Good morning and happy Sunday! I’m glad to be back and sharing with you another excellent interview! Today I will be introducing the author and illustrator, Jules Fox. He does children’s picture books, middle-grade books, and young adult books, too! He is quite talented and passionate about writing as well as teaching, and in many cases, he incorporates his love of helping children as main themes that resonate in many of his books. So, if you are interested in learning more about Jules and his books then follow him at Facebook, Amazon, and his Author Website!
Are you an indie author or a traditionally published author?
I am self-published with ten books on Amazon. I have two completed manuscripts I intend to publish once I land an agent traditionally. I think hybrid is the way to go, but some books I write don’t have mainstream appeal so I self publish them.
Tell me a little about your writing journey, thus far.
I wrote my first book at seven years old, and I’ve kept it for three and a half decades now. I published my first children’s picture book in 2015, which my friends and I worked on as a side project and raised over USD 10,000 on Kickstarter to get it printed. The series is called “Sprouts: Stories to Grow With,” and is a new approach to children’s interactive picture books, and includes lessons and activities on mindfulness so kids can adopt a broader worldview from a young age.
I thought that it was time intensive to write and illustrate books, but the first big lesson you learn is that that’s the first leg of the journey. Marketing and growing your readership is a lifelong journey for authors.
Do you write under a pseudonym? If so explain why.
I write as my own name, Jules Fox. I’m a Waldorf trained educator, so I’m already in the public eye and writing helps grow my reputation of working with kids (and vice versa).
What genre do you write and why?
I write and illustrate children’s picture books. This was my first love. But the more time I spend on it, the more I realize it’s a volunteer effort. There’s not much market for self-published children’s picture books, and the labor and cost involved in self-publishing hardcover, full-color books can price you out of the market. It’s a sad truth about why we see mainl mainstream picture books for kids.
I also write middle grade and young adult fiction novels. I’m currently shopping my masterpiece “Treasure Island: Terror in Thailand,” which is an updated reworking of the classic Treasure Island, with scuba diving, cliff jumping, escaping real Chinese pirates in Thailand.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently shopping my Treasure Island rewrite, as well as “Little Big Brother,” about a Native American dwarf who’s trying to coast through his senior year of high school and stay invisible. When his little brother is outed as gay, he suddenly needs to jump into the limelight to stand up for him and be a big brother.
I’m also illustrating the third installment of Sprouts, about the power of Manifesting, and illustrating a few coloring books.
What inspired you to write your books?
The kids inspire me to write books. I love watching them grow, fail, succeed, progress. When I see the gaps in how kids are raised, I think “hey, someone should address this.” Then I realize that I have the power to do that as an author and influencer and I’m like “oh yeah, I can address this.”
What are your top 5 favorite books?
Jude the Obscure, Treasure Island, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Things Fall Apart
And probably in that order.
What does literary success look like to you?
I achieve to be successful on two levels. First and foremost I want to make a difference and have an impact on the way kids think. But having written numerous books, I also realize that to have that success you also have to market yourself and your books well. After all, you can write the most fantastic book in the world but if nobody reads it then why bother?
How many hours a day do you write? What is your writing routine?
I’ve timed how long it takes me to write and edit a novel, and it’s about 750 words per hour for a draft. Triple that for editing time, add in about ten hours to map it out before you begin. For a YA novel that’s roughly 400 hours, though I’ve noticed I edit less the more books I write.
So I know if I work only an hour a day, I’ll finish a book every 400 days. That’s not good enough for me, so I set a minimum of 500 words I must write every day before I go to bed. That rule forces me to either stay up late and work, or when I can carve the time out, to get it done early. When I have the time I can go for many hours stretches working on my book once it’s mapped out.
But I’m also a single dad with a full-time teaching job, so there’s no such thing as finding the spare time – you plan it out and make it happen. It sounds simple, but the easiest way to make more free time for myself was to cut out TV and limit social media to 10 minutes per day (unless I’m launching a book.) I also cut my movies down to one per month, so I choose better movies, and I’m not sad about that choice.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it be and why?
I like that each book has a backstory involved, and how each author came up with that idea. I would have loved to be smart and insightful enough to have written: “Fight Club.” Palahniuk is a gifted writer with an excellent message for the world.
What advice would you like to give to aspiring authors?
Give up now before it’s too late. But if you’re still here after reading that then maybe you have the determination to see a book through. Keep writing, keep showing people your work, always be thankful for criticism, be gracious to people who give you advice, and only take advice from people who you perceive are succeeding in the craft. There’s a lot of bad advice and outdated information in the writing world, as well as plenty of scams (vanity publishers!)
Below are some samples of Jules Fox’s illustrations!