I’ve Always Been A Weirdo: The strange life of crime novelist Candice Fox

I’ve Always Been A Weirdo: The strange life of crime novelist Candice Fox

Redemption Point1

“It’s comforting to know that no matter how creepy I am as a person, there are thousands upon thousands of crime readers out there who dig what I do because they have a secret little part of themselves that’s exactly the same. ” – Candice Fox

At the tender age of 31, Candice already has two Ned Kelly awards under her belt (best debut for Hades, and in 2015 best crime novel for the sequel Eden) and she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list with her novel, Never Never, written in collaboration with the one and only James Patterson. She is the middle child of a large, eccentric family from Sydney’s western suburbs composed of half-, adopted and pseudo siblings. Her most recent book Crimson Lake has already received soaring praise and is set to establish Candice as one of the most ferocious voices in the Australian crime scene, and across the globe. Here she reveals just how strange it can sometimes be to live the life of a crime writer and what her friends think about it…

Words || Candice Fox

What is it like to write crime for a living? To spend so many hours in the day wallowing in the depths of human depravity, checking out crime scene phones, listening to real 911 calls, kicking back with a podcast about sickos and serial killers? Frankly, it’s awesome. But I’ve always been a weirdo.

I started reading true crime at age seven. I know I was seven because I went to school and blurted out a bunch of grisly details about some vicious child murders I’d been reading about at home, and sent all my friends into panicked wailing. My mother was alerted to the fact that I’d gotten stuck into some pretty inappropriate reading material, but her response was to put all her true crime books on the top shelf, out of reach. She left all her James Pattersons where they were, so I went to those. She didn’t do anything about the police magazines she used to collect lying about everywhere full of autopsy and crime scene photos. She didn’t stop telling us kids all her favourite true crime facts, or driving us into the Belangalo State Forest at night to look for the ghosts of murdered backpackers.

Am I desensitised to violence? Absolutely. It takes a lot for a crime to really touch me in any way, because I think about crime all day long and it’s easy to get detached. To notice the body count, and not the real devastation that surrounds murder. But when I really become curious about a case I read in the paper or an unsolved mystery I discover online, I know it’s because the writer had done a good job bringing out the emotions connected with the case. I strive to do the same thing – readers have to care about the victim, to want to see the case solved – so keeping an eye on my own feelings toward crimes, when there are any feelings at all, is key to what I do.

Being an author is like having a license to be the weirdo I have always been. Recently, my husband and I were on our way to a wedding, and someone in the car of strangers we were travelling in struck up a conversation about proposals. We all shared our proposal stories, but in the back of my mind, I was wondering whether or not I should share what I thought was a fascinating fact – that serial killer Ted Bundy had proposed to his girlfriend at his trial, and because she’d said yes, the unique situation of the courtroom had made the marriage legal. There’d been no need to officiate it and no way to stop it – before anyone knew what was happening, Ted had married his girlfriend right there in the courtroom, in front of everyone; the judge, the families of his victims, the public. Crazy, right? So I piped up and told the car full of strangers the story. Then someone asked who Ted Bundy was, what he had done. So I began to explain his crimes. Maybe in too much detail. Who knows.

The mood in the car darkened considerably. ‘She’s a crime writer,’ my husband explained. Everybody laughed.

While writing crime works in my favour sometimes, accounting for the dark things I love talking about, it worries people sometimes. I’m very clucky at the moment (I’m 31, and my husband and I have been married a year, so it’s that time in my life). My cluckiness has reached absurd levels, causing me to at times squeeze into groups uninvited and simply take people’s babies off them for snuggles without much of a show of seeking permission. ‘Oh, she’s beautiful!’ I tend to cry. ‘I’m going to steal her away and make her my own baby!’ The people who know what I do for a living give each other odd looks.

It’s comforting to know that no matter how creepy I am as a person, there are thousands upon thousands of crime readers out there who dig what I do because they have a secret little part of themselves that’s exactly the same. On tour recently I’ve met a lot of them, and watched them wide-eyed and hungry for details as I talk about my favourite cases. I ran a competition recently in which one lucky winner scored a place in one of my novels, and I hazarded to ask online who people might like to be if they won. Would they like to be a detective? A witness? I had a spot for a medical examiner. Nope. A surprising amount of people wanted to be grisly murder victims. One lady asked me; if she won, could she give her place in the novel to her eight-year-old son? She hoped I’d murder him violently. Yes, you read that right.

People ask me a lot if I’m ‘living the dream’, and of course, my answer is yes. It might be more of a nightmare by ordinary standards, but I’m loving every second of it.

Read our full review of Redemption Point here

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                      Synopsis

                      12.46: Thirteen-year-old Claire Bingley stands alone at a bus stop 12.47: Ted Conkaffey parks his car beside her 12.52: The girl is missing . . .Six minutes – that’s all it took to ruin Detective Ted Conkaffey’s life. Accused but not convicted of Claire’s abduction, he escapes north, to the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake.Amanda Pharrell knows what it’s like to be public enemy number one. Maybe it’s her murderous past that makes her so good as a private investigator, tracking lost souls in the wilderness. Her latest target, missing author Jake Scully, has a life more shrouded in secrets than her own – so she enlists help from the one person in town more hated than she is: Ted Conkaffey.But the residents of Crimson Lake are watching the pair’s every move. And for Ted, a man already at breaking point, this town is offering no place to hide . . .
                      Candice Fox
                      About the author

                      Candice Fox

                      Hades, Candice Fox's first novel, won the Ned Kelly Award for best debut in 2014. She is also the author of Eden, which again features Frank, Eden and Hades. Her third novel is FallCandice is the middle child of a large, eccentric family from Sydney's western suburbs composed of half-, adopted and pseudo siblings. The daughter of a parole officer and an enthusiastic foster-carer, Candice spent her childhood listening around corners to tales of violence, madness and evil as her father relayed his work stories to her mother and older brothers.Bankstown born and bred, she failed to conform to military life in a brief stint as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy at age eighteen. At twenty, she turned her hand to academia, and taught high school through two undergraduate and two postgraduate degrees. Candice lectures in writing at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, while undertaking a PhD in literary censorship and terrorism. 

                      Books by Candice Fox

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                      1. Kirsty Watson says:

                        Reading Crimson Lake now, can’t put it down. Very well written. Thankyou for writing absorbing prose. I have a list now of all your books and will be adding them to my collection❤

                      2. Angela Stephens says:

                        I picked up Hades by chance at bookstore and I was hooked. You transport me to the most grizzly of places but your characters still win me over because I am just so curious about what will happen next. I bought the rest of the trilogy and couldn’t wait to get home to read them.
                        I have just finished Crimson Lake and Redemption Point- please, please, please write another in this series. Now Detective Blue has my undivided attention. Thank you so much for your engrossing plots and -most of all- the twists that keep me reading till the small hours of the morning. Your novels have intelligent characters and I hope, a very long series (life) to come.