Interview with Jocelyn Fox, Author of A Curse of Blood and Sea

02 Jun 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, A Curse of Blood and Sea?

A Curse of Blood and Sea is an epic fantasy set in the world of the Fae War Chronicles, though readers don’t necessarily have to read the previous books in the series. (There’s even a short story in the form of a history lesson in the front of the Kindle edition that summarizes the story so far.) As the Fae world enters a new golden age after a brutal war, the Seelie Court, Unseelie Court and the wolf-warriors of the Northern lands set their sights on rebuilding, but a new threat rises across the sea on the island of Haven, where Seafarers dock their ships crafted of dragon bones. A shopkeeper’s assistant, a slave turned healer, and a Merrow raised as a Seafarer race against time to solve the deadly curse before it decimates the entire Fae world, and they each have to answer the question: how much would you sacrifice to save not only those you love, but strangers a world away?

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I started writing my own stories when I was seven years old, after I read The Chronicles of Narnia. Storytelling enthralled me, and the more books I read, the more I wanted to write.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

I’m going to count J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy as one, because that’s certainly a classic for any fantasy reader. Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series is another favorite, as well as Garth Nix’s Sabriel. I also really admire the world building in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. I read a lot of really dark fantasy when I was a kid, looking back on it, and I also borrowed all my dad’s Stephen King novels and gave myself nightmares.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

I would want to interview Stephen King. The way he talks about writing has always resonated really deeply with me. I’d ask him how he moves between the worlds he’s built, because I’ve been working for years within one fantasy world—technically two, I suppose, since my books take place in both the Fae and mortal worlds. And I’d also ask if he has any advice for learning new genres. He’s such a versatile writer and I’ve always admired the breadth of his work.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love experiencing the story with my characters. I get lost in the adventure and I’m just as surprised as the reader sometimes when a character dies or a new plot wrinkle introduces itself. Writing is my escape hatch from reality.

What is a typical day like for you?

It really depends on the status of my current project. There’s momentum that builds throughout a draft, so I’ll write more hours in a day if I’m hurtling toward the finish. I’ll usually get up, drink my coffee and read for about half an hour, then listen to a podcast while I cook breakfast. I’ve been really into true crime podcasts lately, and I also enjoy long-form interviews like NPR’s Fresh Air. I’ll write for a three or four hour block in the morning or in the early afternoon, and sometimes for a few more hours after dinner. When I need a break from writing, I’ll go for a run, paddle board on the lake near my house, do some yoga, or another physical activity that gets me out of my own head. It’s really a gift to have so much time to work on writing now, because for the first eight years after I started this series I was in the Navy and carving out time to write sometimes came at the expense of sleep and my social life. That time crunch taught me how to be very productive in a short span, and that skill still serves me really well.

What scene in A Curse of Blood and Sea was your favorite to write?

I really enjoyed writing the triumphant first appearance of a new dragon ship in the port of Haven, which happens near the end of the novel. It’s the first new dragon ship in centuries, and the Seafarers who form the nucleus of its crew were exiled from their last ship for saving each other from a kraken—their story starts in The Dragon Ship. Mal, Hex and Jem were the first Seafarers to set foot on Seelie land in centuries and convinced the Sidhe queens to help them build their ship from the bones of a dragon that had been killed during the war. Their journey was a quest to prove everyone who’d doubted them wrong, but all three of them also grew up in a lot of ways during the hardships they endured together. It felt like the homecoming of a Navy ship after a long deployment, and the story of the exiled Seafarers came full circle.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

I love the Thoreau quote, “I want to live deep and suck the marrow from life.” In addition to Thoreau’s ideas of living fully, my personal ethos was definitely shaped by my time in the military in two different ways: first, my teammates’ lives were on the line if I didn’t do my job well and accomplish the objective; and second, I realized that my own life is a wild and precious gift. So I view discomfort and even pain as a privilege, because often that means I’m moving in the direction of my goals, working through challenges, and growing in the pursuit of living deeply.

Jocelyn Fox is the author of the new book A Curse of Blood and Sea.

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