Unveiling the Literary Universe: A Conversation with Julie Cantrell

From Award-Winning Novels to Inspiring Tales:
Exploring the Passion and Creativity of Julie Cantrell


Julie Cantrellis a multiple award-winning, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, editor, creative writing instructor, TEDx speaker, and ghostwriter. She served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and has received the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Arts Fellowship, the Rivendell Writer’s Colony Mary Elizabeth Nelson Fellowship, and the Pat Conroy Writer’s Residency Fellowship.

Her novels have earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and have received two Christy Awards, two Carol Awards, and the Mississippi Library Association Fiction Award. She was named a short-list finalist twice for the Mississippi Arts & Letters Fiction Award as well as a two-time short-list finalist for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize. Most recently, she was named a 2023 finalist for the de Groot Foundation Courage to Write Award.

What’s the last great book you read?

The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry and The Long March Home by Tosca Lee and Marcus Brotherton

What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of?

I absolutely loved Gail Tsukiyama’s The Samurai’s Garden

Who are your favorite writers?

Jesmyn Ward, Barbara Kingsolver, Natasha Tretheway, Wally Lamb, and Jamie Ford

Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine?

I have to revert to my childhood heroine, Pippi Longstocking

What book are you planning to read next?

Soul Boom: Why We Need a Spiritual Revolution by Rainn Wilson

What authors write stories similar to yours?

My readers often enjoy works by Kristin Hannah, Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers, Lisa Wingate, and Patti Callahan Henry. We all write uplifting and emotionally impactful stories with rich settings and engaging characters.

What’s something readers might not know about you?

Prior to launching Life 2.0, I helped run my family’s small-scale sustainable farm, where we milked goats, raised sheep, boarded horses, gathered eggs, and harvested fresh honey, herbs, flowers, vegetables, and fruit.

What would you do if you weren’t a writer?

Well, I already wear many hats. As a certified speech-language pathologist, I worked many years in the public schools as an SLP, ELL teacher, and reading interventionist. Before that I served as an SLP in the medical setting in several states. I also have worked actively as a literacy advocate and an advocate for survivors of abuse. But if I could go back in time and choose any “job,” I’d probably become a documentary filmmaker. I’d love to capture people’s stories from around the world and spotlight the many ways we’re all connected and the many reasons to be in awe of this mysterious journey we call life. If money were no object, I’d spend my life traveling and helping any living being in need.

What do you do in your spare time?

As a certified naturalist, I long to explore every corner of this beautiful world. I spend any spare time I can find in nature and creating happy memories with friends and family. I also really enjoy music, so if I can hike all day and then spend the evening in a beautiful outdoor setting where a singer/songwriter is performing, I’m a very happy girl. Especially if the people I care about most are there with me.

What are you working on now?

I just published a children’s book based on an unlikely animal friendship between our golden retriever and a baby duck. It’s a sweet, happy story that has been bringing smiles to the young and the young at heart. https://www.amazon.com/Dog-Saves-Duck-Julie-Cantrell/dp/173779330X/

Testimonials, Praise (if any) about PERENNIALS

“Family drama, small-town pressures, and life’s unexpected turns are all set within the charming parameters of a Southern perennial garden.  Add the literary links to Faulkner and Welty, a soul-stirring romance, and Cantrell’s lyrical story-telling skills and you’ve got a heart-warming tale that is sure to outlast the seasons. You’ll love Perennials!”
MARY ALICE MONROE, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT

“With languid prose and vivid description, Julie Cantrell’s novel unfolds as beautifully as one of her protagonist’s favorite flowers. Cantrell weaves moving and inspirational stories that make her one of today’s most beloved storytellers. Perennials may be her most breathtaking yet.”
KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE

“Like the perennial plants that give the story its namesake, Julie Cantrell’s characters survive drought and flood, sunshine and storm. Readers will see reflections of their own lives as they travel along with Lovey when she returns to the rich Mississippi soil to bloom again. If Julie Cantrell isn’t on your reading list, she should be.”
LISA WINGATE, NATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF BEFORE WE WERE YOURS

“From the lush Mississippi setting and lyrical writing, to the flawed yet engaging characters, Julie Cantrell’s Perennials is an engrossing reading pleasure.  I loved this story of a fractured family and a prodigal daughter, and the healing power and connections that tending gardens brings to their lives.  Like an artist, the author uses a delicate brush to carefully illustrate the joys and pains of life’s growing seasons, and of learning how to surrender old hurts to find forgiveness. This is a book to read more than once.”
KAREN WHITE, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT

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