I was nervous but excited in the lead up to last week’s writing race with Candice Fox, as I’d been thoroughly blown away by her debut novel Hades. Although not usually drawn to crime fiction, I found myself completely engrossed in the sinister, enchanting world of Hades, and eager to learn more about both the characters, and the mind who created them. So when Candice agreed to race with us, I knew it would be a fantastic opportunity to learn more about writing. I wasn’t disappointed!
Here are some of the (many!) insights Candice generously shared with us…
…on her favourite part of the writing process…
I suppose before I’ve begun. When I’ve got a new idea it’s like falling in love. Plenty of writers say that. The first few pages are like dating. Full of exhilaration, desperation, experiment, hope. You haven’t stuffed it up yet. Anything is possible. Then, there’s the last few pages. I wrote the last scene of Hades without any real plans about who was going to come out alive. I like to delay thinking about the ending until it’s here. I find if I know exactly how the piece will end I sort of get bored of it. There’s no mystery.
…on dealing with writer’s block…
Writer’s block! That old pickle… If it’s somewhere in the middle of the manuscript, I delete the particular tract I was on and go in a different direction. If you’ve landed at a wall it’s because the path you were on had no potential. I’ve been known to delete whole chapters, whole characters, to get myself out of a fix. Sometimes, though, the problem isn’t how you’ve been going, it’s what happens next. When I get stuck like that I flood myself with material. I read, I watch movies, I go out and get into conversations with people. If you keep the problem at the forefront of your mind, you’ll be ready when whatever fits presents itself.
Sometimes you can be in a situation where a dramatic change might shake up the whole situation, add freshness where things were getting stale. In the manuscript I’ll be writing next year (of which I cheekily put down 7k words a couple of months ago) I found switching someone’s gender fixed all the problems I’d been having.
I actually got a publishing deal for Hades in 2011 with an independent publisher overseas, and he had me going for 18 months before I realised it was all a sham. I’d written four novels before Hades though (one every year) and accumulated over 200 rejection letters for them. I just decided I was going to write one a year in my spare time until I was 75, and if I didn’t get published by then – well, it wasn’t meant to be!
I think I’d sort of half given up on the idea of ever being published. I saw it as an elite club I’d never be invited into. People in publishing all seemed to know each other. I’ve never been a part of the ‘in’ crowd so I kind of accepted that as a reality.
Right now I’m 55k words into FALL, which is the third book of the Bennett/Archer series (Hades is book one). The first draft of FALL is due in December (so yes, I’m in hot water with regard to that deadline!). Book two, EDEN, comes out in December.
…on coping with an intense workload…
I worked out in July that across all my literary projects I had 115k due in six months. I’m getting there slowly though.
I think with any big project (novel, marathon, home renovations, baking a wedding cake) it’s critical not to think about how far you’ve got to go when you’re only a couple of steps in. Otherwise you freak. I’ve seen so many writers twiddling around with spider diagrams and novel plans and character profiles before writing, simply because they’re intimidated by the view of the horizon, how far it is away. Don’t look at the horizon. Look at your feet.
I’ve recently started long distance running. It’s the only philosophy that has prevented me from collapsing melodramatically on the side of the road many, many times lately.
… and the ideas that have come to her while running.
A couple of times, finishing big runs and pushing myself right out of my comfort zone, toward the end of the run I thought; if someone tried to grab me and chuck me in a van right now, I wouldn’t be able to fight. This would be the perfect moment. I’m absolutely stuffed.
And then—I use a lot of aps while I’m running (I get bored). If someone really wanted to, they could check me out online on Runtastic. It tracks your distance, speed, and maps your route. Someone could know exactly where I do my run every week. What time. Where I’ll be on the run at certain moments.
I freaked one of the admin ladies right out at my workplace with a nice simple kill plot like that. She was telling me she couldn’t understand how I came up with murder stories—who does it, why, how they get caught. I told her the best ones come from everyday life. I asked her, if she was to be found dead tomorrow, what kind of questions would people be asking? Who, in her life, would most likely have done it? Where would she be dumped? What would she be killed with. After some thought she decided the most likely scenario would be her husband knocking her off in the kitchen and burying her in the backyard. I think the less elaborate you try to be as a writer, the better your writing is.
Want to join us for tonight’s race?
Just sign up to this week’s event page, and head on over about 7:45pm, for an 8:00pm start. Tonight will be one of our regular races, but next week we will be joined by guest author Heather Garside.
If you want to know what a writing race is, check out our writing race page.