Julie Cohen has spent her life in the land of words. As an accomplished author, creative writing tutor, and Vice President of the Romantic Novelists Association, Julie’s name and reputation in the industry precedes her.
Her novels have been translated into seventeen different languages, more than a million copies have been sold worldwide, and so far she has had two books picked for The Richard and Judy Book Club (Together and Dear Thing), Julie has amassed a large and loyal fan base.
So, it is no surprise that when Julie releases a new book, details are eagerly anticipated.
We are honoured to say that we are helping the cover reveal of her new book Spirited.
Spirited – By Julie Cohen
Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her—and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye…
Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection sparks between them—but Victorian society is no place for reckless women.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight.
We asked Julie a few questions ahead of her cover reveal to find out a little more about Spirited and the inspiration behind her novel.
Q1: This is quite a departure from your other published novels. As your first Historical Fiction novel, have you always wanted to venture into this genre?
This book actually didn’t start out as a Julie Cohen novel at all. A few years ago, I had a dispute with my then-publisher. I was trying to decide whether to withdraw a book from them, or to make the changes they suggested, which I thought would make the book worse. I was pretty sure that either way, my career was over. So I started writing a Victorian queer historical, for my agent to shop around under a pen name, so I could reinvent myself as a historical novelist. In the end, I moved to Orion, who are wonderful, and my agent and editor decided to publish the Victorian novel under my own name.
Q2: Where did this nugget of an idea emerge from? Can you give us a little background on why you felt compelled to write Spirited?
I have an MPhil in Victorian children’s literature, particularly in the topic of fairies and how they represent the idealised child, and part of that research was to look at the faked Cottingley fairy photographs of 1917. I got pretty interested in the topic of faked spirit photography from that, and so that’s where the idea for Spirited came from. Viola is an amateur photographer, who is taking photographs to distract her from her grief for her dead father and the failure of her marriage. Until one day, a ghost turns up in one of the photographs.
Q3: In three words, what can your readers expect from Spirited?
Feminism, ghosts and love
Q3: Tell us a little about the cover for your latest novel – how important do you feel book cover design?
I love the cover for Spirited because it’s fresh, evocative and lively, and yet without using any of the clichés of the genre it tells you its historical period and that it is about women.
Q4: Be honest now, do you judge a book by its cover? Can you give us an example of a few of your favourite covers of all time? (if you have a screen shot/picture of the book covers, that would be great.)
I’d like to say that I don’t judge a book by its cover, because I know how difficult it can be to get a cover that accurately reflects what’s inside a book. But in truth I totally pick up books just because of their covers. I love a physical book, and I love a beautiful one.
When we were briefing the cover for Spirited, I kept on coming back to the cover for Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, because I thought it was lively, classy and intriguing.
Q5: Spirited hits the shelves on July 9th – can you recommend your readers any books to keep their twitchy fingers busy until then? Maybe some of the books in this genre that will whet their appetite ready for Spirited?
I’m loving The Bronte Mysteries series by Rowan Coleman, writing as Bella Ellis. The first one is called The Vanished Bride. They re-imagine the Bronte sisters as amateur detectives. I also recently loved The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sarah Collins, which is a stunningly-written Victorian gothic about race and gender.
I haven’t read it yet but Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell promises to be an absolute stunner. And of course Fingersmith by Sarah Waters is, in my opinion, one of the most perfect historical novels ever written.
So – I think we have kept you long enough now… without further ado… here is the cover of Spirited in all it’s glory!
About the Author
Julie Cohen grew up in Maine and studied English at Brown University, Cambridge University and the University of Reading. Her award-winning novels have sold over a million copies worldwide, and she has twice been selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in the UK. Julie runs an oversubscribed literary consultancy which has helped many writers go on to be published. She is a Vice President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, founder of the RNA Rainbow Chapter, and a Patron of literacy charity ABC To Read. Her bestselling novel TOGETHER has been translated into eleven languages and optioned for television adaptation; THE TWO LIVES OF LOUIS & LOUISE was long-listed for the Polari Prize and has been optioned by Enderby Entertainment as a feature film. Her first historical novel, SPIRITED, will be published in July 2020. She lives in Berkshire with her family and a terrier of dubious origin.
Spirited is out on 9th July and you can pre-order it here: https://www.waterstones.com/book/spirited/julie-cohen/9781409179870