How this Equinox trainer makes time to write twisted thrillers

When Julia Derek isn’t writing, she can often be found pushing her clients to give her 15 pull-ups and 25 lunges, stat. Most writers have day jobs: Derek is a personal trainer at Equinox, where she has worked since 2005, focusing on core/functional training, body sculpting and high-intensity training.

Derek has enjoyed writing since she was a child in her native Sweden; at 15, she published her first short story in the Swedish equivalent of Seventeen magazine. She dabbled in radio plays and romance before self-publishing a memoir, “Confessions of a Serial Egg Donor,” in 2004, which generated plenty of buzz (in it, she recounts her experience of being a 12-time egg donor). “I had a lot of interest from agents for that, but I didn’t want to change stuff,” she says. “It was very personal, and people always wanted to use [the story] for their own political gains.”

After that experience, she turned to something different: twisty thrillers like her “Girl Undercover” series with detective Gabi Longoria, “True Evil,” and most recently “Hunt Evil,” featuring narrator Shane Hanson, who suspects his 4-year-old half-sister has psychopathic tendencies.

As for the writing process, Derek doesn’t sweat it; she just writes what comes to mind.

“That way it’s easier to make it a complicated mystery. If you can draft it, it’s too easy to figure out what the mystery is,” says Derek. “It works very well for me. Then you can do back-writing if you need to. I try to write in the morning, but sometimes I have clients. When my head is clear. I can’t be tired. In order to write a mystery, it’s like math, you have to think hard for the mystery to be complicated.”

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