Sunday, January 25, 2015

Feature: Marcha Fox, author of the Star Trails Tetralogy


Beyond the Hidden Sky 2:

A Dark of Endless Days:

A Dark of Endless Days 2:

A Dark of Endless Days 3:

A Psilent Place Below 2:


Beyond the Hidden Sky:

A Dark of Endless Days:

A Psilent Place Below:

Refractions of Frozen Time:

Tetralogy & teaser for vol. 4:


“Beyond the Hidden Sky”





“A Dark of Endless Days”





“A Psilent Place Below"





"Refractions of Frozen Time"

Release date: March 4, 2015


What inspired you to write this book?
Specifically, the original inspiration which evolved into "Beyond the Hidden Sky" derived from the original Star Wars movie.  Like most authors I get started with a "what if?" premise which in this case was what if a young teenage girl got jettisoned in an escape pod while her family was emigrating to another planet?  At first it was intended to be a single story but it eventually turned into a four volume tetralogy.  I tend to do that.  In other words, every short story evolves into a novel and a novel evolves into a series.  I can't help myself, apparently.  The gift of gab on steroids.
Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?
I think an interesting fact about my series is that each book actually contains interesting facts.  I do my best to include accurate science in the stories even though there are various extrapolations based on unproven theories, some of which are my own.  The plot involves using technology to solve problems, demonstrating the relevance of science and engineering.  I loved science fiction growing up and was always disappointed that they didn't include more science facts.  Thus, I'm writing what I would have liked, an entertaining way to learn.
How did you choose your title?
I have a hard time coming up with titles and usually change them a few times before the book is finished.  Then there are times when I have the title before the book is written.  I put a lot of thought into coming up with a title that is unique and represents an important part of the story.  I kick around a variety of ideas and then at some point my muse kicks in and I know what it should be.
Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.
I originally made the mistake of designing my own covers.  I enjoy playing on Photoshop but finally realized that they didn't do the books justice.  I though it was important to show the characters and at least a landscape view of where the story was taking place.  As a visual person I definitely tend to judge a book by its cover.  I eventually hired a cover designer and together we came up with what they are currently. 
Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?
I self-published, largely because I didn't want to go through all the time and effort of trying to find a publisher.  I've known people who have used a publisher and it really wasn't a bed of roses.  They still had to go out and market it themselves and often had other issues as well.  I've read plenty of books that supposedly had an editor provided by the publisher but there are dozens of typos, plot inconsistencies and so forth so having a publisher isn't a panacea so the author can just sit there and write.  I'm meticulous and critical by nature and would rather take responsibility for my book and have control over its fate, even though it's a lot of work.  I'm still learning the marketing side, which can be a lot of fun once you get into it.
What do you consider the most important part of a good story?
I think an emotional connection with the reader is paramount.  Being able to relate to the characters is essential.  Of course it needs to be balanced with other elements of writing to round it out.  When I do my final edit I use the acronym IDEAS to make sure I haven't missed anything.  IDEAS stands for Imagery, Dialog, Emotion, Action and Suspense.  They're all important to the story for it to come alive.
What is your writing process?
I let my characters run the show.  Thus, the first draft tends to be mostly action and dialog.  After that I have to go in and add the imagery and emotional elements.  I draft the entire book and then go back through it and spiff it up, using the IDEAS formula.  After that I go through it again, editing as I go.  After that I'll hand it to a beta reader or two to find anything I missed.  I'm one of those authors who never finishes anything; I abandon it.  Everytime I open one of my books I find something that I'd reword if I could.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil.  I remember writing a little story when I was in first grade.  My mother read to me a lot, as you can probably guess, and as an only child books were my best friends.  There have been several years where most my writing was nonfiction but writing fiction has always been my first love.
How did you get started writing?
As much as I loved writing I still needed to learn the basics.  My first spark came from being a beta reader and editor for friends who were writing books.  As I observed the step by step, page by page process, I decided that I could do it, too.  I read numerous books on writing a novel, went to workshops, and read like crazy.  I taught creative writing several years ago and learned so much from editing other people's work.  I'd see something they clearly messed up and then realize I had done the same thing.  For example, as a series writer it took me a while to realize that I needed to purposely reintroduce my characters in each volume and refer back to key events and situations that had occurred in previous books yet related to the current plot action.  It's one, big story to the author, but the reader might be reading it out of sequence or read the last one months or even years before with dozens of other books inbetween.  You can't assume they'll remember everything other than, perhaps, what the main character looks like, if that.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I don't know what a pantser is.  I enjoy really getting into the plot and what everybody's motivation is so I'm probably a plotter.
What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?
When things get tangled up into a virtual rat's nest with the plot and I have to sort everything out, including putting scenes in the proper sequence.  It's also challenging to make sure that there's consistency throughout my series with the little details, whether it's eye color or whatever.  It's fun to reward loyal readers with little details that tie into previous episodes.
What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?
I find getting away from writing entirely and doing something mindless is a great way to reconnect with your muse.  Things like cleaning the house, weeding the garden, taking a walk, etc.  Anything that blanks your mind so your subconscious can help you out and surface with ideas.  I may also leave one chapter to simmer on the back burner for a while and move on to another one.  I never totally have writer's block.  If nothing else, I can write a blog, book review, work on my website, or whatever.
What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?
I don't.  I like it quiet when I'm actually writing fiction, at least the first draft.  I love music, but usually not when I'm writing.  If I do, it has to be instrumental only because lyrics are too distracting.
Who is your favorite author?
Yikes.  That's a tough one.  I have so many I couldn't ever narrrow it down to one.  Two fellow science fiction writers I admire are Ceri London and Martha Fawcett.  I love and am awed their work, from their excellent narrative to the complexity of their plots and character development.
Who is your favorite character from a book?
I really like Ceri London's badass Niall Kearey from her "Shimmer in the Dark" series.  From my own stories, my favorite character is Win Sendori.  He started out as a minor, incidental character in Cyraria's equivalent of an Ace Hardware but quickly became a key character from that point on.  He's a rebel, loyal to his friends, thinks on his feet, and has a compassionate side.
What is your favorite book?
Too many to name.  In any given time period I'll have a particular favorite but I'm pretty fickle that way.  One I remember from my childhood as being my favorite was "The Abandoned" by Paul Gallico.  I need to find a copy someday and reread it to see how I feel about it as an adult.
Read anything good lately?
Of course!  Ceri London's "Destiny Nexus" and Martha Fawcett's "Together."
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Read.  LOL.
What advice would you give an author just starting out?
Write to please yourself.  Don't try to copy anyone else's style but develop your own, which includes the process itself.  Study what successful authors do.  Don't just read a book to enjoy it but study its structure and why it works (or doesn't work, as the case may be).  When you find a phrase, sentence or paragraph that really "works" figure out why. 
Have you had anything else published?
I have some nonfiction ebooks on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, mostly about astrology.
What's your next project?
I'm not sure at this point.  While in theory my series is complete, my characters are not riding off into the sunset.  They are kicking and screaming that now they are bored and want to move on to new adventures so I'm getting numerous ideas for sequels. 
I also want to write a nonfiction book about astrology, religion, history and science.  As a physicist I was indoctrinated in college against astrology as the stuff of myth and superstition.  In fact, several years ago I was working on a novel with a protagonist who, not surprisingly, was a physicist.  I wanted to make his ex-wife as annoying as possible so decided she would be obsessed with astrology.  I researched it enough to make the character convincing and in the process became converted myself for the simple reason it works.  I eventually studied it formally and am a practicing astrologer when I'm not writing. 
One of my pet peeves is the undeserved bad press astrology gets from both science and religion.  For the scientists, of which I am one, I remind them that some accepted physics theories today are farther out than the premise of astrology and for religious objections I point out that it's not likely that God's creations would provide a message from anyone but Him.  At one time astrology, religion and science were one and history explains the falling out quite nicely with much of it directly related to the Roman Empire. 
Needless to say that book will be a monumental project which will probably takes years to complete and I'm not sure I'm ready for that just yet.  I still have the launch of "Refractions of Frozen Time" coming up soon and also plan to get the books into a boxed set.  It's going to be several months before this one is buttoned up. 


