Rebecca (Becky) Fox and her husband William (Bill) Sherman are the authors of the novel Measure By Measure, a romantic romp for the fabulously fat. They met at a wedding in 1982, fell first in lust and then in love, and ultimately married beneath the June skies at the Temple of the Trees in Central Illinois.
Bill and Becky embraced size acceptance together. Individually and in tandem they have authored romantic and fantasy fiction, as well as critical essays and reviews on body esteem, pop culture and critters.
During the 1990s they established a chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) in Central Illinois, and while this endeavor lasted only three years, they both remain committed to promoting healthy body image. Since then, Becky has spoken on size acceptance to classes of college students as well as younger children.
1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Bill: We’re a husband & wife writing team who are approaching their twenty-fifth anniversary this year. We’ve done free-lance writing over the years for print media and websites, both under our own names and under pseudonyms. The original version of our novel Measure by Measure was written in installments for an online size acceptance website, Dimensions Online, but several years after we completed the story, we contacted Pearlsong Press about reworking the material into a printed book.
In addition to writing, I’ve worked in the social services field for over thirty years – primarily with children and families in Illinois and Arizona. I’m currently working for a Behavioral Health Center in the Southwest and am also a part-time Books Editor for the online review site, Blogcritics.
Becky is an at-home craft-y person, who designs jewelry and soap. She’s the more active of the two when it comes to making promotional contacts for Measure.
Becky: Craft-y? I’m not sure if Bill’s referring to my artistic endeavors or my “foxy” last name. (rimshot!)
Anyway, my passions beyond home, pets and Hubby include: unicorn lore and my museum quality collection (nearly 3000 & decidedly non-cutesy), and then sharing it with children of all ages at venues like libraries & RenFaires; 20 years of debunking strident diet doom-&-gloomers through public speaking, writing and most recently designing body-positive graphics; and Kris Kringling at Yuletide; and my longtime musical inspiration, the Moody Blues.
I’d really like to say that I’m a prolific, profitable writer, and there are a few short stories out there in long defunct mags. But the truth is Bill’s the real journalist. I’m not nearly disciplined enough. Pisces all the way. Too many other exciting streams to explore and wrongs to right.
2. Are there any other writers (published or not) in your family?
Bill: None on my side of the family that I know of.
Becky: John Fox who published Book of Martyrs in 1563 is my many-generations passed great-grandfather. And we have a few self-published memoirs along the family trees, but I think the Fifields and Foxes were always proud to be world-class readers and letter writers.
3. Do you have a specific place or time that you write?
Bill: We approach our collaboration in several stages. First is the plotting: on the first book we did much of it on the road. At that time we were driving 100 miles round trip on weekends to visit Becky’s ailing mother, and we used the drive time to throw out plot ideas about what we wanted to do with our characters. With our present project, we’ve been doing our outlining at the area’s hot springs baths, which are owned by our landlady.
I establish the chapter’s direction in a bare-bones first draft, typically on weekends, then the manuscript goes to Becky, who “fleshes” it out, adding her distinct writing voice and changing things that don’t quite work. When she finishes this draft, she reads it aloud for the both of us, and we then discuss further suggestions and revisions. (This can sometimes be the most painful part of the process.) Then Becky hands this heavily penciled chapter back to me to make the numerous “final” revisions.
Becky: Serious Journalist marries Free Spirit devoted to adjectives, adverbs & subjunctive clauses. Maybe a hit new reality series?
4. What kind of research did you do for this book?
Bill: We came to Measure, a lighthearted romantic novel set within the membership of a mythical size acceptance organization, after ourselves spending years in the real-life version of that community. Both of us had been officers in NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance) chapters, so we were familiar with the milieu. We did occasionally talk to friends and acquaintances in the community for further perspectives on what it like to be a fat woman or man – or one of their admirers – in today’s world, but, in general, we found it consistent with what we already knew. In the case of a few plot devices we used the Internet for research purposes; when two of the characters go on a charter boat ride of Lake Michigan, for example, we pulled up a company’s website just to see what the accommodations looked like. But while we take a lot of liberties in the interests of soap-y drama, much of the material in Measure has its roots in our own experiences and observations.
Becky: It really didn’t take all that much research for me, since nearly every character embodies personal memories and experiences relating to perceptions and stereotypes about who I should be. Fat people represent a vast, largely untapped resource of valuable talents and skills who might implement Earth’s betterment if society broke those bigotries and embraced the biology of natural body diversity.
5. What is the most important lesson you have learnt when marketing your book?
Bill: We’re still neophytes when it comes to marketing, but the biggest lesson that we’ve learned so far is it’s a lot of hard work. These days, you can’t just drop a book out in the marketplace and hope it finds its audience: you have to actively go out there and flog the thing. To introvert writer types like me, this can be more difficult than the act of writing, but it has to be done. We’ve been dabbling in social networking and have also created a webpage for the book, but it remains to be seen whether these efforts will pay off.
Becky: All it takes is one person telling another person telling the Right Person. Anyone out there know Oprah, personally?
6. What do you do in your free time?
Bill: We both probably waste too much time on our computers: the perils of the Internet Age. I’m a blogger/critic/pop-nerd who does a review blog entitled Pop Culture Gadabout. One look at my Coke bottle bifocals and you can tell I’m an avid reader.
Becky: Well, since structural instability from too many youthful bumbles has kept me from the salaried world for a few years, I’ve found the pleasures of volunteering.
Since moving to Arizona, my days of pain have dramatically decreased, and I’m finding pride of purpose playing with beads and nature craft and ceramics and other fun stuff with kids after school at the area Boys & Girls Club.
Another new adventure is my return to college after being away for 35 years to learn real jewelry skills, not just my costume efforts. This week I created a patterned sterling thumb ring, and that was just the first class!
I also love to cook & bake, and then share the wealth with our equally generous neighbors and friends.
And when it’s time to relax, there are those natural mineral hot springs, beckoning mistily, just a few hundred steps from our back door.
7. What’s next for you?
Bill: We’re presently working on a follow-up to Measure by Measure, looking at its characters and their world ten years later. The community where they all met has seen some significant changes in the past decade – not all for the better – and we wanted to take a look at that. We also grew curious about our characters ten years on: which ones have progressed; which ones haven’t; who is still together; who isn’t. We’ve been having fun working that out. And since we ourselves have moved from the Midwest to the Southwest, we took two of our characters with us, so they could explore this different part of America. Sequels are always tricky, since you don’t have the full Shock of the New going for you, but we hope we have enough surprises up our sleeves to keep things interesting.
Becky: Considering how long our “baby” has been in gestation, from the mid-‘90s when it began as a periodic on-line magazine serialization until 2009 when it became “real” in print-on-paper, I as Mother should be content. But the endless revisions and retoolings and anxious reconsiderings reintroduced us to folks we’ve really grown to like. It seems only fair to let them explore the rest of their stories.