We are excited to introduce you to debut author Fonda Lee. Her first book, Zeroboxer comes out April 8th. We hope you enjoy meeting Fonda, and we’ll have more from her next month for her Zeroboxer blog tour.
About Fonda: Fonda Lee writes science fiction and fantasy for teens and adults. Zeroboxer (from Flux/Llewellyn) is her debut novel. Fonda is a recovering corporate strategist, an avid martial artist, a fan of smart action movies, and an Eggs Benedict enthusiast.
Find Fonda Online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Goodreads
How important is it to you to put your own real life experiences in your fantasy novels?
That depends on how you define “own real life experiences.” I think every author brings something from their own perspective, background, or experience to their books, but the old adage “write what you know” was never meant to be taken literally. With imagination and research you can write characters, places, and situations far different from what you know.
I do however try to pinpoint what it is about each book that I identify with most strongly and hold on to that, no matter how different the characters and the world. In Zeroboxer, Carr’s driven personality, Risha’s business career, my love for martial arts, and my observations regarding sports celebrity are all contributions pulled from my own life.
You’ve been involved with the We Need Diverse Books campaign. Can you give us a little bit of background on how you got involved and how it’s impacted your debut path or strategy?
I’ve been a panel speaker and supporter of the We Need Diverse Books campaign because I know some of the other authors who are driving it and I believe it’s a very important issue. I certainly grew up with very few books (particularly in my preferred genres of science fiction and fantasy) that reflected my ethnicity, background, and heritage. I hope that won’t be true for today and tomorrow’s kids.
The novels I write are not “diversity issue novels” – they’re very mainstream entertainment. So I don’t think WNDB has specifically impacted my debut path. However, I am cognizant that kids who are aspiring writers are looking at published authors, hoping to be in our place one day. If I can be one more inspiring example of a successful minority author, I would consider that a huge personal accomplishment.
Who’s influenced you as an author?
Neil Gaiman, for two reasons. First, because he makes the genre so accessible and real. He is the master at deftly weaving the fantastical into the familiar. Second, because he has such a unique and consistent “brand”—when you say “it’s a Neil Gaiman book” you know what kind of book it is.
What advice would you tell your pre-published self?
Start earlier. Be patient.
What are 3 fun facts about yourself?
– I love cheese.
– My favorite ninja turtle is Raphael.
– I’m not fully functional before 10am.
What has been unexpected or surprising about your publishing process?
How unpredictable it is. Everything—how long it takes to get an agent, how long it takes to sell to a publisher, advances, when it will be released, reviews, sub rights, the sale of future books—can vary so enormously widely from author to author. You have to learn to roll with the punches and just keep writing because you may feel like you are succeeding or failing today, but that can change tomorrow.
What are some of your favorite under-rated or books we should be looking out for?
I’ll give you three that are not yet released, but that I am really, really looking forward to: This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee (steampunk Frankenstein, need I say more?), Ink and Ashes by Valynne Maetani (yakuza family drama; sign me up), and The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (a heroine who trains sea monsters for pirates, that sounds awesome).
What have been the big moments for you in the publishing journey?
The biggest one happened just recently: my author copies arrived on my doorstep and I held my finished book in my hands. I took a black Sharpie and wrote “Author Copy” on the title page of one of my books. That felt incredible.
What are your writing must haves? (i.e. snacks or drinks or whatever)
Laptop, travel mug of tea, noise-canceling headphones.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure TV show?
Cooking competition shows like Iron Chef or Chopped. If I happen to see one playing I end up watching; they’re so competitive and there’s food on screen.
A rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, Carr “the Raptor” Luka dreams of winning the championship title. Recognizing his talent, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm––a personal marketing strategist. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.As his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet that’s fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. But when Carr discovers a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices place everything he cares about in jeopardy, but they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system.