Oh dear God, editing season is upon me once again. Why, why, why? Goddamn it, I hate editing. I HATE IT. It is the worst. The absolute worst. WORST.
I’ve been moping around the streets of my town whining and complaining in the above fashion for a week or so now, as I wait for the first of two annual editing onslaughts to begin. I know exactly how annoying my melancholy over the editorial process sounds, and indeed, I am being melodramatic. But there’s not a lot I get to whinge about in this job that people would understand. While it might be hard to relate to my crisis over a fictional character’s love life or my concern over how my afternoon nap addiction is impacting my word count, people who aren’t writers could probably understand that editing sucks. Twice a year I hand in something I’ve been working on every day for six months and someone sends back a half a dozen typed pages of things wrong with it. There will be parents who have watched their kids pick dejectedly through their carefully constructed dinners. Romantic partners who have watched their loved one’s face fall at the opening of a badly chosen birthday present. No matter how well you write as a writer, I think, there’s no way to interpret an edit other than that – no matter how hard you tried – what you wrote wasn’t perfect. And of course, being a writer and thus an egomaniac, I inevitably take this to mean that not I do is perfect. I’m not perfect. I’ll never be perfect. And I so desperately need to be perfect.
There are writers who love editing. I know who you are. I can almost hear you reading this – probably squinting at it, looking for dangling modifiers and the like, snickering pitifully to yourself at how ignorant I am of the satisfaction that comes with improvement (and self-righteously, because you know what a goddamn dangling modifier is – you saw one in the Herald this morning). You call editing ‘polishing’, and you have a collection of expensive red pens. You take pictures of your editing, spread artistically over a hardwood table, cappuccino in the corner of the frame, dusty sepia filter. Hashtag editing, hashtag awesome, hashtag with-each-typo-discover-I-become-more-pure. Well, this is what I have to say to you, editing lovers: You are weird. I don’t understand you. I am unnerved and suspicious of your enthusiasm for this horrible business of raking through work for opportunities for betterment. Hhmph!
Editing is like agreeing to meet with an old boyfriend to sit down over a series of hours and investigate how your relationship might have been better performed. Where did things go wrong? Who was at fault? What wasn’t convincing, and where were feelings felt wrongly or not felt at all?
I don’t want to go back into a book once it’s written. My tight schedule of two books a year means that by the time I’m wrapping up a novel, I’ve been having an emotional affair with the next book in secret for a couple of months. Now, finally, we get to be together. We get to embrace and explore each other after so much quiet yearning. Buttons popping. Hair pulling, gut-wrenching intimacyyyyyy…
Oh wait. Hang on. There’s that other guy – I just need to go deconstruct things with him before I can continue on here. Excuse me. *pulls jeans back on*
Urgh. Fucking editing.
So anyway, here I go, having successfully procrastinated here, constructing this blog post and not beginning the nightmare-monster-horrible-horrible edit of Redemption Point, the second in the Crimson Lake series. Feel free to contribute to my diatribe about editing, or to profess your hopeless devotion to it, in the comments below.
Have you considered writing in bed? I started doing it for the first time not long ago. Silly, because one of the most tempting points for this apartment for my husband and I was that I’d have my own office space, which has lately been collecting dust. We’re heading toward winter here in Australia, so leaping out of bed first thing has become a less than exhilarating prospect, and the situation isn’t helped at all by Tim making me coffee in bed every morning. So after a binge session of Married At First Sight left the laptop by my bed overnight, I woke up one morning and decided to put some words down before hitting the shower.
And WOW. Did I ever put words down! Yes, I’m almost finished the second book in the Crimson Lake series, so for me, I always write faster and harder toward the end. But by writing in bed first thing in the morning I’m putting down 2-3k per day, about half of them in that morning session. I have some theories about why writing in bed is so good. Allow me to speculate.
Of course, I there are downsides to writing in bed. You’re going to need snacks and coffee, and you will have crumbs between the sheets – there’s no avoiding it, crumbs and sheets love each other. I do not recommend that collaborative novels be written in bed, unless of course you’re one of those weird couples who collaborate on novels. The five women who make up Alice Campion might have a difficult time. But overall, a real winner, at least for me. Try it some time! Happy snuggling everybody!
