September Fawkes interview with David Alan Binder

posted Feb 16, 2017, 3:56 PM by David Alan Binder

September Fawkes interview with David Alan Binder

 Shortened bio from her website:

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life.  Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest.  Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

 Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post and animated shows in another. Try not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)

 September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.

She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

 Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, and used to edit novels or proofread promotional pieces on the side. She regularly does work for And once she had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction. She has also presented and has been a panelist at Salt Lake Comic Con.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published. Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.Blog:





1.     How do you pronounce your name? 

 “September” like the month. “Fawkes” like “Guy Fawkes,” sort of like “fox,” or “hawks” with at “f.”


2.     Where are you currently living?



3.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

 One of the most important things I’ve learned, if not the most important is the power of perseverance. I know it probably sounds cliché, but the longer I work in this industry the more I realize that writing has less to do with natural talent and more to do with persistence and patience. Over the years I have known many people who have dreamed of being professional fiction writers but for one reason or another, they gave up. Now, there are legitimate reasons to stop pursuing that dream—your interests may have change or you may have found something you wanted more. But many people simply stop because it’s harder than they expected.

 Often we mistakenly imagine that our favorite writers didn’t go through very difficult times. After all, we only really see their finished products. But the reality is, they just didn’t quit. Perseverance can get you further than any “natural talent” can. And even natural talent needs to be harnessed, controlled, and refined. In the end, all of us face difficulties. We will all experience pain. But often we can choose whether those pains and problems come from striving for success or from running in the other direction.


4.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

 It used to be that self-publishing was viewed as “unprofessional,” because it’s open to anyone, even your crazy neighbor down the street who didn’t graduate from the fifth grade. Times are changing and many writers today are self-published. At a writing conference I went to recently, when polled, almost every attendee wanted to be a hybrid author, meaning they want to self-publish and publish traditionally.

 In my personal opinion, whether you self-publish or traditionally publish depends on your own personal goals and what you are writing. Some books are naturally more successful as self-published books. Romance is doing well in self-publishing right now. Some books are difficult to market or don’t fit into a specific genre, those books are often best handled by being self-published. Children’s books and young adult books are often better off being traditionally published because they are more likely to reach their intended audience that way.

 If you want to have full control over everything related to your work, then self-publishing might be what is best for you. If you are willing to give up some of that control for a wider audience or you don’t want to handle every aspect of the publishing process, traditional publishing might be the better choice for you. There are a lot of things to consider. If anyone is interested, I did some blog posts on publishing.

 Self-Publishing: What it is, Who it's For, And How it Works

 Traditional Publishing: What it is, How it Works, and How to Do it

 Traditional Publishing: Short Stories and Poetry

 5.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?       

 Nothing too magical. Practice, refinement, and perseverance. When most people say they want to publish a book, they have no idea how complex and difficult it can be. In fact, most of the time, they can’t even discern good writing from bad. If you are reading this, you probably aren’t one of those people. I wish I had an amazing “silver bullet” secret, like something about how to network with the top agent in the world or how to guarantee that your dream editor will pick up your story, but 99% of the time, if you aren’t writing a professional-quality book, you probably aren’t going to get picked up. Becoming an exceptional writer and working hard (and these are things that can take years), will likely open more opportunities than anything else. Make sure you and your work can be found by others in the industry. This might mean attending some writing conferences and meeting others there. This might mean having a simple static website. This might mean being active on social media. From my experience, you don’t need to stress about this, you just want to make sure that people can see you, and if they want to find you, they can.

 Becoming a better writer and working hard are most important, but if no one knows you exist and no one can find you (and when I say no one, I really mean like no one but your closest friends and family) then your chance for opportunity narrows.

 If you want to self-publish, a lot of the advice is the same. Become a better writer. Work hard. When you find a book you can believe in, follow it through and finish it. Make sure you can be found.

 6.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

There are a few creative writing "rules" you will learn in just about any creative writing class, and they are usually a good place to start for new writers.

