Joel FoxPlease welcome our special guest, paranormal suspense author Joel Fox. He’s with us today to chat about his novel, The Mark on Eve.

Joel has spent over 30 years in California politics, serving on numerous state commissions, working on many ballot issue campaigns, and advising candidates. An adjunct professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University, Fox has authored hundreds of opinion pieces for numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal,Washington Post, USA Today and Los Angeles Times. Joel Fox is also the author of the Zane Rigby mystery series—Lincoln’s Hand and FDR’s Treasure— in which an FBI Special Agent must solve a puzzle from the past of an American president to solve modern day murders.

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Welcome to Blogger News, Joel! Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

I was a long distance runner in my youth (still jog some; more power walk now that I’m a “senior”) and on those long runs I used to think about stories to write. I more dreamed about being a writer than actually writing. That came later when I finally decided to combine my love of history and mystery and try to produce a novel. In the meantime, I had moved across the county. I was born in Boston and grew up in a Boston suburb. After college I drifted down to Florida where I helped open up Disney World as a bartender at the Polynesian Hotel. Didn’t stay long but went to graduate school in Denver, met my wife, and we moved to California. I ended up in politics in California, working on many ballot measures, appointed by politicians of both major parties to state commissions, advising some candidates, and writing columns and commenting on political matters for the press. My political background has been a resource in some of my writing. My wife and I have two sons, one in the movie business, the other an attorney.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

The Mark on Eve comes out of a combination of my love for history and a desire to answer the Great Writer’s Question: What if? This book is actually drawn from a Cape Cod legend in which a woman in colonial New England was suspected of witchcraft in drawing her pirate lover’s ship into a storm and the ship went down off Cape Cod in 1717. The pirate ship was real and it was discovered and salvaged in 1984.  I simply took some of the persons in the Cover (3)legend and changed the story by asking: What if the woman was not a witch but was be-witched to live forever? She would want to keep her secret. How would she manage that? She would see the changing role of women in this country. What would it mean to her? It allowed me to explore how she would manage through different periods in American history all the while maintaining suspense in the modern day story in which she tries to keep her secret while giving meaning to her long existence by helping a female governor run for president of the United States.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline? 

I start with an outline but it is rather loose. I have an end game in mind and a sketchy way to get there but that often changes in the course of the writing. Sometimes certain characters force their way into the story with a much greater presence than I originally intended. The plot may change along the way because of the larger influence of these characters or for other reasons. In my first mystery, I figured out how the mystery would be solved after discovering a 100-year old book during my research and what it had to say about a historical event I was working on.

Did your book require a lot of research?

Yes, I need to do research because while my book takes place today and within a field I know (the political world), there is history and historical characters in this book. I need to learn about these characters, events, and surroundings. While I am not writing history, the feel of the period must be accurate for the readers.

What was your goal when writing this book?

To teach a little about this country in an entertaining way, to challenge some notions about gender, but most of all to tell an exciting, suspenseful and ultimately compelling story so that I might hear those who read it felt it was time well spent.

Who is your target audience?

I think the book will appeal to anyone who enjoys suspense and history and women who are interested in the advancement of women over the country’s history.

What type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes? 

I create mostly out of dreams and fantasy with a touch of reality built from research. Experiences always creep into the writing through characters I create, but the plots are a result of my daydreaming.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?

I once read that Agatha Christie worked out her plots on long walks. I also do a lot of walking and work out issues with my plots. Sometimes I will come up with ideas about the evolving story. However, I actually come up with the initial idea when I have read some item that caught my imagination and I apply the writer’s question “What if…” to take the story in a specific direction. Many of the ideas are spurred from reading items in newspapers. Everyone remembers newspapers, don’t they? Or am I dating myself?

From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?

In this case, The Mark on Eve, took years. I actually wrote an early draft a decade ago but then put it aside to start my Zane Rigby mystery series. After a couple of books in the series and the encouragement of my wife to do another edit and get The Mark on Eve out, I finished it. The Mark on Eve is a stand-alone book and creating the series distracted me.

Describe your working environment. 

I write my initial draft on a laptop in a chair in the corner of my bedroom first thing in the morning. Usually up around 5 a.m. and write for a couple of hours. I have a floor lamp over my shoulder with a low light so as not to wake my wife.

Later after the first draft is done, I usually write the finished product on my desktop computer in my home office surrounded by family pictures, mementoes, movie posters, framed certificates, political memorabilia, my Dad’s World War II medals, and piles or unsorted papers all over my desk.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?

I usually write until I have the first draft. However, if something seems to have gone awry and it seems to me the only way to set the story right is to go back and re-write a chapter or create and add a new chapter earlier in the book I will do so.

They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?

Who likes rejection? I remind myself of the many stories of famous authors and famous works being rejected over and over again. Although some of the rejections are more bitter than others. 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 publishers. Soon she sent a note that they turned it down. A little 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 saying they don’t publish books like mine. The same editor who gushed over it a couple of years earlier turned it down flat. Explain that.

Are you a disciplined writer? 

No. I write in bursts and I have many down times when I’m not writing. But once I start a project and am done with the research, I usually push ahead and write most days. I’m like a baseball batter who gets hot and just seems to hit everything –I write more than my usual daily amount and write more than my usual hours in a day. Then I hit a slump and struggle with a couple of pages or take some time off.

How do you divide your time between taking care of a home and children, and writing? Do you plan your writing sessions in advance?

For the most part, as I noted earlier, I write when everyone is sleeping and the phone doesn’t ring so there is little interference with the outside world. Even the dogs are sleeping at that time.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

My website is

Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!



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