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20 Questions with... Julie Stevens

Julie Stevens writes poems that cover many themes, but often engages with the problems of disability. She is widely published in places such as Ink Sweat & Tears, Broken Sleep Books and The Honest Ulsterman. She has three published pamphlets: Step into the Dark (2023), Balancing Act (2021) both with The Hedgehog Poetry Press and Quicksand (Dreich, 2020).

Twitter @julesjumping, Facebook @Julie Stevens @Jumping Jules Poetry, Instagram @jumpingjulespoetry, YouTube @jumpingjules poetry

1. Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? What was your life like growing up?

Hi, I’m Julie Stevens from Cambridge. I grew up in North Yorkshire and enjoyed those hills the most! Sledging, roller skating, dog walking, you name it.

2. Did you always want to be a writer? If you also work, what do you do / did you do?

I’ve always loved writing and reading and wrote poems at university, but then became a teacher and that job took over everything. Since retiring from teaching due to ill health (MS) I have more time, but only really started writing again five years ago. Now there’s no stopping me!

3. Tell us about your most recently published work in a sentence.

Step into the Dark, recently published by Hedgehog Press, reveals my truth about my disabled life with a message of care, hope and success for everyone.

4. What are you working on right now?

Right now, I am submitting my full collection of poems and more pamphlets.

5. Do you have a writing routine, and if so what is it?

My energy levels are highest in the morning, so this is my favourite writing time. I tend to edit and submit later.

6. Where do you write – always in the same space, or different places? Can you write ‘on the move’?

I always write on my sofa in my lounge as that is a comfortable place for me. I can make notes when I’m out on the move and then take them to finish back at home.

7. What advice do you have for other authors who are starting out? What is the best advice you’ve heard?

Read, read, read! It sparks so many poems and when you write, just put everything down that you think of and go back and edit later.

8. Do you enjoy doing live readings or are they a necessary evil – or somewhere in between?

I absolutely love doing live readings and seek them out!

9. Are there recurring themes in your work? Where do you feel these emanate from if so?

My poetry quite often gives an insight into my disabled life with MS, but not always. I love writing about other things too: snow, nature, family, relationships.

10. Should writers have a moral purpose? What is the purpose of a writer in today’s society?

I write first about what I want to write and if this spreads a message, then all the better.

11. Do you write between genres or not?

I write poetry, mainly free verse, but also use conventional forms sometimes.

12. Which living writers do you most admire?

There are so many, but Kim Moore, Clare Shaw, Caroline Bird, Roy McFarlane and Emily Berry are favourites.

13. Which dead writers do you most admire?

Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney

14. What’s the book you wish you’d written?

Sylvia Plath’s Ariel

15. What other external influences do you have: nature/place, music etc?

I love going outside and experiencing all that nature offers. I love going to music concerts and seeing plays/musicals at the theatre. I love exploring historical places.

16. Do you suffer from ‘writer’s block’ and how do you overcome it if so?

Read, read, read. It’s the best way for me to find new ideas. Going to workshops also spark many ideas.

17. What’s been your favourite reaction to your writing?

I love hearing how people relate to my poems.

18. How do your family and friends feel about your writing?

They are so proud of what I am achieving. They always want to read more.

19. Do you have a favourite bookshop?

Niche Comics Bookshop in Huntingdon is my favourite independent bookshop. They always bring a great pop-up bookshop to my open mic events.

20. How do you see the future of writing? Will we become more or less dependent on Amazon?

Hopefully less. We must support independent book shops and publishers.

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