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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Author Interview: Angie Fox

The Long and the Short of It is very pleased to welcome Angie Fox, author of the New York Bestseller The Accidental Demon Slayer. And, stay tuned, because in April the sequel is being released.

Angie told me that The Accident Demon Slayer started off with, as she said, “a kernel of an idea that amused me. What if a straight-laced preschool teacher suddenly learns she’s a demon slayer? And what if she has to learn about her powers on the run from a bad boy demon? Ohhhhh and wouldn’t it be fun if she’s running with her long-lost grandma’s gang of geriatric biker witches?”

She started writing and let the story evolve based on the character and one central issue: what happens when a reluctant heroine is thrust into a series of extraordinary situations. She told me, “I knew the story was working when I couldn’t wait to get back to the keyboard every day.”

For Angie, the question “what comes first: plot or character” is best answered by a resounding, “Both.” She explains, “When I sat down to write The Accidental Demon Slayer, I had no notes about a sidekick for my heroine. But in the second chapter, when she’d learned she was a demon slayer and all hell was after her, she took comfort in her dog. As I was writing, I thought, ‘This is a sweet moment. Now how do I throw her off?’ Simple. I made the dog say something to her. Nothing big. After all, he’s only after the fettuccine from last week. And he knows exactly where my heroine can find it (back of the fridge, to the left of the lettuce crisper, behind the mustard.)

“It amused me, so I did it. Thanks to her unholy powers, my heroine can now understand her smart-mouthed Jack Russell terrier. I had fun with it. In fact, I suspect Pirate the dog is my editor’s favorite character. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if Pirate helped talk my editor into buying The Accidental Demon Slayer.”

So, in that case, Angie admits that possibly plot influenced character, but there were also times that Pirate the dog did his own share of influencing the plot as the story evolved. “Bottom line?” Angie said. “I think the most important thing when you sit down to the keyboard is to be willing to follow your story in new directions, because if you’re enjoying the surprise, chances are your readers will too.”

Angie told me she thinks her most interesting writing quirk is one that also drives her critique partner crazy. “I’m always trying to outdo myself,” she confessed, “especially at the end of a book. Typical feedback will come like this: ‘What are you doing? Don’t get me wrong. I like it when you come up with quirky new hideouts for the Red Skull biker witches. But we’re heading into the climax of the book. Why do we need a new one?’”

Angie’s response was “‘I did it because it amused me.’ But, really, if I’m amusing myself as a writer, won’t my readers have more fun too? At least that’s my excuse. In the case of the new hideout, it worked out. The Red Skulls end up on this abandoned riverboat that they’d enchanted years earlier (while drunk on dandelion wine). Now they not only need a safe place, but they need to catch the Choking spells, Lose Your Keys spells, not to mention the Frozen Underwear spells ready to attack from around corners and behind the old jukebox.”

The most surprising thing she learned in writing her books is that her characters had to take bigger chances, had to have more to risk and lose. It was a very vulnerable place to be, she told me. “I knew my story was big enough to sell when instead of ending my writing sessions thinking, ‘I hope that’s good enough to impress an editor,’ I ended them with ‘No. I didn’t just write that. I did not just make my character defend herself with a toilet brush and a can of Purple Prairie Clover air freshener.’”

On a personal note, I asked Angie what a saying is that she uses a lot. “Don’t you even think about standing on that counter,” she said promptly. “Seriously. I have a two-year-old who loves to climb. He waits for me to leave the room and then uses my kitchen drawer knobs as a ladder. The boy has no fear.”

She not only cries during movies, but she told me she also cries during those Chevy “this is my country” ads. Her favorite pizza can only be obtained in Columbia, Missouri. “It’s called Shakespeare’s,” she told me, “and it is to die for.” And, the one thing scientists should invent is, in Angie’s opinion, “A truth serum for children. Grape flavored. Then maybe another formulation for my single girlfriends to use on a first date, something to swipe on over lip gloss to see if that first kiss was worth it.”

You can keep up with Angie on her blog,

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