Thursday, July 26, 2012

Author Interview: Courtney Vail

Another in my July series of interviews with independent, meet Courtney Vail!
Book Title: Kings & Queens
Author:  Courtney Vail

Kings & Queens is a gritty, twisty Young Adult mystery thriller. When 17-year-old tomboy Majesty Alistair can't budge police in her sleepy, rich town after overhearing two fellow students planning a church massacre, she aims to ID the nutjobs herself before they act. But, their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and she becomes the centerpiece in a ruthless game that casts even her closest friends under suspicion. 

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I’ve always loved writing and majored in Journalism Advertising, so I was aiming for a copy writing and design carrier. But I got bitten by the novel bug through my husband. He wanted to start writing short stories for publications and received all these query packets and he also took a remote writing class through the Stafford Institute and received a few of the books in the Write Great Fiction Series. I read them and was inspired with an idea for a novel and wrote away. After reading more and more books on craft, I realized my first book had major issues, so I wrote another one, Kings & Queens. I poured everything I had into this book and polished it up with the help of some awesome reviewers at I now know, novel writing was what I was always meant to do. I am so glad my characters found me!

Why do you Indie publish?

I was shopping Kings & Queens to agents, and though I got some great feedback and some requests for partials and fulls, no bites. My book is good, but on the surface it doesn’t have that oooo concept right up front. The best part of it is the surprises that come in along the wild rollercoaster ride. And that’s a hard thing for an agent to sell to publishers. There’s no juicy sound bite, so to speak, there.

I had some early readers asking me how my characters were doing and I wanted to know too. So, I wrote a sequel Sapphire Reign for fun, which opens ten years later, but after receiving some love for it, I decided it was too weird and different and good to get possibly stuffed because it doesn’t hit the same market. When a Big Sixer offers you a 2 or 3-book deal, it’s for one imprint and market. And I didn’t want Sapphire Reign to end up being just a self-pubbed companion book with a different cover and layout. So, my vision of success changed, being that I craved to go traditional through all the lovely gatekeepers, but that just didn’t work for this series. There was too much risk in that direction. So, I set out to find a smaller publisher that would give me more flexibility in doing what I wanted to do with the series. Me and my book are happily with Little Prince Publishing. I have creative control, flexibility and cool authors to support me. Oh, and I get all my royalties!

What inspired you to write your book?

The three main characters came to my mind first. I just pictured this girl named Majesty as a manager of a baseball team on which her two best friends, Alec and Derek, play. And each one commands her attention for different reasons. But, that’s all I had. Those three weirdos just stumbling around in my brain. That wasn’t enough plot for me. I needed plot. I crave plot. Something suspenseful preferred. But I had nothing. Then one night I dreamt I was running for exercise and overheard these two guys planning a church massacre and I escaped them in this little town. Boom! That gave me exactly what I needed and the location too. And then my story grew and grew into something totally unexpected and awesome. I’m kind of glad I had all that time to get to know and ponder my characters first. When the plot came to me, I was able to just write fluidly, with them popping off the pages.

What are three things you want people to know about you or your book?

Kings & Queens is a twisty, complex, gritty read. It is not for the faint of heart nor for those who prefer simple, breezy beach reads. It requires some mental thought and will take your mind on a whirlwind trip and back. If you’re looking for a read that doesn’t feel like anything you’ve ever read before, that’s suspenseful and weird, then this is the book for you.

What advice do you have for parents to encourage their kids to read more?

To study genres, skip around to some MG and YA blogs and look for what’s hot and interesting to other kids of that age. If your kids see you taking a vested interest in books and know that you’re on the look for cool books, rather than telling them what they can and can’t read, then you can engage on a new level and be excited about books together.

1 comment:

Caryn Caldwell said...

Ooh. That looks really good, and is especially apropos these days. I loved your story about why you chose to indie publish, too. It makes perfect sense!