Today I am honored to share an interview with Janet Fox. Her debut, Faithful, is released next week (May 13th). Maggie looks like an interesting character and I am so curious to see how she deals with the hand she’s been dealt! I am excited to share with you an interview with Janet, so without further ado..
The Monster Lover: Can you tell us a bit about Faithful?
Janet Fox: Sure! Faithful is set mostly within Yellowstone National Park (hence the title, after Old Faithful geyser). It’s a love story, but it’s also a story about loss and renewal. Maggie, my main character, loses her mother under mysterious circumstances. This sets the story in motion and sends Maggie and her father from their Newport mansion to Yellowstone. Maggie is trapped by her position as a young society woman and may be forced to marry a man she doesn’t love. But she stumbles upon the truth around her mother’s mysterious past and disappearance, and along the way discovers love and her own inner strength.
The Monster Lover: Why did you choose 1904 for the setting and did you find it difficult to write about a girl in that time with the many restrictions placed in her (compared to our much more equal attitude of today)?
Janet Fox: Actually, I chose 1904 because girls were so much more restricted then than they are today. I wanted to depict a young woman of character and determination, who discovers a way to escape the limitations of her society, although not without cost.
The Monster Lover: On your blog, there is a picture of you standing near a geyser. Did you travel to Yellowstone as research for the book OR have you always been drawn to it’s beauty (OR both)?
Janet Fox: I wrote Faithful in part because I know a great deal about the Yellowstone region. My family has a cabin in the mountains not far from Yellowstone, and I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years with my husband and son. I really, deeply love Yellowstone. It is an otherworldly place, mystical, almost magical, the only place on our planet with so many geysers and so much physical beauty – death and life intertwined.
The Monster Lover: Is there a particular part of the book that you enjoyed writing the most and why?
Janet Fox: Oh, yes! I don’t want to spoil anything, but the scene with the carriage – the climax scene – I wrote that in one stretch and I felt like I was in a dream. When I stopped writing, it was as if I’d had an out of body experience. And that scene was the least edited of the entire book. So I think it is the most true to my soul. That’s the way I aspire to write from now on.
The Monster Lover: Growing up, were the outdoors something your family enjoyed together & do you see this as influencing your writing?
Janet Fox: Interesting question! Yes, and no. When I was a kid, we visited the mountains of North Carolina every summer – which is where I learned to love mountains. And where I learned to tell stories, because I was alone a lot, and made up stories to entertain myself. But I was the only one who really loved being alone outdoors. I think of myself as kind of an elf-like child. I used to sneak off into the woods and pretend.
The Monster Lover: What was it like going from being a teacher back to being a student as you work towards your MFA degree?
Janet Fox: Another interesting question. I love teaching. Really love it – especially teaching high school. I can get very excited about a book while trying to explain it (my students loved to see me cry!) As a student, I see how hard it is to do things right – it takes dedication. In order to have that kind of dedication, you really have to love what you are aiming for. If I were queen of the world, I’d give middle schoolers/early high schoolers two years “off” to find their passion – what they really want to do in life. Give them a range of experiences, from mechanics to arts. Help them find what they are best at, and how they can make the most of their talent. Then I’d bring them back to the classroom and start from this fundamental: now – how is what you are learning adding value to your passion? Because even a basketball player can learn strategy from physics, and a sax player can learn emotional depth from Milton.
The Monster Lover: Faithful has a sequel, can you tell us a bit about this?
Janet Fox: It’s not really a sequel, but a “subsequent.” The main character is someone who appears in Faithful – Kula. I follow Kula’s story in 1906, when she ends up in San Francisco at the time of the Great Earthquake (April, 1906). The tentative title is “Forgiven.” Kula’s a great character, and it’s exciting getting to know her as I work with her. And there are lots of complications for her…
About the book:
Sixteen-year-old Maggie Bennet’s life is in tatters. Her mother has disappeared, and is presumed dead. The next thing she knows, her father has dragged Maggie away from their elegant Newport home, off on some mad excursion to Yellowstone in Montana. Torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her friends, from society, and verging on no prospects, Maggie is furious and devastated by her father’s betrayal. But when she arrives, she finds herself drawn to the frustratingly stubborn, handsome Tom Rowland, the son of a park geologist, and to the wild romantic beauty of Yellowstone itself. And as Tom and the promise of freedom capture Maggie’s heart, Maggie is forced to choose between who she is and who she wants to be.
About the author:
Janet Fox is also the author of a nonfiction book for middle-grade readers, Get Organized Without Losing It. Before turning to writing full time, she was a geologist and a teacher. Janet divides her time between Texas and Montana, just outside of Yellowstone National Park. To learn more, visit janetfox.com