Thursday, May 23, 2013

Todays Guest Interview- Katie Fox

Interview with Katie McKinney Fox author of Educating Alex

Are you a writer by trade?

No. I am a grade school French teacher but I love words. I love everything about them- how they look on beautiful stationary, how they sound with the letter "r" in French, how certain words move me in music... Words are so powerful but no, until recently I haven't considered myself a professional writer.

What inspired you to write Educating Alex?

Honestly, about ten years ago, I woke up one morning with the entire novel in my head- characters, plot, setting, the whole thing. It blew me away! I didn't know what to do with it and to top it off I had three young children. So I carried it with me for three years and then seven years ago I began writing the story.

Seven years? That's quite a long time. Why so long?

Well, to tell you the truth, I wrote the first draft and got the story all down on paper. That took a year. Then I met up with my friend's aunt who is a writer and director in California and she liked my story a lot but suggested that I study the craft of writing some more to find "my" voice. She suggested that I study Sol Stein. So for two years I devoured his two books Stein on Writing and How to Grow a Novel. Then I began a series of re-writes that lasted about four years. I finished last summer.

What is Educating Alex about?

In Educating Alex, an 80,000 word novel, research analyst Alex True sets out to assess property value for a Chicago venture capital firm, but instead is catapulted into the lives and struggles of a sixth-grade teacher, his students, and the community surrounding a neglected but high-performing inner city school – an accidental meeting that launches Alex on a life changing journey of love, self and school revitalization that pleads for the reader to consider risking it all to have it all.

Educating Alex is a tale of modern romance, community, and hope, following protagonist Alex True on a journey to bring life back to a school in need. The students and staff captivate Alex’s interest, especially Mark Tandem, whose passion to educate and nurture his sixth graders tugs Alex’s heart in an unfamiliar direction. Alex convinces A.J. Hoyt, founder of the venture capital firm, to invest in the students, and A.J. takes the opportunity to make the company’s investment one that will benefit young hearts and minds as well as make dollars and cents. Alex, Mark and A.J. join forces to fight the odds of poverty, crime and neglect to revitalize the surrounding community, and in turn find that the reward for embarking on such a mission of good will leads them to ultimate happiness.

Underlying this story is the unanswered question of whether Alex is male or female -- challenging the reader's own assumptions of gender as they experience and imagine Alex's journey.

Now that's a unique concept. Have you always been intrigued by gender issues?

Not really gender issues, but as a teacher, every so often I have students who are just a little offbeat from the rest of my children- let's just say the unusual types. I always wonder how those children will fare in society. Alex is the grown up version of that student for me.

Wow! What a compelling story and what a writer's journey you have been on. I can't wait to get my hands on Educating Alex.
Where can I find it?

Educating Alex is available at my e-store in trade paperback and at Amazon for Kindle and paperback and also for Nook at Barnes & Noble.
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