“The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say,
but what we are unable to say.”
I am a big fan of protagonists with dubious character traits. There is something about a blurry line that adds flavour and depth. In fact, if the protagonist was to stop and consider themselves, they might think they were on the wrong side of that invisible virtuous line.
So in short, I like my protagonists…to be bad.
Why is a less than perfect protagonist good?
If you are the kind of person who goes to the gym 5 days a week, then going 5 days a week is no big thing. BUT, if you struggle to go once a week, then 5 days in a row is pretty impressive! And so with our protagonist. The more reluctant they are, and the more doing something good or heroic chafes, the more interesting it is when they are finally forced to comply.
As a reader, the more confused you are about the protagonists virtue, the more the tension grows. Will they do the right thing? Are they capable of doing the right thing even? Or are they just too damn lazy?
And what about our antagonist? Are they wholly bad? Or do they have redeeming qualities? Do you empathise with them at any point in the book? Perhaps their behaviour has been abhorrent, and then you discover a terrible secret about their past that casts new questions onto everything they have so far done.
There is a certain fascination with a good guy who is not completely good.
And likewise with a bad guy who is not completely bad.
Today I have the pleasure of introducing author Don Foxe who will be sharing his thoughts on reading and writing, and details of his book series, Sapce Fleet Sagas.
Where do you get your ideas? Combination of history, my life, and current events.
What motivates you to write? Joy. It’s fun seeing what happens.
How many hours a week do you spend writing?
This is a bit tricky, because now that I have published works, I find a lot of my time is spent writing for marketing, not just in production of the next story or collection — still, I average two hours/day on fiction alone, so fourteen to fifteen hours/week.
Best thing about writing?
Again, for me, because of how I write, its seeing where the characters take the storyline.
Your biggest writing distractions?
I own a health club that is BUSY! Sixty to seventy hours a week with that tends to be a bit distracting from everything else.
What are your favorite books or sites you go to for writing tips / advice?
- Creative Penn
- Alliance of Independent Authors
- Books Go Social
- Writing Forward
How long does it take you to write a book?
Four to six weeks to flesh out the original story, and five to six months to rewrite so it’s worth publishing.
Have you ever cut anything from your book and why?
Good Lord, Woman! Who doesn’t cut stuff from their books? In my case my wife forces me to cut science-crap down to a couple of paragraphs from the pages I start with. I love the techie stuff, but I realize the average person goes to sleep. The other thing I have to be careful with is the erotic . . . my novels are adult, but I cut out the vivid descriptions. I do keep them, however, in case I decide to release an erotic sci-fi thriller under another name.
Least favorite thing about writing?
Writing — nothing. I enjoy it all. Marketing, however, sucks. I’m actually quite good at marketing, but the number of mistakes you have to make in order to move forward is daunting.
What do your friends and family think about you being a writer?
Mostly, pride. The books have received high reviews, professional and readers ratings, and the haiku exchanges are fun and inspirational, so people close to me think it’s cool I can pull it all off.
Most important thing a writer should spend money on?
Their spouse. No, only kidding . . . actually, not kidding. You best spend time and money on people you love first. Be VERY CAREFUL about spending money on publishing agents. My first experience cost me a lot, and I learned a lot. DO YOUR RESEARCH if you need a publisher. What I did learn was all you really need is an editor. Pay for a professional edit, and everything else relative to writing-publishing can be done very cheaply.
How do you measure your success as a writer?
Reviews. Real reviews, not just the ones I pay for to boost getting reviews.
What advice would you give to yourself if you were starting the writing journey again?
#1 — have someone you trust to tell you the truth read your book.
#2 — spend the damn time making it a book, and not just a story. If you don’t want to sweat rewrites, consider another hobby.
#3 — hire an editor, and listen to them! But DO NOT RELY on them. You should have done your own substantial edits before sending a draft to a professional.
#4 — develop a taste for alcohol — I don’t drink, but I understand now why so many “great” writers are alcoholics and drug addicted . . . only kidding . . . again . . . maybe.
As a reader
What is your favorite genre(s)? Tell us more about why you love them?
Urban fantasy. Jim Butcher. Benjamin Jacka. Kat Richardson. Faith Hunter. Kevin Hearne. The genre allows for development of characters by placing them in unimaginable situations. It draws on history, fantasy, myth, and suspense. Because the stories are contemporary, it is easy to empathize and easier to accept the supernatural aspects.
Have you ever skipped something important to stay at home and read a book? Details.
The weekend of July 20 – 22, 2007. A family wedding at a resort planned. Friday night reception dinner. Saturday, early afternoon wedding. After that, we get free time to enjoy the mini-vacation. Only Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows is released July 21st and I, of course, will receive my early-ordered book, and, yes, I am sad to say I felt “too ill” to go with my wife to the wedding. Two things — first, I assume my wife will never read this, even if it gets printed; second – second marriage for the bride and I didn’t like her much anyway . . . and I’m not sure she knows how to read, so I’m pretty safe there.
Favorite book hero and / or villain and why?
Harry Dresden. Kind of a loser, but with heart. Hero because it gets forced on him. Old world chivalry. He uses magic, but it’s usually thought out, until all hell breaks out and it’s whatever happens happens (like real life).
I honestly cannot think of a villain that stays with me. I think I feel a character coming into my near future.
Your most influential book(s)?
