FAQs

About Fox:

Where do you live?

Bath, England.

What’s your favourite book/ author?

I don’t know! I love so, so many, for many different reasons. Asking me to choose is like making me choose one food to eat forever. It’s impossible.

When did you decide to be a writer?

I figured out that you could play with words as a job when I met Michael Rosen, age 4. By 8, I knew that’s what I was going to do. But then part of my brain got all grown up and sensible and I tried for a ‘proper career’ instead. It took me a lot of meandering (and writing stories around the edges) before I properly convinced myself again that writing was allowed. But really, all the way through that, I never stopped.

Do you write full time? What else do you do?

No! I also run creative writing courses and workshops. I especially love working with young people.

Why do you care so much about diversity?

People are brilliant, complex and varied, and every single one of us has a story (or several) to tell.

I 100% believe that everyone should be able to walk into a bookshop or library and find stories about people like them, in worlds like theirs. Everyone deserves to be the hero.

It’s also important to find people who differ from us, whose lives aren’t quite like ours; that we can see the hero in everyone.

Your first book was published under the name Sarah/ I’ve seen you at an event under that name. I notice you’ve changed it to Fox. Why?

I’m glad you noticed 🙂 When I was growing up, terms like genderfluid, nonbinary, transmasculine and FtM weren’t a part of my vocabulary. I saw none of those people in books or on TV, in classrooms or shops or walking down the street (I’m sure they were there, but without representation you’re invisible, and I didn’t know to look). But now that I do have those words, I can tell you that’s exactly what I am. I’m trans. And I’m currently transitioning into a more comfortable, masculine identity. As part of that, I’ve changed my name to Fox, and adopted masculine pronouns. This might sound strange to you, but I assure you it’s a perfectly normal thing. I’m really happy, and more comfortable than I’ve ever been before, and excited to share this part of myself with you.

I can’t tell what your gender is from your name: what pronouns do you use?

Actually, no name really has a gender, you can’t tell from someone’s name (or their appearance) what their gender is! I use masculine pronouns (he/ him). They’re not perfect, but they’re the closest I’ve found. Thank you for asking!

Will you come to my school/ library/ workplace/ small clearing in the forest?

Yes please! See the ‘appearances’ section below, or the events section of this website for more details.

How do I get in touch with you?

You can use this contact form, or find me on Twitter!

 

On The Last Leaves Falling:

Why Japan?

The Last Leaves falling started off as a very different book, which looked at the pressures placed on Japanese young people the disturbingly high suicide rates in Japan, and a particular trend towards suicide pacts.

The book changed, but my characters – including the parts of them formed and influenced by their upbringings, history, culture and traditions – did not.

What research did you do for The Last Leaves Falling?

A lot. And more.

I talked to a young man with ALS, to friends and acquaintances with some of Sora’s symptoms; who use wheelchairs, have limited mobility and/or chronic pain.

I read medical journals, hospital policies, treatment plans, and every assisted dying court case I could find. I talked to pharmacists and consultants, and to people on similar drug regimes as Sora would have been.

I talked to my Japanese housemates and friends about our cultures and lives, the similarities and differences. We talked about school and families, traditions and beliefs. We watched all of our favourite movies and TV shows, shared music, swapped new and classic literature, learnt to cook each other’s favourite meals.

When it got to that point, I had beta readers from both groups.

I spent hours on Google Maps and Trek Earth. I read up on samurai history, and studied the form and practice of death poetry.

And then I did more again.

Why why why? That ending; why?

Sometimes life is hard, and sad and messy and awful. I’m sorry.

Books can offer us a safe space to explore difficult and/or emotional things, and the space to think about big questions and form opinions for ourselves. I hope The Last Leaves Falling does that.

If it helps, I cried buckets right the way through writing it.

Does The Last Leaves Falling reflect your own personal views?

Yes and no? Last Leaves explores some big, difficult questions. I can’t be sure what I’d do – or want to do – In Sora’s situation (or his friends and family’s).  But I don’t believe in making choices for anybody else. I hope that the book allows people to explore their own views, either way.

Where can I buy/ read a copy?

The Last Leaves Falling is available anywhere that books are sold. For links, please visit the books page. You could also try your local library.

I’d like to discuss The Last Leaves Falling with my class/ book group. Can you give us any extra information? What do you consider key to understanding the novel?

There are discussion guides available for either the UK or US versions of the text.

 

On writing:

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas can be found anywhere and everywhere. They’re just waiting to be seen.

What are you working on next/ right now?

You can find information about books that are ready to talk about on my books page. Sometimes I hint at things that I’m working on, on Twitter. If that’s something that interests you, you can follow me there.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It varies. Every book is different. I’m slooooow, though. The exactly-right words for their purpose take a while to find, and I’m the kind of writer who finds those words important in the shaping-things stage. Without them, I don’t know what I’m writing or where it needs to go.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

PANTSING FOREVER. Except, um, I sort of maybe plot as I go along. I have walls and walls of post it notes, full of visual reminders, questions, plot and character. Structured planning though? Like, outlining? Nu-uh, no sir, not me.

I want to be a writer. What advice can you give me?

Write. Keep writing. Write until your fingers bleed (metaphorically).

Read: anything and everything.

Be observant.

Write about something that interests you. Writing anything – a  poem, short story, article or novel – takes time and effort, and will almost certainly involve rewriting, honing, editing. You’ll be working on the same thing for a while, and it helps if it’s something you’re excited to spend time with.

 

On diversity:

How do you identify?

I identify as queer, trans/genderfluid, and disabled. I frequently speak about identity, marginalisation and representation. I would happily give a talk or workshop on the topic for you. I also speak about these things on Twitter. If you’re interested, you can follow/ talk to me there.

There are a few links to things that I’ve written on the subject here.

Can you recommend books about or featuring <insert identity here>?

Maybe! I’m always reading new things, and I prefer to rec on a person-to-person basis. Ask me on Twitter.

For disabled representation, you should also check out Disability in Kid Lit.

For LGBTQIA representation, try GayYA, or Dahlia Adler’s super-handy list.

For POC representation, try Rich In Color.

Where can I find some of your posts on diversity and/or identity?

There are a few links to things that I’ve written on the subject here. I also talk about things and share links on Twitter.

 

On appearances, talks and workshops:

Will you come and talk to my class/ book group/ staff (etc)?

Yes please! I love meeting people, and talking about books, writing, diversity, the power of young people (etc etc etc). I’ve spoken to groups of all ages and sizes, on a number of subjects. See the events pages for more details, or contact me to discuss your needs.

Will you come and run a creative writing workshop at my school/ library/ workplace?

Yes please! I regularly run creative writing workshops, for a range of ages and abilities, and on a number of topics. I’m happy to run tried and tested workshops, or tailor something to your specific needs. Please see the events pages for more details, or contact me to discuss whatever you have in mind.

Would you like to be a guest at this conference/ convention that I’m organizing?

Conferences and conventions are brilliant and I would love to be part of yours if I can! Contact me with details. 🙂

Do you do Skype visits?

Yes! I’ll happily run talks and/or workshops via Skype. Email me to discuss your needs.