ABOUT JULIE ARTZ

  • I spent my young life sneaking into wardrobes hoping to make it to Narnia. Now that I’m a bit older, people think that’s sort of creepy, so I work as an author, developmental editor, and book coach instead.

    In all seriousness, every job I’ve had from my first work-study job as an editor in DePauw’s Writing Center to working the children’s section of a small independent bookstore to writing instructions for computer software, involved writing and editing. And I’ve been an obsessive reader since I fell in love with The Fantastic Mr. Fox in first grade. So when our relocation to Helsinki, Finland in 2010 meant that staying at home with our two young children made more sense than me trying to work a 9-5 job, I picked up the proverbial pen and turned my focus to writing and editing fiction and narrative non-fiction. I am a Pitch Wars and Teen Pit mentor and am also Co-Regional Advisor of SCBWI Western Washington. 

    I talk about writing and books on The Winged Pen and MG @ Heart, but you can also connect with me on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook.

ARTIST STATEMENT

  • I was that kid who spent years—long after my friends had moved on to Sweet Valley Highand Teen Beat—sneaking into wardrobes searching for Narnia. So after nearly two decades of writing everything from book reviews for the local newspaper to technical training materials for software companies, I signed up for NaNoWriMo in 2013 and started drafting my first middle grade novel. 

     My work, on that novel and the four I’ve written since, explores the contrast between knowing you’re on the inevitable cusp of puberty while still hanging on to the joy and naivety that would lead a twelve-year-old girl to venture again and again into that wardrobe seeking magic and that child-like sense of wonder that begins to fade at the onset of the teen years. My characters, often misfits, chafe against the expectations the world imposes on them as they explore their world and through it, themselves. 

    Weaving in themes of environmentalism, love of the natural world, family secrets, and all that is magical and geeky about those turbulent middle school years, my work is a love letter to that past self and to all the children who might identify with her today. My latest story, a dark fantasy ugly duckling retelling in a second world fantasy setting introduces Gren, the character that is most like my own childhood self. She’s awkward, outspoken, and constantly reminded that she doesn’t belong even as she tries so hard to prove herself to a people who she ultimately discovers are not her true family. 

    The story works as a metaphor for how disorienting the body changes that come with puberty can be—Gren finds herself in a body that is not only different from that of her peers, but foreign to herself. But it also about the idea of finding community and friendship despite those differences.