Thursday, February 7, 2013

Author Interview: Jaima Fixsen (& a Giveaway!)

There is something very magical about stumbling upon a gem of a book. There is something unforgettable about the chance to be involved in the evolution of one.

One of my best friends, and critique partner, Jaima Fixsen, just published her first book.

I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for this book. Not waiting for the chance to read it (I've already had that unique privilege). No - waiting for the chance to share it! Because, when you believe in something, you want to stand and shout it from the roof tops. You want to pepper the streets with pamphlets and flyers. You want to tell every stranger you meet on the street.

However, that's not exactly standard author behavior, so I shall censure myself, subdue my excitement, and pass on the good news with more socially acceptable composure.

I have invited Jaima over today to dish on some of her writing secrets.  I am also giving away an ebook copy of her new book (see the end of the post).  Her she is folks, the spectacular Jaima:


Thanks Mandi, for inviting me over to dish. If only we could share dessert too . . . I'll imagine a plate of cupcakes. Chocolate? Red velvet? Anyone?

Sorry. That was mean. There's nothing worse than pseudo cupcakes. We'll just have to go straight to the part where I dish.

1. When/Why did you start writing?
After my third child was born I stopped working as an occupational therapist. I'd been working part-time, covering weekends at the nearby hospital. I loved stepping away for a few hours and coming home, feeling like I'd been missed. I knew I would have to replace work with something, but I had no idea what. First I tried a dance class. It was fun, but I'm afraid I was pretty awful. I decided to try writing because it was cheap (no supplies to buy), convenient, (I could pick it up and put it down whenever I needed), and I had a character hanging around in the back of my head that I wanted to get to know.

2. How did you get the idea for Fairchild?
Well, I've always thought the story of the Princess and the Pea is a little odd. It's a fairy tale that doesn't belong. There's no magic, no villain, just a girl in disguise and a mama's boy prince. I thought about these two people--unheroic, passive, even a little boring--and wondered what it's like for them, mingling with the rest of the fairytale crowd, standing next to plucky children who push witches into ovens, dragon slaying knights and the fairest in the land. The characters in the Princess and the Pea don't fit in that club any better than their story. Immediately I imagined a bastard child--a girl who can't fit anywhere. Right away I knew she was my girl in disguise, pretending to be the impossible--legitimate, a person who belongs. An accident brings her to a handsome boy. What would happen, if she's so good at pretending he thinks she's real? A princess even?

I put this story in the English Regency because it's a real time and place, but one where fairy tales belong. Balls, gowns, Mr. Darcy--all the good fairy tale elements are right at home here. I wanted this story to sparkle like Eva Ibbotson's romances, but for the characters to be as nuanced and ambiguous as they are in the original tale--there's a lot making this batch of misfits tick.
3. What was the hardest part about writing Fairchild?

The middle. I got there and I knew where I needed to end up, but I couldn't find how to get there. In my first draft, big chunks of the middle were even in point form. Like this:

-Somehow Sophy and Tom meet at X.

-They say m, n, o, p.

-What are you going to do about Alistair?

-Lady Fairchild doesn't like the dresses Sophy chooses.

It required shelf time, substantial rewrites, and stage dressing. If I hadn't had so much encouragement from early readers, I think I would have left it alone for much longer.

4. What is your writing routine?

Without firm limits I'm afraid I tend to submerge myself in writing and neglect important things like listening when my husband is talking and making sure my kinds have clean socks and underwear. It takes care to keep things balanced, and often I get it wrong. What works best for me is to allow myself one hour when my kids will not need me--when they are in bed, at school or ski lessons, or whatever. I don't answer the phone, I don't check email, I just write. I have a daily word target, and I do everything I can to meet that target within my allotted time. But if I don't, I stop when my hour is up. I'm trying to do the same thing with the publishing/promoting work, but things are still pretty hairy and I'm learning as I go, so it's harder to contain that in a fixed time. I'm working on it. If I'm lucky enough to get extra time, of course I take it.

5. What books/authors inspire you?

Oooh, that's hard. There are so many books I love. I reread my favorites over and over. Fairchild was inspired by Georgette Heyer. I love her Regency novels, but I have particular favorites: Friday's Child, Cotillion, Arabella, and Regency Buck. Heyer is a writer with humor, flair, and the best eye for historical detail I have ever come across. It is hard to believe she wasn't writing during the Regency. I was also inspired by The Secret Countess and A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson. I love her quirky characters and her deft use of the omniscient perspective.

6. Have you ever based a character on someone you know?

I don't think so. If I have, it was unconcious and I apologize. I'd like to point out that even though I am a redhead like Sophy, the protagonist in Fairchild, I never intended her to be me (or me to be her). For one thing, Sophy's hair has more curl than mine. And I think I am much more reticent.

The reason I made Sophy a redhead was because I wanted her to have some trait that indisputably linked her to her father. My father is blond and my mother brunette, and I grew up hearing 'So, where'd the red hair come from?' probably every week. So making Sophy and her father both redheaded seemed the easiest way to connect them physically, and was perhaps a quiet joke for (or on?) myself.
Okay, It's Mandi again.  And now I want to give you a chance to win your own copy of Fairchild.  I had hoped to use rafflecopter for this giveaway, but I've been having some issues with it this week, and have opted for a more old-fashioned technique.  All you have to do to qualify for an entry in my draw is:
Leave a comment on this post explaining how you helped spread the word about Fairchild.  You can do this any of the following ways:
  • Share the link on facebook (to this post, or to her book)
  • Pin the book to pinterest
  • Add the book to your goodreads list
  • Tweet about the book
  • post about the book on your blog.
  • Any other creative way you can think (as long as you share what it is)
For each of these things you do (and tell me about in the post), you will earn one entry.  Because this is based largely on the honor system, for each entry you can provide evidence for, you will gain an additional point.  Next Wednesday, I will put all the names (one per point) in a hat, and have Jaima physically draw a winner.  I will announce the winner next Thursday.  (Who knows, there may be more than one!)

Believe me, this is a book you will enjoy reading!


  1. Thank you for helping people discover this book. It was one of the best I read this year. I can't say enough good things about it!

    1. I couldn't agree more! And it is written by one of the best people I know. I'm positive that if people give this book a chance, they will enjoy it as much as I did!

  2. Can MMW contributors enter? (Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease?)

    1. The answer is Yesyesyesyesyes of course! Anybody can enter, and gain as many points as they wish. (by the way, how do you list a post on facebook? I can't figure it out, but I know you've done it before...)

    2. Just copy and paste the url into the post. It’ll make a neat little link show up for you. Easy peasy. Gonna go do it right now so I can win me a book!!

  3. I added it to my Goodreads to-read list:

    P.S. If Jaima is LDS, I hope she is going to list Fairchild on LDS Publisher:

    1. I am LDS, but I'm such a newbie I never thought of LDS Publisher. I will check it out! Thanks!

    2. Thanks for the entry into our giveaway! And thanks for the good advice - that's one I wasn't even aware of!

  4. Okay, shared on facebook, pinned on Pinterest, and added to my goodreads. So fun to read about you, Jaima, and congratulations on what sounds like a fantastic book! Can’t wait to read it!!

    1. Awesome - thanks for the entries! And I just can't find the words to express just how awesome this book is!

  5. Just shared on Facebook and did TWO separate tweets on Twitter. Sounds like such a FUN book!!!

    1. Thanks for the entries! It is a fun book, and I'm proud to share it with the world!

  6. I have added FAIR CHILD to my Goodreads list. It does look wonderful.




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