Hello, lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Roxanne Heath
Roxanne Heath’s interests and ambitions have changed many times over the years, but the one constant has been her affinity for fiction. Her primary hobby in childhood was writing stories, and the habit continued well into her high school and college years. Despite originally pursuing a career in science, in recent years she decided to turn her pipe dream of publishing stories into a reality. Her first story, Smoke: A Novel, was self-published in June of 2016. Her favorite genres to write are science fiction, and those dealing with ghosts and the occult.
Enjoy this sample: “Smoke: A Novel”
Genre: Paranormal horror / suspense
Synopsis: Finding a dead man in the woods seems, at first, like any other routine tragedy. Burdened by a lack of scientific evidence, the investigation takes a much darker turn when a series of interviews uncover sordid details from this dead man’s past including a history of magic and violence. This story takes the four main characters on a journey trying to determine the cause of death, leading each to question his or her own motivations for wanting the truth, and quickly revealing the consequences of betraying the trust of the dead.
When did you decide to become a writer? The time of decision was a bit twofold. Though being a writer was a pipe dream for a while, the abstract decision was made in high school and not acted upon until after college. It’s odd to pin it to those two specific times, because since I was about five I’ve been “writing,” even just silly drabbles back then, but it was around that time that I realized I loved reading stories so much that I wanted to see if I could make some of my own. During my adolescence I found myself reading stories, and becoming so emotionally invested in them that I wondered, “What if this part of the story had gone differently?” It was such an enjoyable pastime that I promised myself I’d start putting out original work after I got out of college. So really, the decision was made as early as 2010 if not acted on for another four years.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? For the majority of my middle school and high school years I would start stories en masse, write perhaps a thousand words, and abandon them because I could never take what I was seeing in my head and put it into words. It always left me with a sense of frustration because I knew that I had some (what I considered to be) pretty good scenes in my head if only I could figure out how to get them down. When I sat down and decided to start Smoke it was with that sense of previous failure in mind which acted as motivation, but also a kind of hope and excitement for the end product if I could just sit down and figure out how to write in the long-term.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? When I started writing everything was over-exaggerated in some areas and completely deadpan in others; there was no happy medium to any of it. To give you an idea, my characters would wildly yell at each other while standing completely still. I focused too much on the small details (I clearly remember writing a story about a dinner party in which every ingredient of every dish was listed) but never built any sort of world for my characters to live in. That gradually progressed to melodrama as I got the feel for writing intense situations, where the worst things in the world would constantly happen to my characters and they would react in kind. Where I am right now, I’ve gotten the need to write needless drama out of my system and can almost focus more clearly on the story itself and where it needs to go. I’ve tried writing almost every kind of scene in almost every level of intensity, and because I’ve now gotten a flavor for everything, I can go back and pick and choose which style I need for any given scene.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? It’s a delicate mixture of both. Originally I’ll just see where the idea takes me and I’ll get about ten thousand words into a project before I start to structure it at all. Even then, outlining a plot is only used as a last ditch effort to figure out what connects plot point A to plot point B. I’ll frequently have two scenes that I know need to be in the story but for the life of me can’t figure out how they relate, and that’s about the only time I’ll make actual diagrams and identify each point in the given arc to sort it all out.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? My latest book, Risen, deals heavily with mythology and the undead which are two of my favorite things to watch or write about. The issue there was a couple of different things. First, I cared more about the demigod characters than about the humans and so I spent much more time writing about them to the point where the scenes for each group was terribly unbalanced. Second, I’ve wanted to write a book like this for years, and finally figuring out how to do it has left me terribly excited. I was so thrilled while writing the action and fight scenes and backstory lore that often times even the tone of my writing sounded like it was gushing with excitement. So overall, the two most difficult parts of writing this book were balancing out the scenes for each group of characters, and trying to maintain some kind of calm, objective voice.
Which writers inspire you? Jonathan Maberry (my inspiration to delve into the paranormal and sci-fi genres); C.S. Lewis (the drive behind my desire to write fantasy); Ned Vizzini (my first and best introduction on how to put mental health-related topics into words); and Laurie Halse Anderson (who has piqued my interest in trying to capture the dysfunctional family dynamic).
You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? I am indeed! It’s more or less in the final stages of being edited and polished, but the official description of it is, “a mythological take on the classic zombie horror story.” I recently did a cover reveal, and you can find it here, along with a release date: https://twitter.com/rheathwrites/status/849039231859261440
Who is your favorite author and which of their books is your favorite? Jonathan Maberry, hands down. He’s brilliant, able to write everything from the tender moments between two characters in love to the chilling, visceral anger of men in combat and I’d recommend him to anyone looking to get a proper introduction to the science fiction genre. So far, my favorite book of his is “Code Zero.”