Kate Cox is
Who is your favorite villain, and who is your favorite protagonist in literature?
I’ve never had a favorite villain on the page. It’s always me; us, the collective “we”—that is, all the psychic scaffolding I’ve built over a lifetime that keeps me from surrendering fully to a story. That’s my villain.
As for a protagonist, I always like to think she’s mine, too. The hallmark of a good protagonist, I suppose, is that they sort of belong to you. For me, it’s Lily Bart from Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. Because she came at the right time and returned at the right time. Because Lily, even set as she was in late-1800s New York, is a truly modern heroine—that is to stay, a confusing tangle of feminine ambition and sorrow and reticence. She is as I have often feared I am, entombed forever by the decisions I made when I was 29.
When did you know you were a writer?
I’m not sure I ever have. I just figured out one day that the only difference between me and people whose panel bios listed them as a “writer” was that they referred to themselvesas a “writer.” And they wrote. And it didn’t matter how much or for whom. The point is simply that writers write. Do you write? Boom, you’re a writer. And you get to call yourself one. Narrow the gap between perception and reality and anything can be true.
What are you currently working on?
I am editor-in-chief of The New Food Economy, a nonprofit newsroom in NYC, where I lead a staff of reporters and editors in investigating the forces shaping how and what America eats.
How has your writing process changed over the years?
Never had one to speak of. Still don’t. Deadlines help. And one thing that hasn’t changed is I edit as I go. It’s not for everyone. But for me, it’s the only way.
Describe your writing style in one sentence.
Exactly as I speak, when I’m not trying too hard to sound like someone else.
Five Questions, by Nicole L. Drayton. Nicole is a writer, screenwriter and independent filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from The New School, and currently works for the university in the MFA in Creative Writing Program office.