June 24, 2017

IN ANOTHER LIFE wins GOLD! It was named Fantasy Book of the Year at the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards on June 24, during the American Library Association’s annual conference. The awards recognize the best books published in 2016 from small, indie, and university presses. OMG!!!

May 16, 2017

IN ANOTHER LIFE is a finalist for the Women's Fiction Writers Association Annual STAR Award for Debut Novel!

 

March 17, 2017

In Another Life is a finalist!

Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Honor the Best Books from Independent Publishers

Chosen from over 2,250 individual entries, Finalists for the Foreword INDIES represent some of the best books from non-Big 5 publishers and authors. Finalists move onto judging by librarians and booksellers, and winners will be announced June 24.

August 1, 2016

A wonderful interview in The Tishman Review with editor Lauren Davis: 

 

July 12, 2016

Spotting IN ANOTHER LIFE in the wild: at a party in a stack of summer reads; in Ohio University's alumni magazine; in the stacks at a library ...

 

June 24, 2016

So very honored to see IN ANOTHER LIFE included on this list of reads recommended by Tufts University faculty and staff, alongside some of my recent favorite books (and my own To Read list just grew significantly longer . . .).

Tufts University Recommended Summer Reading

Photo: Depositphotos

Photo: Depositphotos

April 28, 2016

Celebrating this sweet recommendation in The Seattle Times by feature writer Melinda Bargreen: 4 Novels by Washington State Authors to Fill the 'Downton Abbey' Gap

March 10, 2016

The AUDIOBOOK is here! Audible.com has just released In Another Life on AudioBook. Click here for more information:  IN ANOTHER LIFE and newsletter subscribers, stay tuned for a GIVEAWAY announcement!


February 27, 2016

The Before and After of tonight's talk and reading at

The Writers' Workshoppe and Imprint Books. Not a single copy remains!

February 22 - 29, 2016

Five Great Novels, One Amazing Giveaway

Now through February 29, 2016, Enter to win all five of these new releases - highly praised, critically acclaimed, beautifully written (I'm going with the flow here, people, since my novel is in this collection and I'm GOBSMACKED!). You guys, this is one heckuva a giveaway. Click on the photo to enter. 


February 5, 2016

Back to press for its second printing just three days after release!


February 5, 2016

Pitch-perfect, brilliant review from the Washington Independent Review of Books

A tale of redemption, love, and time-travel in the South of France

First-time novelist Julie Christine Johnson’s In Another Life offers a tale that spans time, bringing the 13th century and contemporary Languedoc and Paris to vibrant life. Populated by characters grappling with common human challenges, this novel is amplified by a framework beyond time.

These universal themes include: What does it mean to love and be loved? What are the costs and rewards of forgiveness and atonement? How do our beliefs refract what we perceive? How does the past affect us, consciously or beyond our knowing? What is the truth and can history reveal it? These questions are explored through a kaleidoscopic reading experience. Revelations come to light as if seen through ever-shifting prisms, the lenses created by the characters’ experiences and assumptions.

Beautiful, bookish, historian Lia Carrer returns to Languedoc after her husband’s tragic death propels her into a paralyzing depression. Lia’s academic interest is in the Cathars, a Christian sect considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church that arose in the South of France in the late Middle Ages. The author entwines Lia’s story with theirs — interspersing, juxtaposing, and sometimes overlapping 13th-century people with those of modern times.

As Lia convalesces, she’s inspired by the land of Languedoc, whose features, people, food, and wine she adores. She falls in love with Raoul, one of three men who exist outside of time. The way in which she uncovers the stories of these men is connected through the very murder that triggered the cruel and horrifying genocide of the Cathars.

Be forewarned, the author uses strong elements of fantasy, which might annoy some more literal-minded historic-fiction fans. Accepting the conceit that beings can exist outside the normally accepted construct of time allows for thought-provoking, if occasionally confusing, plot twists and turns, rewarding the persevering reader.

Languedoc, then and now, is conjured with vivid language involving all the senses, especially regarding its landscape, food, and wines. Those who have visited the area will enjoy the memories evoked, and would-be travelers will be tempted to hop on the next airplane. This specificity makes it easy to believe Lia when she says, “I accept that there are spirits here in Languedoc. Spirits from another time whose stories are part of mine. The suspension of disbelief doesn’t seem like such a tall order, surrounded by the ghosts of history.”

History itself plays a role in the story as Lia seeks to uncover the truth about the 13th-century murder and the men connected to it. Different perspectives reveal alternate versions of what could be the truth. As one of them says, “What seemed like legend carried through time on the flimsy backs of folk tales and rumor now appears plausible as history.”

It is up to Lia to discern facts from imagination. She is fearless in her pursuit of the truth, saying, “If I believed the past was too distant to matter, I wouldn’t be a historian…Revealing the truth is my life’s work. It’s never too late.” 

But as another character says, “Be careful whose truth you reveal. You may come face-to-face with your own.”

