Fonda Lee book signing

On Friday, Fonda Lee celebrated the launch of her new book during an author event a Powell’s Books. Zeroboxer is all about the geeky concept of prizefighting in zero gravity and the pressure of being a famous sports star.

Armed with a slideshow, Lee showed the audience just how far back her author story goes with a black and white newspaper photo showing “young writers,” including a 9-year old Fonda.

“Coke bottle glasses, Vulcan haircut— that’s me,” said Fonda, showing just how many years passed between then and her second author event after writing Zeroboxer. She always loved writing. In fact, in high school she co-wrote a pulpy superhero story with a friend by passing a graphing calculator back and forth during biology class.

But Lee didn’t take a straight path to becoming a writer. She majored in finance and later began working for Nike in sports marketing.  It was there that the seeds of the Zeroboxer concept were sown. 

Once in a meeting with a Nike-endorsed athelete, she  “realized just how much pressure and money goes into creating celebrity athletes.”

zeroboxer coverSoon after, Fonda Lee left a full time position for part-time and freelance to give herself more time to write. While writing and trying to sell other stories, she also worked on developing the Zeroboxer idea.

When it comes to sports, Lee, a black belt herself, is most passionate about combat sports.

In many ways, her character was inspired by champion boxer Manny Pacquiao, who became an inspiration to his home country of the Philippines. In Zeroboxer, overshadowed by colonies on Mars and other planets, Earth no longer a dominant player and in need of a hero.

“At it’s heart, it is a sports drama,” says Lee of the story.

Once Fonda Lee started thinking about prize-fighting in space, in zero gravity “all my geek girl buttons were pushed at the same time,” and she decided she had to write the story.

She started with research, reading boxing memoirs, watching videos of astronauts in space and watching championship matches. At the same time, she was still trying to sell a previous book.

“My husband would come home and ask what I did all day,” said Fonda. “—Oh, I got three rejections and watched UFC fights,” she laughs.

ZGFA logo
Fonda Lee created logos for the organization in her book.

In the end, Lee became immersed in the world, creating the whole new sport of zeroboxing, the ZGFA (Zero Gravity Fighting Association)— even imagining what the fans would be like.

She even started creating logos and posters for championship matches from the book.

“Making a sci-fi world believable isn’t so much about what is different as it is about what is the same,” says Fonda.

Anyone who is a fan of sports will get a sense of recognition despite the underpinnings of her science fiction universe.

“I had a ton of fun writing the book.”

Zeroboxer came out on April 8 from Flux books and is available online through Powell’s Books (our local favorite) and Amazon.