DIYs might rule everything around us, but in between those baking marathons and hand-lettering sessions, you can bet there’s a good book in our hands. Whether we’re diving into food memoirs or pulling all-nighters to finish tear-jerker stories, our TBR lists and our nightstands are overflowing with books. And we know there’s only one thing that makes a good read better: getting your BFFs together and chatting about the latest page-turner. That’s why we’re thrilled to bring you Brit + Co’s newest series: B+C Book Club! Over the next four weeks, we’ll be dishing about the sweetest, most empowering and memorable story we’ve read in a really, really long time: Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy.

Meet the Book: DUMPLIN’

Dumplin’ is the story of Willowdean Dickson, a sweet, funny and, yes — fat — teen who takes on her small-town Texas beauty pageant to prove to her haters and herself that she’s beautiful. The book is full of kissing, Dolly Parton references and a TON of gleeful, throw-your-fists-in-the-air-and-celebrate moments. With a #1 spot on the NYTimes bestseller list, it’s clear that readers everywhere are falling in love with Willowdean. You’ll laugh, you’ll swoon and you might just cry along with us as we dive into this magical book.

Meet the Author: Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy is a self-described “potty-mouthed Southern belle” who loves Dolly Parton, drag queens and pizza. We first discovered her writing in Side Effects May Vary, Julie’s debut novel about a teen cancer patient with a bucket list full of revenge… and who goes into remission and has to deal with the fallout. While Dumplin‘ is certainly lighter than her first novel, both stories present a fierce, bold and authentic teenage voice that resonates with readers of all ages. We caught up with Julie about her decision to become a full-time writer, her inspiration and more.

B+C: How did you decide to make the leap to become a full-time writer?

JM: It was truly a monetary decision. Growing up, our financial situation was never what you might call stable, so I held on to my job as a librarian until I knew I could support myself for at least a few years — or that I at least had guaranteed work for that long. I actually eased into it and worked part time for quite a while. It was always a little bit of a challenge to have one foot in the work force and one foot out, but it really worked for me. And, in the end, it made quitting my job a little less terrifying.

B+C: How do you power through creativity blocks? Do you have any tips or tricks for our readers?

JM: It’s really different for every project, but often times returning to the thing that inspired me in the first place gets me back on track somehow. Sometimes it’s a matter of retracing the breadcrumbs you’ve left for yourself. I also really love watching movie trailers — more so than movies, actually. They’re the ultimate, distilled highlight reel. It’s kind of odd, I know, but it works for me.

B+C: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

JM: When I first started writing, I mentioned it to my international law professor. (I actually went to school for political-science research.) And he’s this very short, yet intimidating man from Cyprus. He didn’t even look up from his papers as he said, “Well, Julie, if you want it to be more than a hobby, you better treat it like a job long before anyone is paying you.” I thought that was pretty great advice in general.

B+C: What is the last thing you’ve made?

JM: I finished up a chapter of my third book the other day. Does that count? I also made this Dolly Parton collage/playlist for Dumplin‘ to be used for some online promo.

B+C: Tell us about a maker you admire.

JM: I’m obsessed with Brittany Howard and the side project she did outside of Alabama Shakes called Thunderbitch. I love that she’s a plus-size woman, but how that is never part of the conversation when people talk about her. She’s a musician first, and I dig that. I also love A.S. King. She’s kind of like the Cheryl Klein Strayed of the YA world, but without the memoir and the online column. And yet, she has that same warmth to her. Every time I see her, I just want to hug her and cry and tell her how important her books are to me, and then ask her for some new lump of wisdom. If you’re brand new to her, I would start with Please Ignore Vera Dietz, though all of her books are incredible in their own way. She’s this great reminder that we as women can be weird and open ended and more than the many titles (mother, daughter, wife, etc.) that we hold.

Join our Book club!

So what are you waiting for? Snag a copy of Dumplin’ ($18) and join us as we DIY + chat our way through this winner. Stayed tuned next week, when we’ll share our first reactions and learn more about Julie’s inspiration for Dumplin’. Until then, happy reading, y’all!

Will you be reading Dumplin’? Want to join our book club? Let us know in the comments below!