My interview for today is with Lara Fanning, author of Red Fox and Red Fox Silver Fox.
CTC – Thank you, Lara, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for my readers.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
LF – When I was around seven, after reading The Silver Brumby series by Elynne Michelle. It was a story about talking horses that lived wild and free – what more could a feral little girl such as myself want.
CTC – How long does it take you to write a book?
LF – It really depends on the book. I wrote my first novel ‘Red Fox’ in about two weeks! I was very inspired and so wrote thousands of words every day; it was a hurried work that required a lot of editing. However, I have another book in the works that I started when I was about 19 years old. I have rewritten it about four times now and am still not quite happy with it – however I feel like that novel is much more technical and better written than my already published titles.
CTC – What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
LF – Schedule? What is schedule?
I don’t really have a schedule. If I am inspired, I write. If I am not inspired, I don’t write. I write every day – that is for certain – but it doesn’t necessarily mean I dedicate all of my time to one novel. I swap between many novels to keep myself passionate.
I know people say, “writing is work. You have to write 3000 words more for your book EVERY DAY.” I can’t think of anything I disagree with more, honestly. Writing is my passion, my life and my soul, but if I don’t want to do it for one day, i won’t.
CTC – What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
LF – I always laugh at jokes I write for my characters. I also gasp at things I write (sometimes I’m surprised by them) and often I will say things like, “they will never see that coming!” or, “if i’m crying, the readers are too.”
Another quirk…. If I have a good story idea on the brink of sleep, or while doing something important (like work or assignments or university tests) I HAVE to write it down. I’ll boot up the computer to write two sentences. Or scribble it down on my exam paper and rip the corner off to take home.
CTC – Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
LF – What a fun question. I have dreams that inspire me. I don’t need a big complex dream for ideas. A simple setting in a dream can inspire me, or a strange creature, or even what happens in the dream.
Song lyrics also inspire me. I never use the lyrics in my songs, but a single sentence can give me multiple ideas. A few of my favourite ones are:
“Once upon a hundred-thousands years or so when the sun don’t shine, the moon don’t glow and the grass don’t grow” – Tenacious D.
“My heart, my son, my only king” – Nico and Vinz
“When I listen to your heart I hear the whole world turning” Meat Loaf.
You can sort of see how ideas spawn from these little titbits.
I actually wrote one of my favourite novels after a very stupid experience with my boyfriend at the time. I remember thinking to myself, ‘he smells like Doritos,’ and I began to write a scene about a girl spending time with a boy who smelt like Doritos. Pretty soon, it escalated into a HUGE high fantasy novel (200,000 words) and the bit about a boy smelling like Doritos isn’t even included anymore.
CTC – When did you write your first book and how old were you?
LF – I was seven, and I wrote a ripoff novel called “The Golden Brumby” about a wild chestnut stallion who had adventures in the bush. That was my first ‘full length’ novel, but prior to that there had been many, many little novels about strange things only children can think of.
CTC – What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
LF – I love anything involving nature. Hiking, bushwalking, just being outside. I enjoy swimming, but really only in rivers or the ocean. I horse ride quite often (my horse is a character in my next trilogy). I also love drawing and watercolour, playing guitar, writing songs and music. But i’ve just started university, so now also a lot of science study!!
CTC – What does your family think of your writing?
LF – They have always been so supportive of my dreams. Mum and dad constantly promote my books, as well as my grandmother. My dad was so proud of Red Fox that he ordered 20 copies to hand out at his workplace. Mum edits novels before they are published and has used far too many sticky notes whilst doing so – thank you! My little sister, Christie, inspired Red Fox – she is actually meant to be the character of Freya.
As for ‘what they think’ of my writing: they know Red Fox is not my best work, but they like it and supper tit all the same. When I write high fantasy, my language, plot, characters and worlds are far, far better and more detailed.
CTC – What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
LF – Formatting is very hard… I didn’t think it was an important aspect, but it is. My friend, Adam, did that for me – thank you, Adam!
But mostly, after speaking with other authors, I think I was surprised about how much I, personally, get out of writing. A lot of authors seem to write for money, out of boredom, or just for the sake of it. I cannot even imagine a life that didn’t allow me to write – it’s barbaric! It’s truly a part of me.
Oh, I did have an epiphany once when I was writing a stand-alone that was set in the same world as two of my other novels. As I got further into the standalone, characters from the other two novels appeared in it, bringing with them all of this history and depth of character because I knew them so well. And it was SO surprising for me, because I realised that EVERY character needed to be written like they had been in two books prior: they needed more depth, little mysteries about them, a life prior to their debut appearance.
CTC – How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
LF – Oh, gosh. I have written well over one hundred books, and yet I probably deem only about a dozen worth publication (once they are edited). My favourite is a novel currently titled “Aedile and Ren,” though that won’t be it’s title when published. It is high fantasy and it has been my absolute favourite to write over about 4 years. It should be published in late 2016 or early 2017.
CTC – Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
LF – Everyone says it, but READ! Reading will make you a better writer, inspire you and give you fresh ideas. While it may seem like you’ll pick up on other authors’ styles and traits, you will become original by adapting many different styles. I also say get a lot of life experience. It is very hard to write about events or emotions you haven’t experienced yourself.
Also, always listen to your critics and reviewers. They will help you excel and become better, even if their words are harsh. Always take their advice with a grain of salt though – you must be independent and push the boundaries, after all!
CTC – Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
LF – Not as much as I would like. I love it when I log on to Facebook and see someone has tagged me and recommended Red Fox to another person. I LOVE reading my amazon and goodreads reviews. If I knew how, i’d respond to everyone who left reviews: be they good or bad. The good give me a huge boost, while the bad reviews allow me to better myself and my writing.
However, most of my readers have been excellent and the few loyal fans I have keep in contact, which is lovely.
CTC – Do you like to create books for adults?
LF – Mmm… I wouldn’t say they are for ‘adults’, but rather they can have adult themes. I think I am still a child at heart, and so I find it hard to write for adults. Young adult novels are what I prefer to write, however I think anyone under thirty could probably enjoy my books.
CTC – What do you think makes a good story?
LF – This is a hard question. I want to say it is all about the plot and the characters, but it isn’t. If your spelling is atrocious and your grammar terrible, then no reader will get passed that!!
But, I think an unpredictable story with twists and turns, that is also realistic, is a good story. You can’t have readers predicting every event at the beginning of the novel. All I really want to say is, break the mould! People say a good main character has to be deep, with lots of levels and blah blah blah, but a simple character can be just as intriguing if you write them well enough.
CTC – As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
LF – I wanted to be an author! All throughout primary and high school, I wanted to write for a living. However, animals are also a big passion of mine. Right now, I am studying a bachelor of zoology at university, but finding time to write in between, too.
CTC – Is there anything else that you would like for the audience to know?
LF – Not particularly. I think I have been overly thorough in my answers. I just encourage EVERYONE to write, even about minuscule things that happen in life. Use writing to vent your emotions, or document ideas about totally unrelated things. I have a friend who has half a dozen AMAZING movie ideas that he keeps forgetting about, and I have to encourage him to write them. I think if everyone wrote, the world would be a better and more relaxed place.
CTC – You can find Lara’s books on Amazon.
And, you can contact her here:
In the 1950’s, a Siberian scientist began an experiment with one goal in mind – to breed a domesticated variation of the red fox. After ten generations of breeding the scientist had reduced the adrenalin levels in the animal and created a tame creature named the Silver Fox.