Perth! You are a lovely place. Your parklands are beautiful, clean, sprawling. I’ve still not adjusted to the time difference, so I awoke at 5:40am and went for a run along the water and it was just magic. Lots of animals out and about enjoying the sunrise serenity – ducks and swans, cockies playing on the lamp posts.
The old cliché is that writers are awkward and anti-social, but at the festival over the last few days I’ve met some very friendly people and have witnessed plenty of connections being made – everybody seems very excited to meet each other. Perhaps because we’re such a lonely bunch, writers, and it’s nice to get out and see people who suffer the same affliction. I don’t know. Lovely catching up with old mates Natasha Lester and Sara Foster, and meeting Jane Harper and David Whish-Wilson for the first time. I love that we’re all so different. Still keeping an eye out for a crime writer as downright weird as me. Jane and David seemed like gentle, normal people.
I’m getting words done on the CRIMSON LAKE sequel occasionally – about five hundred at a time, stolen between events. The book is doing quite well. Number 6 in Australian fiction this week, and number 17 overall in Australia. I think NEVER NEVER is going into its fifth week on the New York Times Best Seller list, so well done to Jim and I, if I do say so myself. With any luck, fans will enjoy the sequel to that when it comes out over there this time next year.
So, just a quickie from me, but all the happiness in the world to you all and thank you as always for your support. If you’re writing, keep on writing – remember that every word you put down, no matter how badly placed, is one word closer to that finished first draft. And if you’re reading, keep reading – whether your books are bought or borrowed or battered beyond recognition. Every page you turn supports a writer somewhere, in more ways than you can imagine.
Much love! Candice.
Queensland! I’m here! My delightful publicist Jess Malpass is here with me. We’ve been trekking around trying not to get sunburnt and meeting fans at bookstores in Port Douglas, Cairns City and today, Smithfield. Jess and I immediately bought matching hats upon arrival, and I did the classic Candice Fox move of losing my sunglasses a mere 12 hours after I bought them. We’ve discovered a weird shared obsession with cryptograms after buying a poshbook in port Douglas. It’s strange to see places from the novel again in real life. As we drove along yesterday I found myself saying ‘This is where Ted lives!’ and ‘This is where they found the croc!’ like I was talking about real people, and events.
Below I’ve stacked some random photos from the tour, but there are others on the Facebook and Twitter pages. Included is a tiny gecko I found in my hotel. Not five minutes after letting my miniature friend out onto the balcony did I find a compadre of his in the fridge. I am the lizard queen!
I never posted about NEVER NEVER hitting the New York Times best sellers – debuting in no. 1 in the hardcover and combined categories. It’s hard to describe how I feel about this, even though describing things if what I do for a buck. I talk a lot about my childhood on the tour, and the kinds of things I have been experiencing lately – best seller lists, tv deals, multi-book deals all over the world – these sorts of things never entered my young mind. My ‘big dream’ was to have one book published ever, and for my friends and family to read it. I’m overjoyed with all this – I can’t fathom what I’ve done to deserve it. Just being able to write and do nothing else for a living is such a blessing. I get up every morning and I really do actively get excited about my job. I’m so lucky.
I hope, if you’re reading this and thinking about coming out to see me, that you’ll make the effort. I so love catching up with fans and seeing what they thought of the books.
Have a great Sunday, everyone! More to come.
The winners of my raffle were Jennie Grant and Rosemary Ritorto! Please PM me! Thanks so much to everyone who contributed. You can watch a video of the draw on my FB page. Team Fox, you were awesome for coming through and helping this woman and her dog in a time of need. You’re great people. (I kind of knew it already).
It’s competition time here in Foxyland, and I’m raising money for a good cause.
