Interview with Jocelyn A. Fox, Author of Heartless
11 May 2023
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Heartless (Athena Ellison Book 1)?
My previous series, the Fae War Chronicles, is more epic and high fantasy, and I’ve been writing that series for the past twelve years. So I wanted to delve into a darker and edgier series, exploring the ideas that fantasy creates the space to contemplate: family relationships, society’s expectations, knowing when to ask for help, and ultimately deciding if the ends justify the means. But I also still wanted to write a fun book, so I thought of it as a loving send-up of the “hidden magical world” genre, mixed with a dash of profanity-laced superhero.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Heartless (Athena Ellison Book 1), what would they be?
Athena: First half of the book: “Welcome to the Jungle,” Guns N Roses; Second half: “Heartbreaker,” Pat Benetar
Kellan: “Beggin’” by Måneskin, “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” Pat Benetar
Thaddeus: “Fortunate Son,” Creedence Clearwater Revival
Tabitha: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” Cyndi Lauper
Elspeth: “Sabotage,” The Beastie Boys
Apollo: “Good Times Bad Times,” Led Zeppelin
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
My all-time favorite genre to read is fantasy, though I do try to read a variety of genres, and I’ve only written fantasy novels. I grew up reading C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and was the same age as Harry Potter when each book was released, so that was pretty fun. When I started writing my first published book, The Iron Sword, I set out to write a book that teenage me would have liked to read.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
Woman, Captain, Rebel, Margaret Wilson
Verity, Colleen Hoover
Haunting Adeline, H.D. Carlton
Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo
Scholomance trilogy, Naomi Novik (reread)
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
I’m a sucker for the big fight culmination scenes, but there were also a few key scenes in this book that led up to the climactic showdown. Aside from the showdown, which I can’t really talk about without spoilers, there’s another fight scene where our heroine just absolutely gets her ass handed to her. (Can I swear in this interview? Former sailor.) So it’s unexpected and also forces Athena to reevaluate her lone wolf style, which sets in motion the rest of the plot.
There are also a few scenes in which the fourth wall is broken in a way, or it’s a wink to another series. For example, flying cars are outlawed in the Secondworld because of a very high-profile incident…
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
I usually go to a coffee shop to write. I had to break this habit during the pandemic, but thankfully now that everything is open again, I can go back to being the neighborhood writer lurking in the corner with a latte!
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
This life isn’t the dress rehearsal.
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
Asking for help isn’t a weakness—it actually takes an extraordinary amount of strength.
Jocelyn A. Fox is the author of the new book Heartless (Athena Ellison Book 1)
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