Hello folks! White Fox released today and I have a really fun interview up with the author, Sara Faring! She’s ABSOLUTELY fun and so adorable but her stories are gonna give you all the creeps. Let’s jump into the chat as we talk about writing and inspiration from the weirdest of events!
1. Hey Sara! I hope you are doing great. How has this pandemic been for you so far? How are you coping?
Hello! There have been so many waves of emotion at unexpected times (sometimes it feels like a hostile ocean of emotion). Some of my coping techniques: 1. Moving my bones on very, very long walks, during which I call a rotating list of friends and/or family (This is a new development. I used to hate talking on the phone. But I guess I finally maxed out my screen time during the pandemic.) 2. Staring at nature and/or reading books that create a similarly calm, perspective-widening environment in the mind (like The Overstory, Naomi Novik’s books, or Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet) 3. Making fancy beverages and drinking them while sprawled on a sofa in a red waffle weave tracksuit that—soothingly—makes me feel like a soccer mom on a gambling vacation in Las Vegas 4. Sound baths… Google them 😉
2. Your new book, White Fox, has a very atmospheric and eerie setting, with vivid details. How much of research went into this book and how long did it take for you to complete it?
Ah! Years of the most enjoyable research. I love adding texture to books (little sensory details borrowed from lived experience), so of course, for White Fox, it was mandatory to sample every flavor of granita in Sicily. And then there came the historical, geographical, linguistic research, done in my hermit cave.
White Fox incorporates bits of the first book I ever wrote, so it’s hard to say how long it took. I’ve been tinkering with it my whole life. And then (thank goodness) my editor came around and said, okay, buddy, get it together.
3. When drafting White Fox, what came to you first – the story, the characters, the setting or anything other? What was your biggest source of inspiration behind it?
The atmosphere came first. I had a specific mood in mind: eerie, lush, sublime. You sink into the story believing it’s familiar and comfortable—a tale of two sisters at odds with each other as they unravel family secrets—but then a series of surreal and astonishing twists take you by surprise.
I was inspired to write it because of an experience in my own life when I was eighteen. I discovered a long-held family secret that shook up my sense of self. I knew I wanted to explore this unsettling and thrilling time on the page someday.
4. How was writing and publishing White Fox different from your debut The Tenth Girl?
Oh, gosh. I was so tender and thin-skinned leading up to the publication of The Tenth Girl. I would compulsively read reviews and spiral into despair because of a single word. Often, oddly, that word wouldn’t even be negative—it would simply demonstrate a reader had taken my work in a completely different way than intended (can you tell I have a little thing for control? Don’t all fiction writers?). But that’s part of the beauty of publishing a book too, isn’t it? The book lives on in ways entirely outside your control. The reader brings their own baggage to their read. A book I read one way at age 18 will be read in an utterly different way at age 30. Sometimes I’ll read a book I despised when I was young later on and appreciate it, realizing it was just calling up issues I didn’t want to face then.
5. Writing an engaging thriller, I believe, is not an easy task. There are so many things that one has to look after – so many clues. Both your books have been fantastic thrillers. What are some tips that you as a writer follow, and what tips would you give for aspiring thriller writers?
There must always be a pressing question requiring an answer. Once an answer has been supplied, another question must either be immediately introduced or come to the forefront, ideally having been simmering in the background for some time.
6. I have always been intrigued by titles, to be honest. And hence, I wanted to know the ultimate significance of the title – White Fox – apart from it also being the title of the script. What were some other working titles for the WF draft?
What a brilliant question. I cannot title my books to save my life. My working title for TTG was Vaccaro School, and my working title for White Fox was Stökéwood. Both are the names of their eerie primary settings. I suppose it shows you where these two books began in my imagination: in a sense of place. After that, we landed on Cloud House for TTG and Delirium Forest for White Fox. But my genius editor’s picks became the final titles for these books.
White Fox is a character my protagonist’s mother creates in order to better explain herself (and her beautiful contradictions) to her daughters. White Fox alludes to the unknowable in each of us. We may believe we know our loved ones deeply—we may believe we know ourselves—but in truth, we can only know so much. We’re always evolving and always ignorant of certain elusive qualities in ourselves and others. There’s magic in that.
7. Who has been your favorite character to write about and why? In real life, are you more like Tai or Manon?
I adore them both: Manon is the introvert in me, who must replenish her energy and her creative well with solo journeys of the mind, and Tai is a through-and-through extrovert, fed by her interactions with others. I’m an introvert who likes to pretend she’s extroverted (until I inevitably run out of steam and collapse on the sofa for a couple of days, in the aforementioned tracksuit).
8. What is your drafting process like? And how do you stay motivated to write despite creative blocks?
My drafting process requires me to simmer a scene for several days. I like to have a sense of how it will open and how it will close before I begin writing (but I like to be surprised by the middle). Ideally, the scene will be a perfectly contained little jewel, and the book will be a string of these jewels.
If I am feeling blocked creatively, I’ll read, walk around the city and eavesdrop (in a pinch, watch tv), or get in contact with water (even if that just means a shower with fancy soap).
9. Are you working on anything new, any new WIP? Would you be able to share some hints or sneak peeks with us?
Yes! I have a short story coming out in a Wednesday Books YA Latinx SFF anthology in 2022. It’s a quirky, funny, dark tale set in 1910 Argentina, inspired by the story of my great-great-grandmother’s poisoning by tomato (…)
10. Lastly, what are some of your favorite books that you’d recommend always?!
My answer shifts depending on what I’m in the mood for, but… Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet, anything by Rory Power, anything by Kevin Wilson, anything by Tana French, anything by Shirley Jackson… They’ll leave you thinking, this lot.
Thank you for your thoughtful questions, Kajree!
Sara Faring | Website
Born in Los Angeles, Sara Faring is a multilingual Argentine-American fascinated by literary puzzles. After working in investment banking at J.P. Morgan, she worked at Penguin Random House. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in International Studies and from the Wharton School in Business. The Tenth Girl is her debut book. She currently resides in New York City.