Julie Navickas is an author based in Bloomington-Normal. The second book in her Trading Heartbeats contemporary romance trilogy, I Love You Today, was released earlier this week. She’ll be at The Literary this weekend, on Saturday, November 12th, to sign books and chat with readers. I recently corresponded with her about her novel, and the event this weekend.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Smile Politely: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat! Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Julie Navickas: I’m an award-winning and nationally recognized author of contemporary romance. The first book in the Trading Heartbeats trilogy, I Loved You Yesterday, released on August 23, 2022—and the second novel, I Love You Today, launch[ed] on November 8th. Both books published with Inkspell Publishing, and I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the third novel in the trilogy, I’ll Love You Tomorrow, scheduled to publish on April 18, 2023.
Outside of my role as an author, I work full-time in the School of Communication at Illinois State University where I serve as the assistant director of academic advising. I instruct writing-based courses such as magazine production and design, writing for public relations, and feature writing. I also work part-time as the impact manager for Burning Soul Collective and instruct coursework for the Continuing Education program at Heartland Community College. I’ve been married to my husband, Thomas, for 11 years and we have three children: Lillian (6), Colton (4), and Brady (3).
SP: How did you come to write romance novels?
Navickas: When the pandemic forced the state of Illinois into lockdown, I struggled to balance my teaching and advising responsibilities with parenting full-time. And I’ve never been more challenged in my life.
I turned to creative writing as an outlet to channel some of my frustrations. Before I knew it, one thing led to another, and I had a completed draft of I Loved You Yesterday. I queried this manuscript for a publisher just to see how far I could take it, and lucky for me, I signed a contract with Inkspell Publishing. From there, I just kept going and saw the potential for a trilogy.
SP: Can you tell me a little about this series, Trading Heartbeats?
Navickas: The Trading Heartbeats trilogy follows the stories of the Templeton siblings and those they love. I Loved You Yesterday (book one) is a second-chance romance set in Rosewood, California—and a complicated steamy love triangle. I Love You Today (book two) relocates to the city of Chicago, where opposites attract and find love inside Wrigley Field. And finally, I’ll Love You Tomorrow (book three) is a story about growth and the recommitment of love—back in California.
SP: What sort of influence — if any — does Central Illinois (or the Midwest generally) have on your writing in terms of plot, setting, and character development?
Navickas: I’m a life-long Chicago Cubs fan, having inherited the fandom from my grandfather. I’m also a Chicagoland native, which means I had to write a little bit of home into my manuscript! I Love You Today mostly takes place in the city of Chicago. I had so much fun including some iconic Chicago venues and sneaking in fun Midwestern customs.
SP: What do you hope readers take away from your novels?
Navickas: The sure sign of a good story is when you close the book, but the characters don’t leave your head or heart. Every book in the Trading Heartbeats trilogy was intentionally crafted to draw on the powerful emotions and internal conflict of each character. So, what I’d hope for most is that when a reader concludes each story, the experience was more than “just another book” — it’s something better.
SP: What are your favorite romance tropes?
Navickas: I’m a sucker for second-chance romance! There’s just something so compelling and intriguing about finding love again after time spent apart. I also really enjoy opposites attract, friends to lovers, and a good love triangle.
SP: You have an event at The Literary soon. What should the audience expect?
Navickas: I’ll be signing books at The Literary. I welcome any readers to stop by, say hello, pick up a signed copy, grab a drink, and share a conversation with me! I love talking about writing and the art of storytelling!
SP: Where can potential readers find your books?
Navickas: My books can be purchased at all major online retail platforms: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KOBO, and Apple Books. In addition, hardcopies are available in the Bloomington-Normal area at Bobzbay, Retrofit Culture, and the Garlic Press.
Copies of Navickas’ books are also available at The Literary.
Julie Navickas Book Signing
122 N Neil St
Sa Nov 12th, 6-7 p.m.