EXTRA AWESOMENESS: for every 12 people who enter, I’ll add another prize—a non-ARC, actual hardback copy of Don’t Stop Now.


+1 if you put a little effort into your comment and tell us about your dream road trip, given unlimited funding and the ability to drive on water/to the moon/etc. (I really just want to read where everyone would go, but didn’t want to make it an actual requirement, hehe)

+1 for re-tweeting this post (I’m @olsonkayla)(And, if you don’t have Twitter…why not? It’s awesome!) If you don’t include me in the tweet, at least include #dontstopnow so I can find it!

For more information on Don’t Stop Now, here’s the link to its Goodreads page. For Julie’s blog, see the links in my sidebar.

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18 Responses to “Interview + ARC Contest: Don’t Stop Now, by Julie Halpern”

  1. Melissa Tuesday / 31 May 11 at 11:08 am #

    I WANT THIS BOOK. I can’t believe you didn’t share it with your crit partners after you raved about it so much. :( So I should win. Just sayin’.

    DREAM ROAD TRIP: Around the World in 80 Days… modern day. I’d totally use boats and hot air balloons and camels and elephants and even super cute Vespas in Italy.. especially if I can have the Pope driving it and saying. “Ciao!” as he goes (Eddy Izzard anyone?)

  2. bethmorey Tuesday / 31 May 11 at 2:58 pm #

    Woohoo! Great interview, and great contest!

    As for my dream vacation . . . well, given the lack of all limits, of course I would go EVERYWHERE! I’d like to teleport (because of course that will have been invented) to far off places, like Greece and Italy and France and Egypt and India, and I’ll also drive (or perhaps be driven in a super-swanky car with my hubs and dogs) to get a little road tripping in there. Seriously, though, I want to visit every single country on earth.

  3. bethmorey Tuesday / 31 May 11 at 3:00 pm #

    Tweeted, of course!

  4. jpetroroy Tuesday / 31 May 11 at 3:48 pm #

    Love this! I love Julie’s books and blog.

  5. Kristan Tuesday / 31 May 11 at 4:18 pm #

    Have heard great things about this book! Would love to win it.

    Dream road trip, eh? I’d like to drive to all 7 continents. With my boyfriend and my dog.

    Since that’s not very likely, my boyfriend and I have a more realistic goal of just visiting all 7 continents somehow. Minus the dog.

  6. Yasmine Tuesday / 31 May 11 at 4:25 pm #


    My dream roadtrip as of right now is island hopping around the Pacific. I’d love to visit all the tropical islands (Bora Bora, etc) and hopefully also take some submarine rides and get to meet some aquatic animals (preferably sea monsters). So to piggy back off of Melissa’s Around the World in 80 Days, mine would be more 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea style.


  7. amber Tuesday / 31 May 11 at 4:34 pm #

    oooooo…. yes please to a fun read.

    As for a roadtrip, where wouldn’t I go? Actually, I’d most likely choose to go exploring in places I’m learning about at the time. Currently I’d probably choose to visit all sorts of art, relics, and historical sites of rulers and dynasties.

  8. Liza Kane Tuesday / 31 May 11 at 6:14 pm #

    Awesome interview! and YAY for ROADTRIPS!! LOVE THEM!

    Weeelllll…I road trip all the time, and a couple of years ago, I did my cross-country dream trip, meandering through state parks and deserts for a week.

    For a NEW roadtrip, I would LOVE to tour the Pacific rim…preferably on a surf board pulled by a team of dolphins, but I wouldn’t turn down a James Bondian amphibian/ATV ;)

  9. aleeza Tuesday / 31 May 11 at 6:51 pm #

    I WANTTT! um, yeah, i’d love to win :D i’ve been following julie’s blog since forever, and i absolutely adore it. sucks i haven’t read any of her books yet, but i would so love to. this interview was totally fabulous-o.

    my dream trip…hmm…if you know anything about me (which, er, you don’t, obviously), there’s no question it’d be new zealand. preferably the southern part. :)

    also, i retweeted! :)

  10. Sierra Gardner Wednesday / 1 June 11 at 8:32 am #

    Great interview – good questions and good responses. Let’s see… dream roadtrip. I think I would do a roadtrip around the Mediterranean. I have this vision of me stopping every few miles to take amazing pictures or walk along beautiful beaches. If I happened to meet a couple of attractive guys as well I wouldn’t turn that down either =)

  11. Ian Collings Wednesday / 1 June 11 at 11:49 am #

    I have heard nothing but good things about this book. Happy to plug it in #fridayreads this week as well!

    Dream Road Trip?
    As everyone is being so creative about this…I’d like to visit the great literary spots in the world: The Reichenbach Falls, The Orient Express, The Heart of Darkness, every page of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, the Dublin of Joyce, the streets of Oscar Wilde’s Paris, etc.

  12. Regina Wednesday / 1 June 11 at 12:08 pm #

    I had not heard of this book before. Thanks for giving me the scoop on it and the author. Great interview.

  13. April Friday / 3 June 11 at 9:33 am #

    Great interview!!! That is so cool that Julie was an extra in High Fidelity!

    My idea of a dream road trip is much like what Julie said. I have only been to about half of the states, so it would be great to have not only the $$$ but the time to leisurely explore the US :-)

  14. Monica-Marie Holtkamp Friday / 3 June 11 at 10:03 am #

    ooh! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to get this book! Sounds sooper interesting!

    I have retweeted this contest even before I clicked on it (I was a good girl this time! LOL)

    Now….I KNOW this sounds kinda boring to everyone else….but MY perfect road trip would be to San Francisco. Having been stuck in Nebraska for the past 10 years without going back to my home city I truly understand how much I MISS it! I would get me a nice Volkswagen Cabrio (awesome car I don’t care what ANYONE says!) and drive from here in the Omaha area straight to San Francisco…make a stop in Fisherman’s Wharf & have me some nice FRESH seafood….then go to the Haight to have some coffee in a nice shop….then down to Golden Gate Park because I used to live 2 blocks away and I miss it….then I would hang at the beach for as long as I could since there’s no ocean here. *SIGH* a PERFECT trip!

  15. Michele Shaw Sunday / 5 June 11 at 9:32 pm #

    Great interview and I would love to read this book as well as the others by this author. They sound really unique!

  16. Kayla Olson Tuesday / 7 June 11 at 10:23 am #

    Thank you so much, everyone who entered! Just wanted to let you know, in case you’re subscribed only to the comments on this post (and not to my Twitter/blog), I posted the winners this morning.

    Happy reading! :)


  1. Interview + ARC Contest: <i>Don't Stop Now</i>, by Julie Halpern (via Owl and Sparrow) « Redeeming The Time - Tuesday / 31 May 11

    [...] Interview + ARC Contest: <i>Don't Stop Now</i>, by Julie Halpern (via Owl and Sparrow) May 31, 2011 by Liza Kane You guys, I am so excited: today we have two first-ever events here on the blog! The first first-ever event? An interview with fan-freaking-tabulous author Julie Halpern, whose books I love. The second first-ever event? A CONTEST! Julie's third YA novel, Don't Stop Now, hits shelves NEXT WEEK (June 7)—luckily I have an ARC and am willing to part with it (but only because I have a hard copy pre-ordered). Be sure to check out how to enter, right af … Read More [...]

  2. Don’t Stop Now Contest Winners! « Owl and Sparrow - Tuesday / 7 June 11

    [...] my contest to win Julie Halpern’s Don’t Stop Now, in stores today! As you saw from the interview, Julie is fabulous—and her fabulousness absolutely makes its way into her [...]

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