Everyone has someone they aspire to be when they grow up,
but when exactly is a person grown-up? I know I have much growth still waiting for me, even if
the wrinkles on my face say otherwise! And maybe that’s where the fountain of youth can
actually be found—in one’s desire to continue to be more.
Ann B. Ross introduced readers to such a woman in her Miss
Julia mystery series. A woman set in her ways, until life threw her a whopper of a curve and
made her look at herself in a much different light—a bright, glaring light that showed dust-
bunnies and cobwebs no gently-bred Southern woman wants to be exposed! The way Miss
Julia deals with her exposure is something to see—or read, and I had to interview the woman
behind the brilliance. I hope you to will enjoy Miss Ann B. Ross unplugged;)
Kym: Welcome to the Cozy Corner Ann!
Ann: Thank you for having me, Kym.
Kym: Your latest novel,
MISS JULIA TAKES THE WHEEL releases April 2nd and is your twentieth
Miss Julia novel. What
do you think makes Miss Julia so popular with the readers?
Ann: It’s still amazing to me that she is!
But I’ve had many emails from readers over the years that say in one way or another: “I am 72
years old, and I want to be just like Miss Julia when I grow up.” Many also write to say that
Miss Julia says exactly what they’ve been thinking, so maybe she speaks for them.
Kym: We all change as we grow older. Miss Julia however, is timelessly classy (and nosey),
yet she has changed as well as her circumstances. What do you think is her biggest change
from book one to book twenty?
Ann: The biggest change undoubtedly
came in the first book when she was able to defy the whispers, gossip, and laughter about
Lloyd’s parentage and take that child into her heart as a person in his own right, in spite of the
fact that he looked just like Wesley Lloyd Springer. She rose above caring what people
thought, and that freed her to be her own woman.
Kym: Miss Julia has a unique relationship with a young teenager, Lloyd, who happens to
get a new car that he’s thoroughly embarrassed to drive (every teenager should feel this way;
it’s a rite of passage!) How would you described their relationship to our readers who haven’t
enjoyed Miss Julia’s interesting past as of yet?
Ann: I would tell them to read the first
book, MISS JULIA SPEAKS HER MIND, which explains who Lloyd is and why his sudden
appearance in her well-ordered life caused so much distress. As for their present relationship,
I think it is based on the fact that they were both in need of stability, love, and a meeting of
the minds, and they found those needs met in each other in spite of the age differences.
Kym: I loved your tie-in to the Sadie Hawkins Day Dance, (Do they still have them?) since I
just happen to share an old family name with Daisy Mae, and wore a Daisy Mae costume as a
teenager. (my kid wouldn’t be caught dead in it) Lloyd’s dilemma about dancing with a friend
who was taller cracked me up. What memorable experiences do you have with a Sadie
Ann: Not very memorable ones, I’m
afraid. My grandchildren tell me they still have Sadie Hawkins Day Dances, but some schools
call them Turnaround Dances or some such, but the girls still ask the boys. I’m not sure that
students today know anything about Daisy Mae and the other residents of Dogpatch, to their
detriment, I might add.
Kym: LOL, I whole-heartedly agree! Miss Julia’s attitude about worrying is the essential
make-up of a lot of women. “…if I don’t worry, who will? I just wish I could find something to
worry about that I could do something about. I feel a great need to fix something. I just can’t
find anything that’s fixable.” Is this the core character trait of Miss Julia that causes her to be
in so much trouble all the time?
Ann: Well, you know that in order for a
novel to be a novel, it has to have conflict, so my biggest concern with each book has been to
determine what that conflict will be. And since Miss Julia is the main character, it follows that
she has to be involved in it, preferably to fix it—to bring order out of disorder.
Kym: Miss Julia has a rare relationship with her doctor—not all of us have such a hands-on
and close relationship, and we settle for appointments with ‘non-doctors’ all the time when
we’re sick. (She also cracked me up with her hypochondria and her aversion to exercise!)
When Miss Julia’s doctor takes an extended vacation, however, she needs to get to the
bottom of why he’s got a stranger taking his place for so long and asks the new doctor and his
wife to dinner. How do you think today’s society would benefit by making such an invitation to
new neighbors, and would you do it yourself?
Ann: I try not to worry too much about
benefiting today’s society—too many people are already doing that. I just try to find a few
things to laugh about. But I am in a unique position as the wife of a doctor, so it’s not unusual
for us to have doctors and their wives for dinner. As for inviting new neighbors, it’s often done
in Abbotsville which is a fairly social little town anyway, and the ladies of the town are fully
versed in the way things should be done. But they do it not to benefit society, but mostly
because they love to entertain with their good china and silver.
Kym: I think I need to visit Abbotsville! I don’t remember the last time someone pulled out
their good china and silver for me—plastic ‘silverware’ excluded ;)
Young Lloyd takes an interest in sleuthing and has a pretty good knack for finding trouble.
Will we see Lloyd get into even more trouble in Miss Julia’s next adventure?
Ann: I am a little more than halfway
through the next adventure, and so far Lloyd has not appeared. One of the pleasures of writing
these books, though, is going back through the previous books and selecting minor
characters to bring forward for starring roles. It’s like having an entire town to choose from,
especially since readers seem to feel the same way.
