Fonda Lee on #MyWritingProcess


il_570xN.325609108Today I’m taking part in the #MyWritingProcess blog hop, and thought I’d use this opportunity to put in another appearance with the Fearless Fifteeners. I was tagged by a lovely writer I met at the Willamette Writers Conference in Oregon last year, Kim Johnson (, who manages to juggle being a new mom with working on two YA suspense novels in progress, HER ONLY ESCAPE and CROSSING ANGELA.

Here’s a look at what I’m up to.

What am I working on?

Right now, I’m revising ZEROBOXER for my editor. I’m also revising another manuscript, a YA fantasy, for my agent before we take it on submission. I’m drafting a new science fiction novel, which I hope to have done by the fall. I just finished writing a speculative short story (an experiment for me—I’m very much a long-form person) and I’ve put it aside to marinate for a while before I return to it. Lastly, I have three ‘on deck’ ideas that I turn around in my head while driving or in the shower. Occasionally I jot down notes, and the concepts I still like after several months will move into research and outlining phase.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My writing is heavy on action and difficult moral issues. I’m drawn to stories that offer no easy answers and examine human nature and society through the lens of speculative fiction—think Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica—so my work often doesn’t have a stark “good vs. evil” conflict. I’m more interested in putting my characters in situations where they’re torn between equally bad choices. I’ve been a martial artist since I was a teen, and am a big fan of (good, smart) action movies, which explains my enthusiasm for crafting exciting fight sequences.

While romance and angst might be part of my protagonists’ journey, even a big part, I tend to handle them (perhaps overly) lightly, and they are almost never the main focus of the narrative. My main characters are almost always young men and women of action. Get-shit-done kind of people.

Why do I write what I do?

I write what I want to read. That’s pretty much the only reason.

How does your writing process work?

Before I start a project, I spend a month or more doing nothing but reading and researching. I read up on topics that I will use to form the world and the characters I am going to create. Since I write science fiction and fantasy, I want the world and its issues to feel real to me before I ever set pen to paper. For ZEROBOXER, I devoured MMA memoirs as well as novels about boxers and fighters. I watched a lot of UFC and live local fights. I read lots of books on living in space, how we would colonize Mars, and genetic engineering. (I couldn’t find a way to get into space myself, unfortunately!) And I stay immersed in the genre by reading other novels.

I write an outline. I won’t start a book if I don’t know how it ends. I know writers are divided about this, but personally, I want the rough shape of the whole story to be clear to me. My outline is flexible and not very detailed—a one to three sentence summary of each chapter.

7150456391_db1655c8b3_oMy first drafts take some time. Some people swear by a fast first draft—getting it all out there as quickly as you can and not revisiting anything you wrote the day before. That doesn’t work for me. I tried NaNoWriMo once and hated everything I wrote so much that it took a lot of the joy out of the project for me. There are definitely scenes and chapters I have to fudge through to continue the momentum, but I will do some revising as I go along, working slowly and steadily for three to six months to get it out to my satisfaction.

The inevitable rewriting and revisions don’t take a ton of time after that.

All that said, each book is different. My current project is in its second complete rewrite, so it goes to show that even when you have a ‘process’ you can’t count on it. At all.

Up next on the #MyWritingProcess blog hop is Marie Langager (, author of the YA science fiction novel, BEYOND OUR STARS. Marie lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and son. She has a BA in English. She’s certain that many new adventures await us beyond our stars.

In the meantime, you can win a copy of ZEROBOXER and other cool stuff at this reveal and giveaway.

FJLee HeadshotFonda Lee is an author and recovering corporate strategist who was born and raised in Calgary, Canada (land of hockey, rodeo, and oil reserves) and now lives with her family in Portland, Oregon (land of rain, hipsters, and Powell’s books). When she is not writing she can be found training in kung fu or searching out tasty breakfasts. Her debut upper YA science fiction novel, ZEROBOXER, will be published by Flux in April 2015. You can find Fonda at and on Twitter @fondajlee.

One thought on “Fonda Lee on #MyWritingProcess

  1. I love that you include such heavy moral issues in your novel. You don’t hold back! Great, thoughtful answers! And I can just imaging you reading memoir after memoir of prize fighters. 🙂

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