Today is special for two reasons. First, it signifies the beginning of our Author Interview (A.I.) series. Each month a new featured author will stop by to chat about themselves, their past or current works, and what fans can look forward to seeing next.
The second reason is just as exciting since there is no better way to kick off A.I. than with my favorite award-winning indie author, Emma Fox. www.emmafoxauthor.com
Her book, The Arrow and the Crown, is a truly fabulous tale which no Fantasy fan should miss or be without in their library. Anticipation of her next work, Stone Flower, has been building since I turned the last page of her current novel.
With that said, I proudly introduce the delightful, Ms. Emma Fox:
Tell us about your most recent book.
Absolutely! The Arrow and the Crown (2019) is a young adult fantasy set in a medieval Germanic kingdom. It’s a great fit for fans of classic fantasy, fairytale retellings, and/or historical fiction. Here’s the back-cover teaser: Ever since Anna can remember, she has avoided the ancient Grünwald Forest, where her parents disappeared years ago. Everyone in the kingdom of Weissburg knows that the forest is haunted. Tales abound of vengeful spirits that lurk among the trees, and of a Beast that has taken the lives of peasants, knights, and the king’s own son. But when the Beast emerges after seven silent years to wreak havoc on the kingdom, Anna braves all her fears to confront him. She soon discovers that there’s more to the Beast than she realized…and more to herself than she ever imagined.
How did you decide which genre to write in?
Fantasy is what I know and love best. It has been my favorite genre ever since, at about eight years old, I encountered C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Well-written fantasy—especially retellings and magical realism—continues to delight me as an adult. I like the way it engages my imagination and integrates timeless themes.
When did you know you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?
I always enjoyed writing fictional stories as a kid, and even loved writing papers in college and grad school. However, it was only about five years ago that I decided to pursue writing as a side career. I’d worked as a private music teacher for about eight years, but with my third child on the way, I wanted a job that allowed more flexibility. It has been wonderful to rediscover my early passion for writing. Now it’s difficult to imagine doing anything else!
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Unlike some authors, I really enjoy the editing stage. First drafts are hard for me: putting amorphous ideas into concrete words. With editing, I already have raw material that I get to tinker with and polish to a shine.
Where do your titles come from? Do you play around with words or do they come straight out of the story?
I play around with words…a lot! I’ll usually make a long list of various words that are key to the storyline, then experiment with matching them together.
What is your writing environment like? Do you write with a pen and paper, or on a computer? Do you need quiet, or music in the background? Do you have a pet who gets in on the act?
I work with pen and paper in the early stages of brainstorming, outlining, and jotting down notes about my characters and setting. For the actual manuscript, I use my trusty laptop. I usually write in the evenings once my children are in bed, and I relish the quiet! On weekend afternoons, I like to sit outside and write on the back deck, which my border collie sees as an open invitation for extra petting and attention. If he thinks I’m ignoring him, he’ll keep nuzzling my hands as I type until I acknowledge his presence with a good scratch behind the ears.
What does the protagonist of The Arrow and the Crown think about you? Would she want to hang out with you, the author?
I think Anna and I would get along quite well together. She could give me some archery lessons, and I’d treat her to all kinds of global cooking. Hopefully, she’d forgive me for all the danger, heartbreak and pain I put her through…after all, I did give her a happy ending!
I know The Arrow and the Crown is fantasy, but is anything based on real life experiences?
Yes! I think fantasy is made stronger when it echoes real places and time periods. Much of my inspiration for the landscape and culture of The Arrow and the Crown came from a trip with my husband through southern Germany, especially the Black Forest and the Bavarian Alps. It’s a beautiful area that’s still filled with remnants of past centuries.
Who was your favorite character in this book to write?
I’m quite fond of Albrecht, the crusty old hunchback who acts as a mentor to my teenage protagonist, Anna. It was also fun to write Sir Gerhardt’s character. I based this young knight on an enthusiastic German music teacher I had as a child!
What are you working on now? Any interesting projects in the works you want your fans to know about?
I’m currently working through edits of Stone Flower, a YA magical realism set in 1815 Russia. The story follows two teenage stonecarvers in the Ural Mountains whose destinies are intertwined with a magical underworld. It’s a fast-paced, immersive story that weaves together both history and folklore!
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), and how would you answer?
Oh, this is great. Here goes: What were some of your favorite research rabbit trails? I really do like to research. I feel the need to fully acquaint myself with a world before I begin writing about it! For Arrow, I had fun learning about 9th century German fashions, medieval recipes, traditional bow-crafting techniques, and the proper way to thatch a roof. With Stone Flower, I’ve been enthralled by all the folk traditions surrounding Russian festivals, including various foods that I’ve enjoyed taste-testing! I’ve also learned a great deal about traditional stone carving. Help your fans get to know you. Share a hobby or interest of yours and tell us a bit about it.
I love to travel! I’ve visited and/or briefly lived in sixteen different countries, and I’ve road-tripped through 44 of the 50 states (I’m hoping to make it to Alaska and Hawaii one of these days). This last year, of course, has made traveling difficult, so it has meant more than ever to me to delve into book-worlds through reading and writing. I love a good adventure, both in our own world and in fictional realms!