There are times when crime novels, like books other genres, tends to sound the same, and as a result it takes something unique to pique your interest about an author. That’s how I was introduced to Candice Fox – while roaming about the Random House website, I saw her name and the ominously titled Hades, her first book.
I may be easy to please when it comes to a book’s name or cover grabbing my attention, but the promise of Hades is in Eden Archer – a dangerous and complicated woman, the first book blurb said – before the second and third, Eden and Fall made me so excited. Trust me you’re going to want to read them yourself.
Suffice to say I’m hooked. And suffice to say I was a little bit giddy when Candice agreed to an interview with me. And generous soul that she is, she did it right after getting home from a birthday party. On a Sunday no less.
The first thing you have to realise is she’s bloodthirsty, and I mean that in a good way. “I think I can’t do romance. I just cannot get into romance or anything where you know the main action is sexual or the relationship between two people getting together,” she says when I ask her about her reading habits, and the genre she has never been able to get into. I should have followed that up with a question about how that hints at a lack of romance, or sexual attraction in her books for Eden and Frank her main characters, but she’s incredibly warm and distracting on the phone, while I was still hoping I did sound like a constipated elephant.
But, she adds, she’s a romantic and is currently planning her wedding. “But I just don’t want to read about it,” Candice explains. “When I read I like it to be tension growing you know.”
Tension, I latch onto for my next question—why crime? She must have answered this 302 times by now, I cringed, but I wanted to know more. To hear her experiences first-hand.
“Crime has always been my number one passion. I grew up with it — my father was a parole officer at Long Bay prison. And he would bring his kind stories home to my mom, like prison stories, about men killing each other in prison or beating each other, or revenge attacks,” she explains patiently. “My mom was a big crime reader. Her entire library was all true crime and I got stuck into that once I burned through all the children’s books. So it’s just always been my passion.”
But, the odd thing she explains is that when she started as a writer, she didn’t write crime. “Supernatural mysteries,” she explains. “Vampires. But once I wrote Hades, it was like a book to order. I was home, I knew what I should be doing.”
It’s always interesting to me how authors of different genres secretly want to try out other genres, but when prodded, Candice reiterates she has no plans to go back to writing the supernatural.
“I was like a teenage girl and I was reading a lot of Anne Rice so I suppose you end up writing what you read. And I
just had to shake that off after a while.”
Looking back at her writing, she says those novels were essential to her clearing her head to be able to write Hades and the sequels – to finding her place as a writer essentially. “Back then I was putting down every single idea that I had. Where as now I only put down the ideas that I know are interesting both to me and the reader.”
“There are still elements of that I’m still working on,” she continues. “For example, Frank isn’t as lovable to be reading as he used to be. I love Frank but I have had a few people say oh he is a bit of a jerk. So he’s incredibly fun to
write but I’m not sure he reads well.”
From the blurbs on her books, Frank is the good guy, the light to Eden’s dark, it seems, so I ask her about whether her first instinct is to defend him.
“I wanted to defend him but I wanted people to be conflicted about everyone in the book,” Candice explains. “I didn’t want everyone in the book to be completely lovable. It was interesting to me that everyone’s favorite character is Eden and she is one of the worst characters in there… and Frank he is supposed to be the ultimate good guy. But he is no one’s favorite. So I couldn’t really tell what about Eden made people love her. At the moment I’m writing the first book in a new series and the main character is very different. He is more constructive in a way that I know the readers will like.”
Naturally, I jump on a new series and ask her nervously to explain – to my delight she does.
“The new book doesn’t have a title but it’s based on the idea that if you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time, things can go very badly,” she explains, adding that it will be out August 2016.
We move on to discussing what makes a good crime novel, a question that always gets a different answer. “Victims and perpetrators,” Candice says. “They have to be personal, readers have to care about them. If a crime book hasn’t introduced that character in a way that makes you care about them, you don’t care how they die. For me, I often cheer for the bad guy to get away if I really like the killer.”
More often than not, I’m of the firm belief that the bad guy should get caught, so I question her – would readers respond to a bad guy getting away?
“I hope so,” she admits, “in my third book, Fall, coming out this November what I’ve tried to play around with empathising with the killer you know, and just understanding where they come from. All of my books you should understand where the killer comes from. There is nothing that makes me crankier than those cliché serial killers who just kill because they like it. And you think yeah okay sure, I mean some people probably kill just because they like it, they like the feel of it that’s great. But I’m more like I’m more interested in how did you get to this stage? When did you kill the first time? What pitched you over the edge you know? What do you get out of it? I really want to understand killers and that’s what drives me to read and watch so much true crime. Because I want to know where they grew up and what their parents were like.”
From the passion in her voice, crime is where she belongs as a writer, but when pressed Candice admits she’d like to write true crime as well. “It’s just the amount of research intimidates me, and how quickly you have to have them out,” she explains. “I think after the trial you got to have them out within you know about six months. So I don’t know how I’d go about it but I like the idea of it.”
Would you like to read a true crime novel by Candice Fox? Or, would you prefer she stay in the realms of fiction?