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<<October 2016>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Janet Fox, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 9 of 9
1. Guest Post: Janet S. Fox on Blending History With Fantasy

By Janet S. Fox
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Some of my favorite books ever are the books of C.S. Lewis's Narnia series. The fantasy of leaving home and entering a land where a child can experience talking animals, mythological creatures, desperate (and deadly) battles - where a child can be perceived as making real, respected choices - where good deeds are rewarded by kindness and love and bad deeds are punished, but only by "just desserts" - I read these books (and still read them) over and over.

They articulated lessons without didacticism. Included in those lessons were reflections of the real world of the characters, World War II era England, and an interesting Arthurian tilt to the Pevensie children's experiences of Narnia.

So for me, the young reader, reading these books in America during the post-war years, they had the taste of something "historical" and of course foreign.

And then there were the myths and fairy tales I devoured. The Red Fairy Book, the Anderson and Grimms's tales, Greek and Roman myths and legends - I read these over and over, too. In my mind history became inextricably linked with the fantastic.

And why shouldn't it? The truth is that we are all shaped by perception, and even history is subject to personal interpretation. (If you don't believe me, check out the new hit musical "Hamilton".)

My first three novels are historical YA romances. When I wrote Faithful (Speak/Penguin, 2010), set in 1904 Yellowstone, I sought to capture the natural magic inherent in that environment of spouting geysers and colorful hot springs.

In my second YA, Forgiven (Speak/Penguin, 2011), I tried to capture the dark magic of the terrible 1906 San Francisco earthquake. By the time I wrote my third YA, Sirens (Speak/Penguin, 2012), set in 1925, I added full-on fantastical elements, including a ghost, an approach I felt was consistent with the 1920s obsession with spiritualism and magic.

I realized that as a writer I was drawing closer and closer to crafting books like the ones that so captivated me as a kid. It has become my goal, now, to try and evoke the same wonder in my readers as I felt when I was young.

Yes, fantasy is my aim, but having written history, I became game to try a blend of the two genres. My newest book, The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle (Viking, 2016), is that blend.

It's set in World War II; the children are sent out of London during the Blitz; there are enigma machines and short-wave radios and even spies. But...there are also ghosts, and magicians, and a ghastly monster, and only magic can save the day (while itself being a double-edged sword.)

Whether writing historical fiction or fantasy, the objective of suspension of disbelief can only be accomplished if the world-building is sound. In historical fiction, that means lots of research to get interesting tidbits right. In fantasy, it means crafting an environment in which those interesting tidbits feel right.

I loved writing The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle. I loved being able to play with a world that is both real and fantastical, where terrible and beautiful things did happen, and could happen. I can't wait to try it again.

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2. Day One: 2-Week NaNoWriMo-themed Blog Book Tour for the New Plot Whisperer Book

Today The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master is featured at:

Janet Fox at Through the Wardrobe
Guest post on revision techniques for writers wanting to use the structure and spirit of Nanowrimo for a major rewrite. Before you jump into Nano and begin writing, first follow the tips I provide on Janet's blog about how to re"vision" your story.

Master Schedule of the 2-week blog tour for the Plot Whisperer book.

For step-by-step guidance into pre-plotting your novel, memoir, screenplay, refer to:
The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
For more about the Universal Story and writing a novel, memoir or screenplay, visit the Monday Plot Book Group series (A directory to this 2nd plot series is to the left of this post and scroll down a bit) and visit the first Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? on YouTube. (A directory of all the steps to the 1st plot series is to the right of this post.)
and visit:
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
Plot Whisperer on Facebook (for up-to-the-minute news on plot events, giveaways and inspiration)
Plot Whisperer on Twitter

“Maggie thinks that nature is her enemy – that even her own, internal nature is her enemy. So her struggle is about accepting what is natural around her and within her…”

                                       --Author Janet Fox




DAY TWO with Janet...


Q: Janet, I love the many contrasts in your novel which so evoke the differences of life in 1904 between the developing West and the more settled East, between high society and the rougher western culture. This thread reverberates throughout the story in many ways, beginning with sixteen-year-old Maggie’s Newport society life and the new life she is forced into in the wilds of Yellowstone, Montana.


In Newport, Maggie sees her future with Edward, the perfect high society catch, yet in Montana she’s drawn to the young but wise mountain man, Tom Rowland. This contrast is echoed in her internal struggle as Maggie both longs to fit into eastern society as easily as her friend Kitty, while at the same time she discovers she’s more like her independent, outcast mother who once disappeared into the West. Was this a theme which suggested itself to you early on? And why was it important for you as an author to write about it? Did you discover as yo

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“I’d recommend to other writers to see if story elements can be slipped into flashback, and whether the story has better forward momentum as a result.”

