01 September 2011

Interview with Julie Klassen

by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Julie Klassen is the author of The Girl in the Gatehouse (Bethany House 2010), The Silent Governess, The Apothecary’s Daughter, Lady of Milkweed Manor, and coming in December, 2011: The Maid of Fairbourne Hall.

I met Julie through one of the online chapters of ACFW--HisWriters, for authors who have either published or planned works with European characters. 

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall  -     
        By: Julie Klassen
Julie, welcome to Overcoming Through Time.  

I am looking forward to your upcoming release (cover shown above!)

Would you share either the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help, or the most tragic situation or circumstance one of your character’s has had to get past?

My characters have hard far tougher lives than I have (thank God). Some have found themselves abandoned by loved ones, caring for ailing parents or friends and siblings with disabilities, having to run away for fear of their lives, and more.

In The Girl in the Gatehouse, Mariah Aubrey finds herself banished from her home and family after she is discovered in a compromising situation with a man. In those days, such a scandal would be the end of a woman’s life as she knew it. In writing this book, I was inspired by the character of Maria Bertram in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, who “destroyed her own character” and was sent away forever from her family. Period. Now, we do not admire vain and adulterous Maria Bertram and most readers likely feel she earned her just deserts. But I found myself wondering, “What if Maria were a character we actually cared about? Would we be content to leave her in her lonely exile?” As someone who has made her share of mistakes in life, I am thankful for second chances. And I enjoyed giving Mariah Aubrey hers as well.

What is your favorite bible verse and why?

One of my favorites is Philippians 1:6: For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ 

I cling to it because I am far from perfect. I didn’t come to Christ until my twenties and still have a long way to go. This is likely the reason my books seem to deal with the redemption of past mistakes and God’s mercy. Something I’m very thankful for in my own life.

Disability friendliness:
Julie Klassen’s books are available in large print, e-book, and audio book.  (For which I am very grateful!!!) This week I have put my audio reviews of all of Julie's books up for the week, with one more coming - The Girl in the Gatehouse, which Julie described, above.  

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?
While each book has its own particular theme (forgiveness, contentment, unconditional love, etc.) the main thing I would like to leave readers with, is that while we as people are imperfect and make mistakes, our perfect Heavenly Father offers us forgiveness and second chances though His son.

As you researched your books, did you learn anything that particularly touched your heart?
I used to think I had been born in the wrong time and longed for the romance of the Regency era. Now that I have learned more through research, I thank God I am living today! Yes, it could be a romantic time (if you had money) but it was also a difficult time. So many of the hardships I’ve learned about (the difficult fate of “fallen” women, foundlings, and people with disabilities) have touched me and ended up in some form or other in my books.

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?
The only disability (besides Mariah’s inability to accept forgiveness) I can think of in The Girl in the Gatehouse is a character named Martin who has lost a hand and wears a prosthetic hook. (My friend Mark, who has a prosthetic foot, claims that he inspired that character!) Still, I’ve heard from many readers who relate to Mariah’s struggle to accept God’s forgiveness for her past mistakes and to embrace the new life He offers.
The Apothecary's Daughter  -     
        By: Julie Klassen
But probably the strongest example I can give about one of my books providing a therapeutic influence would be in The Apothecary’s Daughter, in which the main character’s best friend suffers from “falling sickness” or what is now called epilepsy. Let me share an excerpt from a recent reader letter:
“I have just finished reading The Apothecary's Daughter.  I could not put it down until I finished it. I wanted to write to you regarding your character Mary Helen Mimpurse. She is now my favorite character in a book.  I have a seizure disorder that is now controlled with medication.  It is so easy for me to imagine what my life would have been like way back when and not expect to ever find a husband just because I have "fits" from time to time. Also to have such a short life span.

I wanted to thank you also for Mary's description for her seizures.  It is very difficult to explain to someone who doesn't have them, just what happens to yourself when they occur.  As I read Mary's description tears came to my eyes.
"Thank you for showing that seizures are not a mentally debilitating disease. I still run into people this day and age who believe that epilepsy or seizures make you defective. You showed Mary as such a wonderful and NORMAL woman with a disease that (at the time) was basically a death sentence. Thank you for a wonderful book.”

