I’m thrilled to share something special with you this week – and that is the release of Julia Witmer’s novel, A Wilted Willow: Revised & Updated Edition!
Julia is a talented and inspirational Christian author with a passion for writing YA fantasy. Today, I’m thrilled to take part in her blog tour to promote her latest novel – which releases on Amazon December 8th!
To give you a glimpse of the story we’re about to discuss, here is A Wilted Willow‘s cover and synopsis…
Day one in fifteen-year-old Mira Miller’s new home, and a strange man steps through a door that should lead to nowhere. Informing her that a nation from another world needs help defeating a tyrant king with an insatiable taste for power, he presents her a choice: come with him and help, or stay behind and miss out on a chance for adventure.
Cadmus Clark, a quiet boy her age who’s more than happy sitting at home all day, reluctantly agrees to join Mira’s escapade after she arrives in his world. Faced with training for battle, a magical assassin, and worst of all, extended time with bossy Mira, Cadmus is certain he’ll regret his choice to help her.
Mira has a new skill to master. Cadmus has a stubborn girl to deal with. And together they have a war to win. They might just be in over their heads.
. . . But Mira would never admit that.
A month ago, I received an ARC copy of the novel, and now I’m here to share my own, spoiler-free thoughts on it – as well as an interview with the author herself! I’ll begin with my – honest – opinion.
My Review of A Wilted Willow
I enjoyed so much of this book, but to narrow it down, the three main things I loved were:
The characters are my favorite part about this novel. There is a vast variety of ‘cast-members’ that make their way through the story, and I enjoyed the relatability and unique-ness of each of them.
From the feisty heroine to the loyal allies to the fuzzy companions (not human, but still characters!), I rooted for them from the start. I love books that make me smile, and between the dialog and the engaging dynamics, I was smiling a lot. The banter between the two main characters is amusing and realistic.
Though he definitely did not make me smile, the villain is another excellently crafted character. In any given book, I expect a lot from villains, and Julia’s did not disappoint. His cool, collected method of achieving his sinister goals glued me to every page he appeared on.
The Plot Twists
No spoilers, but this book kept me on my toes. Just when I felt confident that I knew where the rest of the story was headed, the plot threw a massive curveball – and the story is 100% better for it.
Julia has done an excellent job crafting a YA fantasy that delivers on genre expectations, while still managing to put her own unique spin on clichés and stereotypes, and keep readers guessing until the very end. The longer I read, the more engrossed I became in the developing plot line.
The entire story setting of Nother World intrigued me from the beginning. Its cities, creatures, geography… Julia obviously has a clear grasp of the story world, and it shows. I was especially fascinated by the way she approached and explained the fantasy aspect; i.e. magic system. The balance between predictable and mysterious was just right for me.
My only qualm with the entire book is that I would have loved to see even more exploration of the characters, story world, and backstories. Being a shorter book, the story moved very quickly, and there were times I wanted to slow down and learn more. I like diving deep into the nitty gritty details of a fantasy.
But that being said, the story’s shorter length and straight-forward, easy-to-read writing style, makes it a perfect book for younger audiences, as well as an enjoyable one for older readers as well. It’s an amazing, engaging read with meaningful themes and enjoyable characters.
Overall, I really enjoyed A Wilted Willow. It engaged me, amused me, glued me to the entire second half, and left me with some profound truths to consider in my own life. The characters were superb, the story world intriguing, and the plot interesting and unique. I will definitely be reading it again!
Well, those are my thoughts on A Wilted Willow, and I hope they’ve been helpful to you. Now for the best part of this post, in my opinion…
An Interview With Julia Witmer:
10 Questions Answered
I really enjoyed getting the chance to chat with Julia about all the fun, behind-the-scenes aspects of her book! I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.
(My questions are in bold, and Julia’s answers are found below each one).
1. One thing I appreciated about this story was how I never knew what to expect. Just when I thought I knew where things were headed, you gave a surprising twist! What inspired you to write this story? Where did you find the idea for it?
