Minerva’s Fox: FAQ 1

Minerva’s Fox: FAQ 1
1. Why did you write Minerva’s Fox?
I had written several drafts of a short story about a woman, recently widowed, who sells her home. Paying a last visit to the empty house, she finds a note on a piece of paper crammed between a floorboard and the wall in one of the bedrooms. The handwriting is that of her now-adult step-daughter. With that discovery, with the tangled relationship it reveals, Minerva’s Fox began to take shape, although this episode never made it into the novel.
2. How long did it take to write Minerva’s Fox?
I began writing Minerva’s Fox in June 2008 and sent it to my publisher in January 2014. In May 2013, I had a complete manuscript, but something was missing. While on vacation, I read Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music. Narrated in the first person, this extraordinary novel showed me a way to bring Malorie Ellsworth, my main character, to life. By changing the narrative voice from third to first person, I knew I could bring the reader closer. So I spent the next eight months helping Malorie find her own voice.
3. Did you attend workshops, participate in a writing group, or work with an editor or a coach?
I went to one writers’ conference, a three-day affair. It was interesting but useful only to the extent that I met an editor who agreed to read and critique my first draft. Due to circumstances at the time, I had limited time to write—not enough time, that is, to take part in a writing group. So I found help in books on writing (and reading) including: Writing Down the Bones (Natalie Goldberg), Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel (Jane Smiley), The Plot Whisperer (Martha Alderson), and The Artist’s Way (Julia Cameron).
4. You’re a woman writer. Minerva’s Fox is an example of women’s literary fiction. Who else do you read?
First of all, I’d call Minerva’s Fox an example of literary fiction, full stop.  But that’s not the question you asked. The novelists and memoirists I read and enjoy include Emmanuel Carrère, Rebecca Meade, Geoffrey Wolff, Hilary Mantel, Jane Smiley, Colm Toíbín, and Tessa Hadley among many others.
5. Where would you place Minerva’s Fox in relation to novels you’ve read recently?
In terms of theme and development—it’s about a woman who discovers her own strength and capabilities and comes to terms with her past–Minerva’s Fox is similar to Clever Girl (Tessa Hadley), Private Life (Jane Smiley), and Nora Webster (Colm Toíbín).

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