In your opinion, what are the top three reasons why teens (or even adults!) should pick up Forgiven the next time they see it in stores or online?
First, I think Kula Baker is a fascinating character. She’s feisty, determined, and prickly – in a good way – and she falls deeply in love (romance is good). Second, Kula discovers the hidden world of child slavery in San Francisco of the time (1906). While that may not sound like something you want to read about, I feel it’s important to understand it and to recognize that it exists, and I’m proud that I show Kula tackling it. Third, Kula experiences the great earthquake and fires of April 1906. I tried to be true to the historical accounts and experiences, and I tried to show the drama of the event, so I think the plot moves quickly and the description is heartbreaking but accurate.
Get reasons why! Forgiven tells the story of Kula Baker so would you mind sharing a little about her? In addition, if you could offer her any advice, what would you say?
Kula is a secondary character in my first novel, Faithful, and when I started writing about her she jumped right off the page. She’s got some issues to deal with, and she’s very stubborn, but the “good twin” of stubbornness is determination, which Kula has in spades (and which sometimes gets her in trouble). I’d certainly want her on my side if I was in a jam. The advice I’d offer her would be to look before you leap, because she has a tendency to plunge where she ought to show restraint. But I think she learns a few things through the course of the story.
Two things. The first is that because I wanted to follow Kula, and her timeline was already set, I knew I had to keep her story in that window (1904-1906) so that she would still be a teen. Second, I was dying to research the earthquake in San Francisco. I have a geology background and had read some about it, but I wanted to know more. So it seemed perfect to take Kula to San Francisco and have her experience the city, the earthquake, and her romance there.
As I am sure you put lots of research into Forgiven, what was one of the most interesting pieces of history or info you came about in the process?
Well, I was certainly stunned by the child slavery issue that I uncovered – that was unexpected. But I was so heartened by the reaction of the San Franciscans to their plight after the earthquake. They were a resilient, courageous bunch who stepped right up to the task of rebuilding, who were courteous throughout the event itself, even those who lost everything. So much of the city was destroyed in a few days, but rebuilt quickly and beautifully. That remains a testament to the human spirit.
The portion about child slavery during that time was unexpected- I still can't fully believe something like that could happen! I absolutely love the cover of Forgiven. Especially the dress the girl is wearing. So what was your reaction when you saw it for the first time?
I love it, too! I was thrilled. (In fact, I’d love that dress….) The designer for both of my jackets, Jeanine Henderson, is brilliant. And I should add that I was contacted by both the photographer and the model, who were also delighted with the cover.
I wish I’d asked about where I could find the dress…
Well, if you find out, you gotta let me know. That dress equals awesome! Since the publication of Faithful, your first novel for teens, have you any “rock star” moments? If so, would you mind sharing one?
You know, true confession: I wanted to be a rock star when I was a teen. Seriously. I wanted to be Janis Joplin. But back to the question…I think the moment that pleased and surprised me most happened at Texas Library Association in 2010, when I sat down in the Author Area to sign, and suddenly librarians were jumping off the lines of two very well-known, big-time authors to get in my line. Yes, I was giving away ARCs, but still. All my books were gone in about 20 minutes.
Aw, cute story, and I love the rock star confession- I think nearly everyone dreams of being one when their little. Name three things your readers would be surprised to know about you.
Hmm. Other than being Janis Joplin in spirit? Well, I’ve been in a deep-diving submersible to the bottom of the ocean, twice. I once appeared on the Today Show, as an interviewee of Jane Pauley. And I spent a month on a 25-foot long boat with no running water and four other people in the Patagonian fjords of Chile on science field work.
What awesome tidbits! The one about the Today show is especially awesome. What’s up next for you book wise? Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m working on a third YA set in 1925. I’m describing it as a “noir romance” – it has a little bit of paranormal, and a lot of conspiracy, secrets and lies. That one is under contract and due out in January 2013. And I’m also working on a middle grade fantasy that I’m pretty excited about. We’ll see how that one goes!
Ooh, can't wait to see what they'll be like! Thanks so much for stopping by, Janet!
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Janet Fox will also be donating a portion of the proceeds from FORGIVEN to The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. To learn more about what you can do to help agencies that actively fight the exploitation and trafficking of children, visit the following websites: