Later in the year, Rebecca was my first mentoring student, and I was delighted to begin my job as writing coach on her work. The first chapter she sent me was full of beautiful narrative, lyrical prose, lovely scenery . . . and a fabulously eerie plot. I was hooked. And I suspect all of you will be as well!
Here is a little more information about Rebecca Fox:
A recent high school graduate, Rebecca Fox writes fantasy stories while simultaneously dreaming of traveling to Narnia, Middle-earth, and whatever fantasy world she is currently writing about. When she’s not lost in the pages of a book, she’s likely belting out songs from The Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis, rehearsing for a play, listening to her collection of soundtrack music, or cheering madly for her favorite college football teams. Rebecca lives in Iowa with her family.
I was excited to learn that Rebecca's major passion is for fairy tales. Here is a glimpse at her current work-in-progress!
Rebecca: Hmmm. Well, since it’s confession time: I tend to be an introvert; I adore mint hot chocolate; I have a sweet Australian shepherd with more than his fair share of personality; I’m an indoor girl in practice but love sitting on a porch in the mountains or watching the summer stars when I get the opportunity. Football, college football to be specific, is my absolute favorite sport. I—obviously—don’t play it, but I am a huge fan. I would love to study abroad in Great Britain, the land of so many incredible authors. I am working on my British accent imitation and hope my voice gets stuck like that. And last, but certainly not least, I went to the midnight premiere of The Hobbit last month in costume. I’m kind of a big fan. J There you have it, fair friends.
When did you first decide you wanted to be a novelist?
Rebecca: I think realizing that I wanted to be a novelist was gradual. I’ve enjoyed stories and writing since I was a little kid, but it wasn’t until the summer before my freshman year of high school that I started to actually do something about it. I wrote a novel (quite dreadful actually but someday I hope I can turn it into something worth reading) and loved the experience. When I finished, something had happened. When people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I started saying, “I want to be a novelist.” And that was that.
What was the first story you can remember writing down? Did you ever finish it?
Rebecca: In third grade the class was assigned to write a short, one-page story. Mine ended up being three pages. I can hardly remember that little tale; I’m sure it’s somewhere buried deep in the annals of my childhood, if it even survived our move five years later. But I do recall that it was a fantasy. So my course in fantasy was set nearly a decade ago.
What are some of your favorite books? Have they influenced your own writing?
Rebecca: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are my literary heroes. No matter what I read or how much I enjoy a new book, I always end up coming back to these two. I grew up on The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. Really, these authors were the ones who first inspired me to write. Their books provided fuel for my childhood play, textbooks as I first began to dig into and study literature, and now a guide as I started to create my own stories. They provide a wonderful example of what it means to be a Christian and a fantasy writer.
What is a one-sentence summary of the manuscript you are currently writing?
Rebecca: The outcast of a society that values physical beauty above all, plain Estelle is sent as tribute to the villagers’ infamous liege-lord only to become entangled in the search for the legendary power over beauty.
What is the most important lesson you've learned during these last few months of mentoring?
Rebecca: How can I choose just one?! I think the first major lesson I learned was to balance “showing” and “telling.” I had gotten bogged down in the show-don’t-tell maxim and my work was feeling stiff. Once I started “telling” emotions, thoughts, etc. in addition to all the “showing” my writing started to feel more comfortable. That was sort of a breakthrough lesson for me. I had more freedom to explore my characters, giving them an opportunity to come that much more alive in my mind. I could sit back and start enjoying the story!
What tricks do you try when you face writer's block?
Rebecca: In my experience, writer’s block tends to stem from too much pressure, often self-inflicted. When that happens I take a step back to relieve the pressure. Sometimes that means leaving the scene that I’m working on and jumping ahead (or backwards or to an entirely different project) and working on that for a while, just something new to stir my creativity. Often I’ll grab the nearest book and start reading. I find that it helps to get words and stories flowing through my mind even if they aren’t my own. In fact, when there’s a book I’ve been consistently reading, I’ve found that I am likely to have more success with my writing than when I haven’t read much in a few weeks. I guess it all comes back to the age-old advice: read, read, and read.
Who is your favorite character in your current manuscript and why?
Rebecca: I love all my characters from my bitter villainess to my tortured hero, but since I have to choose, I have to pick Lucia, a member of the supporting cast. She’s a fascinating character to write and she poses some unique challenges. She’s blind, but she hasn’t always had this disability so she does have some fading memories of what she saw long ago, some she treasures while others haunt her. She’s a sweet, innocent, naïve girl, but these traits are the very things that drew her into embracing, and remaining entrapped in, Darkness. Yet Lucia’s heart is golden, unspoiled by the enchantments and bitterness that surround her. She longs for beauty and truth and companionship. She has some very difficult choices coming up that will threaten her carefully constructed security.
Would you share an excerpt from your current work-in-progress?
Rebecca: Absolutely. This segment comes from Chapter Four of Beautiful, which includes some of my favorite moments in the novel thus far. Enjoy!
Chilling reading! I don't know about the rest of you, but got the shivers. Thank you so much, Rebecca, for sharing from your work-in-progress. Looking forward to that someday when we can all sit down and read it straight through!
And now, Rebecca has offered a fabulous giveaway. She has two wonderful bookmarks to offer to a lucky winner! Take a look at these pretties . . .
If you would like a chance to win these bookmarks from this talented young author, be sure to enter your name in the drawing below. And thank Rebecca for her time and sharing today!
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