Ann B. Ross concludes her Miss Julia series — maybe

LOCAL INSPIRATION: Ann B. Ross has used parts of her hometown of Hendersonville as a template for her books' fictional Abbotsville, which she describes as being closer to the Hendersonville of 1996. "I can show you where Julia’s house is, but a Realtor’s office is actually there. And to look for Sam’s old house four blocks away might get you lost," she says. "A Baptist church has been turned into a Presbyterian church, and all the street names have been changed." Author photo by Sarah Sneeden

Thanks to her son and daughter delivering groceries to her carport, Hendersonville-based author Ann B. Ross has remained well-fed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Otherwise, she identifies the cancellation of tours to promote last year’s Miss Julia Knows a Thing or Two and this year’s Miss Julia Happily Ever After (out Tuesday, April 6) as the biggest life alterations she’s had to endure. But the fact that both books have been or will be published on time, combined with her recent COVID-19 vaccination, has her optimistic — a mindset that she’s not sure her titular character would share if the pandemic hit the fictional town of Abbotsville.

“She would read a lot, spend a good deal of time talking with Lillian in the kitchen and on the phone with Hazel Marie, Mildred Allen and anybody else she can think of,” Ross says. “She would mightily miss visiting with Lloyd, but of course he would have to stay away. But mostly, she would resentfully miss her weekly trips to Velma’s Cut ’n’ Curl to have her hair done.”

Ross continues, “But come to think of it, the opportunity to express her opinions on presidents, governors, commentators, physicians with conflicting advice and politicians in general might have enlivened her life as well as mine — probably gotten me run out of town as well.”

The pandemic is not the focus of Miss Julia Happily Ever After, but there is an almost viral nature to the sudden influx of weddings being planned by the heroine’s friends, and the townwide disruptions caused by a mysterious streaker forms its own kind of public health crisis. Ross says no real-life encounters with fast-moving exhibitionists inspired the inclusion — just the fact that she’d yet to use one in a story, plus her general fondness for “anything that lends itself to off-the-wall humor.” However, personal reasons did lead to the bestselling series’ 22nd installment becoming its final one.

“As I wrote Happily Ever After, a series of changes in my personal and professional lives were converging in such a way that I began to feel that somebody was trying to tell me something,” she says. “Miss Julia and the ones she loves are in a good place right now, nothing that needs to be wrapped up is pending, most questions have been answered, no one is languishing in jail [and] everybody is home where they’re supposed to be, so it all felt like a good place to just let go.”

While approaching the end of her latest book, Ross realized that she was giving some conclusion to the main characters’ recent storylines, which she’d not consciously planned to do. And when she reached the last sentence, she says she almost added a more conclusive chapter.

“But then [I] decided, ‘No, this is a good stopping place. If Julia has something she just has to tell [her husband] Sam, she can do it in the morning,’” Ross says. “Yet, at the same time, without deliberate intent, I left the book open-ended enough to pick up on Julia’s life again if I’m so inclined. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the 20-plus years of writing these books, it’s that I am a writer — not a great one, maybe not even an adequate one, but a writer nonetheless. So whatever the future holds, you may be sure that I will be tapping away at the computer on something.”

Whether or not readers have seen the last of Miss Julia in book form, it seems likely that the character will eventually make it to the screen, especially considering the recent rise in original programming from Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Studios. Ross says there has been a fair amount of interest expressed by various entities over the years, but nothing has come to fruition.

“It started with Columbia Tri-Star Productions that took an option on the first book and went on to a number of independent producers whose plans ran from a feature film or a made-for-TV movie to a weekly TV series,” Ross says. “Reese Witherspoon has expressed a dab of interest in [Etta Mae’s Worst Bad-Luck Day], and Dolly Parton has said that she has to play Hazel Marie because, she said, ‘I look just like her.’”

An independent producer in Los Angeles and another in Nashville have also shown interest, Ross adds, along with two more whose previous features have been exclusively horror movies.

“All I can say is that movie people have exceptionally short attention spans — they flit from one exciting thing to another,” she says. “I was told early on not to count on anything until they actually turn on the cameras.”