Call of the Wild / Jack London. I read it when I was four (yep) actually four. I hated it, could not leave it, cried, and hoped, and discovered the magic reading created. More than fifty years later and I donate and do fundraisers for animal recovery and adoption, have never visited Alaska (don’t plan to), and will stop and confront anyone abusing an animal. A neighbor’s pitbull was loose and I watched him put the dog on the sidewalk and place a knee across its neck. I got off my bike, and had to be the funniest looking person ever — you can’t walk tough when your bike shoes have clips, okay! Regardless, he got the message, and he’s been very nice to that dog since.
Tell us what you are currently reading and your verdict so far?
This is going to be a cop-out. I’m reading the eighth book in a series I really enjoyed up until number seven. At that point it seemed the writer was getting a bit tired of his own characters, but I gave him a pass, expecting a bounce-back with the next book. Usually I read a book in a couple of hours, especially one I’m already invested in via a series . . . not so much this time. I’ve had it for two weeks and I haven’t gotten half-way through. So I won’t tell the name or series, just sad he either does not realize what is occurring, or more sad, he doesn’t care.
If you could have a signed copy of a book by an author (dead or living) what book would it be and why?
The Gothenburg Bible – because a signed original would make me rich, and I have no problem professing my desire for ultimate wealth, nor having the mercenary nature necessary to sell something “priceless.”
About the book
You are living in your latest novel. Where are you living, and what is it like?
With an entire galaxy to choose from, I’m living on a small ranch north of Barcelona, Spain. Following the Pandemic, the world’s population is less than half. Ocean Creep has drowned many famous seaports, but Spain took great effort to preserve as much of Barcelona as possible. The city is art. Being able to still walk the downtown, visit museums and galleries, and enjoy the architecture is a short ride away.
On the ranch I have my horses. Just a few so I can ride the surrounding countryside, with invited friends, or, my favorite, alone.
It is sad that so many have perished. It is sometimes frightening when the rule of law is not always enforceable. The Earth appreciates the reprieve, and flourishes.
You are your most recent protagonist. What do you like doing for fun? What do you hate doing and why?
Daniel Cooper – metahuman via reengineering with an expanded lifetime – and I enjoy now what I loved as a kid — climbing. As a toddler climbing porch railings, to a child in the trees, to an adolescent learning to climb and repel in the southern Appalachian Mountains. When I need relief – recharging – escape, any mountainside will do. The more I need to concentrate on the next handhold, the more fun the experience of reaching the top.
Deciding life and death is the most hated part of command because, well, someone will die. Deciding someone will die is even more difficult to live with than killing.
About Don Foxe
Don Foxe lives in the scenic southern town of Bluffton, SC with his wife, Sarah. They own Beach City Health and Fitness on Hilton Head Island, SC, consistently rated the best island lifestyle location in the United States. (www.beachcityfitness.com)
Don’s eclectic professional life includes teaching dance fitness (Zumba – Body Jam); presenter of sales and marketing workshops (several awards in both); peer-review for science-based exercise papers (Member of the American College of Sports Medicine); martial arts group training sessions for fitness and self-confidence (Lifetime Awards from US Martial Arts and World Martial Arts Associations), and writer.
He is a member of the Academy of American Poets and Southern Independent Book Sellers. His attention to detail comes from his passion for poetry, especially the Japanese Haiku form. His background in science-based research is evident in his fiction, as commented on by several professional reviews by Readers Favorite, OnlineBookClub, and BookViral.
Don’s guest blogs appear on sci-fi sites like SFFWorld and writing/publishing powerhouses such as The Creative Penn.
Space Fleet Sagas by Don Foxe
Space Fleet Sagas have been described as the next great Space Opera series by BookViral. The sweeping mythology of a future Earth’s introduction to the galaxy, and the trials and tribulations both in space and at home thatensue following first contact.
The plots cross genres, as political mysteries are solved with lots of action and adventure by humans, aliens, and genetically altered protagonists.
Both collections of haiku poetry reached the top one percent on Amazon literature / poetry charts, and both reached #1 on the Amazon Top 100 for Japanese Poetry / Haiku.
You can also follow Don on his social media sites!
- foxeography.com for blog (and much more creative stuff)
- facebook.com/don.foxe and /donfoxe.spacefleet
- foxeography = instagram
- don foxe = linkedin
If you have recently published a book and would like to feature in an author interview, please email me at TheWritingChimp@gmail.com
A few new ones for my list… 🙂
One of my favourite things about being a writer (and about writers collectively) is our constant quest for growth. The desire that grips us all to learn and improve our craft.
One of the best ways a writer can grow, learn and improve is by receiving genuine feedback on their writing. While we all love the positive feedback, we learn the most from the constructive kind.
Sometimes when I look back at my old scribbles from ten years ago, I shake my head and wonder at my writing. Then I stop and realise how far my writing has come, and I look back on those old scribbles just a little bit more fondly. The only benchmark a writer should measure themselves against is their own, and however we improve, whether through beta-reader feedback, taking a course, or by reading about writing style, it can take many weeks, months, or even years for those improvements to show in our work.
So if you have been writing for a long while, or even a little while, go and have a peek back at some of the first things your wrote. You might be surprised by just how much you have improved, but you might also be pleasantly surprised that those old scribbles (while not perfect) are actually quite good.
Happy writing 🙂