Madeleine Roux’08: Writing with purpose
Madeleine Roux’08, bestselling author of the young adult horror series Asylum, credits Beloit English professors Steve Wright and Francesca Abbate with being the support that she needed to pursue a budding interest in creative writing.
“[Steve Wright] was such a huge part of my Beloit experience, and still to this day such a huge influence on who I ended up becoming,” she says. “And I don’t know if I would have gotten into publishing as quickly as I did if I didn’t have Fran there.”
Bestselling author Madeleine Roux graduated from Beloit in 2008 with a creative writing and theatre double major and has since published more than 20 novels. Her most popular books include the young adult horror series Asylum, but she has also written science fiction, historical romance, and contributed to larger franchises such as Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons.
Roux didn’t always intend to be a writer. She was originally drawn to Beloit College for its excellent anthropology program, but after realizing that science wasn’t her thing, she discovered her passion for creative writing. “I took some English classes with [Professor of English Emeritus] Steve Wright and just fell in love,” Roux says. “He was such a huge part of my Beloit experience, and still to this day such a huge influence on who I ended up becoming.”
Associate Professor of English Francesca Abbate also supported Roux during her time exploring creative writing at Beloit. In 2009, Roux was inspired to take on an Honors Term project by a friend who had completed a special project in theatre. Her project involved pitching a novel, writing it up, and then presenting the finished product at the end of the semester.
“[The novel] was 80,000 words, maybe 100,000 words,” Roux says, “and it proved to me that I can do this, this is not outside of my capabilities. I don’t know if I would have gotten into publishing as quickly as I did if I didn’t have Fran there [to say], ‘How can we make this a reality?’”
Shortly after graduating, Roux’s online fiction blog caught the attention of her future agent and became her first published novel, Allison Hewitt is Trapped. Putting that first novel out in the world opened up many opportunities for her. At that time, HarperCollins was looking for authors to produce young adult horror novels, so Roux started working on her series Asylum not long after.
Roux has also had the opportunity to work with many established franchises, including Star Wars, World of Warcraft, Dungeons & Dragons, and the roleplaying web series Critical Role. She has written short stories and children’s books for these franchises, and though there is often an outline that she has to work with, Roux brings her own voice and style to each story.
“I never want to publish something that’s a waste of paper — I don’t want to waste anyone’s time,” she says. “Even if it’s a silly Dungeons and Dragons kid’s book: [this character] has two moms. We’re going to do something here. We’re going to put forward values that we care about, and we’re going to advance the conversation.”
In the wake of the increasing book censorship across the United States, Roux’s novels have been banned for their queer and paranormal themes. “It’s really scary, and it’s just so strange,” she says. “It’s such an alienating feeling to know that you approach your work with love and light and hope and try to create a mental safe space for kids who may not have that where they are.”
Receiving criticism can also be difficult to deal with because most writers tend to be very attached to their work. Roux creates barriers between her personal and professional life to move past those criticisms.
“[Madeleine Roux the author] is a resilient badass that cannot be taken down no matter how many shots fired,” Roux says, “and [Madeleine Roux the person] is kind of a sensitive little bean who just wants to be playing video games with her dogs.”
Roux encourages students pursuing a creative writing career to start submitting to literary contests and magazines as early as possible and to reach out to professors who can point you in the direction of resources that can help you.
“Give yourself more credit than you probably do, and think of yourself as an adult working writer. You have to take yourself more seriously than the world is willing to take you.”