1. How did you come up with the title?
I had some fun with a double entendre. The subject of the book, Bob Harris, is actually a real-life box salesman who lives a distinctly out-of-the box life as world traveler and man of intrigue. The cover art picks up on this, too.. the background behind the cover photos is actually corrugated paper. I added the sub-title later to highlight the mysterious wild-card aspects of Bob’s life that always raise eyebrows.
2. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
As a boxman, Bob often quips that no one can box you in except yourself – but, it’s not just a cute play-on-words. He truly does live and work as if the sky’s the limit. To me, Bob is living proof that if you live intentionally and creatively, and have the courage to fail and keep trying , you’ll have a full and interesting life - and probably a very successful one, too.
3. How much of the book is realistic?
Everything about Bob or attributed to Bob is true, in many cases as told to me in his own words. However, as creative non-fiction, some people and circumstances surrounding those facts have been changed for either privacy reasons or for creative flow and continuity. For example, the narrator Julianna is a compilation of three real niece-like women in Bob’s life, myself included, whose lives intersected with Bob via travel, work or family.
4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Well, there may be one editor out there who would say yes, but I would say no. A retired Simon & Schuster editor who loved an early draft of the book really wanted me to turn it into fiction to make it what he felt would be a more likely success. He wanted me to expand more freely on the spy-like aspects of Bob’s life, and downplay other real-life aspects, turning him into a true James Bond-type character. I agreed it would make a fun story – but my commitment to Bob was to write his biography, and I also felt his real story was far more inspirational than James Bond’s. I stuck to my guns and I’m glad I did. Bob is, too!
5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Time management. I was working seven days a week in a top realty partnership when I began interviewing Bob. I’d carve out vacation days here and there, work intensely on the project at our cabin in Wisconsin, and then have to put it away for what would often be a few weeks at a time. I got totally absorbed in writing and just couldn’t do it in snatches of an hour here or there. As a result, it took me about two years to do the interviews and write the book, and another six months to edit.
6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
By allowing me to first hear, and then write, his life story, Bob unwittingly re-ignited the passion I had always had for writing. I used to write for newspapers full-time and day-dreamed about “someday” writing that Great American Novel. But in the late 90s, I switched to realty to earn a better living, something I needed to do for my family. I loved realty, and still do; but I adore writing and am so happy I found my way back to it.
7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I had a teacher, Jim Gay, at the East Woods elementary school in Oyster Bay, New York who taught me how incredibly fun writing could be. He both challenged and encouraged me in several English classes over the years. Coming full circle, this June, I was very touched and honored to receive the school’s James E. Gay III award for my writing, a memorial to a great teacher.
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
The intellectual answer is Isabel Allende. I love her spirit and the beauty of her wordsmithing. The recreational answer is Clive Cussler. His page-turning adventures have accompanied me on many a vacation.
9. Tell us your latest news.
Out of the Box has come out of the chute strong, and Bob and I are currently having a lot of fun with media interviews. In true Bob style, he has me visualizing that there’s a producer out there who is going to read the book and make it into a movie, like Pursuyt of Happiness. ...If that’s his 80th birthday wish, you can be sure I’m visualizing it! At the same time, I’m preparing for the release of my first children’s book, August 14, 2012, called When Billy Went Bald, which is a picture book to help 4-8 year-olds better understand a child (or adult’s) cancer journey in an upbeat, honest and factual story. It was inspired by my own son’s triumph over cancer over twenty years ago, and he co-authored the story with me at age 29. Proceeds benefit the Sunshine Kids Foundation for children with cancer. It just got a very positive review from Midwest Book Review, so I’m hopeful that it will get in the hands of many families, schools and hospitals that need such a title where none exists. My next project is a woman’s anthology , featuring poignant, inspirational and even funny experiences of women of all ages and backgrounds, which I started at a Ragdale writer’s retreat . I still need more true-life stories/observations (350-1500 words) to complete it, so I invite inquiries for submission guidelines at Julie@juliecmorse.com.
10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Be intentional about your dreams. My father first taught me that, and Bob reminded me of it. Also, whatever your dream, surround yourself with people who believe in you. For me, meeting with novelist Anne LeClaire at a Ragdale retreat was pivotal. Not only did she teach me there, but she later critiqued my manuscript and encouraged me from afar. Her veteran writer’s belief in me and the book kept me going.
About the Book
Young Julianna was different from the other kids. She suffered from a strange form of arthritis that sometimes left her hurting and bedridden for days a time. But she never let it stop her from living life to the fullest – thanks largely to the secret weapon she had in her Uncle Bob.
When she was little, Uncle Bob filled Julianna’s head with positive thoughts – while filling her room with wild souvenirs from his exotic world travels. There was the painted wolf skull from Siberia; a jagged, blood-stained rock from Mount Everest; and a faceless voodoo doll from Africa. He whetted her appetite for adventure and convinced her that nothing was beyond her reach. Then, when she was sixteen, he invited her along on his far-flung adventures. To the teenager, Uncle Bob was Superman and James Bond combined. But even as she grew up to realize that he wasn’t really magic, there was something magical about her favorite uncle.
Bob Harris lived life by his own rules, and it took him on great adventures and to the heights of success. Parts of that life were also shrouded in mystery. Now nearing eighty, he reveals his true identity to his beloved Julianna – imparting wisdom, inspiration, strength, and some real surprises, too. Bob’s story is a testament to the power of the American dream – and to his personal passion to live life boldly.
“The book captures a charming, exciting personality in Bob. Julianna articulates his tales, true or not, in an engaging way… Forays to the Middle East, across Russia on the Trans Siberian Express railroads and up Mt. Everest read like the greatest of adventures.”
Pages: 148 with BW photos
Prices/Formats: Hardcover, 24.95 Paperback $14.95
Hardcover: ISBN: 978-1-4697-5984-5
Papercover ISBN 978-1-4697-5983-8
eBook ISBN 978-1-4697-5985-2
Buy Links: Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com
About the Author
Julie Morse is a veteran writer, motivational speaker, and communications expert with additional professional experience in sales and marketing. While previously best known for her writing work as a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times Media Group newspapers and as a former features writer for the Chicago Tribune, Julie is now garnering attention as an author. She recently achieved her life-long dream of writing and publishing a book – twice over.
In Summer 2012, her creative nonfiction title, Out of the Box: The Mostly True Story of a Mysterious Man debuted on bookshelves with advance praise from Kirkus Reviews. Also, releasing August 14, 2012, is Julie’s children’s book, When Billy Went Bald. Inspired by her own son’s victory over cancer, the book helps young children better understand and embrace a cancer patient’s journey. Midwest Book Review gave the book a strong endorsement, and its sale also benefits the national Sunshine Kids organization. The muse finally unleashed after many years spent focused elsewhere, Julie is now working on other book titles, including a woman’s anthology and another children’s book.
Since the late 1990s, Julie has also worked as a luxury real estate agent on Chicago’s North Shore. She continues to serve a select clientele in this specialty arena while also writing her Realty InSites column for suburban Sun-Times Media Group/Pioneer Press newspapers. Through her realty work she has been asked to speak at national conferences, like Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate, and conduct motivational workshops for Chicago area companies, including Prudential Rubloff. In addition, having overcome several personal challenges in her life – from her son’s cancer, to divorce, to the tragic deaths of loved ones – she also has been asked to speak on inspirational topics for several non-profits and fundraising events over the years, including St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital.
Julie currently resides on Chicago’s North Shore with her husband… and together they have six grown children, all residing in the Chicago area.
Links to connect with Julie: