Romancing the craft

Alum Julia Dovey returns as 2024 Writer in Residence

Ask any writer: being an author isn’t easy.

It’s an art. And a craft – one Julia Dovey hopes to share during her tenure as UFV’s new Writer in Residence

A published author, Dovey initially avoided the concept of creative writing altogether. Her father was a writer, and although he encouraged her to write she thought the world of the written word belonged to him.

“I might have thought, that’s my dad’s thing,” says Dovey. “My thing is guitar, or art, or something else. I didn’t even consider that I could write at all. I wrote in a diary. That’s about it.”

But at the age of 16, a substitute teacher reviewed a creative writing assignment written by Dovey and complimented the young writer on her authorial voice. That was what it took for Dovey to embrace the craft fully.

“That means I could write a bestseller. Of course, that’s what that means,” Dovey says with a laugh.

From there, she drafted several novels in her teens, making up for lost time, as she puts it.

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History of her craft

Dovey graduated from UFV’s Creative Writing program in 2018, honing her craft under the tutelage of professors John Carroll and Rajneesh Dhawan. She kept in close contact with both after graduation – they’ve even edited some of her work.

During her inaugural reading at UFV on January 23, Dovey shared an excerpt from her third and latest novel, A Matter of Mountains and Molehills, published through BWL Publishing. Students in attendance had the opportunity to ask her questions and get to know her better.

As UFV’s Writer in Residence, Dovey hopes to share her experiences in the publishing world, an environment that can prove challenging, even to experienced and skilled writers.

“I went through the standard process of writing a story, writing query letters and sending it out, getting rejected, things like that,” says Dovey. “I’ve gone through it. My dad went through it when I was young, that’s just a part of it.’

After a little luck and a lot of hard work, a friend of Dovey’s had work accepted by BWL and made the connection between author and publisher.

The joy of writing misery

While a UFV student, Dovey enjoyed writing ‘magical realism’, a genre that observes everyday lives with a hint of something unknown or magical. However, her published works have been primarily romance mysteries.

“It’s what my publisher was accepting,” Dovey says. “And the thing is, I discovered I really enjoy writing them.”

Part of the charm for Dovey is in her process. She enjoys developing her characters, frequently drawn, in part, from real people and real experiences.

In her latest book, for example, she based one of the central characters’ love of hot tent camping on her own father’s experiences.

“That character is not my dad,” says Dovey. “The character is not a good father. He’s kind of an opposite thing.”

Although she often puts a negative spin on the experiences and people she draws from, Dovey knows it will all work out for her characters in the end.

“They’re romances,” says Dovey. “They have to end happily.

“But I do love taking like the everyday annoyances and the everyday evil — which isn’t completely evil — and making those the main conflicts in my story. I don’t have really big ultimate-evil conflict. I have the narcissism in a mother or the dismissiveness of a father. You know, these little things that we all deal with.”

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Crafting with a purpose

Part of what Dovey will share with prospective creative writing students is her ability to draft quickly. She is no stranger to deadlines, and in fact, found that she thrives under the crunch of a timeline.

But when she isn’t drafting a new novel, Dovey takes joy in helping others find their literary voice.

During her time as UFV’s Writer in Residence, Dovey will be coaching students through their writing, helping them through the publishing process, and working on her own novel draft.

Her current works can be found online through local bookstores or on Amazon.

Lipstick Tattoo

Potatoes and Pink Vodka

A Matter of Mountains and Molehills