Marcha Fox has loved science fiction since she was a child with the stars always holding a strong sense of mystery and fascination. Her love of astronomy resulted in a bachelor of science degree in physics from Utah State University followed by a 21 year career at NASA where she held a variety of positions including technical writer, engineer and eventually manager.  Her NASA experience was primarily at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas but included trips to Cape Canaveral in Florida, visiting other Centers in Mississippi, Alabama and Maryland as well as visits to the European Space Agency in The Netherlands.  Her most memorable experience, however, was the sad task of helping to recover space shuttle debris in East Texas following the tragic Columbia accident in 2003.   "NASA was a great career experience, but writing is what I've always wanted to do. To me there is nothing more exhilarating than bringing a character to life." 

She has made it a point to "do the math" regarding various elements in her books to assure accuracy and hoping to instill an interest in science and engineering to her readers in an enjoyable and entertaining way. She admits that Cyraria's figure-8 orbit around a binary star system is a bit of a stretch but maintains it is mathematically feasible even though it would be unstable with life on such a planet beyond challenging with its seasonal extremes.  "But that's what makes it a good setting for the story," she adds.

Born in Peekskill, New York she has lived in California, Utah and Texas in the course of raising her family and currently resides in the Texas Hill Country.  Whether “Refractions of Frozen Time,” the fourth and final volume of the Star Trails Tetralogy series will be the last she states, "These characters have a life of their own and may move on to other adventures." 




Author Homepage:



  1. Thanks so much, Kyra! Those were some thought-provoking questions.