Julie Garwood (born in 1946 in Kansas City, Missouri) is an American writer of over twenty-five romance novels in both the historical and suspense subgenres. Over thirty million copies of her books are in print, and she has had at least 15 New York Times Bestsellers. She has also begun writing a novel for young adults under the pseudonym of Emily Chase.
Garwood's novel For the Roses was adapted for the television feature Rose Hill.
Julie Garwood was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, the sixth of seven children in a large Irish family. She has six sisters: Sharon, Mary Kathleen, Marilyn, Mary, Mary Colette "Cookie", Joanne and Monica, and one brother: Tom. After having a tonsillectomy at age six, Garwood was a sickly child for years. Because she missed so much school, she did not learn to read as the other children her age did. She was eleven before her mother realized that other children had been doing her homework, and that Garwood was simply unable to read. A math teacher, Sister Elizabeth, devoted the entire summer that year to teaching Garwood how to read, and how to enjoy the stories she was reading. This teacher had such an impact on Garwood's life that she named her daughter Elizabeth.
While studying to be an R.N., Garwood took a Russian history course and became intrigued by history, choosing to pursue a double major in history and nursing. A professor, impressed by the quality of her essays, convinced Garwood to take a year off of school to write. The result was a children's book, What's a Girl to Do?, and her first historical novel, Gentle Warrior.
She married young with Gerry Garwood, they have three children: Gerry Jr., Bryan Michael and Elizabeth, the family resides in Leawood, Kansas. Although Garwood enjoyed her writing, she was not intending to pursue a career as an author. As a young wife and mother she took several freelance writing jobs, and wrote longer stories to amuse herself. After her youngest child started school, Garwood began attending local writers' conferences, where she soon met an agent. The agent sold both her children's book and her historical novel, and soon the publisher requested more historical romances.
Garwood's novels are particularly known for the quirkiness of her heroines, who tend to have an ability to get lost anywhere, clumsiness, and a "charming ability to obfuscate and change the direction of conversations to the consternation, frustration, but eventual acceptance of the other party." She is not afraid to tackle difficult issues, and one of her books deals with spousal abuse. Her novels are very historically accurate, and Garwood has been known to scour the library at the University of Kansas to find three sources confirming a fact before she includes it in one of her books.
In fifteen years of writing, by 2000 Garwood had penned 15 New York Times Bestsellers with over 30 million copies of her books in print. Despite her success in the historical romance genre, Garwood ventured into a new genre and began writing contemporary romantic suspense novels. Like her historicals, these contemporaries still focus on family relationships, whether between blood relatives or groups of friends who have styled themselves as a family.
Her first contemporary offering, Heartbreaker, has been optioned for film and was serialized in Cosmopolitan magazine.
Garwood admits that she does not read romance novels, primarily so that she does not have to worry about unintentional plagiarism. Instead, she enjoys reading general fiction and mystery novels, but looks forward to the day she retires so that she can catch up on the romance novels written by other authors.