Page 22 - Real Style Summer 2017
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The  rst thing you’ll notice about Julia Fierro is that she seems to lead a very busy life. She did, after all, talk to us at a time of
her choosing, which was 6:30 am L.A. time, partly because she was excited to conduct her  rst interview about her new novel The Gypsy Moth Summer, and partly because she had a long day ahead of her. And this was just after coming back from a vacation in Hawaii. Every day seems to be jam-packed for this mother of two small children—from teaching and running The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop to writing her own mate- rial—but the passion in Fierro’s voice as she talks about writing never wavers.
The Gypsy Moth Summer is Fierro’s sec- ond novel of her career. It follows hot on the footsteps of her  rst novel, Cutting Teeth, which wowed critics and appeared on many “Best Of” lists in 2014, including Oprah. com, Entertainment Weekly and the New York Post. “When I wrote Cutting Teeth I was go- ing back to writing after having two kids,” Fierro con des to us over the phone. “I had a
business that I was trying to run while I was taking care of the kids, and I’d taken a break from teaching the classes. I’d gotten estab- lished enough that I could not teach and just do the administrative work,” she says of her business, The Sackett Street Writers’ Work- shop, a company she founded in 2002 after placing an ad on Craigslist.
“Writing Cutting Teeth was really about the writing,” Fierro says. “I had feared for so many years that I was a great teacher of writ- ing, great editor, but not necessarily a writer. So I came out of Cutting Teeth and I was like, ‘Yes, I am a great writer’ and it gave me the con dence that I really needed.”
Of course con dence is one thing, but avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump a lot of writers go through is another. Fierro thinks
back to the writing process, and jokes that “I always say this sort of inappropriate joke that I had a lot of one-night stands with great novel ideas throughout those years when I wasn’t writing regularly. I would have a great idea and write an opening chapter all night and the next morning wake up and look at it and be like ‘Mmm, no.’”
It’s not surprising Fierro has so many ideas either. After all, she’s well-read, and told us that when she was a kid her parents moved into a house where the previous own- ers had left behind a thousand paperback books in the basement. She read everything from Psycho to Hiroshima by John Hersey and the novels of Stephen King. It was Al- ice McDermott’s novella That Night, though, that helped inspire, at least somewhat, her new novel The Gypsy Moth Summer.
“I was really inspired by the  rst chapter of that novel, to start in an urgent place where you knew something bad was going to happen,” Fierro says. “It’s this sort of urgency that hits you from the get-go, and really doesn’t slow down throughout the entire novel.”
The Gypsy Moth Summer takes place on Avalon Island, a small islet off the coast of Long Island, during a plague of moths in 1992. Right away, readers are introduced to the problems af icting the island, from the moths, to the cancer brought on by possible poisoning by the island’s aviation factory, to racial con ict. Among the characters we meet are Maddie, a 16-year-old caught in the class struggles of the East and West sides of the island; Jules, an African-American forced to move to the island by his wife who has returned home after many years away;
The Cutting Teeth author talks about her new novel, inspirations and what’s next.
by RodERiCk thEdoRFF
22 Real Style Summer 2017
Photo, RubidiuM Wu

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