Taking inspiration from Vanity Fair's recurrent interviews with Billie Eilish, we're giving our authors the same questions once a year to see how their answers change.
Courtney joined SmashBear after submitting an unedited NaNoWriMo manuscript that wow'd me! She completely captivated me with her badass main character and amazing plot! I cannot hype her up more and I can't wait for you guys to finally read her work!
How many books have you written?
Two and two-thirds books! I’ve written REDACTED which is about to begin edits with SmashBear, and I’m nearly done with book 2 of REDACTED, which I’m currently calling REDACTED. I also wrote a memoir approximately 15 years ago after I went through depression as an active duty service member. That manuscript has been lost to the electronic ether, and I’m quite content for it to stay that way. It was what I needed to heal at the time, but not anything that I would want to revise and have published.
What genres do you write in?
Fantasy. I have tried to write SciFi, and I have some really great concepts for stories, but I just can’t seem to make that genre work for my writing style. Maybe someday…
Where does your inspiration come from?
I read a lot, so much of my inspiration comes from other books. Sometimes I read something that I love and I ask myself what I love about it, which usually leads to ideas for new storylines. For REDACTED, I was inspired by my friend’s Dungeon’s and Dragon’s campaign. My friend, Joe, let me join his virtual DND group during the pandemic, even though I’d never played before, and he encouraged us to write journals in character for extra experience points. I started doing character journals, which eventually led me to create creatures and magic rules that are entirely outside of the DND world and that’s how REDACTED story was born!
How many followers do you have?
I think I have about 430 or 440 followers on Instagram. I built a TikTok profile and was trying to grow a following, but my 17-year-old pup got sick around that time and I never really picked it back up. I will definitely re-energize that account in the near future. For the most part, though, I try not to worry about the number of followers. Yes, I want to get the word out about REDACTED, but I really only want to connect with those who have something to offer that will help me grow and/or a genuine interest in my work and creative process. Plus, there are all kinds of annoying spam accounts that will follow you and temporarily inflate your numbers, then unfollow you or disappear when enough people report them as spam.
What’s your advice to future writers?
Don’t quit, even if you feel like you’re not good enough. Every writer I know has felt “not good enough” at some point. I almost quit in the middle of REDACTED because I didn’t think I knew what I was doing and thought I would fail. If I had stopped, then I definitely would have failed. I used to be afraid to write and edit my work or let people read my work because I thought it had to be good enough as is. Somehow, I developed the belief that you were either a good writer or you weren’t and didn’t realize that there are many things I could do to improve my writing.
I missed out on years of honing my craft because I didn’t think I was good enough when really, I just needed to put in the work to become good enough. Don’t make that mistake! Write, share your work with people who will help you learn and grow (this can feel vulnerable but do it anyway) and get better, and write some more.
If you were a creature from one of your books, what would it be and why?
I would want to be a Tempest! Tempest have water magic and can breathe underwater and on land. I used to compete in triathlons frequently and since I didn’t grow up in competitive swimming that was always my weakest sport in the race. The idea of being about to command water and not have to worry about getting in a good breath when you’re swimming in choppy open water is very appealing!
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m currently listening to The Hidden Palace and reading Temper the Flame, but by the time you’re reading this, I will probably have finished those already. I listen to audiobooks when I work out and I have to read every night before bed to be able to fall asleep, so I’m always consuming new books!
Has publishing changed your writing process?
Well, I haven’t dived into edits with SmashBear yet, but I feel a great deal of relief just knowing that I’m not going to be alone in the editing journey. I don’t want to put my book out there when it isn’t at its best and have it fail to live up to its potential. I also think that there is a certain validation in having a publisher want my book, so if anything, the publishing process has made me less angst-ridden and more confident!
You can check out Courtney's social media here