5 from 35: Author Q & A with Julie Langsdorf

LangsdorfJulie Langsdorf, 55, publishes her first book, WHITE ELEPHANT, today.

How long did it take you to write your first (published) book, start to finish?

That’s a surprisingly complicated question! I started writing White Elephant in 2005 and finished it a few years later, but I’ve been checking in on it now and then ever since, so…I think I’ll say three for the sake of dignity, but it has been subject to revisions from time to time.

What kind of work did you do to support yourself while writing your first book?

I was raising my children at the time, so raising them and the writing was my work.

What compelled you to write your story?

I wrote the book after a series of articles appeared in The Washington Post about a
local town considering instituting a one-year building moratorium to stem the tide
of mcmansions. It fascinated me to read about formerly neighborly neighbors
turning on one another. How did they go from welcoming one another with
brownies to wanting to kill each other? I decided to create my own community to
puzzle it out.

Did you ever want to quit? If yes, what kept you going? If no, what kept you going?

I definitely wanted to quit several times. With good reason. I started writing fiction
in 1990—back in the last century! I was still in my twenties! While I had some minor
successes, I could not seem to get a book published. Sometimes I wondered who in
the world I was doing it for. I would quit periodically, but never for long. Once it had
me in its grip there was no real turning back.

What are you reading right now?

I am currently reading a terrific debut novel by Lillian Li called Number One Chinese
Restaurant. It’s a fun romp that takes place at a fictional Chinese restaurant in
Rockville, Maryland. I think my family used to go its non-fictional counterpart when
I was growing up in nearby Kensington…