2014 Debut Author: Julie Murphy


side effects may vary julie murphy“Petrified. Exhilarating. Cupcakes.”

Those are the three words Julie Murphy thought of the first time her book, Side Effects May Vary was handed off to an editor. And yes, cupcakes count as a feeling.

Side Effects May Vary can be summed up in one sentence: “What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?”

Though the experience has been surreal for Murphy and she is continually amazed by this process, she admits that writing was a very unexpected thing.

“I always had such great respect for writers, but never thought I would be capable of being one. When I finally sat down and started writing, it felt like I’d finally found my home. The process of writing and selling Side Effects May Vary was sort of a whirlwind, though. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo, signed with my agent the following February, and, after some revisions, we sold it in May,” she explained.

The idea for Side Effects May Vary came about while Murphy was working full-time in a library – something she does part-time now.

“When I still worked full time in the library world, I was as a youth services coordinator at a public library, which meant I spent my days with some really incredible teens. At one of our events, we got on the topic of the zombie apocalypse and where we would go and what we would do if the world was ending and there were no more rules. That conversation planted a seed in my imagination and voilà!”

Murphy admitted that some days are easier than others, but every night she goes to bed, in complete disbelief that this is her life.

To help her through the rough days, Murphy became one of the original admin team members for OneFour KidLit – something she was invited to do by her friend, Natalie C Parker, who spearheaded the whole thing.

“I think the greatest part about OneFour KidLit is the part that’s available to members only: our message board. It’s a great place for members to connect and compare notes and even find peers from your same publisher. We’re all doing this for the first time and it’s quite daunting, so having so many people to lean on and share your excitement with is amazing. That being said, putting this group together and organizing it has been a huge endeavor. I’m amazed by my fellow admins on a nearly daily basis.”

In Side Effects May Vary, Alice is diagnosed with leukemia – and so she creates a bucket list.

Author Julie Murphy.

One thing Murphy doesn’t need to worry about adding to her bucket list? Writing a second novel. Dumplin is already set to release in 2015 and it follows a self-proclaimed fat girl. “I can’t say much, but what I can say is this: secret summer affair, lies, a best friend you love so much it hurts, and beauty pageants.”

While she awaits the release of her debut novel and works tirelessly on her second, she has some advice to offer the 2015 debut authors.

“Enjoy being a debut author. It’s easy to become jaded really fast, but don’t let that cloud how amazing this is. You wrote a book. It’s going to be published. People will read it. Someone out there will feel less alone because of it. That’s incredible. Always be thankful. Be gracious. No one is entitled.”

Side Effects May Vary releases in March from HarperTeen. Be sure to visit Murphy on her website and on Twitter.

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About Author


Meredith is an avid reader, writer and dog lover. She is a publicist at Spencer Hill Press and the founder of Pandora's Books, a YA book blog, where she shares her love of books with anyone who will listen.

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