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Monday, May 24, 2010

Interview with Courtney Moulton

This week we have young adult author and equestrian, Courtney Moulton, at the blog with us! She has her own blog here. Her debut novel, ANGELFIRE, comes out in summer 2011. Thanks for joining us Courtney!

Can you tell us something about yourself and Angelfire?

I’m a twenty-three-year old photographer, artist, and equestrian.
Angelfire was my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel. It’s about a seventeen-year-old
girl named Ellie who is the reincarnation of an ageless warrior and the
only one able to wield swords of angelfire. She protects human souls
against the reapers, monstrous creatures who devour souls and send them to
Hell in order to rebuild Lucifer’s army of the damned for a second war
against Heaven. She doesn’t remember her past lives or understand exactly
what she is, but her soul remembers one thing: her Guardian and sworn
protector, Will. As she uncovers the terrifying secrets of her origins and
of Will’s mysterious past, a powerful reaper has discovered a weapon that
may be able to destroy Ellie’s immortal soul forever, ending her
reincarnation cycle and unleashing Hell upon Earth.

What was it like being a novel writer at sixteen? Did you find that
everyone supported you?

Writing a book when I knew nothing about writing books was difficult. I
hadn’t yet developed my own technique so my first book went through
countless rewrites as I tried to figure out how to tell a story correctly.
I had a lot of support from family, friends, and even teachers, but I
wasn’t ready to be published yet and neither was that book. One day I
believe it will be publishable, but for now, it’s taking an indefinite
slumber in my computer.

Did you think Angelfire would someday be part of a trilogy?

When I first came up with the concept, I wanted to make the story of the
Preliator into a multi-book series. The story developed more and more and
I realized I would only need three books to tell it. It would be easy to
stretch the story out into four or more books, but as of now the story
ends with the third book.

Where did you get the idea for Angelfire?

I was watching The Time Machine, which is about a scientist whose fiancé
dies and he builds a time machine to go back in time to save her, but she
keeps dying in different ways. Eventually, he gives up. I wondered what
would have happened if he never gave up trying to save her life, even
though he knew she was doomed to die. That was how Will's character was
created. His name means 'resolute protector' and I wanted him to be a kind
of bodyguard to this girl with superhuman strength and abilities. It’s his
job to protect her even though she's doomed, but she means more to him
than just his charge because he's in love with her. He has always kept
this secret from her throughout the centuries because he fears how it
might complicate their mission and also because it is forbidden by the one
who gave him this responsibility.

What was your road to publication like?

In 2008 I felt like my first novel, the one I wrote at sixteen, was ready
and I became serious about getting published. I had a solid query and got
a lot of requests, but after a few close calls, I decided that the book’s
story wasn’t quite there yet. So I wrote Angelfire for NaNoWriMo in
November and the day I finished the first draft, I sent queries. HUGE
MISTAKE! I sent a few queries just to see what would happen and when those
queries turned into requests, I scrambled to revise. Naturally, those
requests turned into rejections so I decided to stop querying for a while,
recruit a couple of beta readers, rewrite and revise and rewrite and
revise, and then in January I felt I had a solid book. So I began querying
again, and this time queried a few of my dream agents, including Elizabeth
Jote who I had spoken over the phone with about my first book. Two weeks
later, Elizabeth offered representation. A month later, we were on
submission and a month after that, I had revision requests from editors at
publishing houses. After over five months of more extensive rewrites and
adding almost thirty thousand new words, we went back on submission. One
year to the day of finishing the first draft of Angelfire, Elizabeth
called to tell me we were about to get an offer from a publisher and the
next day we accepted that offer.

If you could change one thing that you did on the way to getting
published, what would it be?

Haha! I definitely would have taken my time revising and rewriting
Angelfire before querying. I regret being so impatient and if there is one
thing every single writer learns from publishing, it’s patience. The more
you edit, the better your book will be. I learned my lesson from that
experience and everything worked out in the end. It’s okay to make
mistakes, but just try to avoid them.

Every aspiring author dreams of getting "the call." What was your call
from your agent like?

I actually missed “the call” but the voicemail Elizabeth left was crazy
surreal. It was late at night when I got the message so we exchanged a few
emails and talked over the phone a day or two later. I was so nervous, but
I tried to act professional and to not sound like a complete idiot. I
asked her a lot of questions about herself and how she works with clients,
because I wanted an agent who would help me revise and Elizabeth has a
great editorial mind. I had known a lot about her because we’d spoken over
the phone about my first book the summer before, so it felt like it was
meant to be. And it was! It’s so important to find an agent who is right
for you so your business relationship can work.

Can you tell us what's coming next for you?

Right now the goal is to just survive the release of my debut novel and
it’s two sequels. I have a few projects on my computer that I poke at
occasionally, but I don’t know yet which will be my fourth book. Time will
tell!

What's it like being part of the YA Rebels?

Being in the YA Rebels is a lot fun. We talk every day and goof around and
try to do our best with every topic. Making a video each week is tough,
but we pull it off. We have so many exciting weeks ahead!

How do you balance school, riding, writing, and everything else?

Luckily for me, I don’t really like to sleep. It wastes time. I spend all
day at the stables riding horses and I come home to write, but the best
writing I do is between midnight and four in the morning. The only time I
enjoy sleep is during horse shows, whether I’m riding or just
photographing other riders and horses, because it’s exhausting and not
much writing gets done then. One day, when I’m older and have kids, I
probably won’t be able to write the way I do now, but I don’t have to
worry about that for a while.

Do you have any strategies to beat writers' block?

I like to beat writer’s block before it happens. I have to have a very
extensive outline for a book before I can write it. Right now I am working
on Angelfire’s sequel, Wings of the Wicked, and the outline for this book
is six thousand words. I don’t like to feel stuck so I have to know
exactly what happens and where and I need to be able to jump all over a
manuscript into different scenes and back again. I can’t write in order or
write off the top of my head.

And finally, do you have any advice you'd like to give aspiring authors of
any age?

Make it your goal to be challenged. When others read your work and tell
you it’s good, ask them how you can make it great. Definitely research
this industry before you dive into it. You don’t want to make a mistake
that will jeopardize your career. And read. Read a lot. Studying the way
others write can teach you new techniques and how to develop the skills
you already have. You can also learn what to do and what not to do. You
can learn something from everyone.

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