Nina Foxx is the author of 15 novels (published by HarperCollins, Romantic Comedy), been included in two anthologies, and has written, produced and directed several stage plays that have toured the country. She has also written the accompanying music (available on itunes) and one of her plays is available on DVD and is distributed by Urban Home Entertainment. She also has produced three feature length films that will be in theaters in 2012 (513, Magic Valley & A** Backwards). She also wrote, produced and directed two shorts, Closer to CRazy and She’s Got Is’Shoes that have won numerous awards, and is in pre-production on a fourth feature film based on one of her earlier books, and a is a producer on two TV Shows for the National Geographic Channel.
She holds an MFA in Creative Writing as well as a Ph.D. in I/o Psychology. Nina has authored several industrial design patents and has been called a relentless marketer of her work. She has been featured in several magazines, including PW, Black Issues Book Review, QBR, Brilliant, Today’s Black Woman and Black Enterprise.
Cynnamon Foster is the alter-ego of author Nina Foxx. She has been begging to be let out for quite a while. She tied Nina up and put her in a closet and has been writing ever since.
Cynnamon Lives in Southern California with her main personality.
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
I don’t think I ever realized that writing was a calling. I always was a writer. I wrote my first piece for publication in middle school, although it was turned down. Shortly after, I responded to an op-ed in an analog newspaper, The New York Post, and they published it. It was always a way that I used to express myself. And that’s what I love about it. I can write anything I want. What Frustrates me the most about being a writer? I think maybe that not everyone realizes the value of writing and the value of the story. Writers are philosophers, years from now when people are looking back on us, it will be the writings of us as a people that become the lens through which they will judge us a society. I want to shape that.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
I’ve written Quite a few things. Most are slightly humorous, mostly fiction, although they were a few that are not. Several different genres. I also write under two names. I have in the past. You can find my work as Nina Foxx, or as Cynnamon Foster. I also write plays, and I’m currently a writer in residence at a regional theater company on the West Coast. They have licensed and are work-shopping a piece that I wrote called Rarefied Air and it will have a West Coast premiere in early 2023. Right now, there will be a few different readings and it will be featured in The Hue Theater Festival in the summer. Although I’ve heard in other places, this is the first play that I have written that was not a book first. I’m easy to find online. My primary site- ninafoxx.com should be re-launching again shortly, but you can always find me at CleverVixenMedia.com, WritingSisterSummit.com clarification media.com which is the home of the Writing Sisters Summit, or on Instagram as writerninafoxx, I’m Nian Foxx everywhere else, even in VR.
3) What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a cozy mystery series called The Queens of Kiawah, which my agent is currently shopping. I’m also working on Rarefied Air. And I’m working on a nonfiction book right now called Blerb Unicorn: A Black Woman’s Journey through High Tech.
4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
My greatest achievement almost every day, I would say that my book Momma Gone, was one of my greatest achievements, for sure. It was a finalist for a Doctorow award in innovative fiction, and an NAACP image award as well. Another big achievement that I’m proud of is The Writing Sisters Summit. It is the premier writing and yoga retreat for women of color. We are in our fourth year and going strong. We were sold out last year even though we had a pandemic, and it was just awesome. I made so many connections and helped so many writers who also helped me.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
It’s just part of it. Rejection is just part of life. You get used to it and move on.
6) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
If I have a deadline, I have a schedule. I write better with deadlines. I have to block out a few hours an evening to make sure I get it in between family and day job.
I don’t start out outlining, no. Usually, I stop halfway through and then map out the book at a high level. So, I’d say I am mostly a pantser.
7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
When you put pen to page (or fingers to keyboard), you are a writer. That’s all there is to it. There is no time that is too late for that. Age is not a factor. Knowing the business and knowing how and where you want to be published is a factor.
8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
I have always been an avid reader. I get touched by a lot of books for different reasons and get moved in different ways. Erasure, by Percival Everett moved me because at the time (and probably is now) it was so spot on about the state of being a Black writer. Paradise by Toni Morrison touched me because it made me think about the idea of Black people keeping some things for themselves, keeping some things pure–and we just don’t have that luxury in this country. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kinsolver touched me because it made me reflect on how colonizers automatically think their way is better and that people who don’t adhere to their ways are classified as savages.
I just finished The Last Thing You Told me by Laura Dave, and I liked it. Much of the book took place in Austin and I loved living there. I made great friends and met my husband there.
9) The Pandemic was a challenging time for some writers and creative individuals but also for others it was time that they needed to focus on their creative passions. Which side of that spectrum do you fall on? Are there any lessons or nuggets of wisdom that you gained during the Pandemic that help you within your writing career? Did the quarantine stifle your creativity, or did it make you even more driven to get things done?
I have a day job that I was able to do remotely during the pandemic. Because I don’t have to suddenly have time to do all of the creative things that I like to do. I’m a writer. But I’m also a fiber artist and now a yoga teacher. I was able to focus on writing books, creating things and do a lot of things with my extra 2+ hours a day that I didn’t spend in the car. I wrote a whole play. I think it gave me more chances to get things done, for sure. I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal where they are characterizing workers based on attitudes towards work in post-pandemic (as if that’s a thing). I Fall strongly into the zest for life category. Although I like what I do; I went to school many years to do what I do, I really know that it’s not the be-all end-all of who I am. Creativity is definitely a big part of me. I will continue to do that when I decided to no longer work for someone else again.
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you?
I am impatient with the publishing industry. I have been on both sides of it. I’ve been traditionally published, I’ve been self-published. Right now, we’re shopping work to go the traditional route, but I can’t say I’m married to it. One year I had four books, published in a variety of ways. I’m OK with just getting my work out there. I’ve been doing this a long time now though and I feel as though I have a family. This may not be true for everyone. I work with emerging writers and others that are established, as an editor, book doctor, consultant and ghost-writer. I help them get their book written and ready for publication in whatever way they feel comfortable with.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I think writing is a way to understand how you are looking at the world and working out problems. People who write to get things out in front of them in a tangible way so they can figure out what they need to and that’s true even if we’re talking about fiction. Everything I write reflects the lens that I’m looking through at that time. I do the same thing in my day job. I’ll try to understand people’s motivations and how they do things. Either I use that information to write a story about it or to build something that help them get a job done.