Kirsty Fox

kirsty-10

Tell us a bit about your book
Dogtooth Chronicals (sic) is a reflection on the dysfunctions of a hopeless generation via an environmental apocalypse which forces a group of friends to leave their beloved Sheffield & search for a new way of life. It’s quite character-driven magic realism, meets dystopian adventure. The title refers to the chronic bad habits of the characters rather than chronology – things don’t actually quite put themselves in time order. There’s also a strong canine theme throughout the book. You don’t have to like dogs to love it, but you’ll get more out of it if you do.

What inspired you?
Many things – my friends, the potential for environmental catastrophe to happen sooner than expected, my experience fostering a mad dog, Yorkshire, films, music & books. The people I meet & conversations I’ve had working in various pubs also figured pretty high. Some readers may not like the colourful language & bits of dialect, but I think they create honesty in how the characters & settings come across.

Are your characters based on people that you know?
I take aspects of people I know, but none are based solely on one person. I like creating characters & having them take on a life of their own.

What hardships have you had to face since you started your writing journey?
I’ve been fairly lucky in writerly terms. I’ve always had supportive friends & family, found people able to give constructive criticism & as I wrote the novel over several years so I was able to work through most of it. Some people need the focus of quitting the day-job to get the novel written, but I just cut down hours when I could afford it. Being out among people helps me keep writing. With publishing, I researched traditional routes & was concerned about the time-scale. The novel is very timely, I felt it needed to be out there as soon as possible. I came into some money so I decided to get it properly edited & start Bees Make Honey publishing. I may be making it sound easy, none of it was easy. It’s been a labour of love for many years & I’ve worked dog-hard on it. At the same time I really appreciate the support I’ve had & I don’t feel hard done by. If the hardships in question are more personal ones, I’ve had those too, everyone does to some extent, but writing is sort of a healing process.

What research do you undertake to help you write?
I like to research things, it’s nice to feel you learned something while writing. For Dogtooth Chronicals it was mainly to do with traditional bush craft – how to hunt & gather, how to survive without modernity. I also did a research trip to the stunning Northumberland. Some of the novel is set in a place there & I’d not been since I was a teenager. I wanted to really get a feel for the wilds there.

Any information on upcoming books?
My next novel is more speculative fiction on the future of our species, but it’s very different to Dogtooth Chronicals. It has a simple, classic story arc, while Dogtooth is full of time-shifts & different P.O.Vs. It’s still in the notebook stage though. I’m concentrating on my publishing projects at the moment. I still write lots of stream-of-conscious stories & little experiments on my blog though.

Could you tell us about your publishing company and what you offer?
What we’re looking for is quite niche. I like contemporary British magic realism & speculative fictions (in the soft Sci Fi respect, rather than fantasy or paranormal). I like elements of Literary Fiction if it’s not too dense. We’re looking to promote regional authors in the UK (outside of the London orbit) & create a supportive environment. I think much of the traditional publishing world has become too clinical & ruthless. But everything is changing at the moment & hopefully micro-publishing will be part of the future of things. Self-publishing is great, but the market is saturated with a lot of poorly edited products, it’s soo hard to make a splash.

Anything you want to say about people who wish to get their work published?
Literary agents do most of the leg-work these days. If you want to go through the traditional channels they’re the best route, but you need to find the right one for your work. A lot of the writers I’ve come in contact haven’t spent enough time developing their work. It doesn’t have to take half a decade like mine did, but there is a reason most published writers are over thirty. Writing needs to mature like fine cheese. There are the odd exceptions to the rule, like S.E Hinton, but often the value of their work is in its naivety. You need to read a lot & read different genres & generations. There’s nothing worse than having to tell someone their novel is built on a huge cliché. Whether you’re going for trad-publishing or self-publishing you should research, research, research. Then you’ll avoid many rookie mistakes & give yourself the best chance. If you’re self-publishing the no 1. piece of advice you will read is get it properly edited. And be realistic, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. That’s a myth created mostly by amazon & perpetuated by blind optimists.

 

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