SciFy Shenanigans: Richard Fox

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Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing today?  I’m doing fantastic!  I am working on my super-duper secret project.  It looks like Insurgency:  Spartika (The Sleeping Legion Book 4) will be released in the near future.  Well, enough about me.  Let’s get right to the point of my latest blog posting!  Another SciFy Shenanigans interview!  Remember, I’ll send out the interview form to any author that fits this niche category.  If you know anyone you want me to interview, contact me through my blog and I’ll give it a shot!  I love giving everyone a chance to get personal with the names behind the books they love, so here goes nothing!

 

GrassI created a template of questions allowing authors to talk about their latest book and their creative process.  They’ll be able to pitch the other stuff too, of course, but many authors have deep backlists.  It’s hard to get into the weeds with those prolific literary giants, so I took a weed whacker to the mess.  Here are the final results!  The questions are in no particular order, so grab your seat while your minion makes your popcorn and enjoy the ride!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages……

Richard FoxFirst, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I’m a science fiction writer and have been slinging ink full time for a little over two years. Prior to that I worked in the intelligence community and spent ten years in the Army.

I grew up as an Air Force brat and went Army because I was colorblind and couldn’t fly for the Air Force. I decided I would jump out of the planes instead in the Army. These are the sorts of decisions you make when you’re 18.

 

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I am not handy. At all. Build a world in my head with its own culture and history? Sure. IKEA table? Hours of expletives and a piece of modern art to show for my efforts.

 

I’ll go out on a limb and assume that if you write books, then you also enjoy reading them.  What other genres do you enjoy, and how have they affected your writing?

I stick to the military sci fi for my reading. Lots of Warhammer 40,000 stories from the Black Library. Anytime I step away from that, I’m reading books on the craft of storytelling or time management/efficiency.

 

Who are your biggest writing influences?

I read an enormous amount of Star Trek and Star Wars books while growing up. The authors doing write for hire books like those don’t have much of a chance to play with the universe that much, but Matthew Woodring Stover’s New Jedi Order book was a real ‘Woah’ moment for me.

Dan Abnett (who I will never get sick of talking about) and Aaron Dembski-Bowden are two of the best sci writers alive. I feel like a slice of ham compared to their banquet tables.

 

Who are your favorite authors and books?

I’ve read Heinlein’s Starship Troopers more times than I can remember. Abnett’s Eisenhorn Trilogy is one of the best character arcs ever put to page. I think John Steakley’s Armor is an underrated classic.

 

How did that love of reading lead you deep into the trenches of the writer’s life?

After so many years of reading and absorbing storytelling, I picked up the tools I needed to write my own books. It’s like someone working in the wings of a kitchen for years being told to jump on a grill and cook. The knowledge was there, I just needed to call to put it into use.

 

What is your preferred writing style?  Do you have a favorite point of view; first person, third person, etc.?  Feel free to answer as both a reader and as an author!

I started off writing screenplays, which have a lot of restrictions on the writer as to what can go on the page. So I stick to third person limited for my novels, as it is the most cinematic way of doing long form (in my opinion) and you can dip in and out of POV character’s feelings in ways you can’t with screenplays.

I’ve done first person for short stories. I don’t like that POV for novels then I’d get locked into one place (the POV character) for the whole thing. Most of my books have a long action sequence that’s cut together like the 4th reel of a Star Wars movie, and first person can’t accommodate that.

 

When did you get serious about your writing as a career, instead of writing as a hobby?

When my last day job ended. I was an intelligence contractor in Arizona and when that contract ended, so did work opportunities in my area of expertise (IEDs). Luckily, the Ember War had taken off and was selling well. I figured I could keep writing books like that and maintain a decent income instead of floundering around looking for another contract to latch onto for a year or two. Thankfully, my readers still enjoy what I’m writing for them.

 

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? 

I can get my writing done while my sons are at school. So from about 9-4, there’s some furious typing happening in my office. I’ll get in an hour or two of correspondence and have time to work on ads in the evening.

 

Do you aim for a set number of words/pages per day?

I aim to have a new book out every 60-75 days. How furious the pace depends on how close that deadline is.

 

What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer the sound of silence? 

I like brainFM to drown out clutter. I will switch to Sabaton and other Scandinavian rock opera when my energy’s low.

 

Okay, time for another random question.  What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think landed you on the government watch list for?

I spend an embarrassing amount of time looking up non-English expletives. For the sake of the story, naturally.

 

What is your current novel?  Can you tell us a little bit about the premise?

Terra Nova just went live, my first co-authored book with the talented Josh Hayes. It’s an offshoot from the Ember War series and follows one of the main characters as he leads a colony mission to a Terra Novaplanet in a star cluster beyond the edge of the galaxy. Brave new worlds and new alien civilizations none too happy to see humans show up at their door.

 

Terra Nova is apparently a series, where can we expect it to go?

Not where you think it will! The colony on Terra Nova is a minnow surrounded by whales of alien empires, and Hale and the new cast of characters will have to tread very lightly, as there’s no going home to Earth and there’s no help coming.

 

Where did you find the inspiration for Terra Nova?

I wanted to drop Hale and others into a completely different situation than what happened in the Ember War. Sort of like Andromeda and Farscape. Less about the explosions and military aspect (though there’s plenty of that), more of the first contact and exploration aspect of sci fi.

 

The characters from Terra Nova are sent into a gladiatorial death match. Who wins? 

Birch. He has iron in his heart.

 

What was your favorite part of writing Terra Nova?

There’s a bit where the characters are trying to name a ship they’ve just built. A joker swaps out all the suggestions for names that are less than savory.

 

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from Terra Nova?

Carson-Jessica Chastain

Marie Hale-Alizee (don’t judge me)

Ken Hale-Dean Kaine

Nunez-Michael Peña

Birch-Terry Crews

 

When you develop your characters, do you already have an idea of who they are, or do you let them develop as you go?  The age-old plotter versus pantser, character edition.

The characters fill in the page after the plot arc is laid down. I plot the plot and pants the characters. More fun that way.

 

How did writing Terra Nova differ from your previous novels? 

Co-writing was the biggest difference. Working out the story beats with Josh, then handing the outline over to him to bang out was a learning experience for the both of us. The next book should go a heck of a lot faster.

 

If Terra Nova had a theme song, what would it be?

 

Terra Nova is full of many amazingly talented characters, and I imagine it was really fun to create some of them, but which one was your favorite and why?

Carson has quite the backstory to her and a lot to overcome as the series progresses. The main incident from her past isn’t completely explained in this first book, but she was involved in a serious incident that got a lot of people killed, and there’s plenty of doubt about her role in that event.

 

And to bring us home, what advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?

Finish! You may be 30k into a book that you think is garbage and the temptation is to dump it and start on something new. No. You finish that mother fucker and then you can keep it in a drawer forever if no one likes it. You’ll learn more from completing a bad book than half-assing five. Get in the habit of finishing, pushing through your doubts, because they will always be with you when you write.

 

Finally, where can readers and future stalkers find you?

 

I hope you enjoy this little conversation, and if you want to find out more about Richard Fox then follow the rabbit trail to their den of insanity!  If they don’t like it, beat ‘em with a carrot and keep on truckin’!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen shots taken by JR Handley and used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

–> Some of these interview questions were inspired by my good friend TeacherofYA, and are used with her permission.  If you have kids who love to read, she’s the girl who’ll make the literary introductions!  You should check her out, after a lifetime of reading, your kids will thank you.

Sleeping Legion

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