Interview with Foz Meadows, author of Solace & Grief

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Foz Meadows is, according to her website, a 'bipedal mammal with delusions of immortality. Her first novel, Solace and Grief (young adult urban fantasy), has been picked up by Ford Street Publishing and should appear on shelves sometime in early 2010. She likes cheese, geekery, writing, webcomics and general weirdness. Dislikes include Hollywod rom-coms, liquorice and the Republican party.'

So, in short, she's really cool. The launch of her debut novel is coming up on February 20th at Carlton Library, so if you're in Melbourne you should definitely come along. The rest of the launch details are at the bottom of this post, after this very excellent interview. You should check out Foz's website & blog, and follow her on Twitter.

Steph: Describe your upcoming novel in 25 words or less.
Foz: Solace & Grief is a YA urban fantasy novel set in Sydney. It features vampires, friends, schemes, sarcasm and a whole lot of weirdness.

Steph: What was the inspiration behind Solace & Grief? Can you tell me a bit about the process of writing it?
Foz: When I first had the idea for Solace, which was about three or so years ago, I was working as a legal secretary; it's the sort of job where you can end up with a lot of downtime in front of a computer. At the time, I had another novel - written during school, then revised and finally finished during university - which I was busy shopping around, but for exactly that reason, I was trying not to think about it. Combine this state of affairs with my rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the umpteenth time, and one midmorning, the prologue for Solace & Grief just sort of happened. I kept writing from there, but I was still so deeply tied to the previous novel that it took 40,000 words until I admitted it wasn't actually a short story. Once that happened, though, I realised I knew where things were headed, and I've been working on it ever since.

Steph: What was the road to publication like for your novel? How long did it take you to find a publisher, and what was it like working with an editor?
Foz: There were disappointments along the way. Several agencies rejected the manuscript - although in fairness to them, the original version was very messy. I did find an agent at one point, but she was forced to close up shop for health reasons. Obviously, I was pretty distressed about that - she'd managed to get me through to the second round of submissions at a major publishing house, and I was paranoid they wouldn't take me on because I was no longer represented. In the end, the second editor there didn't like the story as much as the first one had, and that was the basis on which they passed me over. Then I submitted to Ford Street during an open period - though I was still unsolicited - and heard back within two weeks. They had a list of changes for me to make to the manuscript, almost all of which I agreed with; I beavered away for a few more months, sent it back, and then, to my delight and astonishment, they signed me on. Working with an editor was brilliant - it really helped me to look at my writing more objectively. Self-editing is a great skill to have, but a fresh pair of experienced eyes is even better!

Steph: Imagining you could travel back in time and meet yourself as a younger writer without tearing apart the universe, what advice would you give her about writing and life?
Foz: In terms of writing, I think the most valuable thing I could give my younger self is reassurance. Sometimes, it felt like I was carrying a hot, heavy coal around in my chest: this was what I wanted to do, but what if I couldn't make it? I was so possessive about my goals - I wanted more friends who were writers, but at the same time, I also wanted to be the only writer I knew, so that it could be my distinguishing characteristic. I've always been contrary like that, though hopefully I'm improving with age! When it comes to life, though, I'd tell her that knowing a thing can happen isn't the same as being prepared to experience it, and to try new things more often.

Steph: When did you know you were a writer? What experiences have most shaped you as a writer?
Foz: I've been writing for about as long as I've known how, although I didn't really fix on the idea of being an author until I was twelve, and even then, I'd still dream about journalism or archaeology. But it never crossed my mind that I might ever stop writing. Experience-wise, I can't think of any particular moments that stand out as shaping me, unless books count as moments - which, I think, they do. Whatever I read that moved me, I've always wanted to write something like it, and though that originally lead to a lot of pastiche and imitation, utlimately I think it helped me figure out what stories of my own I wanted to tell, and why. That being said, I still have fangirl moments!

Steph: What are you working on at the moment?
Foz: Very soon, I'm about to start editing The Key to Starveldt, which is the sequel to Solace & Grief - I finished writing the first draft late last year, and once that's done, I'll start work on volume three. Recently, though, I was ambushed by a sort of adult magic-and-murder-mystery novel; I finished that in about a month, while we were on holiday, and now I have Plans for it. Not very concrete Plans, I'll grant you. But Plans nonetheless.

Book launch: Solace & Grief by Foz Meadows
To be launched by Kirstyn McDermott
When: 2pm for 2:30pm, Saturday 20 February
Where: Carlton Library, 667 Rathdowne Street, North Carlton, Vic
Queries: Lindy Dadd on (03) 9426 5688 or Paul Collins (03) 9481 1120
RSVP by 15 February:
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