Kym: How true! Miss Julia is Lloyd’s confidant when he learns of a local “happy house.”
What made you take on that topic for your latest mystery?
Ann: I chose it because of the current
opioid crisis, and because I have grandchildren in middle and high school. I try to stay up to
date with what’s in the news, hoping that an ‘ah-ha” moment will occur.
Kym: You are from a generation of women who embraced their empty nests and returned
to college to obtain degrees as their children obtained theirs. How do you think that
experience developed Miss Julia, and possibly her friend, LuAnne, who went back to work (at
the funeral home!) after her divorce?
Ann: My greatest ambition as a young
woman was to get an education, but because of family difficulties, an early marriage, and
small children for several years, it wasn’t until I was middle-aged that I was able to go to
college. But once I got in, my family thought I’d never get out since I stayed to earn three
degrees. I had also always thought that I would write but felt that I needed to know something
before I could write something. So having an education in literature gave me the confidence to
at least attempt to write. Not, I hasten to add, that I thought I could write at the level of the
literature I’d studied, but at least I knew what great literature was. And some of the confidence
came from learning that popular literature also has a place—not a long-lasting place, perhaps,
but at least a welcome place.
Kym: I absolutely LOVE your drive, and that you admit to eavesdropping on conversations
in restaurants to get inspiration. Can you tell us about your most recent discovery that you’ve
added to the page?
Ann: I’m not sure exactly what page I’ve
added a recent discovery to... If it’s something I’ve mentioned on Facebook, I may be able to
say something before I send this to you, but then again, it may not have jelled by then. Stay
Kym: All of your Miss Julia novels are published in German, Japanese and Croatian. Have
you had to overcome any cultural issues with readers because of your widespread
Ann: I don’t think the books are still being
published in the languages you’ve mentioned, but some of them have recently been published
in Italian. And it’s astonishing to me that something as deeply Southern as my books would be
read in such different cultures. Last year a woman in Italy contacted me to say that her adult
class is reading my books in English in order to improve their spoken English. I had to laugh for
my books are certainly not written in Standard English, and I could just picture a group of
fashionable Italian men and women speaking a down-home, deep-South dialect.
Kym: OMG, that would be hilarious to hear! Many readers of a series have a favorite book.
Is there any book in the Miss Julia series that stands out to you as a writer, or are you in the
moment with each book you write?
Ann: I am mostly in the moment of
whatever book I’m working on. In fact, I often have to stop and think what the last one was
about. But I must say that the first book will always stand out for me since it started
everything. When I was shopping around for an agent, all I hoped for was to have that one
little book published with no thought of anything else. I was sure that in it, Miss Julia had said
all she had to say, or at least, I had. But I can still recall the amazement and downright fear I
had when I learned that not only did a publisher want that book, but three more, besides. And
that wanting hasn’t stopped yet.
Kym: I’m sure I’m one of many who wants the series to continue to be a success! Where
can our readers find you?
Ann: Website: www.missjulia.com, Email
at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Kym: Thank you for joining us on the Cozy Corner!
Ann: And thank you again for having me.
Your questions have been on the mark, very thought-provoking in fact, and I’ve enjoyed
Until next time, get cozy and read on!
Miss Julia #20
The delightful new installment of the beloved and New
York Times bestselling Miss Julia series
When Miss Julia's regular doctor goes on vacation with his
wife, leaving a replacement in his stead, Miss Julia is
immediately concerned. Never one to miss an opportunity to
entertain--or size up--a newcomer, she invites the charming
Dr. Don Crawford, and his painfully shy wife, Lauren, to
dinner. While Miss Julia and Sam both note Lauren's obvious
lack of social skills, it's her friends Hazel Marie and
Binkie that pick up on some of Dr. Crawford's less palatable
Meanwhile, Lloyd has gotten his first car, and LuAnne, fresh
off her divorce, has started a job at the local funeral home
and is in urgent need of an occupation-appropriate
makeover--Miss Julia has enough on her plate. Yet there is
just something she can't place about the Crawfords, and she
won't rest until she gets to the bottom of it.
As always, hijinks ensue as Ann B. Ross delivers this
delightful and entertaining installment, Miss Julia Takes
the Wheel, in her bestselling Miss Julia series.
Mystery [Viking, On Sale: April 2, 2019, Hardcover / e-
Book, ISBN: 9780525560487 / eISBN: 9780525560494]
Ann B. Ross holds a doctorate in
English from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill,
and has taught literature at UNC, Asheville.
2 comments posted.
All the power to you , I wish I could write, I always tried but was never good at it !!!
(Margo Beredjiklian 7:31pm April 1)
I discovered Miss Julia at BlueWillow Bookstore in Houston after a district library meeting. It was my first time in that delightful store and each time I returned, I bought another Miss Julia. Thank you for all the wonderful time I have spent with your books. This the first one that I can not share with my sister and that makes me a little sad but I suspect that I will feel like I am sharing it with her as I read.
(Billie Jackson 8:58pm April 5)