Today we welcome Janet Fox to the Penguin Teen Author Spotlight, and we couldn’t be happier! For those of you who haven’t delved into the Faithless books (not totally a series, but totally awesome, nonetheless) yet, now is your time. Her latest installment, Sirens, is available now and ready to transport you back to the Roaring Twenties, with the prohibition, flappers, and the mob. What better summer than this one to lose yourself in the dreamy world of the twenties? Plus, you know you’ve been looking for your next fix after finally seeing The Great Gatsby. All we’ll say about it is, you’re welcome.
Name: Janet Fox
Novel: SIRENS (Speak)
Available: Now! Everywhere!
Who’s your favorite author, living or dead? Oh, man. That question throws me every time, mainly because I have a long, long list and it changes with every new book I read. So, okay. I have to choose. Mind you, it’s just for these next 30 minutes, and after that…but I’m going to say J.R.R. Tolkien. And the reason is because when I was about twelve I landed in bed with a nasty flu, and my mom brought me LOTR, and I read it all the way through. And then faked being sick for an extra week so that I could read it again without a fever. I think I’ve read those books a total of eight or nine times, maybe more.
What’s your favorite thing about your book? The voice of Lou. She just about jumped off the page at me. I’ve always considered myself to be the “good” girl, you know? The kind of girl who always did her homework, helped out, made her bed, yadda, yadda. But there must be a bad girl inside me because Lou’s voice was right there in my head, and she was all sassy and worldly, and saying, “Yeah, sister.” I loved writing her passages.
If you could spend one year on a deserted island with one character from literature, who would you choose? A whole year? That narrows it down to guys. And not just any guy, either. Someone tough but compassionate. Someone just enough of a poet or musician to understand the workings of the heart. So…at this moment I’m going to choose Sam from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Shiver Trilogy. Stiefvater really knows how to write great male characters.
Where do you write? I have a brand new workspace that is the best ever. I can see out windows on three sides – snowcapped mountain views. And it’s open and really light (I crave light). I’ve packed it with color and little objects that mean something to me. Some people have a magic box where they put wishes and things? I have a magic workspace.
Who is your favorite hero or heroine of history? Elizabeth 1. What an amazing woman, so ahead of her time. Smart, capable, and she didn’t need a guy to do things for her. She unified her country without killing too many people (it was a bloody era) and allowed a culture to flourish that gave us some of the greatest of Western literature.
Do you tweet? What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever tweeted? I do tweet. I really like Twitter. Funniest? Man. You are really putting me on the spot here. I don’t consider myself to be very funny. The funniest I can remember is “I’ve murdered so many darlings today the landscape is strewn with body parts…um, words.” It’s a writer’s inside joke, you know? Murder your darlings = get rid of what you really like because it’s usually the overwritten junk.
What is your favorite season? Fall. After a long hot, leisurely summer I really like the first snap of cool air. And I love fall colors: oranges, reds, yellows, dark greens. I think of fall as a time of new beginnings. I know that’s usually reserved for spring, but I remember as a kid how much I loved to buy my new school supplies. Weird.
If you could teleport anywhere in the known universe right now, where would you go? Wow – why would I want to be anywhere but here in the mountains of Montana? It’s so beautiful. But, give me another M-class planet that is uninhabited, so I could see what Earth was like before we began messing it up.
Do you have any writing rituals? The only ritual I have is that I write every day. Every morning, first thing, and I don’t stop until I have ten new pages done. Oh, and coffee. Two cups, with mocha and foamed milk.
What is your idea of earthly happiness? Writing. J And chocolate, walking in the mountains with a happy dog, eating a great meal with family and friends, and lying on my back in the sun on a cool morning in spring grass.
What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? Back in the day I heard Richie Havens in concert. He died not long ago, but he was one of the most talented, and I think underappreciated, musicians of a couple of decades past. Gorgeous lyrics and melodies to break your heart.
What are you currently working on? Three different stories, all in various stages of writing and revision. Two are middle grade fantasies: one set in 1940 in England but very much a fantasy, and the other set in the place between life and death. And I have a completed YA science fiction project set in a dystopian future – I’m quite excited about that one. It’s a romance, and my tag line is “What does it mean to be human?”
Thanks Janet! We can’t wait to read your next project!
“But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.”
Jonathan Dent offers a fascinating look at one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most challenging assignments for the Oxford English Dictionary. Apparently as a young philologist, Tolkien was tasked with tracing the etymology of “walrus” – a tricky word “of disputed origin that had all but entirely replaced the earlier English name morse since its first appearance in English in the late 1600s.”
“If people want to call my novel a literary horror novel, that’s fine. I know it makes them feel better in a neat-freaky sort of way. Like balling their socks and organizing them in a drawer according to color. But really, people, it doesn’t matter.” The Millions talks shop with Red Moon author Benjamin Percy.
Looks fantastic, can’t wait to get a copy
Meet Mia Kish, the hero of The Well’s End, a brand new young-adult novel from debut author Seth Fishman which comes out next February. We’ve [well, Jezebel, who I am Tumblring this from] got the exclusive cover reveal, plus one more illustration by Hark! A Vagrant creator Kate Beaton that shows the whole cast. Here’s the full version of the Kate Beaton artwork above, showing Mia, in the moment before she breaks a hole in an iced-over lake and swims through it. (via Exclusive Look at Kate Beaton’s Illustrations for a Brand New YA Novel at Jezebel)
New this week: The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit, The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls,Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan, The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth Silver, Bobcat by Rebecca Lee, and a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights by Hanan al-Shaykh, with a foreword by Mary Gaitskill.