                                         Author Janet Fox




Q: Janet, reading Faithful gives you a great look at early Yellowstone Park through Maggie’s eyes. Maggie is both in awe of Yellowstone’s beauty and afraid of its dangers, many of which she has to face head on. Can you talk about the writer’s process of pitting a character against nature? How did you find the balance between adventure and realism, given that Maggie is pretty much a greenhorn and just sixteen?


“I was writing about how I feel about Yellowstone and transferring that to Maggie. The Park has actually changed very little since her time – better roads and hotels, yes, but that raw nature is still there. It’s our own American landscape, unique to this country, and I drew upon the feeling of awe that anyone, whether in 1900 or 2010, would feel upon entering the Park.


“I think for Maggie her conflict with nature rises out of her loss – her mother’s disappearance by, perhaps, drowning in the ocean.

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5. TX Novel Revision Retreat Reports

Thanks, Texas SCBWI!

What a great time in TX last weekend. Here’s some blog posts about the retreat from the participants.

Yes, I’m booking for next year and have lots of open dates. Email me at darcy at darcypattison dot com.

Here’s more from Facebook Photos: What a hard working crew!

I did some video there and plan to do a new video soon. Meanwhile, here’s the video from last year in San Francisco.


It's Here.

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6. Authors are Rocking the Drop All Day!

Authors are Rocking the Drop around their areas RIGHT NOW! Here's who's tweeting so far.... use the #rockthedrop tag and join in with readergirlz and Figment to ROCK THE DROP!

More updates to come throughout the day...

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7. Day 17 and research to write

Didn’t get too much actual writing done today, in day 17 of my unofficial participation in National Novel Writing Month. Instead I researched and thought, still trying to figure out the middle that I thought was behind me. Sigh. It’s frustrating, but worth it to do this work and get it right.

Coincidentally, today my husband sent me a link to an article about writing consultant Robert McKee saying Hollywood is “dying.” That was a quote, but if you read on, I don’t think it’s actually what he meant. He meant it more as a warning, that Hollywood is losing good stories.

McKee is a screenwriter’s guru, but what he teaches applies to writers of all fiction, be they screenwriters or novelists. McKee’s book Story, which Janet Fox quoted at the Brazos Valley SCBWI conference, is a very interesting and useful book to writers of all kinds. I’ve read it and recommend it for any writer’s shelf.

Anyway, at a recent seminar McKee was giving, he talked about the state of today’s movies (screenwriters are his primary audience) — of course, there’s a reason why most good movies nowadays are based on a novel. But McKee explained that to write good stories, writers should research. The more research they do, the story will write itself, he said.

Doing a lot of research follows what Cynthia Leitich Smith said about setting and Janet Fox said about character at the Brazos Valley SCBWI conference. Research is key to truly knowing your world and your characters, and from them the story will come.

Cynthia Leitich Smith suggested visited the settings you’re writing about, while Janet Fox suggested making scrapbooks for characters (click for more).

What do you do to research your work?

Write On!


0 Comments on Day 17 and research to write as of 11/21/2008 9:53:00 PM
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8. Cover Stories: Faithful by Janet Fox

Faithful-1.FrCVR.jpgJanet Fox is here today to talk about the cover for her new book Faithful, which I can't stop ogling. It's almost like a Vogue photo shoot -- the greens, the blues, the spirit of adventure in the air. And, oh, that dress.

Here's Janet to tell us more:

"While I was writing in the early stages, I had no idea about a cover; but as I revised I began to have avision of it, and most of the images that came to my mind reflected my research. I loved the vintage photographs of Yellowstone and carried around in my mind an image of a girl looking at Old Faithful geyser, but with a vintage feel.

jan_hattie.jpg"My editor asked me for advice! I was pleased and surprised. I don't know that it's common to ask. She wanted me to send her some of the photos I'd collected, especially photos with clothing details of the period and photos of girls I thought looked like Maggie (my protagonist.) And she asked me what I thought the cover should look like, so I wrote a narrative paragraph. I mentioned the cover of HATTIE BIG SKY (by Kirby Larson), which is close to the same period although a different social set..."

Read the rest of Janet's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

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            A few days ago at the Vermont College residency, author Janet Fox read from her soon-to-be-released sequel to the new historical novel Faithful. The audience was rapt. And readers will be happy to learn that it’s safe to fall in love with the world of Faithful, which we’ll talk about below, because some of her characters are returning for a delicious encore!  


First a little about Janet, who has recently moved from College Station, Texas, to Montana, where she, her husband and their college age son have a cabin in the mountains not far from Yellowstone. (The setting for her novel.)


Janet Fox’s writing for children has appeared in Highlights for Children and Spider magazines; her award-winning non-fiction middle grade book, Get Organized Without Losing It (Free Spirit Publishing, 2006), continues to be a top seller. She has served as a regional advisor for SCBWI and has taught middle school and high school English/language arts.


Janet has an MS in marine geology and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is currently working on Faithfull’s sequel Forgiven (due out in 2011).


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