My friend Mel waited YEARS to get the dog of her dreams, and she’s had him mere DAYS and a cancerous tumour has been discovered on his leg. Mel is a battler, a cosplayer, a teacher and an all-round awesome chick, and Archie is a scruffy rescue bumpkin trying for a forever home. Mel has tried everything to save this dog’s life, and she’s desperate. She describes the dire situation fully on her GoFundMe page, linked at the bottom of this post. It’s dark times here, people, and we need your help.
This is a competition you can’t afford to miss. For just $5 a ticket, you’ll go into the raffle to win a book pack of my complete works thus far, signed and personalised. For second prize draw, you’ll receive a copy of my next novel, CRIMSON LAKE, due out in Australia in February.
What a fantastic Christmas present this might be for you or someone you love! (And for the lovely Mel!)
All you have to do is go to Mel’s GoFundMe page and donate, and when you’re asked to put in your name, put CF after your surname, so I can identify you as a competition entry. So if your name is John Smith, write John SmithCF.
Come on, people. If you love animals, or dogs, or Mel, or my books, or me! or all of the above, you CANNOT AFFORD not to chuck in a couple of bucks to save this dog’s hide. I’ll draw the winner on Monday!
I’m counting on you to demonstrate the kind of awesome people who are on Team Fox. Thank you so much!
It’s time for some updates! A few things about my life have changed, and seeing as I’m the one who hears my own bio read out most often, I’d like to stop hearing the untruths before they drive me absolutely crazeh.
I’m no longer teaching at the University of Notre Dame, only because my writing commitments have become weighty enough that the dual writer/teacher role is no longer necessary for me. While I’ve always loved teaching uni students, my writing career is what I’m really passionate about, and I’ve got to give that all my heart and soul right now. Being an author is like pushing an enormous round rock, and once you’ve got that thing rolling you have to keep up the momentum. I owe an incredible amount to UNDA, however. Dr Camilla Nelson connected me to my agent. She was the essential link in a chain that I’d been trying to assemble for over a decade. And she and her colleagues are truly delightful, so that helps. I’ll always be there for the uni and its students if they ever happen to call on me. But at the moment, writing a novel with James Patterson and one of my own per year is keeping me busy enough.
On that note, I’ve been hearing some terribly discouraging things from aspiring authors about a recent article somewhere that stated there are only 12 authors in Australia who can make a living from writing. Well, no one asked me! So if you’re reading those stats, please don’t be disheartened. We know they’re off by at least one. And you never know, one day that one might be you. So put away the tissues and get back to the keys. Discouragement is for pussies.
While we’re being technical, the oft-quoted PhD in literary censorship and terrorism has become the next victim of my authorial life. But the degree isn’t dead yet! I’m in the process of changing my research direction to something more focused on writing. It makes sense to drill down into what I actually do for a living, what my expertise is, in order to contribute to knowledge in a meaningful way. And my new degree direction will include pieces of my creative work, so it seems like a match made in heaven.
Sadly, while I’ve been ‘author, academic and cat lady, Candice Fox’ for many years now, my dear old James McNugget passed away some weeks ago. James the cat was the infamous raggedy butterball who I threw cageless into my car while escaping my first marriage. While I’m still a cat lover and always will be, I think I might extend the tagline of this website to all animals. I’m one of those weird childless adults who visits petting zoos. I recently had a rescued juvenile pigeon in my house for a week, which required three-hourly syringe feeding to keep it alive. Yes, a filthy street pigeon. I love all animals. I think that needs to be known.
My next novel will not be a Bennett/Archer thriller, but the beginning of what may be a new series (there will be at least two books, the second of which I’m writing now.) CRIMSON LAKE will be released in Australia on January 30, 2017. I’m not opposed to one day going back to the Bennett/Archer series, as I was writing a book about Hooky from FALL when I was asked to do a sequel to CRIMSON LAKE. But it may be some time before I return to Hades’s world. I promise, Bennett/Archer fans will not be disappointed in the new characters I’m bringing to you. I’m very, very proud of them. I’ll be doing a CRIMSON LAKE tour in February, 2017. Check the Books page for a blurb.