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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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23 thoughts on “Ann B. Ross concludes her Miss Julia series — maybe

  1. Dawn M Carlson

    Please don’t let them ruin your books with a series or a movie! There is rarely a good outcome. 💜

    • Debra

      That’s true! Unless you have a lot of say so and not divert from the original. And please don’t stop writing no, I want to know about Tonya and Luanne lol

    • Jan Arthur

      I totally agree! Look what Hollywood did to Clive Cussler’s book Sahara.
      He was furious when he saw the movie version.
      The movie is next to nothing like the book and the book’s main topic was nothing that was shown in movie. They turned his adventure book into a comedy. Miss Julia books would of been way too clean for Hollywood. I am very sad that the series is over, but I do hoe Ms. Ross will continue to write fiction books that let us imagine we live in a world of happy endings.

  2. Barbara Hunt

    I so look forward to each new Miss Julia story and will miss them very much. Guess I will have to start back and reread each one again. Don’t completely close the door on Miss Julia. 😢

    • Joyce Howard

      I reread through to the last novel and enjoyed it almost much as the first read through. Loved these books. Joyce Howard.

  3. Pamela Marston

    I just ordered the last book in the Miss Julia series, not knowing is was the last one. I am sad about this. In a way, it’s like losing wonderful friends. The books and special characters will be greatly missed. I have every colorful book on a book shelf in my living area and how I will appreciate each one going forward with the hope Miss Julia will once again return! Best wishes!

  4. sandra barrett

    thank you so much for the Miss Julia books ! they have seen me thru some hard times. Losing my son to cancer on Christmas day 2019 and having to support his wife and 6 mo. old baby thru the following quarantine was hard and your books were sometimes my only comfort. I can relate to so much in the books and the way you use people to demonstrate a truth is wonderful ! You have blessed us all for years and I hope that your life will be blessed too. Of course if you would feel led to write another book we would all shout halleluiah !! All the best to you,

  5. Donna Heath

    I found you and Miss Julia many years ago and she and her family became some of my best friends. Three years ago we moved to the area and I have begun the rereads with as much enjoyment and sense of entertainment as the first time. I hope Miss Julia continues despite this “final” book. Miss Julia has been an inspiration to many of us, made us laugh out loud when we thought there was little humorous in the world, and basically gave us a seat at the kitchen table where we could join in the fun and antics of of this southern family. Whatever you decide, know we have loved every minute and know Sam and Miss Julia could fill volumes yet!

  6. Kathy Smart

    Over the years, I’ve read every Miss Julia book, perhaps not in the order they should be read, but read nonetheless. In the past month I thought I would listen to them all on Audible…in order. I’ve just finished and am beside myself trying to find something to listen to! I know these books will never go down in history as masterpieces, but they make me smile, even laugh out loud often. They have me saying to friends “Miss Julia would be flabbergasted with you fir that!” They have brought me happiness in this awful time we are living in. Thank you Ms Ross, for bringing light into such darkness.

  7. Chrissy Brown

    Oh no!!! I am so sad!! I love Miss Julia series! I do hope you will at some point bring back Miss Julia and all the amazing Characters you brought to life! My favorite one is Miss Julia weathers the storm!! I absolutely love storms and the great funny moments of peanut butter on a hot waterless

  8. Julie Lemanski

    Plain and simple, I love Miss Julia. I have read and reread the series. No, don’t let them make a movie. They never turn our well, and change the main characters so much you wouldn’t recognize them. Your words describe everything so much better than any film could portray. The pandemic has brought me to read the full series again, and still makes me laugh out loud. I’m sad that there won’t be another Miss Julia, but glad that I can bring her to life again, just by opening that first book in the series once again.

  9. Peggy johnson

    Well i could just sit down and cry!! It’s April and I wanted to order my new Miss Julia book–and one for my sister for her birthday. We LOVE Miss Julia. I even try to read it slow because I know I’ll have to wait a year til the next one. I know things change but I hope to see another Miss Julia book if at all possible.