Thank you Julie for agreeing to answer these questions.  I love your books!  Have a blessed day and keep on writing!!

Giveaway:  Leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win a copy of one of Julie's books in your choice of format (including pre-release copy of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall). 


  1. Julie, I've read several of your books and really enjoyed them. Funny Carrie did this interview today. I lent a box of books to my boss who is looking for good, Christian fiction, and she told me last night, yours (The Apothecary's Daughter) was the one that stood out among the rest. She's a hard sell, so that's HIGH praise. Thanks for the good reads!

  2. Great interview!!! It appeals to me because of the struggles with relationships, or lack thereof, because of my disabilities. I would love an opportunity to win your book.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  3. Julie Klassen is one of my favorite authors, her books can't come out fast enough! :) I'd love to win her newest book.

    sunshine6892 at hotmail dot com

  4. Connie, I love everything about Julie's writing! I am so looking forward to her next audiobook. I usually have to wait though a little bit until Audible has them up, hence my reviews lag a little on those.

  5. Hi Julie. I loved The Girl in the Gatehouse. I'm looking forward to reading your new book.

    Jodie Wolfe

  6. Count me in.

    -Britt T.


  7. Wonderful interview, Carrie and Julie! I'm really looking forward to Julie's upcoming release...very eye-catching!

  8. Hi cbalmony, So glad to hear your hard-to-please boss enjoyed The Apothecary's Daughter. Thanks for letting me know.

  9. Hi Cathy & Linda, Thanks for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

  10. Julie -

    Have loved your books! My Mother-in-Love even made through Girl in the Gatehouse! [So not her usual fare - and not really a reader in the first place - but she loved it!]

    Would love to win a copy of the newest one!

    carolmoncado at gmail dot com

  11. I love the idea of taking up one of Austen's "discarded" characters. :)

    rmjagears AT gmail DOT com

  12. Jody, I think I say that about each one of Julie's books after I read them. That one was my favorite, lol! Good to see you here!

  13. I've enjoyed each of Julie's books, especially since I was able to read them each in large print or on my Kindle. I wish more new releases came out in LP or e-book format right away.

  14. I absolutely loved "The Apothecary's Daughter" and "The Silent Governess" I can't wait to get "The Lady of Milkweed Manor" from the Library!! When I read Mrs. Klassen's books I feel like I am taken to another world!!! I would really love to win a copy of her newest books! (:


  15. I love everything Julie Klassen and can't wait to read her new coming book. I find the characters so interesting and the unfolding of their personalities as intriguing as the plot itself. There is always so much to consider and reflect upon while reading - she has a skill for showing the redeeming love of God.

    Thanks, Carrie, for another great interview. I'm glad you ask the thoughtful questions you do related to bibliotherapy. My mother has epilepsy and it was good to see how Julie's reader was ministered to while reading The Apothecary's Daughter, as we both were.

  16. Hi Carol! Glad you and your mom-in-law enjoyed The Girl in the Gatehouse. Tell her "hi" for me.

  17. Hi Melissa. Nice to "see" you here. Hope all is well with you.

  18. Her first book, The Lady of Milkweed Manor, is still my favorite but I look forward to everyone of her books! Would love to win her newest...


  19. Hi KayKay, so glad to hear the books "take you away" to another world. That's something I enjoy about historical books, too.

  20. I have read all of Julie's books and love them and her strong characters that live real life! I would very much like to have Julie's newest book!! I like books I can hold in my hands and turn the pages myself! It would be hard for me to choose one of Julie's books as my favorite as I get lost within each one. Excellent writer, taking you where they are with each footstep. Thank you, Julie!

  21. Ooops, my email is

  22. Julie's writing is outstanding! I can't put her books down once I start them, even though historical fiction is not my typically favorite genre. Would love to get her new book.

  23. I've loaned all four of my precious "Julie" books to a dear friend of mine in the hopes that she'll love them as much as I do. I would LOVE to enter the giveaway and get the new book. Once I start one of Julie's books, I read it until I'm finished (so I make myself wait until I have several hours at once to read!). I'm so looking forward to the new one!