I think that’s about all I have for you at the moment! Head to the Books page also for links to the novels, where to buy them, and their audiobook versions. Thank you, as always, for hanging in there with me, and supporting Australian books in general. I could not do what I do without every single one of you.
Check me out on ABCNews24’s The Mix with my buddy Michael Robotham and James Valentine. We come on about halfway through the episode. Funny times! If these guys think I’m a ‘sick puppy’, they don’t know the half of it.
I’ve spent the last month driving up the east coast of the US on my honeymoon, and in that time I’ve managed to visit the sites of four infamous and brutal murders.
Don’t be too shocked. That’s not even the weirdest thing I’ve ever done.
For the true crime nuts among you, (and I know there are a few), I thought I’d write a little bit down about what visiting those places was like and the feeling they have left me with. Because I guess all us crime freaks imagine ourselves getting some kind of strange pleasure or satisfaction out of being in a place where something that intrigues us so deeply occurred. I was drawn to these places as though by animal instinct, and approached them with my heart thumping. But what did I really expect to find?
I guess in some ridiculous corner of my mind I imagined that if I could actually physically go to where Hae Min Lee of Serial was buried, for example, I’d find answers as to who killed her. That there’d be some soiled confession letter buried under the log itself, or a symbol carved into a tree, or a wispy shred of fabric that defied every police search, every curious websleuth who trudged that rugged path before me. Something that eluded even the family of Hae herself, who had surely been there themselves to see where she had been laid to rest by her killer. Predictably, and sadly, there was none. I guess you (and I) both knew that deep down. Such a find wouldn’t hold water even in the realms of the worst fiction.
I guess I also wondered if by going to the site of this terrible loss if I might be able to feel some of it more tangibly, and with some further legitimacy. That I might somehow become worthy of the sadness I feel for these strangers. These families I have never met and these victims, some of whom were born and died before I was even born. Because I do feel sad, but I don’t feel like I deserve to. I don’t feel like I’ve earned it. And I can’t think of a way to do that. This seemed like a pretty good shot.
I found the site of the infamous log behind which Hae Min Lee was found in Leakin Park, Baltimore, by following the instructions here. My husband parked the car at the nearby rest stop and walked back through the park with me, a little embarrassed as we ducked off the path by the side of the road and made out way into the bramble. It was tangly but not terribly dense in there, which is something Sarah Koenig was right about in Serial – you could still clearly see the road and the cars going by from 127 feet into the bush. Tim and I were a little confused as to which log we were looking for, but used pictures from Google to narrow it down from two potentials to one. I sat there, expecting something, looking at the leaf-littered earth at my feet, the place where she had lain. My husband stood nearby looking at the creek, probably wondering who the hell he married. I think he gets my weird desire to visit the places from traumatic stories to a certain point. He does it himself. We trudged around Boston making note of the sites of scenes from his favourite Spenser novels. So there.
But, granted, he might not have understood completely when I got my phone out and played ‘All My Life’ by K-Ci and Jo-Jo for Hae. Ok, Ok, Ok, I know how weird that sounds. But hear me out. I don’t know if there are ghosts or spirits or whatever the hell floating around in the universe, and I’m not prepared to completely reject the idea just yet (I’ve seen some shit, ok?). And I’ve never been given a really good guide. I spent most of my high school science classes quietly lighting things on fire at the back of the room. And my mother’s interpretation of Catholicism somehow includes reincarnation (and mermaids!). I have no grasp on the afterlife or whatever the hell happens in it.
