Author Spotlight: Kelly Fox
CJC: How did you get started as an author and what made you want to pursue that field?
KF: I’ve had a couple of “starts” as a writer, but I got started in MM because I was a fan of the genre. I read my first MM book in fall of 2018 and was immediately hooked. I went to GRL in fall of 2019 knowing I wanted to write a book. I made a ton of friends, got some amazing advice from people like Lucy Lennox, then went home and wrote Sanctuary. I self-published that in January of 2020 and it did way better than I ever expected it to. After that, I just kept going. I became a full-time writer in September of 2021.
CJC: What do you find to be the most rewarding and challenging part of being an author and what hurdles have you overcome while striving towards your goals?
KF: Getting a scene to feel the way I envisioned it in my head is deeply rewarding, as are comments from readers, especially when something I’ve written made a difference.
As for challenges, finding a balance with writing and the rest of my life has been tricky, but I’m getting there. My biggest hurdle was thinking I had to do everything perfectly right out of the gate. Imperfectly started is better than hanging out at the starting line, and adding skills as you go is not only acceptable, it makes for a richer writing experience.
CJC: Which novel has been your favorite to write and why?
KF: Probably Full Contact. One of the main characters, Anders, is so fun to write. True story: he first appeared in my first novel as a side character and has since appeared in all but one of my books. My current project (Distraction, due in late December) might just edge it out because Hopper is even crazier than Anders.
CJC: For first time readers of your work, which book would you recommend?
KF: All of my series are interconnected, so you can start from the beginning with Sanctuary, set in a gym for combat vets. That said, each series follows its own distinct arc, so start with Hard Target if you like mercenaries, Goodnight if you like cowboys, and Extradition if you like mobsters.
CJC: If one of your books were made into a movie, which would you select and who would you like to star in it?
KF: Full Contact, and I’d go with the two guys who inspired it—Brock O’Hurn (Anders, @brockohurn) and Toni Mahfud (Omar, @tonimahfud). Check out their Instagrams and thank me later.
CJC: For those looking to become an author, what advice would you give them?
KF: Don’t do this alone. There are so many writing communities to join and learn from and support. If you enjoy writing across genres, start with the one that has the most supportive community, and give back.
CJC: If you could co-write a book with any author, who would it be and why?
KF: Onley James—I think we’d write some excellent super bent anti-heroes together.
CJC: Favorite motto?
KF: Never grow a wishbone where your backbone ought to be. (C. Paddleford)
CJC: What do you do to overcome writer’s block?
KF: I never call it writer’s block, for one. That gives it too much power. Often, if I’m struggling with the writing, I’ve made a story choice that is inauthentic to the character. That usually signals that I need to take a break, let my subconscious stew on it for a day or two. Then, with fresh eyes, I read the story from the beginning and it’s usually pretty obvious what I’ve fucked up. If not, I get on a call with a trusted person and hash it out. When I find and fix the issue, it’s (often) easy to pick up where I left off.
CJC: In one word, how would you describe your writing style?
KF: Character-driven (Yes, that’s cheating. No, I don’t care.)
CJC: Which do you find harder to do… writing the blurb for your story or selecting the cover?
KF: Cover, for sure. Blurbs aren’t easy, but I do have a process for them. Searching for covers is completely done on vibes and can take anywhere from minutes to days.
CJC: Do you have authors who inspire you? And if so, who and why?
KF: So many writers have inspired me. Neil Gaiman because he’s magical, has practical writing advice, and is super kind. Lucy Lennox because she’s really smart and genuinely wants the authors of our genre (MM) to succeed. Neve Wilder, Tal Baur and Lily Morton because they’ve got serious writing / story chops. Jonathan Maberry, who inspired my first fan fic, is a hard-working, generous writer whose books (sci-fi/horror) are compulsively readable.
CJC: What is your writing process like?
KF: I like to start with a zero draft, then let those sentences become my outline, using standard plot structure as my framework. After that is the messy first draft, then the let’s-make-it-look-like-I-knew-what-I-was-doing second draft, and finally a clean-up / syntax pass before sending it to my editor. The order I like once it’s out of my hands is edit > beta > second edit > proof > ARC.
CJC: What new projects are you currently working on and what are your goals for the remainder of the year?
KF: I have a Christmas novella from my Rebel Sky series, Unwrapping Christmas, coming out in a few weeks, and I’ve got the insane last book of the Mobsters and Billionaires series, Distraction, coming in the last week of the year.
CJC: Any final thoughts you would like to share with the CJC Photography readers?
KF: Passion and practicality aren’t opposites. They can feed each other if you’re clever enough, and whatever amount of each works in your life is the right amount. Just don’t let that spark of madness flicker out.
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