Meet the Author Monday: Julie Ryan McGue

Julie Ryan McGue

It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Julie Ryan McGue, author of Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging.

About Julie Ryan McGue:

JULIE RYAN McGUE is an American writer. Her award-winning memoir, Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging released in May 2021. It is about the five-year search that she and her twin sister undertook to find their birth relatives. On her weekly blog, “That Girl This Life,” Julie writes about finding out who you are, where you come from, and making sense of it. Her work has appeared in the Story Circle Network Journal, Brevity, Imprint,, Lifetime Adoption, Adoption & Beyond, and Severance Magazine. Personal essays appear in several anthologies: REAL WOMEN WRITE: Seeing Through Her Eyes, and Art in the Time of Unbearable Crisis.

Julie holds a B.A. in Psychology from Indiana University, and a M. M. in Marketing from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business, Northwestern University. She splits her time between NW Indiana and Sarasota, Florida. Julie is currently working on a second memoir and a collection of personal essays. She served multiple terms on the Board for the Midwest Adoption Center and currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Center for American Family Building.

About Twice a Daughter:

Julie is adopted. She is also a twin. Because their adoption was closed, she and her sister lack both a health history and their adoption papers—which becomes an issue for Julie when, at forty-eight years old, she finds herself facing several serious health issues.

To launch the probe into her closed adoption, Julie first needs the support of her sister. The twins talk things over, and make a pact: Julie will approach their adoptive parents for the adoption paperwork and investigate search options, and the sisters will split the costs involved in locating their birth relatives. But their adoptive parents aren’t happy that their daughters want to locate their birth parents—and that is only the first of many obstacles Julie will come up against as she digs into her background.

Julie’s search for her birth relatives spans eight years and involves a search agency, a PI, a confidential intermediary, a judge, an adoption agency, a social worker, and a genealogist. By journey’s end, what began as a simple desire for a family medical history has evolved into a complicated quest—one that unearths secrets, lies, and family members that are literally right next door.

Author Interview with Julie McGue:

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  1. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

In 2019, I attended the San Miguel Literary Sala (Writers Conference) in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where I met She Writes Press publisher, Brooke Warner. This was a pivotal event for me because Brooke offered me a contract to publish my first book, Twice a Daughter, for the spring of 2021. Over the past three years, due to Covid, I have participated in many online conferences and workshops. Last summer, I attended the Story Studio conference in person in Chicago. As a member of the Chicago Writer’s Association, last summer, I participated in the prestigious Chicago Printer’s Row LitFest where I sold copies of my book. During the first week of December, I attended the all-women writing retreat, Her Spirit, in Santa Fe put on by Story Summit; it was truly and inspiring and empowering event.

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both. When I immerse myself in crafting an essay, blog, or chapter for a forthcoming book project, I lose track of time. My fingers click around the keyboard of my MacBook as fast thoughts generates. I continue these writing rif session until the words stop coming or my legs cramp. And often I work right through the discomfort. After these marathon work sessions, I’m drained and crave a glass of cabernet and conversation with a family member. 

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Before every writing session, I meditate for twenty minutes. During meditation, worries and daily thoughts dissipate allowing creativity to bloom. I come out of this mindful work with a new angle on a work in progress or the seeds of a new project. Meditation is my writing kryptonite.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes, briefly. I considered writing Twice a Daughter under my birth name, but because I had already launched a website and been blogging for several years under my legal name, I dropped the pseudonym idea. I’m glad I made this choice. Old friends, colleagues, and acquaintances have discovered my work through search engines and a pseudonym would have complicated matters. 

  1. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Honestly, it depends on what I’m writing and for what purpose. I wrote Twice a Daughter the way the story unfolded and to please myself. But many of the essays or articles I’ve written for publication have been to reach a certain audience or to make a specific point. For my weekly blog, “That Girl This Life,” I pick topics that interest me and which have much to do with my  themes of family, identity, and belonging.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

The She Writes Press publishing author community is robust. We have a private Facebook page where we share information, suggestions, successes, and failures. We support one another on social media and help promote each other’s work by re-posting articles, essays, blogs, and by reading, critiquing, and reviewing each other’s books. Additionally, I have been in a bi-weekly writer’s critique group for two years now with the same four ladies. Without them my work would not be polished and relevant. 

  1. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’m in the middle of writing a second book, a coming-of-age memoir and sort of a prequel to Twice a Daughter. The identity, family, and belonging themes appear in this second book too, but each work can definitely stand alone. Readers will get to know some of the characters I introduced in Twice a Daughter on a much deeper level, and some of the material introduced in my first memoir is expanded on in the second book.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Hiring a publicist and launching a website.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

Literary success means receiving reader feedback and reviews, accolades from colleagues, reputable awards, and being asked to blurb the works of fellow writers.

  1. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)

Nothing is off limits to me as a writer. Life just keeps giving me new material. I write about my childhood and adolescence in my second book (to be published Fall 2024). On my weekly “That Girl This Life” blogs I write about intriguing moments and all phases of life. I find digging into childhood moments the most difficult to capture; that challenge is both frustrating and invigorating. I lost my husband this year after 37 years of marriage to a long battle with cancer; I refer to this in my essays and know that there is a memoir about our life together bubbling up in me.

  1. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

I loved Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Because I listened to the audiobook version, I had a hard time believing it was the tale of a fictional rock band.

  1. Favorite quote (doesn’t matter the source)

Anne LaMott: If people did not behave so badly, we wouldn’t have to write about them.

To learn more about Julie Ryan McGue, here’s where you can find her:


Meet the Author Book Promotion

Published by Kelly Schuknecht

Kelly Schuknecht is a marketer with a background in the publishing industry. She is passionate about all things related to books and loves helping authors navigate the world of social media for book promotion. She recently launched the course Marketing Your Book on TikTok.

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