  10. Beverly Rhodes

    I just popped over to order the newest Miss Julia book to learn there are no more. I about cried. I have every book in hardcover and have read 3 times each. I hope and pray Miss Julia comes back! I have pure sat up in bed at nights killing myself laughing. I think of myself as Miss Julia. Please give us at least 1 more thick book with all the outstanding characters. Thanks so much for delightful memories and CLEAN humor.

  11. Li

    I really believe this is not the end for the Miss Julia series. At some time in the near future Ms. Ross will find her writing hand itching and her creative mind full of thoughts that must spill over to the page. Take care in the meantime my friend!

  12. Connie Steelman

    I think a good series can be made from the Miss Julia books. They just need to make sure casting is appropriate and follow the dialogue exactly, the turn of a phrase is what makes the stories so good.

  13. Miss Marian

    I, too, love Miss Julia and all her friends and family! Know what I would love to see? Miss Julia meeting Father Tim in Mitford! They are my two favorite series of all time!
    Please carry on Ms Ross! You are loved and appreciated by so many!

  14. Suzanne

    What am I going to read now? I finished Happy Ever After last night. I stretched the book out as long as I could because I knew this was the last Miss Julia book! I loved all the characters and found myself thinking of them throughout the non-reading parts of my days!
    I think Reese would make a good Etta Mae, but a good Hazel Marie too. I don’t know about Miss Julia and Father Tim as Miss Marian mentioned. Miss Julia might scare Father Tim, but not as much as Fancy does!
    I’d love to read what happens to Lloyd, Latisha, Penelope, and Janelle. Please Ms Ross, give us another Miss Julia book! And bless you for many, many hours of enjoyable reading and escape from real life!

  15. Katherine Bigger

    I have recently read the Miss Julia series for the first time. I love to read and I have to say that this is my very favorite series of all time. I am sad that the series ended, but am hopeful that Miss Julia will return. The characters are so wonderful and the books are well written. I see a little bit of myself in so many of the stories! Thank you for such a fabulous and funny diversion from this day and age!!!

  16. Debbie

    I have so enjoyed Miss Julia, and I am truly broken hearted that the last book is read! I feel that I have lost touch with a group of friends who have kept me laughing for the several months that I have known them. I love the Southern flavor of the books which really drew me in since I am a southern girl myself. Please give us another Miss Julia adventure! Ann B. Ross is a fabulous writer and should never stop taking us to Abbotsville!

  17. Beverly Rhodes

    Please write on and on. I have every copy of Miss Julia books and read them each several times. Every April I so looked forward to them. Please consider writing more as it’s so depressing to think you will not do so. I’m begging for more!

  18. Cathy Cummings

    I planned ahead for a future without Miss Julia by taking my time with them to have some left if Ms Ross decided to stop
    The series. Good move on my part! I just finished Ms Julia raise the roof so I still have a few left. I will be so sad so see the series end. I love that the series was based near where I live so I could relate to location. I love all the characters. Miss Julia is a hoot and I’ve had some tears and some great laugh out loud moments . I hope to hear that when I finish the last book she has changed her mind and continued a little longer. I love series books but the downside of them are that I fall in love with all the people and almost feel like I’m losing a family when they end. And that’s how I will feel when Miss Julia isn’t on my chair arm. Thank you so much for all the enjoyable reading!!!

  19. Pat Westfall

    Thank you for the Miss Julia books. My husband bought the first one for me for a birthday gift. 22 books and Covid later, today he just finished the last one himself and loved them as I do. They have been fun to share together. But I would imagine that after all these years that it could be a relief to not have the pressure to find an idea, to write cleverly, to edit, etc. We miss Miss Julia and all her friends, but hope you are doing well.
    Pat and Jerry Westfall

  20. Sandra Cherry

    I have listened to each Miss Julia book via cassettes, play anways and now audiobooks from Libby. A shout out goes to Cynthia Darlow who brings these wonderful characters to life. If you have read these books and want more, I suggest you listen.

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