Yesterday, I reviewed Janet Fox's latest book, Forgiven. I loved the book and hope that you do too. Janet is here today with us to talk about her writing, but first she'd like you to know:
Author Janet Fox will donate a portion of the proceeds from FORGIVEN to The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. To learn more about what you can do to help agencies that actively fight the exploitation and trafficking of children, visit the following websites:
Janet Fox is also the author of FAITHFUL (Speak/Penguin, 2010) and GET ORGANIZED WITHOUT LOSING IT (Free Spirit, 2006).
I first started writing Faithful almost 8 years ago. I’d been writing for a while, but my work was writing short stories for adults, and writing for young adults didn’t occur to me until I met fellow children’s authors. And let me just say that I had no idea how to construct a novel. I didn’t understand plot, pacing, voice, or any of the other craft nuances necessary to making a novel work.
Lucky for me, I found SCBWI early on, and I started attending conferences and listening and reading. I read as much middle grade and young adult fiction as I could and I devoured craft books. All the time I was learning I was working on Faithful and obviously my experiences paid off, because I signed with my agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin, in the winter of 2007 and she sold Faithful a year later after working through more revisions with me.
What’s interesting to me in retrospect is that Alyssa, and my editor at Speak, Jen Bonnell, loved my character. I’ve since discovered that I’m a character-driven writer and that I need to really craft my plots and work on my pacing, which is what I had to do with Faithful until Jen was satisfied.
With Forgiven, my character, Kula, was very much real to me before I began writing. So my technique in crafting the novel was vastly different. I concentrated on learning the finer points of plotting. I had the good fortune to be in the middle of my MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where my learning curve went to vertical and so I could apply all that new-found knowledge and the oversight of my advisors to my work.
Now I have strategies and craft techniques that I employ at every step. And they evolve constantly. What works for one novel does not necessarily work for any other. My outlook may be different or the story may be different or the character may hide from me and I have to coax her out. What I have learned is that writing is a skill like any other – like drawing or painting, or building a house, or designing a space shuttle – and that with practice and dedication to craft an author’s work can get better, richer and deeper.
Thank you so much for joining us today, Janet!