HUDSON — The Notes app on Hudson writer’s Steve Fox’s phone looks a little different than most. His phone has become a place for him to jot down ideas for stories, trying to keep them in his mind until he can get in front of his computer.
Writing does still have its challenges for Fox, who has been writing since he was a kid. A blank page is one of them, Fox said, as well as trying to find time to write. The phone notes help him keep his ideas fresh. One of his stories came together almost completely on his phone, pieces written out between kids’ activities and the other distractions of life.
This month Fox received an honorable mention in the statewide Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letter Fiction contest. He has previously received a first place award and two other honorable mentions.
Fox said the external validation of awards is confidence-building, especially in an activity like writing.
“Writing is definitely in-bubble exercise,”he said. “Doesn’t matter if you go to a coffeehouse and write or if you’re facing a wall like I do sometimes, you’re alone.”
His recognized story “Sometimes Creek” follows a father struggling to share the reality of his wife’s death with their young daughter. His grief has led them to a new house on the town’s “Halloween Street,” where his daughter finds a new friend and he tries to build a new home amid the countdown and candy-buying.
Fox writes short stories and creative nonfiction, which he described as “a true story well told.” His inspiration for stories often comes from the energy of the community.
“It’s hard not to see a story in every single thing,” he said.
He enjoys exploring how connected everyone is and evaluating things from separate points of view.
“No one is a secondary character in their own story,” he said.
Characters may exist only temporarily in a story, but when they walk off it’s into their own world. The interconnections are like a crossword, Fox said, where the solutions share one common space for a moment before moving on.
“A lot of my stories or the characters persist,” he said.
He said he’d like to bring some of those separate stories together into one novel, pulling the thread together through places or themes. His stories often have very real moments, he said, but they also contain spectacular ones, moments imbued with an element of impossible magic.
He wants his readers to be satisfied when they read his work, but he also wants to make them think.
When writing, Fox enjoys the depictions of space, whether that be physical or someone’s internal space.
“I enjoy those moments I can create where the reader kind of gets lost in the narrative and the pages are just gone and they just come away with these powerful images or a sense of there’s new knowing,” he said.
Fox’s story “Sometimes Creek” will appear in an issue of “Wisconsin People and Ideas” later this week. More of his work can be found on his website stevefoxwrites.com.