Change the Word: Where do you draw your inspiration for writing?
Phoebe Fox: Life is a fertile ground from which I harvest. And not just mine, people, but yours. If you have ever been my family, friend, casual acquaintance, or someone I bumped into on the subway, there’s every chance that somewhere along the line you have sparked something in one of my books. I don’t lift directly from life, but I certainly shoplift the hell out of it for inspiration.
CTW: What are three things you always need when you sit down to write?
PF: I’m going to bet you get pretty much the same answer from everyone: my computer, coffee, and a decent night’s sleep.
CTW: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
PF: Total pantser. If I know how the story’s going to go, I lose interest in writing it. I have a general idea, and I pretty much know the arc, but the rest grows as I write. I have to “tell myself the story” to want to write it.
CTW: With Valentine's Day just around the corner, what's the most romantic gesture someone has ever made for you?
PF: My husband is a genuine introvert (you may have figured out that I am not), so crowds are so not his thing, and neither are parties, planning, lots of detailed organizing, etc. But when I told him that I’d never had an actual birthday party outside of my immediate family because my birthday is near Christmas, he organized a surprise party for me, secretly contacting every one of my family and friends all over the country, enlisting local friends to get me out of the house, hiring a caterer, helping people with travel arrangements, etc.—and he did it in June, nowhere near my birthday, calling it my “500th month birthday.” I think we’re all very lucky I didn’t wet myself when I walked into the house and dozens of people I knew from every aspect of my life and everywhere I’d lived screamed surprise at me out of nowhere in the middle of summer. The fact that he did all that when he’s such a total introvert…it still makes me feel a little squishy when I think of it.
CTW: What do you most hope readers will take away from the experience of reading Heart Conditions and the rest of the Breakup Doctor series?
PF: I’ve had several readers write or tell me that the books helped them through heartbreak or a tough breakup. That’s everything I hoped for when I wrote them. Just to help share and lessen the pain a little, hopefully with a lot of humor and heart.
CTW: If you could have dinner with any character in this series, who would you pick, where would you go, what would you order, and what would you spend most of your time talking about?
PF: I think I have to say Sasha, because she is the least like me. She’s like a human dog, just letting out everything she thinks and feels, and totally owning it. We would most likely sneak into a VIP party somewhere we weren’t supposed to be, and we’d drink illicit champagne that we plucked off the trays of passing servers, and we would talk about men and breakups. Of course.
CTW: What's one piece of relationship advice you think every young woman (or man) should keep in mind before they jump into a relationship?
PF: You will never be happy with someone else until you learn to be happy with yourself. Trite but one of the truest things I’ve learned about love.
CTW: What is the biggest lesson you've learned as a writer since publishing your first book?
PF: This answer comes up in every single interview I’ve given in some form or other. Years ago, long before I was published, my friend Sarah Bird, a multipublished, megatalented author, told me that the only thing separating her from all her unpublished friends was persistence. Nothing has impacted me more in my career, and I’ve never received better advice. It applies to your writing itself, to querying, to shopping a manuscript to publishers, to marketing, everything—persist. You must be the person who always believes in you, who never gives up faith. Keep moving forward. Persist.
CTW: What is one of your favorite recent reads?
PF: I read Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Maybe in Another Life recently and just Hoovered it up. I love her voice, her style, and the story—a woman makes one seemingly minor decision and then lives the two very different lives that result from each one in parallel story lines. It’s so genius I wish I had done it--kind of like Sliding Doors, but her twist is that whatever choice you make could be the right one. That there is no one correct path—which I love.
CTW: What's up next for you and your writing career?
PF: I’m almost finished writing book 4 in the Breakup Doctor series, Out of Practice. That will be the last in the series, which is a bit sad, but I think Brook’s story is told (for now!). After that I have a new series I’m working on for my publisher, about a very nontraditional matchmaker and dating guru, plus a single-title women’s fiction that has been awaiting a final edit for a while now while I scrambled to finish all the Breakup Doc books, and I’m eager to get back to it and get it out there.
Laura, thanks for such specific and well thought out questions. I loved answering these, and I’m so happy to be here on your blog!
About the Book
Running a massively successful relationship counseling practice should guarantee smooth sailing in a girl’s own love life. But Breakup Doctor Brook Ogden has spent the last year sifting through the fallout from the disastrous decision that led to her unconscious uncoupling with boyfriend Ben Garrett.
Despite advising her clients you can’t be friends with an ex, she and Ben have somehow begun to stitch together a friendship—one Brook hopes is slowly turning into more. That is, until Ben introduces his new girlfriend, Perfect Pamela, a paragon of womanly virtues who is everything Brook is not.
While Brook navigates her newly volatile emotional life, an unwelcome surprise shows up on her doorstep: the ex-fiancé who broke her heart two years ago—one month before their wedding. Between her ex’s desire to rekindle their attachment, her best friend Sasha’s unexpected crisis, and her own unsquelchable feelings for Ben, Brook finds herself questioning the personal progress she’s made in the last two years—and threatened with the highest-stakes Breakup Doctor failures she’s ever faced.
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Phoebe Fox is the author of the Breakup Doctor series—The Breakup Doctor, Bedside Manners, Heart Conditions, and Out of Practice, coming fall 2016—and has been a contributor and regular columnist for a number of national, regional, and local publications (she currently writes about relationships for the Huffington Post, Elite Daily, and She Knows). She has been a movie, theater, and book reviewer; a screenwriter; and is a close observer of relationships in the wild.
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