  24. ...And in my excitement, I forgot my email address: ConnieTroyer77@gmail.com. Thanks for the review and the chance to enter!

  25. All of Julie's books are refreshing read. They make me think about topics I normally wouldn't think about. My email is stonewriter_23@yahoo.com

  26. Hi, Carla! I have family members who suffer from epilepsy as well. Great to hear how Julie's book ministered to all of you!

    debbajane, I'm with you on The Lady of Milkweed Manor...my favorite as well!

    Lane Hill House, I agree there's nothing like the feel of that book in your hands, but, oh, how I so have grown to love my Kindle as well. Kimberly and Abby, I agree...the sooner the better!

    Sara, I know that encourages Julie that even though historical isn't your usual genre, you love her books!

    Connie, how kind of you to loan Julie's books out to your friend...I do the same!

    Thank you for your comment, stonewriter, I totally agree! Thank you all for your warm and encouraging comments, and all of you have been entered to win one of Julie's fabulous books!

  27. Great interview! I'd love a chance to win one of Julie's books. twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

  28. Julie is one of my 'automatic' purchases. If she has a new book, I buy it.

  29. Aww...thanks Debra!
    And thanks to you, Pegg, too. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

  30. Waving to you both! Debra, I'm still smiling at some of your previous posts...you're a gem! I'll never forget the "trawling through cyberspace comment". lol

  31. Julie is a phenomenal writer! Her talent is expressed so skilfully in the pages of her books. I have read them all, and would say The Girl in the Gatehouse and The Silent Governess would tie for my favorites. I would love to win a copy of her newest book, which I will read if I win it or not!
    My email address is morninglori_4@yahoo.com

  32. Gloria, you are so right! And that is what everyone says about her in the writer communities. Ok, since you share the same last name I started wondering if there was any connection?

  33. I think one of the best parts of Julie's writing is the good old-fashioned love story - sweet and simple. The way Julie captures how a woman of that era would think is perfect.
    Kirsten Goodwalt

  34. I loved Girl at the Gatehouse and passed the book onto my sister.

    Iris Millett, bookmaniacs@msn.com

  35. Julie,
    I am excited that your latest book will be out soon!
    Your books take me to another time period just as Victoria Holt used to do when I was a teenager. I so love that, but I love it even more that your books present God's grace!
    Thank you for blessing me as one of your readers and giving God the glory through your talent of writing.
    I feel closer to you after meeting you a while ago in Chillicothe, Ohio:) and think of you often. It was a great pleasure meeting you.
    Many Blessings and Smiles:)
    Charlotte Kay
    charlovesmark at gmail dot com

  36. Hi Kirsten--thanks; I appreciate your comment.
    You,too,Iris. Thanks for sharing my book with your sister.
    And, hi there Charlotte. Nice to "see" you again here. I appreciate your encouragement.
    Have a great weekend, all!

  37. I am off to the beach to watch my husband and son fight the waves here at the Outer Banks of NC! When I get back I will do a drawing and we will see who our Julie Klassen week winner is!!!

  38. Thank you for sharing this! I love Julie's books; I am a big fan of hers. :)

    Have a great weekend,

  39. Anne Payne is the WINNERof JK week on OTT! Congrats!! Diana and I are so glad you stopped by and comment on our blog! Julie K is an awesome writer and Diana and I LOVE her work!!! Check your email!

  40. Congrats to Anne Payne, who must have had the luck of the Irish on her side this week, winning out of all these comments!:-)

    I believe Carrie deserves a cyber standing "o" for the marvelous job she has done on our blog for "Julie Klassen" week, don't y'all!? It's been wonderful!

  41. Lovely interview! I love, love, loved The Girl in the Gate House. It was my favorite book of the summer, well actually for 2011. :) I look forward to The Maid of Fairbourne Hall.

    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

  42. Well, Merry, me too, and I was "bad" and did not get my The Girl in the Gatehouse review up yet! Am looking at scheduling that near Julie's next release with another giveaway then. Made it safely home from the beach, tho, and did have WiFi and internet there!!

    Thanks, Diana, for your encouraging words! You are such a blessing to me!!!

  43. Congrats, Anne! And thanks everyone for all the great comments. I appreciate you all.


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