Witmer: I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I went to watch Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and I absolutely loved the general “vibe” of the world I got. I loved the Victorian-inspired aspects of it, I loved the way the Fourth Realm felt (all the fog and dilapidated-looking things), and I wanted to create a world with a similar feel. Obviously it isn’t completely ripped from it (Nother World is nothing like the rest of the “realms” in that movie, nor is Nother World even exactly like the Fourth Realm), that was just where the idea started. The night we got back from the movie theatre, I wrote the entire first draft of the novella that’s now “Part Two” of A Wilted Willow: Revised & Updated Edition!
2. I really enjoyed the unique characters in this book, as well as their fun relationships. Although I liked all of them, I have to say that my favorite character was Cadmus. Do you have a favorite character? Who is it?
Witmer: What a coincidence—Cadmus is my favorite, too! I absolutely love the way he interacts with Mira and his personality in general. I was drawn to him as a character within minutes of thinking him up!
3. I’m curious – if you could spend a day with one of the characters from this book, which one would you choose and why? How do you think you’d spend it?
Witmer: Cadmus again! I would just love to meet him in person, because I really do think we’d get along. I think I’d probably go by a riverside with him and draw or write while he read a good book. He seems like the kind of person who’d enjoy just sitting in silence together. And maybe we could stop by a bookstore, too, haha!
4. Which of these characters do you relate to the most? In what ways?
Witmer: Is it…bad to say Cadmus yet again? I really do seem obsessed with him, don’t I? I promise I’m not. I just think we have a lot in common—a love for stories and seclusion, a need for an extroverted friend, a likelihood to protest going on an adventure with someone in the first place, only to end up enjoying ourselves along the way anyway…
5. What do you think has been the hardest part of writing this book? What’s been the easiest?
Witmer: I struggled the most with coming up with obstacles for this story, which is really ridiculous, because there are opportunities for them with the concept of it in itself. But for some reason, when I sat down to write this revised edition, I spent a lot of time staring at the screen and asking, “…What’s supposed to happen next?” Thankfully I overcame that (obviously, or this book wouldn’t be coming out!) but it was a struggle in the meantime.
The easiest thing for me was definitely writing the interactions with Mira and Cadmus. Their personalities complement each other very well, I think, and lead to plenty of clashing, banter, fun, and misunderstandings. I loved each time I got to write a scene with the two of them hanging out!
6. In September of 2019, you published the first version of A Wilted Willow. What prompted you to write another edition, and what’s changed?
Witmer: When I published A Wilted Willow as a 76 (ish) paged novella, I didn’t expect anyone to really want anything more. I thought it was a sturdy story on its own (otherwise I wouldn’t have published it) and I thought it made a good complete, standalone story. But then I got a lot of feedback from people saying that they really enjoyed the story, but they wanted to know what happened before all of what happened in the novella! So I decided, “Hey, I might as well go ahead and write a prequel and make it into one story!” And that’s just what I did.
The new version is now broken up into two parts: “Part One” is a prequel story to the novella previously published last year and “Part Two” is the novella that was previously published but with new scenes and some more editing, too. Plus, in the back of the book, there’s special features and fun tidbits. Over 278 pages have been added to the story overall, and I’m so excited for everybody to read them!
7. Who do you think would enjoy this book most?
Witmer: I think the main audience is probably girls ages 13-21 or so, but I also think it could be enjoyed by anyone who likes the YA (young adult) fantasy genre!
8. What writing project is next for you? Any sneak peeks you want to share?
Witmer: Well, at the moment, I’m working on the same project I’ve been working on for about six years—a story about Death incarnate (only here, he’s a nineteen-year-old-looking guy in a suit), fixing squabbles between brothers, and learning to forgive yourself and others. I’m hoping to traditionally publish that one someday, so for the time being I’m working on editing, editing, and lots more editing. But from what I can tell it’s almost done, and then I get to start the querying process!
