Interview with Julia Rosemary Turk, author of the Lone Player trilogy

Manny: Hello, I’m Manny. 

Rochelle: And I’m Rochelle. 

Manny: We’re with Lost Island Press, interviewing Julia Rosemary Turk, author of upcoming YA nove Cut Deck, the sequel to her debut novel Lone Player

Rochelle: So Julia, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, and a little bit about Cut Deck?

Julia: Well, my name is Julia. I’m a full-time content writer at a digital marketing agency, and I’ve loved reading and writing for as long as I can remember. Cut Deck is the sequel to my book Lone Player. It’s been pretty fun to write. 

Manny: Well, it’s been really fun to read.

Julia: Thank you.

Manny: I have a question for you. If you were born in the world you’ve built in these novels, do you feel you would bear the struggle of following the Presidency or fight to become a rebel? 

Julia: I’m pretty scared in real life, so I don’t know what I’d end up doing. I like to think I would join the Unseen, though, because the idea of living on the Cut sounds really nice to me. Just out there in the woods. I think I’d live there, but I don’t think I would be a rebel. 

Manny: It’s peaceful. 

Julia: Yeah. 

Manny: So what were your inspirations for Eddie and Ren being the main characters throughout the series so far? And what brought you to write them as enemies to lovers? 

Julia: Well, I remember the night I came up with the book idea when I was twelve, because it started out with the idea of playing card tattoos. And I liked the idea of Runners and Chasers. I was like, wait a minute—what if a Runner and a Chaser had some kind of connection? So when I wrote the first draft of Lone Player, they actually weren’t enemies. They were friends. Something about it didn’t really feel right to me. I ended up changing it in the second draft because I felt like they just—I don’t know—needed that complex history. I really do enjoy the tension of enemies to lovers. I like exploring the lengths that people are willing to go for each other.

Rochelle: Wow, interesting. Now, other than Eddie and Ren, I found that there were a bunch of other characters who were deep and interesting.  Can readers expect to see some unexpected characters from Lone Player take a spotlight in Cut Deck?

Julia: In Cut Deck, there are new characters that weren’t in Lone Player, and I really enjoyed coming up with them. I always wanted to show more of the Agency—what’s going on deeper in the Presidency than where Ren is. You can expect to see new characters in Cut Deck that aren’t in Lone Player, and then also a little bit more about characters that are in Lone Player—and that’s all going to be expanded on in book three, which I’m excited about.

Rochelle: I’m excited about book three too.

Manny: Same.

Rochelle: In Lone Player, the character Cedar has a lot of experience with botanical medicine, and there’s a pretty strong emphasis on Eddie’s interest in botanical medicine both in Lone Player and Cut Deck. I was wondering if this is because you are a believer in trying natural remedies first and then recurring to pharmaceutical medicine, or if it’s a depends type of situation.

Julia: Well, I have chronic Lyme disease and co-infections. I actually rely on naturopathic medicine for my treatment. I grew up seeing all these different doctors and getting misdiagnosed and struggling to figure out what was happening. It wasn’t until 2021 that I got my Lyme diagnosis. I found a Lyme specialist who recommended that I try naturopathic medicine, because I’m sensitive to antibiotics, and they didn’t work on me in the past. Naturopathic medicine has been the only thing that’s helped with my symptoms. And I just—I love plants. So I wanted to talk about that in the Lone Player trilogy because I think it has a lot of value that people forget about today. 

Rochelle: That gives Margot’s story so much more meaning in Lone Player. Thank you for giving us that bit of information. It’s surprising since I typically never hear of people in defense of naturopathic medicine. I feel like people tend to rely too much on pharmaceutical medicine, so both the botanical emphasis in these books and the fact that you’re so open about this is interesting—and it adds a whole layer of depth to the book and the effort that went into writing and thinking about it.

Julia: Thank you for asking. 

Manny: So, on the basis of plants, we wanted to ask about Nightjade. Where did the term Nightjade come from?

