GrubStreet runs on coffee, printer ink, and community. This series features just some of the Grubbies who make our community strong. In this edition, meet Julie Carrick Dalton, graduate of both the Novel Generator and the Novel Incubator. Julie has published over a thousand news and feature articles in BusinessWeek, Inc. Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Hollywood Reporter, Baby Talk and dozens of other publications. Her short fiction has appeared in The MacGuffin and The Charles River Review.
What author, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with and why?
Jhumpa Lahiri. The elegance of her writing in Interpreter of Maladies inspired me in so many ways, particularly the way she uses food to develop characters. Whenever I think about the characters in that book I experience a Pavlovian hunger pang and a sense of yearning. When I have my imaginary dinner with Jhumpa, I hope we spend hours preparing the meal together the way the characters in so many of her stories do. Great, now I’m hungry.
When do you feel most like a writer?
I feel most like a writer when I can’t stop thinking about characters or scenes I’m working on. I run and swim a lot. When I get through a run or swim without realizing time passed because I was so possessed by figuring out a scene, that’s when I feel like a writer. When I drive for hours without turning on the radio because the drama in my head is more interesting than the news; when I figure out a satisfying solution to a plot point that was giving me fits; when I feel at ease with other writers, sharing our joys, fears, successes, and disappointments; and when I give in to the compulsion to write, even when I question my own abilities—those are the times I feel most like a writer.
A peach cosmo with crudely muddled mint in it. It’s called ImPeachMint. I highly recommend it.
Most interesting hobby?
I’m obsessed with kitchen chemistry. Pickling, preserving, dehydrating. I love messing around with the ratios of salt, sugars, and yeast in bread recipes. I’m also really into inventing quirky vegetarian recipes. I just perfected the most amazing vegan fudgesicle that will bring chocolate (and dairy) lovers to their knees. I particularly love using ingredients I grow myself and transforming them into something no one has eaten before. I also make great paneer, mozzarella, and other cheeses.
Just one? The Novel Incubator changed me in a lot of ways. As a writer, I learned to approach writing from a more technical perspective and to focus on structure, character desires, and consequences. I better understand the need for clear arcs and earned outcomes. I’m much more ruthless with own writing. As a reader, I have better appreciation and respect for what an author went through to get their words into print. I’ve become a harsher critic, but also a more joyous supporter of other writers—particularly other Grubbies. As a human being, I found where I’m supposed to be: at GrubStreet. My classmates inspire me, not just because they are talented writers, but because they are generous, wise, and supportive. Our year-long class ended in April, but whenever I’m struggling with a scene, a character, or even a rejection letter, the Incubees are always there for me. And I’m pretty sure they always will be.
Want to find out more about all the other amazing people who make the GrubStreet community what it is? Check them all out here! And while you’re at it, see what classes are on offer at Grub this fall.