WHO ARE THE KINDLE ALL-STARS?
A series of 20+ short interviews with the team behind the Kindle All-Stars short story anthology ‘Resistance Front’ posted daily in the run up to its publication.
Please be sure to check any relevant images and links for each individual at the end of their interview.
Today I’m chatting with Courtney Cantrell, author-extraordinaire!
WHO ARE THE KINDLE ALL-STARS?
Short conversations throughout November with the stellar talent behind the revolutionary short-story anthology THE KINDLE ALL-STARS PRESENT: RESISTANCE FRONT
FS: How did you come to hear about the Kindle All-Stars project?
Courtney: My friend and now fellow KAS Joshua Unruh showed up at one of our writers’ meetings and said, “Hey. There’s this thing.” He’d read about KAS on Twitter and thought it would be a grand, cramazing idea if we submitted something. I said, “Let me think about it, YES.”
FS: What’s your contribution called?
Courtney: “If This Were a Stephen King Story.”
FS: And without giving too much away, what’s it about?
Courtney: Tori, my main character, amuses herself with imagining her morning jog as a setting for horror. But when she comes across a baby stroller with something in it that’s not a baby, her imagination isn’t so funny anymore. Her story is a glimpse into the terrors of what-ifs come alive.
FS: What was the main inspiration behind it?
Courtney: I was amusing myself with imagining my morning jog as a setting for horror. Oy! That’s as auto-biographical as it gets, though. I like to think I’m not quite as ditzy as Tori. ; )
FS: Did you write it specifically for the Kindle All-Stars, or was it written prior?
Courtney: The story idea came to me before I heard of KAS, but I wrote the story specifically with KAS in mind.
FS: Obviously the primary goal behind this anthology is to make some money for disadvantaged and abused children. But secondary to that, it is to promote fresh, new writing talent – the punk rock of literature – and show that Indie writers are out there, dedicated and working hard to produce Class-A work.
If people take notice of what you’ve written for this anthology, what do you hope the outcome is of that attention?
Courtney: Oh, it would be lovely if readers liked my story enough to delve into my Demons of Saltmarch trilogy. It’s a mish-mash of paranormal, YA, and Christian fantasy. Is it odd that a writer of Christian fantasy would also write horror? The first two “demon” novels are already out, and Book 3 of Saltmarch will have zombie demons in it. Mashups ftw. Anyway, I’d love some KAS-to-Saltmarch overlapping readership. Short stories can be fun, but my passion is novels. So, read Court’s Shorts, yes–but come see the ensemble I can put together when noveling really gives me time to entertain you. Ooh. La. La.
FS: How do you write? Are you a plotter? Do you fly by the seat of your pants? When do you write, and where? I write at night, at the dining table, when the kids are in bed and the place is finally peaceful and quiet. And I work everything out on paper before I sit down to write. What have you found works best for you?
Courtney: Once upon a three years ago, I wrote by the seats of my shorts pants and wondered why I always took so long to finish a first draft. Then, I got involved with friend Aaron Pogue at UnstressedSyllables.com. Thanks to him, I now follow a structured pre-writing package that helps me plot out the entire story before I start writing. The result is that when I get stuck in a first draft, I can refer back to my pre-writing, which gets me unstuck almost immediately. And I rarely edit on the first draft. The goal is just to pound the thing out; I’ll fix it later.
As far as the when and where of writing: anytime and everywhere. I write full-time, so I write both during the day and at night after the husband goes to bed. If I’m at home, I move back and forth between the dining room table and my comfy white chair. My writer brain requires variety, so if I’m in one place for too long, I get bored and can’t write. When the writer brain gets bored with the whole house, I pack up and head for a coffee shop. I love writing with human activity buzzing around my writerly bubble.
FS: How did you find the editing process with Bernard? I found it to be like a smack in the mouth and a pat on the head at the same time, saying “I like this” at one point, to a specific sentence, and then “You need to stay in Active Voice!” the next. I learned a lot, and I think I have a much stronger piece of writing now than I did when I submitted it. What was your personal experience?
Courtney: Ha! Pretty much the same as yours! Initially, I had the freak-out and thought there was no way I could rise to the challenge Bernard set me. I didn’t want to cut the stuff he advised me to cut; I didn’t know how to make the improvements he asked for. I despaired and woe-is-me’d all over the place. Then I got over myself and got to work. And bam! a stronger story than before. B told me exactly what I needed to hear, even though I didn’t want to hear it.
FS: Is there anyone in particular who’s contributed to the anthology that you’re excited to be included alongside?
Courtney: Don’t get me wrong–it’s pretty freakin’ cramazing to have my name in with guys like Alan Dean Foster and Harlan Ellison. Dude. That’s some heavy swag for all of us. ; )
I am crazy excited to have a story in with Bernard and Laurie and my IRL friend Josh. I’ve gotten to know B a little bit and Laurie a lot through Twitter and email, and they are fun, intelligent, talented people to work with. Their dedication to this whole shebang is impressive and humbling. It’s an honor to get to be part of that.
As for Josh, it’s just a pure joy to call him my friend and fellow writer. He’s fabulously talented, and I’m happy I get to be connected with one of his first story publications ever. It’s just one more way we’re all making history together!
FS: We know that there will be a KAS 2 at some point. Plans are already afoot. Is there a dream name you’d like to see involved in it the next time around? Me personally, getting published in a book that includes a story by Alan Dean Foster is one of those “Wouldn’t it be great if one day…” things that I can now tick off of the list.
Courtney: Well, considering whom I reference in my KAS 1 short story, you can probably guess which dream name I’d love to see next….
FS: So when you’re not helping to fight evil, what do you get up to in real life?
Courtney: There’s a difference between fighting evil and living real life? ; )
Like I said above, I write full-time. I’m also a founding member of the Consortium (http://www.consortiumokc.com/), a non-profit organization to support the arts. In the Consortium, I function as vice prez (which means I am President Aaron Pogue’s sounding board), and I head up our Writing School. I plan events for our writers, critique and edit stories, and co-publish our quarterly spec fic e-mag, A Consortium of Worlds. In my spare time (hahaha!), I oil paint cover art for Consortium Books.
FS: Are you working on anything now? Anything you’d like everyone to know about?
Courtney: Stains of Grace, the third novel in my Demons of Saltmarch trilogy, is in 2nd draft stage and will come out in April 2012. I am also immersed in the first draft of a low sci-fi novel with the working title Elevator People. And I’ll have a fantasy short story, “Out of the Darkness,” in the January issue of A Consortium of Worlds.
FS: And to your readers – both potential and existing – is there anything you would like to say? They might be reading this months after Resistance Front has landed, wanting to know more about you. What would you like to say to them?
Courtney: I love you already! I want to make beautiful, writerly things for you! And with you! Feedback is always welcome. I’ll do tricks if you give me chocolate.
FS: Thats it! Time’s up! Hopefully we’ll the chance for a much more in-depth chat at some point in the near future when KAS is out on sale!
Courtney: Thanks, Tony. This was fun, and I appreciate what you’re doing for all of us by putting together these interviews. : )
Court Can Write
Unstressed Syllables column “What I Learned About Writing This Week”
Colors of Deception
Shadows after Midnight
A Consortium of Worlds, Vol. 1 (Fall Issue): “Dead Reconning”