A native of Massachusetts, Joel Fox is the author of A Mark on Eve, a modern day paranormal suspense with a historical background. A spell cast by an 18th century witch has condemned Eve Hale to an endless life. Centuries later, her secret could unravel and doom the election of the first female president when Eve dives in front of an assassin's bullet to save the candidate's life.
He is also the author of the Zane Rigby mystery series. He's spent over 35 years in California politics, serving on numerous state commissions appointed by governors and assembly speakers from both major political parties, working on many ballot issue campaigns, and advising candidates. He is an adjunct professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University, and has authored hundreds of opinion pieces for many national and state publications including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today and Los Angeles Times.
Find out more about his book, The Mark on Eve, on Amazon.
Thanks for letting us interrogate you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?
I liked the idea of storytelling. I like a tale that grabs hold of you and takes you for an unexpected and satisfying ride. I wanted to see if I could do that.
Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be? I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?
Time and concentration are the demands. You must focus on so many aspects of writing, the plot, the characters and their evolution, sentence structure—the way the words come off the page to a reader. As Thomas Mann once wrote, “A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” The perks come with the self-satisfaction that you got it right. (And, maybe a financial reward if you are successful and a bit lucky.)
Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?
I’ve tried both. My current book is self-published. Since I got minimal support from my publisher and had to do much of the selling myself, I figured I should get a larger share of the profits. However, that means I have the sole responsibility for the cover, editing and other functions that the traditional publisher takes care to do.
Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?
I don’t have any problem in these areas. First of all, I do most of my writing when my wife is sleeping. I tend to write as soon as I get up when I’m fresh, from 5 to 7 a.m. And, my wife is my biggest fan. She pushes and encourages me to do these things: Have you edited yet? Have you polished so we can get the manuscript out?
This is for pet lovers. If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?
My dogs eat on time. Dogs have an internal clock and they know when its time to eat so they keep nudging you. Best to feed them and put that past you so you can get back to work. If you don’t respond the nudge they don’t give up. And, when you have a 120-pound dog he can nudge pretty well.
In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?
Again, most of my writing is done in the early morning hours before any of that happens. I like to sleep on my ideas and attack them in the morning. I’m not so good at the end of the day. However, toward the end of a project I could be writing around dinner time. If I’m called to dinner, I’ll say, “I’ll be there in a minute.” Sometimes a minute is actually 15 minutes long.
What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?
I once had an editor at a publishing house write that she was excited about my work and wanted to publish it. She said she needed the OK from the top brass at the publishing house. Soon she sent a note that they turned it down. She drew teardrops on the letter to show her regret. Some time later the publishing house was sold but that editor remained. I asked my agent to send the book back to the editor to show it to her new bosses. She returned it almost immediately saying they don’t publish books like mine. The same editor who gushed over it a couple of years earlier turned it down flat as if were a completely new and unwanted submission. Makes you want to scream.
How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?
I’m not a web-extrovert so I really wish I could avoid them all. However, all the experts say you must engage and interact on social networks so I try to do so. I think you can be a little more personal connection on Facebook.
Book sales. Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)? How are you making the sales happen for you?
I find I do pretty well at book fairs. Talking to readers and explaining the book has led to good sales at these types of events.
What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?
I use history in my novels. I think history is important to learn how we got to where we are. I also think it is full of compelling stories and drama that people should be attracted to. So why is it ignored? I once heard a high school history teacher say that he taught the second most despised class in school after calculus. I don’t get it. That’s not the way it should be.
Okay, too much sugar for you today! Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in. Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?
Writers need to write, so we keep at it. On the occasion that someone tells you how much he or she enjoyed the story you created out of your imagination it all seems worth it.