Today, July 26th, is Julie Cabernet's birthday.
I imagined this young woman into being sometime in 2008 when I first conceived Warm Bodies. I knew it was a story about a lifeless man finding his way back to humanity, but what would it be that pulled him there? What would be the catalyst?
I decided it would be love. But not just romantic love. I think it takes a lot more than 😍 to revive an atrophied soul. Whoever R encountered would have to be more than just a pretty face to get his oxytocin pumping. She would have to embody something bigger than sex and sentimentality. She would have to shock him. She'd have to be completely unlike him: loud, crass, passionate, selfless, hopeful, determined, and brave, a reminder that love is so much more than a connection with one person, that it can—and should—embrace the whole world.
When I first started writing Julie, I drew a lot of her personality from a friend of mine who had inspired me in my own struggles with "the plague," but as I continued her story into The New Hunger and The Burning World, something surreal happened. The similarities between her and my friend began to fade, and I found that I no longer "knew" this person. She had separated, torn herself free from her inspiration and walked off on her own. I felt like a mad scientist and a proud father. It was magical.
It's been a joy to watch readers connect with her. Even though the vast majority of them haven't yet experienced the meatiest chapter of her story—The Burning World—and no one at all has seen how her story ends—The Living—it still delights me to see so many people fall in love with this foul-mouthed, foul-tempered little Leo.
Happy birthday, Julie. Sorry for all the hell I've put you through. Here's hoping for brighter days ahead.