Q&A: Julie Murphy, Author of ‘Faith: Taking Flight!’

Faith: Taking Flight

We recently had the chance of sitting down with Julie Murphy, author of the acclaimed Dumplin’ (which has been adapted by Netflix, go check it out!), Ramona Blue and many more along her upcoming release Faith: Taking Flight! We got to ask Julie all about her current obsessions, how Faith’s story took flight (excuse the pun), and what she’s working on now!

Contents

Hi, Julie! Thanks so much for chatting with us. Why don’t you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Hi! Thank you so much for having me. A little about myself? Hmmm, well I originally hail from the library world, where I quickly fell in love with writing alongside the teens I was working with at the moment. I believe deeply that all bodies are good bodies and I try to effuse that into my work by writing plus size characters who are both extraordinary and completely ordinary.

What’s the last song, last movie, and last book you absolutely loved?

Slip Away by Perfume Genius (with Dancing Queen by Abba in a close second). Both are great songs for dancing in your underwear during a pandemic. I’m on a TV series kick at the moment, so I’m going to go with What We Do In The Shadows since the movie and tv show are equally perfect in their own ways. And for a book, I absolutely fell in love with You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson.

Now tell us about Faith!

Faith is a fan-favorite character from Valiant Comics. Faith Taking Flight is a young adult origin story for Faith where we meet her just as she’s coming into her powers during her senior year of high school. It’s a super hero origin story, yes, but I really like to think of it as a coming-of-age story first and foremost. Soon after Faith gains the ability to fly, people and all over town start to go missing just as her favorite TV show relocates to her town. Faith connects with her celebrity crush, which is a dream come true, but she also has to figure out what’s going on in town before someone she loves is the next to disappear.

What inspired this story? What was your writing process like?

I really latched on to Faith’s fandom obsession. That’s what really got me hooked in the first place. Faith loves plenty of established fandoms, but I was so excited to create a fictional show she could obsess over, which is where The Grove came from. The process on this book was totally different and really collaborative. I had the chance to work with a few editors at Valiant to bring this book to life. We would have weekly calls to hash out plot and story details and they were always on hand as I was writing if I needed any continuity help.

You have been writing books for a long time now – what’s the best and worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? And the baton, what advice would you give fellow writers?

I have three pieces of writing advice, which all tie back to the best and worst advice I’ve ever been given.

  1. Read everything. Read what you like. Read what you hate. Figure out why things work and why they don’t. Libraries are your free writing education.
  2. Before I focused in on writing, I went to school for political science and I became very close with one of my professors. After college we kept in touch, and when I eventually broke the news to him that I wasn’t returning for law school or a masters in constitutionally law or something like that, I told him I wanted to be a writer. He told me to treat it like a job long before anyone was paying me. No one will take you seriously unless you take yourself seriously. Writing will always be just a hobby for as long as you treat it like one. Commit to write. It doesn’t have to be every day or even every week. But follow through on your commitments.
  3. Writing advise is bullshit. There is no one way to write. Find what works for you. There are no rules. The worst writing advice I’ve ever been given has always been overly prescriptive. (Write every day! Don’t use adjectives! Etc.) Glean what you find helpful and leave the rest.

Now, about Faith! Who would be Faith’s, her friends’ and her grandmother’s favorite superhero and why?

This is a tough one! I think Faith would be a fan of Captain Marvel or Ms. Marvel. Ches, her witchy best friend, would go for Scarlet Witch. I think Matt, her boy crazy other BFF, would be a fan of anyone hunky or funny, so maybe Deadpool or Star-Lord. Grandma Lou would definitely have a soft spot for Professor X and maybe even ship Magneto and Professor X. Am I going too deep in the weeds here? Ha!

Faith’s grandmother deals with the first signs of dementia in the story and this has a huge impact not only on her but also on how Faith feels uprooted. How did you go about researching and writing about dementia?

I definitely did research on the different types of dementia and the early signs, but I also spoke with friends and family who have had to personally deal with this with their loved ones. For as important as the actual academic research is, it’s just important to understand the accompanying emotional journey during something like that.

I have to say, I absolutely adored the body positivity and queer goodness you served with Faith Herbert! Can you share a bit more about her character and what it was like writing from her perspective? Did her voice come easily to you or was she tough to figure out?

Thank you! She’s bubbly and book smart and a little naïve. And she’s fat! Not just slightly curvy, but actually plus size. She’s a mega fangirl and incredibly optimistic. Faith and I are plus size and that’s pretty much where our similarities begin and end. I think seeing her so well established in Valiant’s universe really helped me tap into her voice, but it’s always a challenge for me to lean into optimism when I’m writing, so that was definitely a challenge. Faith doesn’t present as queer in the comics, but it didn’t feel like a leap for me to write her as queer/questioning as a young adult. First off, she’s in high school—who in high school isn’t questioning absolutely every thing? And second—queer people shouldn’t be defined by the people they are in relationships with. Our sexual identities can exist outside of our relationships. My spouse is a cis het man. That doesn’t make me any less bisexual. So that was an aspect of Faith I was really excited to write and something I was glad to know that the team at Valiant was also open to.

Now, I love the cinematic feel that your writing has – if Faith was to be adapted, is there an actress you’d have in mind for Faith and maybe Dakota?

Oh, this is a tough one! Joy Nash (from Dietland) narrated the audio book and did a fantastic job, so I think she would be a great fit for an adult Faith. (As well as Britney Young, Jen Ponton, or Danielle MacDonald!) For a teen Faith though? That’s hard. I think I’d want to see an unknown take on teen Faith. (And to be honest, there aren’t a ton of fat actresses at the right age out there. I want to see more!) For Dakota, I could see a younger version of Bex Taylor-Klaus. Of course, I have a soft spot for Bex and Danielle from Dumplin’, but they’re growing up!

From the way The Grove was described, it gave me some serious Riverdale mixed with 90210 vibes (just, you know, running for way longer)! What shows influenced the way you pictured The Grove?

Creating The Grove was one of my favorite parts of this process! I like to think of it as a mash-up of Degrassi, Riverdale, and X-Men lite.

With Faith: Taking Flight releasing soon, are you already working on other projects? And if so, could you share a few tidbits with us?

I am! I just announced that my next release will be the third and final Dumplin’ book, titled Pumpkin. This one has a new character at the helm with all our favorites making returns. All I can really say is and super queer!

Last but not least, do you have any bookish recommendations for our readers?

Yes! Felix Ever After by Kacen Callendar, A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow, All The Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown, You Say It First by Katie Cotugno, and The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson.

About Charles 26363 Articles
Charles writes for the Headline column of the website. He has done major in English, and a having a diploma in Journalism. He has worked for more than 1.5 years in a media house. Now, he joined our team as a contributor for covering the latest US headlines. He is smart both by him looks and nature. He is very good with everyone in the team.

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