On June 3rd, Charly Cox will be releasing the second book in her Detective Wyatt series – The Toybox. I posted a review of this book back in May and I absolutely loved this storyline. I was fascinated by the way in which it was written and easily understood without having read the first book, All His Pretty Girls. It was a pleasure to get to sit down with Charly Cox and talk about each of these books!
Charly left teaching with the intention of focusing on her writing career about 5 or 6 years ago. She started several stories, took a while to get going, but finally found one that stuck – All His Pretty Girls.
(The inspiration behind All His Pretty Girls is very cool. Charly Cox wrote about it on her blog post here!)
Her second novel, The Toybox, deals with the topic of sex trafficking and abuse. This is an important topic for Charly, causing her to fret while writing. She wanted her novel to be real and authentic without exploiting such a serious topic.
“Too often victims of crimes, especially sex crimes, are revictimized by the press or society. They’re viewed as having “done” something to deserve what has happened to them, whether that’s a lifestyle, a clothing choice, or something else. No one deserves it, and the idea that anyone somehow “asked for it” or somehow got themselves into the situation is sickening, and a mindset we, as a society, really need to overcome. And as The Toybox shows, anyone can be a victim for any reason.” – Charly Cox
Charly mentioned just how instrumental her editor and publisher Keshini Naidoo at Hera was in understanding her vision for The Toybox. She was a constant support and guide through the development of that vision into a reality.
One of the questions that I asked Charly was how she came to be a thriller/crime writer. She told me that she was fascinated by psychological research and the nature of thriller and crime writing. She was especially interested in the concept of nature vs. nurture (a major theme for All His Pretty Girls because of its mixture of both). Charly liked exploring the how and why something happened.
Charly is a very self-disciplined writer, usually writing between 4 hours and 12 hours a day depending on how its going. She likes to get up and have her coffee in the morning (where she claims her character Alyssa Wyatt gets her coffee addiction).
Throughout the entire day, and night, Charly is writing down notes. When she is not writing she is researching and when she is not researching she is writing.
Charly prefers to write outside compared to sitting at her computer for the entire day. When she is outside, and handwriting, she said she is able to let herself go without angst-ing over every single comma. The flow of the story comes more naturally.
Although she does a considerable amount of handwriting for the first draft and all of her notes throughout the day, she then carries that over to her editing process. After typing her story, she prints out her drafts and does a lot of her editing by hand, making it impossible for anybody but her to understand the arrows and marks on her page.
Charly does not write chronologically. If the beginning pops into her mind she writes it, same with the middle and the end. Then she spends her time putting it together. Writing this way often makes her say “oh!” at the clues and problems she solved without realizing it. The little pieces begin to click together and the book becomes whole.
One of my questions for Charly was about whether or not she had any quirks when it came to her writing. It was great to hear to responses! First, she told me that she cannot write unless her house is clean, which is a good thing. Charly said that this is often when her characters reveal some amazing things to her.
After her house is clean, she has to put on some background noise. She cannot work in the quiet, nor can she work to Imagine Dragons – who cause her to sing along instead of write away. Instead, she enjoys listening to Coldplay, Nickleback, Pink, Adele, and 3 Doors Down, depending on the mood for the day (though she later told me she listens to each of these artists every day regardless). Like her reading life, she has a vast array of tastes when it comes to music.
Her last quirk, and possibly my favorite one, was about her earrings. She loves earrings and is convinced that the earrings she wears will determine how her writing will go that day. (I know I would be too afraid to change my earrings after a good writing day!)
The Research: When it comes to researching for her novels, Charly is able to pull a lot of information from her love of true crime shows, which she considers as researching time. Usually, Charly researches as she goes or as she needs to.
She also talked about a few of her family members and friends who are involved in law enforcement and nursing who she relies on for some initial guidance in her research. Charly bounces of questions back and forth to these people, whom she is very grateful for, and brings the authenticity and accuracy of police procedures and medical knowledge into her novels.
“Reading has been my salvation forever.”Charly Cox
Growing up, Charly often had to hide her books. She had an old curling iron with a broken heating element that she would plug in at night and hide under the covers with, using the little orange light as a reading light.
In kindergarten, Charly remembers wanting so badly to be able to read a book and crying because she wasn’t able to. But in first grade, she read her first book, Sun Up, and memorized the sounds that went with each word, except for the word the.
Because reading has always been so important to her, she has many favorites from many genres. She goes through periods where she likes one genre more than another, and then back again.
Some authors she mentioned as being current faves were Lisa Jackson (Willing to Die), Lisa Gardner (When You See Me), Sarah Dessen (The Rest of the Story, great YA!), Karin Slaughter (Pieces of Her), and a new favorite Dawn Hosmer.
When I asked Charly what her favorite part about writing was, she told me that it was how her characters always surprised her. She battles her characters who are leading the story one way, when her intentions were to go the other direction.
With All His Pretty Girls, Alyssa Wyatt didn’t start out as the main character and she was equally surprised at the twists and turns that took place in each book. Charly doesn’t know the ending of her books, or even all the twists of her books, until the moment that she is writing it. But she loves when the scenes come together.
Charly Cox is currently working on Book 3 of the Detective Wyatt series. The characters are still leading her in new directions and surprising her every day.
Her Advice: The lesson that Charly Cox told me she wished she had learned earlier was that there are lots of people out there who tell you that if you don’t do it a certain way, then you aren’t a “real writer” and that is dangerous. Your process is your own and it is okay to figure it out and do it your own way.
Find people to critique your writing that come from a place of understanding. Give their critiques consideration, even if you don’t fully agree with what they have to say.
If your dream is to be a writer, don’t give up. It is a tough dream. Learn from it and keep going every day. Don’t compare yourself to other authors or writers. Somebody is going to like your writing.
Charly Cox loves hearing from her readers! If you want to connect with her, reach out to her on her website -> www.clcox-author.com