Random Chitchats

Shop Talk Tuesday with Janet Fox!

Happy Tuesday!

While us blogger gals, Susan Mannix, Larissa Graham, and I have been doing tons of interviews over at As The Eraser Burns, SCBWI MD/DE/WV’s regional blog, (check it out if you want to,) I think it’s high time I got back to having Shop Talk Tuesday here!

So I’m super excited to welcome Janet Fox, author of the young adult novels FORGIVEN and FAITHFUL, into the shop talk chair!

Kula Baker never expected to find herself on the streets of San Francisco in 1906. The daughter of an outlaw, Kula is soon swept up in a world of art and elegance – a world she hardly dared dream of back in Montana. She meets the handsome David Wong, whose smiling eyes and soft-spoken manner have an uncanny way of breaking through Kula’s carefully crafted reserve. Yet when a mighty earthquake strikes and the wreckage threatens all she holds dear, Kula realizes that only by unlocking her heart can she begin to carve a new future for herself.

“A new century lay open before us, where all things could be made clean and shiny, even a man’s soul. Why, if it was true as I’d heard tell, that men could get up in the air in flying machines – imagine! Men flying like birds! – why, then, anything was possible.

Wasn’t it? Couldn’t I lift out of here until I was wrapped in the blue bowl of the sky, free? Couldn’t I fly like a swallow out over these thick-timbered woods, these braided rivers and steaming rocks and sullen springs and hulking peaks?”

“Fox is a skilled writer who creates a multifaceted heroine surviving in the early 1900s… she proves she’s a heroine worth reading about.”–Romance Times

“Kula Baker, who had a small role in Fox’s engaging Faithful (2010), takes center stage as she journeys from Yellowstone to San Francisco…Slowly and at great peril, she uncovers secrets of the past. The San Francisco earthquake and acute class consciousness of Kula’s Native American roots feature hugely in this gripping tale.”–Booklist

“Fox manages to weave the many strings of the plot together nicely, with everything reaching a climax during the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake that leveled the city. Kula’s story comes to a heartbreaking, bittersweet conclusion that will leave readers satisfied.”–School Library Journal

In 1904 Margaret Bennet has it all – money, position, and an elegant family home in Newport, Rhode Island. But just as she is to enter society, her mother ruins everything, first with public displays, and then by disappearing. Maggie’s confusion and loss are compounded when her father drags her to Yellowstone National Park, where he informs her that they will remain. At first Maggie’s only desire is to return to Newport. But the mystical beauty of the Yellowstone landscape, and the presence of young Tom Rowland, a boy unlike the others she has known, conspire to change Maggie from a spoiled girl willing to be constrained by society to a free-thinking and brave young woman living in a romantic landscape at the threshold of a new century.

“I could not escape the question of what would become of me. In one direction my future was wide open. A great gaping hole waited there with nothing to hold me up. I imagined I was standing at my window at home, right at the sill, or on the cliff facing the sea. What would it be like to leap, to let go and fall?”

“Fox combines mystery, romance, and a young girl’s coming-of-age in this satisfying historical tale.”–Booklist

“The wilderness of Yellowstone…is lovingly and beautifully depicted…the gradual revelation of the truth about Maggie’s mother, the developing relationship between Maggie and Tom, and the thrilling episodes sprinkled throughout will engage readers.”–School Library Journal

YALSA 2011 Nominee: Best Fiction for Young Adults

And now that Janet is comfy in the cyber chair with her favorite coffeehouse beverage, mocha, without whip cream most of the time . . .

. . . and her favorite snack, anything chocolate (do we see a pattern, here?)

. . . let’s begin! First off, Janet, what was your favorite book as a child?

The Narnia series. I was an avid collector. I read them so much my original copies (a couple of which are first editions – my mom was out there buying them right off) are truly tattered.

When did you decide to be a writer?

In 3rd grade my teacher submitted a poem I’d written to the local newspaper. When I saw it in print, I was hooked. I took a roundabout path, but I finally made it.

What advice for beginners do you wish you would’ve followed?

First, don’t do what I did – follow the roundabout path. If you really love to write, do it every day, read every day, and learn the craft. There’s always more craft to learn. The more you write, the more you’ll learn; the more you read, the more you’ll learn. It’s a pretty exciting path if you take it when you’re young. When you get older, it gets much harder.

What is your favorite writing how-to book, technique, or website that has helped you improve your craft or provide inspiration?

I have a bunch of favorites. But I rely heavily on two: Martha Alderson’s THE PLOT WHISPERER, and Donald Maass’s WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK. Of course there’s always Stephen King’s ON WRITING…

Where’s your favorite place to work?

I write at my desk. But, confession, I really want a treadmill desk. I’m saving up.

How were you inspired to write your current or upcoming release?

Actually, my publisher asked. When I finished my second novel for Penguin (FORGIVEN, June 2011) as the second of the initial 2-book contract, they contacted my agent as asked if I’d be willing to write a novel set in the 1920s. I was deeply flattered. There were words to the effect, “we’d like to keep Janet at Penguin.” So naturally I said yes. My upcoming release is SIRENS (spring 2013), set in 1925 New York, and I’m calling it a “noire romance” with elements of mystery and a touch of the supernatural.

What is your favorite line(s) from this book?

Ooo – this is a tiny bit of a spoiler, but…:

“It was while I was dead that I realized that I was the levitating girl. And I was the disappearing girl. I found that very funny and I tried to laugh, but laughing was impossible in my state. Unlike levitating, which seemed more possible with every passing moment.”

These lines will make a lot more sense in context. I promise.

If you could sum up your best advice for new writers in only four words, what would they be?

Read, read, write, read.

Awesome, thanks for stopping by, Janet, and I’m definitely going to be checking out PLOT WHISPERER soon! I’ve heard such good things about it. Best of luck with your writing!

Have a great day, everyone!

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