9. I believe every author has special little tidbits, or ‘easter eggs’, if you will, about each of their books. Things readers may never know about our stories or characters, but we think they’re neat. Would you like to share any of those things about A Wilted Willow today?
Witmer: Well, let me think…Something that didn’t really come up much in the book but is my own little “head canon” (or, I suppose it isn’t a head canon since I’m the author, but…) that when Mira first goes over to Nother World at fifteen, it’s actually the mid-eighties, and when she goes back the second time, it’s the mid-nineties. I didn’t include it too much because I thought it would be distracting (since most of her time is spent in Nother World and not on earth), but I still love the idea of it…
10. I, for one, have been very inspired by your writing and publishing journey. What advice would you give to aspiring authors, and what’s one thing you wish you’d learned earlier?
Witmer: Thank you so much! I’m so happy to hear that.
As far as advice goes…I think it’s important for young and aspiring authors to realize that, while selling books is certainly nice, stories are so much more than how many times people have bought them. Not everyone will love your story, not everyone will buy your story, but if you feel called to publish that story, then pursue that path! If that’s traditional publishing, go for it. If it’s indie, go for it. But no matter what, your story is more than what people think of it. You put time and effort into that story. It might not be perfect, but it’s yours, and that’s a beautiful thing that I think artists of all kinds (authors, actors, artists, musicians) tend to overlook in their own work.
I wish I’d learned earlier that, while writing is important and stories are important, they aren’t my identity, and they don’t need to consume me. As a Christian, I feel stories are a gift. A blessing. But for a long time, I honestly put them up on a bigger pedestal than I should have. My identity isn’t in my writing (and if it was, then any time someone bashed it my self-esteem would go waaay down!), it’s in Christ. And it’s so important for me to hold onto that, because that identity is unwavering.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions today, Julia! I’m very excited for A Wilted Willow‘s release, and it’s been great to hear from you. Good luck with your launch!
Witmer: Thank you for having me! I enjoyed getting the chance to chat with you. And thank you!
And that concludes my interview with Julia, as well as my review of A Wilted Willow: Updated & Revised Edition! I hope you had as much fun as I did, and I also hope you’ll consider purchasing your own copy of the book on December 8th!
OR, if you’re an ebook reader, you can pre-order your own ebook copy today, and have it delivered straight to your Kindle on release date. You can do that here.
OR, do both. You have plenty of options, haha.
No matter how you do it, I do hope you decide to read A Wilted Willow. I’m certainly glad I did, and look forward to reading it again in paperback form (there’s just something I love about holding a real book in my hands…).
I hope you’ll join in my excitement for Tuesday!
1. Julia’s complete tour schedule and links to the participating blogs are as follows:
(December 2nd) Julia Witmer: “A Wilted Willow” Blog Tour Launch ( https://juliawitmerblog.wordpress.com/ )
(December 2nd) Stepping Stones Book Reviews: Book Review and Author Interview ( https://steppingstonesbookreviews.blogspot.com/ )
(December 3rd) Annabeth Hazel: Character Interview ( https://annabethhazel.wordpress.com/ )
(December 4th) E.G. Bella: Book Review and Author Interview
( https://egbella.com/ )
(December 7th) Raina Nightingale: Book Review
( https://enthralledbylove.com/ )
(December 8th) Ribbon Ash: Book Review and Author Interview ( https://ribbonash.blogspot.com/ )
2. Julia’s bio:
Julia Witmer is an eighteen-year-old Christian writer with a passion for all things imaginative and creative. Her creativity usually expresses itself in the form of YA fantasy. When she isn’t typing away at her computer, Julia enjoys devouring the advice of other authors on blogs, listening to music, and nursing her unhealthy obsession with Doctor Who, Sherlock and The Mentalist. Making her home in Chiang Mai, Thailand, she enjoys the advantages of homeschooling and the extra time spent with her parents, siblings, favorite cat, Layla, and her sweet Shih Tzu puppy, Mercy.