Phoebe Fox is the author of the Breakup Doctor series from Henery Press. A contributor and regular columnist for a number of national, regional, and local publications, she is currently a regular guest blogger on relationships for the Huffington Post. She’s been a movie, theater, and book reviewer; a screenwriter; an actress; and a game show host; and has even been known to help with homework revisions for nieces and nephews. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two excellent dogs.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? Recently I found a box of my childhood keepsakes, and apparently I wrote my first novel at age six, a short work entitled “All About Me,” printed (literally) on construction paper in crayon (in a very messy font), bound with string, and filled with insightful revelations like, “I like eggs.” After this auspicious beginning, I didn’t sit down to write another novel until about ten years ago. I had a dear friend who also wanted to try it. We agreed to exchange each day’s writing—not to comment on it or critique it, but simply to acknowledge that it was done, and to keep us accountable to someone else to keep writing. We are embarrassingly competitive, both of us, so it turned into quite the prod—if she got ahead of me in word count one day, I hustled to outdo her the next. That was my first finished full-length manuscript, and I don’t think I could have done it without the motivation of trying to pulverize my friend.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? It’s adorable that you use “structured” to ask about my usual day. As a freelancer who works at home, I do have the luxury of somewhat malleable workdays, so I tend to write in the mornings, and then work my “day job” in the afternoon. But I often say that even if I had unlimited time to write, I think that’s about all I would be good for. After a few hours the right side of my brain shrivels like a dried bean.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? My method, as with so many things in my life, is to keep blindly bulling ahead—to simply keep vomiting up words, even if I think they’re crap. A thousand words (my daily quota) of something really bad is still more progress than no words. I know how to fix bad writing. You can’t fix a blank page.
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story? Total pantser. Results in some hairy rewrites, but I can’t do it any other way—if I outline the story in advance, I’m no longer interested in writing it, and frankly I don’t actually know exactly how the story is going to go—that’s why I feel compelled to write it and find out.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? Well, it’s hard to say, since I was an overnight success (if by “overnight” you mean three years, more than 100 queries, a dozen publisher rejections, and two complete revisions of what turned out to be my first novel before we finally found our wonderful publisher, Henery Press). My advice: Do not go away. If you keep working at this and just won’t go away, sooner or later someone will give you your shot, even if only to get you out of their face.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Readers’ response, no question. You spend all this time inventing a world in your head, and that’s the only place it lives. And then suddenly you share it, and you begin to hear from people that it came alive for them too, or it resonated with them, or moved them, or just made them laugh. It’s like human connection on the most intimate level. It’s an always fresh thrill. That and the crazy celebrity author parties at Mylie Cyrus’s house. Mylie, you nut…
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. The series is based around Brook Ogden, an always-in-control therapist who loses her practice and reinvents herself as “the Breakup Doctor”—on call to help you shape up after a breakup. In book one she goes through an unexpected breakup of her own and has what my Alabama friend calls “a total come-apart.” She winds up spectacularly breaking every one of her own rules, and pretty much hitting humiliating rock bottom before she realizes that sometimes you have to let yourself fall apart before you can get it back together. In this latest one, Bedside Manners (book two of the series), Brook is getting things back on track with a great new beau, and her practice has become a real success: a weekly column, radio shows, and now breakup support groups. Enter chaos, in the form of former patient Chip Santana, a very, very bad boy who presents some pretty formidable temptation. Brook is forced into a decision she isn’t ready to make, and has to decide what kind of casualties she’s willing to accept. Forgive all the medical puns. I find that they become somewhat Tourette’s-like when you are writing a series called the Breakup Doctor….
8.What audience is your book targeted for, and what genre does it come under? It’s basically chick lit, but I like to think it has a bit more “bottom” than some of the lighter chick-lit stories. There are some real struggles the characters go through, and some fairly heavy issues, but there’s a whole lot of humor involved as well.
9.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I have two dogs that I am abnormally attached to and spend unnatural amounts of time with. Like most writers, I love to read. And my husband and I live in Austin, TX, home of everything cool to do, so we love to hike the greenbelts, swim in our local swimming holes, check out the local music scene, and enjoy our incredible restaurants. Man, I like to eat.
10.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.)
Engage! The bottom line is, your readers are your career; without them, you’re writing into a void. Hearing from readers is one of my favorite things, even if it’s just a quick comment they make on my status post on Facebook or similar, and I always engage—I know that for me, it’s a thrill to connect with writers whose work has given me pleasure.
Web site: www.phoebefoxauthor.com
Also, look for my columns on Huffington Post!