Geetanjali Mukherjee

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How I Write: Authors on Their Writing Process - Devorah Fox

Today's interview is with historical fantasy and thriller author, Devorah Fox. 

1.       When did you first start writing?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. As a child, I kept a diary, although I can’t imagine what in my sheltered little life I could have possibly written about. I thought I started writing novels in the 1990s although recently I’ve found work I’d forgotten about that’s older than that.

2.       What are your books about? Are you self / traditionally published or hybrid?
I’m a hybrid, cross-genre author. I’ve written Fantasy, Science Fiction, thrillers, and detective stories. If I had to generalize, I would say all my main characters are “ordinary” people (in that they don’t have superpowers) who are forced to confront extraordinary challenges.

3.       What led to your love for literature? Any favorite books / teachers / writing mentors?
My parents read to me as a little one so I developed a love of reading early. Once I started writing, I joined writers groups and I have learned so much from my fellow writers.

4.       What's your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you write by hand / type / dictate?
I’ve tried both starting with an outline and “pantsing,” i.e. flying by the seat of my pants, making it up as I go along. I find that making enough of an outline to have a road map works best. Pantsing has proved to be stressful because I approach the page with no clue as to what to write and I panic. I used to keyboard exclusively but increasingly I write in longhand, then type up what I’ve written. Since this makes extra work for me, I’m curious as to why I choose to do it that way. I did some research and apparently there’s some science to show that putting pen (or pencil) to paper promotes writing that’s more creative than that done on the keyboard.

5.       What's your editing process?
As I write the first draft, I make notes about parts that will need more work, research or tightening of the prose. In the second draft, I address those notes. I then share that draft with beta readers, and in a third draft resolve any concerns that they had.

6.       Who or what inspires you? Where / how do you get your book ideas?
I'm inspired by everyday life. Something I see or hear or read will get me thinking "what if that turned out differently?" and voila, I've got a writing prompt.

7.       When in the day do you usually write? For how long?
During the week, I’ll write in the afternoon. On the weekend, I write for a few predawn hours starting the minute after I’ve had a few sips coffee. I don’t usually write in the evening. The exception is when I’m involved in a writing marathon. A writing group to which I belong usually hosts evening writing sprints and I participate in those.

8.       Do you have a writing routine / schedule? Any specific rituals?
Participating in the annual National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) marathon could be considered a ritual. I did my first one in 2010, and have participated every November since with only one exception.

9.       Where do you feel most inspired to write?
I get my best ideas in the shower. I should stock the shower with crayons and write on the tile.

10.    Describe your desk / writing corner / favorite writing spot.
I spend most of my work day at my very ordinary Office Depot RTA desk which is littered with notes and ToDo lists, and my tower computer. But I do have a “writing chair.” It’s old, sprung, faded and stained, and the cats have used it for a scratching post. However I find I get a lot written when I scrunch myself into it armed with a lined yellow pad and pen and a beverage within reach.

11.    Do you listen to music while you write? What kind of music?
I stream Pandora. Mostly I listen to jazz fusion instrumentals such as the work of Pat Metheny and Antoine Dufour. I’d say it’s white noise to which I don’t pay much attention, except that a Billy McLaughlin song so enchanted me, it inspired The Redoubt, the fourth book in my Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam series.

12.    Do you ever get writers' block? What are some ways you get around it?
One of the things that I’ve learned from doing writing marathons is how to beat writer’s block. The NaNoWriMo deadline allows for no such luxury. Even when I don’t think I have anything to write, I plant myself at the computer or in my writing chair and start writing. Anything. Before long, “anything” becomes “something.”

13.    Do you now, or did you ever have any day jobs? Did they add to or detract from your writing?
I do have a day job. As a self-employed business owner, it’s almost a 24/7/365 job. That’s why I do the writing marathons. For one month out of the year, I make writing Job #1 for the day. Once I’ve reached my daily word count (which sometimes takes most of the day) I get down to business. It can make for a very long day.

14.    How much research do you do? What kind?
The King Bewilliam books require tons of research into the Middle Ages. I don’t do much research for those upfront. I don’t always know what I need to know until I need to know it, so I end up researching as I go along. Even though my current projects are more contemporary (they’re set in the 1990s), they required an unexpected amount of research as I had to verify certain details.

15.    What project are you working on now?
I'm working on two thrillers, both of which have sprung from ideas that I got in the early to mid 1990s, and the stories are set during those years. They're both "detour" stories; the tales begin with the heroes headed in a certain direction and they get sidetracked, big time. (I have to wonder what was going on in my life during those years.) In Detour, trucker Archie Harlanson takes a break from hauling cargo to attend a family event at the home of his girlfriend's parents. He stumbles on a plot to harm the newly-reelected President, Bill Clinton. In The Zen Detective, police detective Will Mansion is on medical leave, having been shot in the line of duty. He seeks relief from post-traumatic stress disorder through Zen meditation. He gets involved in searching for a missing man, a man who might provide a lead to the drug dealer responsible for nearly killing Will.

Detour is slated for a Fall 2016 release, and The Zen Detective for release in January 2017.

16.    What books do you like to read? What are you reading now?
I don’t much choose what I read these days. I get asked to do a beta read or to read something with an eye to reviewing it. I know how useful this is to authors so I help if I can. As a result, I often end up reading something that I wouldn’t normally pick for myself.


"What if?" Those two words all too easily send Devorah Fox spinning into flights of fancy. Best-selling author of The Redoubt, voted one of 50 Self-Published Books Worth Reading 2016, and three other books in The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam epic historical fantasy series. She also co-authored the contemporary thriller, Naked Came the Sharks, with Jed Donellie. She contributed to Masters of Time: a SciFi / Fantasy Time Travel Anthology and has several Short Reads to her name, including Murder by the Book, A Mystery Mini. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she now lives in The Barefoot Palace on the Texas Gulf Coast with rescued tabby cats ... and a dragon named Inky. 

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The Redoubt

Having bested beast, man, and even his own failings, King Bewilliam has regained his throne, reunited with his sons, and restored his embattled kingdom, yet something is lacking. When a crippling famine threatens the Chalklands’ very survival, his vassals propose a risky plan to seek aid from a distant ruler. King Bewilliam strikes off on a perilous journey to the island empire of Sea Gate accompanied by a cadre of loyal knights and nobles who are unaware that the plan will reunite the king with a spurned lover.

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