But I figured that if even the tiniest part of Hae was around there somewhere, I knew she liked the song, and I thought it was unlikely she’d heard it in a long, long time. Because as I sat there listening and waiting for whatever might come, I realised how incredibly lonely a place this was. Yes, the road was just nearby. People, too. We’d even passed a group of school kids and teachers doing a nature walk by the bridge not a half a kilometre away. But the place where Hae was buried was closed in on all sides by thin green forest, making a sort of timeless bubble. I felt sick to think that she might have lain here forever, had she not been found, so close to life, but so completely detached from it. And even though she had been found here, there was not a thing to mark that horrible consequence. No shrine. No stone marker. Not so much as a cardboard ‘DON DID IT!’ sign pinned to a tree, which I would have put money on being the first indication that we were in the right place. Just an old, rain-soaked wooly rug someone had dumped (I checked it for bodies) and liquor bottles scattered here and there throughout the brush (there was one brandy bottle, but not the same as the brand mentioned in Serial). If some tiny part of Hae resides in this place so full of, and empty of clues, she has nothing but the sound of the slowly wandering creek to latch on to. In Hae’s diary, which Sarah read on Serial, she wrote that she was so excited Adnan danced to ‘All My Life’ with her instead of Stephanie at their prom. I wondered if playing it might help her, if she was there, return to a happier time. I know it’s weird. I’m weird. Get over it.
If the absence of any marker of the loss of Hae Min Lee at her burial site surprised me, it didn’t prepare me for the lack of, and sometimes deliberate erasing, of evidence from the three other sites I visited. Tim and I used our GPS and some co-ordinance obtained online and stopped on the side of a featureless stretch of parkway at Oak Beach, Long Island, where the bodies of ten people were found. Most of them were prostitutes working off CraigsList, but one was an Asian man in women’s clothing, and one was a toddler. Standing far out on the edge of the marshland where crab boats rocked back and forth, we could see a single white cross, but there was no way of knowing if it was related to the finding of the remains of these women (and one man and one child). The bramble at the side of the road was impenetrable. Whoever the killer was, he (or she) likely pulled up to the side of the road along this parkway at various spots and dragged or threw the bodies of his victims in, as each was found less that ten feet from the asphalt, some wrapped in burlap. The Long Island serial killer, sometimes known as the Gilgo Beach killer or the Craigslist Ripper, is still out there.
In LA, we drove along the private and leafy Cielo Drive looking for number 10050, where the glamorous Sharon Tate and the friends and employees with her that night lost their lives at the hands of the Manson family. The residents of Cielo Drive have obviously become tired of the ghost rides and celebrity murder tours roaring up and down their street, as they’ve done a good job of scrambling the house numbers. Tate and Polanski’s house is gone, and there’s no way of really telling where it stood. Walls of desert peppered with harsh plants creep up on each side of the street between the mansions, and a lone security guard loiters in someone’s doorway looking bored.
We took the car to 875 South Bundy Drive and found that there remains some scattered pieces of the scene burned on my mind of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman’s murders. Those peach-coloured tiles are still there, but the famous gateway has been blocked off and turned to the side, where a tall wooden gate guards the residence within. The house number hides behind the fronds of a potted palm, and the garden on either side of the doorway has been allowed to grow over, sheltering the dark space that so many remember from those awful photos.
In the end, I found no clues, and I felt no more justified for the sadness I feel over all these lost lives. And because I don’t feel like I’ve earned my grief for them, the guilt of a ‘gawker’ haunts me. Because surely I’m not the first to have come to these places and closed my eyes and breathed the air, tried to understand what happened, how it might have been interrupted.
As we turned and headed back toward Redondo Beach I posed a hypothetical to my husband. If I could have made a video of one of the killer’s lives after the murders and showed it to them, what did he think they would have done? I asked him to imagine that somehow, for example, I could take snippets of a greying and bloated OJ Simpson in prison coveralls and cuffs at his kidnapping trial, and splice it with pictures of Nicole’s crime scene. If I could have cut in images from the murder and civil trials, the aftermath, the strangely behaved and lonely OJ devoid of friends. If I could have showed him OJ not as the star but as the murderer who got away. What if I could have taken this short video from a future that may never have been and showed it to OJ himself back in time, if I could have put it in his hands just as he was getting in his Bronco that night, just as he pulling out and turning to drive to Nicole’s condo.
Would seeing what was to come change his actions? Or is killer rage just killer rage? Is fate, fate? Were these people meant to die?
Are monsters just monsters, no matter what you try to do to stop them?
Tim didn’t know. I don’t think I do, either. We drove on through LA toward the airport, and left these scarred and barren places behind.