One of the very most important things to learn to do in creative writing is to appeal to all five senses. This means that when you are writing, make sure to mention sounds, smells, sights, tastes, and what things feel like. Doing this helps put your reader into the story.

Another one of the first rules you will learn is "show, don't tell." This means that instead of just telling us that "Suzy was tired," you show us by having her yawn and rub her eyes. Instead of telling us Scout is a disobedient dog, you show us by having him dig holes in the backyard, jump on people's laps, eat food out of the garbage, and bark in the middle of the night.

Make sure the starting of your story has some form of tension or conflict. Many stories I see from beginners don’t open with any. It doesn’t have to be the main conflict of the story, but there needs to be something. It can be a plot conflict. It can be a relationship conflict. It can be an internal conflict. But whatever it is, try to have a conflict at least implied on the first page.

Along those same lines, make sure you describe the setting and characters. Some stories from beginners don’t give any hint as to where the scene is taking place. Other stories never describe characters in the opening. In every scene, the reader should know what the setting is and who the characters are. Sure, there are some exceptions to this, but they are extremely rare.

7.     What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

One thing I’ve learned over the last two years is the power of subtext, which is far greater and more important than I’d ever imagined. Subtext is what is implied in the story, but not actually written on the page. Subtext makes every scene, every line of dialogue more meaningful. Subtext helps draw the audience into the story so that they are emotionally and intellectually invested in it. Subtext is often key to creating humor.  It creates tension and adds depth to character. Some days when I’m editing, I feel like subtext is everything. That’s probably going overboard. But if you can’t tell, I’m shocked with how much power it can pack. It is now something I regularly think about when editing a scene. If anyone would like to learn more about subtext or how to write it, I have a post on that here:

8.     Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?

 Too many to list or just pick one. But here are some articles I’ve written on topics that I think are important but that often don’t get taught:

 How to Break Writing Rules Right: "Don't Use Adverbs, Adjectives"

 Relationship as a Character: Crafting Duos, Trios, Groups that Readers can't Resist

 Point of View Penetration

 Picking the Right Viewpoint Character for Your Scene

 The Mechanics of Rendering Mysteries and Undercurrents

 Raw vs. Subdued Emotions: Getting them Right in Your Story


9.     What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

 There can be a number of things that can make a book really stand out, but one that I hear about most frequently is voice. A great voice immediately grabs an editor. I think of voice like this:

 What the character (or narrator) says/thinks + How they say it = Voice


A unique voice immediately makes a story interesting.

 10.   What are some ways in which you promote your work?

 I’m definitely a blogger. I put up a blog post every week, unless I’m on a trip or sick, but usually I’ll post even then. It has helped people find me and my work. I also use social media and sometimes link to my articles there. So far, and for now, those are the main ways I promote my work, but I also teach and talk at conventions and that can help. I’m looking at expanding my writing tips to YouTube in the near future.

 11.   What saying or mantra do you live by?

 Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing (sang in Dory’s voice from Finding Nemo)

 Ha, ha, my mantra changes from time to time, but that is one that crops up regularly (and strangely).

 Right now my mantra is “Make deliberate choices,” which comes from James A. Owens Drawing out the Dragons:

 I’m a Harry Potter fan so sometimes it’s this:

 Be as brave as a Gryffindor,

as ambitious as a Slytherin,

as wise as a Ravenclaw,

and as tenacious as a Hufflepuff

 Another one that I often live by is “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” It comes from a scripture.

 So, I guess in short, I have quite a few ha, ha.


September Fawkes Honors and Awards

 Tanner Prize Winner (2011)

The Annie Atkin Tanner Memorial Poetry Scholarship Fund

Second Place, “Colonel Miller’s Mansion.”

 Mark Swain Award (2010-2011)

Department of English, Dixie State University.

 Dixie State University Continuing Student Scholarship (2010-2011)

 President’s List (Fall 2009)

 Dean’s List (Fall 2007, Fall 2010, Spring 2011)