About In Another Life
It is January 1208 and in a village on the border between Provence and Languedoc, a monk whispers a benediction over the body of a slain papal emissary. The Cathars—followers of a heretical faith—are blamed for the assassination. The Pope declares a holy war and Languedoc is forever changed.
Eight hundred years later, historian Lia Carrer returns to southern France to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. Instead of finding solace in Languedoc’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, the woman trying to heal risks love, and loss, again.
Reincarnation is familiar ground for Lia—an expert in the mystical beliefs of the ancient Cathar faith—but to reconcile the truth of that long-ago assassination, the logical researcher must accept religious fantasy as historical fact. Three lost souls enter her life, each holding a key to the murder that launched a religious crusade in the heart of Europe.
In Another Life is set amidst the medieval intrigue of thirteenth century Languedoc and Paris, intertwined with Lia’s modern quest to uncover the truth of an ancient murder and free a man haunted by ghosts from his past.
Thank you Julie Christine Johnson for taking me on such an amazing reading journey. Exploring the Languedoc region of France and Catharism penned by your exquisite writing as you deftly threaded Science Fiction, Fantasy with love, religious persecution, loss, redemption.
Alternating between past and present with gripping characters searching for answers made for an enthralling read. The languid pace intensifies with the turn of every page as the story unrolls, I caught myself holding my breath as the adventure and excitement continues.
I felt such empathy for Lia. Lia is a woman stricken with sorrow and grief finding herself caught between the past and the present, sucked into the past through another’s life and thrust into the present with an answer to a question lingering in history. Incredibly three-dimensional you sense Lia’s turmoil and calm as she pieces everything together.
Memorable story leaving you lost in thought for quite a while. Impressive ambitious debut from a very talented authoress. Anxiously awaiting Johnson’s next undertaking. You’ll be left breathless and measured simultaneously, enigmatic.
Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Julie Christine Johnson. Thank you for joining Raven Haired Girl, Julie
The Soundtrack of a Novel: In Another Life
by Julie Christine Johnson
I write to music. A low murmur in my headphones to cancel out the chatter around me if I’m in a public place, or a soft swirl of sound at home to break the silence. Typically I write to mellow, dreamy tunes without words or too much of a beat: chillwave, ambient, the gentler side of classical—Albinoni, Chopin, Debussy.
That’s what I write to.
But each of my novels has a soundtrack, music that puts me inside the characters’ souls so that I feel their longing, confusion, joy, anger, passion, wonder. Certain songs wrap tendrils of emotion around my heart and squeeze, until I gasp a story onto the page, releasing the pressure of characters struggling to be heard.
Are you familiar with the Welsh word hiraeth? How about the Portuguese saudade? German’s Sehnsucht? Words that have no direct translation in English, but each expresses an essential longing of the soul, homesickness for a place never visited, a melancholy that sinks so deep, you gasp in pain while your mouth waters in pleasure; an unrequited longing for the ghost of a dream, castles built in clouds.
It is this sense of longing that I most wanted to convey through In Another Life, where a woman loses her beloved husband and wanders lost, without love or a sense of self. The sirens of hiraeth call her back to her spiritual home, the southern French region of Languedoc, but melancholy follows in her wake.
For In Another Life, the song that most evokes the novel’s emotional core, the song I think of as Lia’s song, came years before the novel. I heard it years before I would dare call myself a writer. But this song became the genesis of a character, a woman aching with longing that she can barely allow herself to express: Tori Amos’ “Sleeps with Butterflies”, from her 2005 album The Beekeeper.
I’m not like the girls that you’ve known
But I believe I’m worth coming home to
They are the words a woman offers tentatively to a new love, wondering, ‘Is it me you want?’
Are you having regrets about last night?
It is a subtle dance between confidence about who she is, what she wants, but uncertainty—in these early days of new and delicate love—if her lover reciprocates the same intensity of feeling.
If you don’t know the song, bring it up on iTunes or Spotify. Imagine this is Lia singing, the morning after her walk with Raoul in the frozen wonderland of vineyards buried under snow, remembering their first kiss, their shared longing and hesitation. Imagine this writer waiting for just the right story to bring that woman, in all her longing and hesitation, to life.
Other artists that form In Another Life’s soundtrack: French folksinger Francis Cabrel, who sings in both Spanish and French; Damien Rice, Sarah McLachlan, David Gray, M83, The Swell Season.
What about you—writers and readers—what are the songs that make your skin tingle with emotion, your solar plexus reverberate with feeling, fill you with inexplicable longing?
About Julie Christine Johnson
Julie Christine Johnson’s short stories and essays have appeared in several journals, including Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt, and the anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss. She holds undergraduate degrees in French and Psychology and a Master’s in International Affairs.
Her second novel, The Crows Of Beara, a finalist in the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, has sold to Ashland Creek Press for publication in fall 2017. In this work of women’s fiction, a struggling American PR executive and an enigmatic Irish artist face off over the development of a copper mine in rural Ireland, finding love and redemption amid the rugged, mystical land.
A runner, hiker, and wine geek, Julie makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State with her husband. In Another Life is her first novel.
Find out more about Julie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, Goodreads.
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark – February 2, 2016