Julie Murphy, a library specialist at Tarrant County College South Campus, recently published her first young adult novel, “Side Effects May Vary,” with the Balzer + Bray division of HarperCollins. The story is about 16-year-old Alice, who after being diagnosed with leukemia, vows to spend the rest of her life correcting what she considers to be wrongs. Her bucket list includes humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting revenge on her arch nemesis. Once the scores are settled, Alice unexpectedly goes into remission.
Faced with the consequences of her actions, Alice has to evaluate whether or not she has caused irreparable damage as she learns about love, life and confronting your own mortality.
Murphy’s inspiration for the story came out of a gathering with a group of teens when she worked as a youth programs coordinator for a public library. At the gathering, Murphy and the teens got into a discussion about what would happen if they were stranded in the library during a zombie apocalypse. Ultimately, the teens decided they could do whatever they wanted. Based on that discussion, Murphy was inspired to write about a teen doing what she wants because she thinks she is going to die.
“I’ve always gravitated toward writing,” Murphy said. “It is only recently that I began to take it seriously. Shortly after finishing her bachelor’s degree at Texas Wesleyan University, Murphy planned to work on her master’s degree. However, she started on the novel and couldn’t stop. Nine months later, her book sold.
In March, South Campus Student Activities hosted a book signing for Murphy. When Tristian Evans, a senior office assistant for Student Activities, heard about Murphy’s upcoming book during National Novel Writing Month last November, he reached out to her to schedule the event.
“I really like to write about mortality,” Murphy said. “As writers, we write about things that puzzle us and are complex issues to us. Mortality is something I will always question. Because of that, I will always write about the effect of death on the living.”
Murphy’s next novel, “Dumplin’,” is scheduled for publication next year.