The author excels at capturing the manifestations of grief and other intense emotions. For example, she writes of falling in love, “How does a heart stop and race at the same time? Words left her, replaced by desire, anger and a sudden shyness. Lia wanted to turn tail and flee.”

On seeing an eagle in flight: “Her heart soared. Lia wanted to shout with joy at his freedom, shout to let him know she understood. And she wanted to weep. She was bound to the earth.” On returning to a familiar place after a searing experience: “Nothing had changed. Everything had changed.” And on reviving a social life: “Having dinner with a man she found attractive would be nerve-wracking. It would be wrong. It would be a relief.”

This book makes the tragic story of the Cathars accessible to the general reader. It situates their story in the development of France as a nation and sheds light on the Catholic Church as a power broker. The story also embraces the Cathars' view “that souls are reborn to play out their destinies on earth…[they have a] sense of the continuity of life [that] seems so full of hope. There’s always a chance for redemption.”

As the threads of the story come together towards the end of the book, Lia says, “I’m learning to trust my instincts and accept the impossible.” Excellent advice for a reader of this book who wants to enjoy a compelling tale of forgiveness and redemption, weaving together “then” and “now,”  and revealing the steadfast power of love.

Author Ann McClellan is based in Washington, DC. In fall 2016, her books The Cherry Blossom Festival: Sakura Celebration and Cherry Blossoms will be joined by a new one about the bonsai at the U.S. National Arboretum. Her fiction work-in-progress is set in the Renaissance France court of legendary King François 1er.

February 1, 2016

A gorgeous review from the Historical Novel Society's print publication: Historical Novels Review:  

This dual time period story parallels the modern-day life of Lia, a historian writing her dissertation on the beliefs of the early 13th-century Cathars, and a conspiracy-style tale behind the 1208 historical murder of papal legate Pierre de Castlenau, an act of violence which sparked the religious crusade against the Cathars. Having moved to France to grieve the untimely death of her husband, Lia quickly learns that past and present aren’t as far removed as they may seem, and not all souls rest peacefully after death. The deeper she gets involved, the more Lia realizes history may not tell the truth of what happened to Castlenau and the Cathars; the real story may be far more dangerous, with the possibility of changing not only her own life, but also the history of the Church.

In Another Life grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go. The prose is rich and evocative, transporting the reader to rural France with an ease unusual for a debut author. The story is intriguing, weaving past and present in an ever-tightening braid that eventually dissolves the separation altogether, adeptly illustrating how the Cathars’ belief in reincarnation might play out in the real world. Lia is especially well-portrayed as the unwitting catalyst uniting two deaths, three men, and 800 years of history, while the male characters are slowly revealed as we learn their unlikely pasts and how they affect the present. Very highly recommended. - Nicole Evelina, Historical Novels Review

January 26, 2016

Today I'm in conversation with author and book blogger Sandra Danby, talking about In Another Life and the intersection of history and fiction. Click on my photo of Château de Quéribus and lean into our chat! 


January 25, 2016

A Goodreads Giveaway! The finished print copies are almost here and my publisher is giving several away. Enter the Giveaway anytime between now and Valentines Day. Click on the book cover  . . .   


December 30, 2015

A wonderful review for In Another Life from RT Book Reviews. 4 stars (out of a possible 4 1/2). Here's an excerpt: Johnson's novel is beautifully written. It centers around Lia and her return to France, moving seamlessly between present and past, blending mystery, romance and rich history together. Johnson bring the 800-year-old Cathar religious persecution to life with vibrant characters who appear to be reincarnated in the men surrounding Lia in the present day. Reviewed by  Melanie Sanders  See more at: RT Book Reviews

December 1, 2015

The first trade review for In Another Life and it's a starred review  as a "standout debut" from Library Journal, sponsored by the American Library Association. Here's an excerpt: Debut author Johnson handles what could be an overwhelming amount of historical details with skill, presenting a fascinating mystery grounded in historical fact. Her lyrical, sensuous style is beguiling in its own singularly seductive way. Readers can practically taste the ever-present wine and feel the winter wind. Lia is a dream of a narrator, one whom readers will root for. VERDICT A perfect match for readers who enjoy Kate Mosse’s “Languedoc Trilogy” and fans of female-driven romantic historical works such as Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series.—Kristen Droesch, Library Journal

LF Fiction Reviews December 2015

November 13, 2015

A Goodreads Giveaway! Three signed ARCs are up for giveaway, now through December 13, 2015. Click on the book cover and enter!


October 22, 2015

I'm thrilled to announce that Ashland Creek Press will publish The Crows of Beara in Fall 2017:   

October 20, 2015

A first foreign rights sale! In Another Life has been purchased by German publisher Leo for publication in Spring 2016.  

September 30, 2015

Emerge Literary Journal will publish my prose-poem Wine: A Love Story in their annual print issue, December 2015.