Simply Buckhead May 2014

Page 53

S I M P LY A & E


Photo: Lee Patterson

Buckhead backdrop Local community and life spark author’s ideas


ith people and places in Buckhead offering a wealth of ideas, local writer Julia McDermott didn’t have to look far for inspiration. The area’s vibrancy and population of successful highachievers, along with the economic slump that torpedoed housing prices across the community, gave her plenty of ideas for her second self-published novel, Underwater. “It’s about a self-made, successful businesswoman—very loosely modeled after Sara Blakely,” McDermott says, referring to the Spanx founder and multimillionaire. “Thinking about her gave me a spark of an idea.” The story follows the heroine’s travails as she juggles a blossoming swimsuit business with the antics of a black-sheep brother, a wealthy boyfriend and countless issues around family, money and guilt—issues McDermott completely contrived. Her own life is significantly less complicated. “I’m married to my college sweetheart, and he’s very supportive,” McDermott says. “I have four kids who are all out of the nest, so I can write full-time. I usually get up in the morning and write from 8:30 until 1:00, then I go back again in the afternoons.” This novel is also a departure from McDermott’s first work, the 2012 self-published Make That Deux, a semi-autobiographical story based on a college year spent in France. Selling more than 500 copies of

that work inspired her to write more. “But I was ready to switch genres and do a mystery, and I wanted to set it in Buckhead,” says the Brookhaven resident. “I’ve lived in this area and ITP most of my life, so I’m very familiar with it. But of course, the main character also has a condo in Midtown and places in France and New York.” Though her second novel is only a few months old, McDermott has already switched genres again. Her third book, which is almost complete, takes readers into the real life-and-death struggle of the author’s youngest son. “He was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the end of his freshman year in college,” McDermott says. “He survived it and is now 23 and doing terrific. But I felt compelled to write the story of that journey, so it’s sort of a memoir.” Along with finishing that book, McDermott takes a weekly French class, shows up for spinning classes at the Cowart Family/ Ashford Dunwoody YMCA, savors being an empty-nester and does “as little housework as possible.” And she’s also tossing around ideas for book four. “I’m pretty sure it will be another suspense novel,” she says. “I like to read different things, and that makes me want to write different things, too. I’m lucky to have the freedom to write what I want.” n


H.M. Cauley

UNDERWATER is available from, Gallery 35 in Alpharetta and the author’s site,

Meet the Author Book signings with Julia McDermott May 10, 1-5 p.m.:

The Cook’s Warehouse, Brookhaven 4062 Peachtree Road Atlanta 30319 May 13, Noon-3 p.m.:

There Gastropub Bar & Eatery in Town Brookhaven 305 Brookhaven Avenue Atlanta 30319

May 2014 | Simply Buckhead