Julia: When I was coming up with the idea, I knew I wanted something that was a mix of nightshade—I feel like that’s the most well-known poisonous plant, and I’m really interested in it. So I was like, okay, what if I combine it with a few other things? I liked the idea of combining it with the jade plant because it’s drought-tolerant and also not that good to ingest. Nightjade has a lot more plants combined than just those two, but that’s how I came up with the name. 

Manny: That’s awesome. I think that’s a good play on the name.

Julia: Thank you. 

Rochelle: Something I found very cool about this series is all the knife-throwing. Do you know how to throw knives? Or was there a lot of technical combat research involved?

Julia: I did a lot of research on knife throwing. I actually am not a coordinated person at all. I don’t think I could ever throw knives, but they’re really interesting. I watched videos on techniques and researched knife-throwing competitions. I think I did a few hours of research on that, looking through the different steps and stances—just a big deep-dive, but I’ve never thrown knives myself. 

Manny: I’ve tried it before. I actually got in trouble with my dad throwing knives at a wall in the garage. I didn’t have knives for a long time after that, but it’s super fun. 

Julia: Yeah.

Manny: So in terms of your writing, which is amazing, by the way…

Julia: Thank you.

Manny: What motivated you to write in the first place? And what is a writing tip you want to give your readers if they want to become writers themselves? 

Julia: I have been writing for a really long time. It started when I was little. I would glue together a bunch of pieces of paper and write all these different stories. And then—I think I was eight years old—I started playing around with Microsoft Word. I would start writing books and never finish them. I didn’t start taking it seriously until high school, because that’s when my health took a turn for the worst. And I was like, okay, realistically, I’m not going to be able to work at a job that is physically active. What’s something I could do at a desk that I would enjoy? Hmm…writing! But then I started to realize, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. So it’s partially because of my Lyme and partially because I just love it so much.

I think my number-one tip for anyone who wants to be a writer is to write every day and make it a habit. Make it something that you learn to need and rely on, because it really does help with a lot of different things. If you learn to love it and make it a part of your everyday life, it becomes a lot easier to get those first drafts done and to stop overthinking it. I feel like overthinking holds a lot of young writers back.

Rochelle: Thank you, Julia. That’s a great tip—making writing a habit—and I’m sure many people reading this interview will keep that in mind. As this meeting comes to an end, we wanted to ask you if there’s anything you want to say to your readers to prepare them for Cut Deck. How does it differ from Lone Player?

Julia: I feel like Cut Deck is a lot more fast-paced and higher-energy than Lone Player. Readers can expect to cry a lot, maybe laugh a little, and meet some new characters—and there’s another really cool playlist. 

Manny: Awesome. That is very exciting. I’m glad it’ll be coming out—uh—when will it be coming out? 

Julia: July 8th.

Manny: Can’t wait. Thank you for spending this time answering our questions. 

Julia: Yeah, thank you guys. 

Rochelle: Of course. We really enjoyed this interview. 

Julia: Me too.

Cut Deck releases on July 8, 2024. In this action-packed, romantic sequel, Julia Rosemary Turk deals another captivating hand in her world of cards. Click here to learn more.

Emmanuel Loomis

Emmanuel Loomis is an English major soon to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree from CSU Chico. He enjoys reading all kinds of stories, editing and providing feedback for peers, and writing his own content at the best of his voice. Emmanuel has been published for a few of his short stories in both CSU San Marcos’ 318 Journal and Chico’s own graduate-ran journal The Manzanita. Much more so than being an author, editor, or reader, Emmanuel’s number one hobby is making someone smile, and maybe even laugh if he’s had enough coffee that day.

Rochelle Fajgenbaum Harlev

Rochelle Fajgenbaum Harlev is a Jewish Panamanian student pursuing a Bachelor's in English at Florida International University. She dreams of becoming a professional editor and author. Whenever she's not busy dreaming, she's working towards making them come true. She's had the honor of working with Conocimientos Creativos and Lost Island Press. Apart from reading, writing, and revising, Rochelle loves learning new languages, watching soccer games, and trying out new ice cream parlors.