JJ is delighted to be welcoming Phoebe Fox on publication day!
Phoebe Fox has been a contributor and regular columnist for a number of national, regional, and local publications; a movie, theater, and book reviewer; a screenwriter; and has even been known to help with homework revisions for nieces and nephews. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two excellent dogs.
Happy Publication day!
Please summarise your debut, The Breakup Doctor, in 20 words or less.
Former therapist finds successful new career coaching people through breakups, but breaks all her own rules when she gets dumped.
Did you do any research for your book? What resources did you use?
It was funny—as soon as anyone found out the premise of my book, they would immediately begin telling me the most outrageous, awful, hilarious, sad breakup stories. And I mean not just friends, but people I would randomly meet. Some of these may have found their way into the book, in some form… 🙂
The central development for Brook—the way her boyfriend dumps her by pretty much vanishing—was inspired by something that happened when my now-husband and I were first dating. We had been talking or e-mailing almost every day since we met, but a month or so later he went to a yoga retreat type of thing—not a silent-meditation retreat, but more like a wellness resort. And after all this intense conversation and interaction, he fell off the grid for days. It was early enough in that I was pretty sure he was there with someone else, and I was kind of poleaxed by it, because we had been connecting so well (and so much!) that I wondered how I could have misread things so badly. I call this the Great Disappearance, though my husband still thinks I was a little mental about it. Which argument I probably cannot counter…even retelling this story here, I’m blushing a little at how insecure it sounds to me now. But this is yet another piece of the genesis of the book—even the most logical and sane of us can get a little crazy in a relationship, especially if our feelings are deeply engaged.
I still have friends tell me so often about bad breakups they are going through, or even ones that friends of theirs went through, and I’m constantly reminded how universal some of these things are: the devastation of rejection, the pain of loneliness, the fear of inadequacy. These are such common, human vulnerabilities, and they get tapped so keenly in relationships, and especially their endings. And yet there are seemingly endless permutations of them in our individual relationship travails. It’s like Brook says in the first book, Paul Simon had it wrong—there are so many more than fifty ways to leave your lover. Heartbreak has so many faces, but it’s often through that pain that we learn and grow the most.
If you could choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
Sasha, without question. She’s Brook’s—my therapist—best friend since childhood, and where Brook is ego or superego, Sasha is all id. She has this Zen-like understanding that being human means not being perfect, and she’s just so comfortable with that, even when she’s a total wreck. She’s nothing at all like me. She just vomits up whatever’s on her mind, follows her impulses, and when it all falls apart around her, she just kind of shrugs and starts over, no judgments. She’s like a really good-natured but slightly out-of-control dog. I don’t even know where she came from as I was writing her, but I love her.
Are you a panster or a plotter?
Oh, total pantser. I wish I could tell you different, because pantsing results in great swaths of deleted material as I find my way through the story, but for some reason I have to do it that way. If I outline everything in advance, then I know the story and I don’t need to “tell it to myself,” as I like to think of my drafting process. I do have the general idea in mind of what happens, and to whom—the broad strokes of plot and character. But the little discoveries I make as a pantser as I write—my “happy accidents”—have been some of my favorite plot and character elements. I’m always afraid that won’t happen if I plan out too much.
But as I said, I don’t know if I recommend this method. I have probably three or four novels’ worth of discard files, if they were worth doing anything with….
If your book is part of a series, what is in the future?
I’m currently at work on the second—right now the series is slated for three, but who knows? I love these characters and could see exploring beyond three. Sasha features prominently in this next one, and we have the return of Chip Santana, Brooks’ bad-boy former patient with whom she gets into a bit of trouble in the first book. He might throw a bit of a wrench into Brook’s new relationship, which has been going quite well. 🙂
Which authors have influenced your writing?
At the risk of sounding pandering, all of them that I’ve read influence me in one way or another. But Lolly Winston was a revelation to me with her debut Good Grief. I loved that she examined one of the worst heartbreaks—losing your true love to death—and yet did it with not just a really honest, touching story, but great humor. I think that for many of us, finding humor in even the darkest moments is what keeps us sane, and it’s certainly what keeps me getting back up on my feet. I hope I’m able to do that too—Breakup Doctor is really a comedy, but it deals with heartbreak and sadness I think (I hope!) in a real way, one that embraces all the humor inherent in most our crazy human dealings together in love.
And of course, I have to shout out to Liz Tuccillo and Greg Behrendt, coauthors of He’s Just Not That Into You. Not only did that book heavily influence and inspire The Breakup Doctor, but it’s the reason I’m happily married today. Once you realize what a relationship is supposed to look like, you can’t possibly keep accepting so much less. So thanks, Liz and Greg.
Have you joined any writing groups?
I have a critique group that is almost wholly to credit if there’s anything of value in my writing. I’ve worked with these same writers for maybe five years now, and have seen how much better they have made me. Having a positive, supportive, constructive group of insightful writers who help you be objective in your work (and call you on your BS) is just about the most valuable thing I can think of for a writer. Not to mention that they are the support network who celebrates with you, commiserates with you, and keeps you from chucking your career and all your writing files in those times when you are certain that you suck and will never not suck.
What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
There is nothing on earth like the feeling of someone reading your work and saying, “I really got something out of this.” I gave early drafts to a couple of friends going through bad breakups, and they said it made them feel so much better, and let them laugh and see the light at the end of the tunnel. That just lit me up inside.
What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?
Oh, like every writer, I suppose it’s the frustration of feeling so good about it some days, like it comes so easily and is such a joy, and then, for no apparent reason, suddenly the next day each word is like pulling your own wisdom teeth. I wish I understood this awful phenomenon.
What tips do you have for other aspiring writers?
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from author Sarah Bird. She said that the only thing that separated her from all the unpublished writers she knew was persistence. I remember thinking, “Okay, I can do persistence.” I remind myself of that anytime my spirits flag—on days when the writing is hard, or I see a negative review, or I feel pretty certain that somehow as I slept any talent I may have had leaked away… 🙂 And I always repeat it to other writers—persistence, that’s all.
Thank you, Shaz, for hosting me on Jera’s Jamboree! It’s a pleasure to be part of your blog.
There’s nothing like being in love to make you into that crazed person who is prone to losing their sanity …
Publisher Henery Press
Out-of-work therapist Brook Ogden has found her calling as the Breakup Doctor: giving her always-on-the-ball relationship advice to help clients shape up after a break up. But when her own boyfriend dumps her—by text message—she finds herself spectacularly breaking every one of her own rules. As her increasingly out-of-control behavior lands her at rock-bottom, Brook realizes you can’t always handle a messy breakup neatly—and that sometimes you can’t pull yourself together until you let yourself fall apart.
To celebrate publication day, Phoebe is giving away an ecopy of The Breakup Doctor.
Easy entry via the Rafflecopter link below.
Happy Reading 🙂