Today I’m talking to Courtney Cantrell, best known for the paranormal trilogy Demons of Saltmarch and the epic fantasy series Legends of the Light-Walkers. This year she will release several Light-Walkers short stories and the third novel in the Light-Walkers series.
Hello, Court. Thanks for agreeing to this short interview. Firstly, I just want to say I’m looking forward to the release of new works in the Light-Walkers series.
Courtney: Thanks, I am, too! 😉 And I appreciate the invite for an interview.
Tell us a little bit about Legends of the Light-Walkers. To someone who doesn’t know your work, how would you best describe it?
Courtney: This series has been in the works for 20 years now. The two novels released so far, Rethana’s Surrender and Rethana’s Trial, are pure epic fantasy. Magic, swords, dragons, another world. The third novel, with the working title Legacy, is also epic but carries a hint of urban fantasy. The whole Light-Walkers series follows the stories of several interconnected characters over the course of millennia. These characters have made it quite clear they don’t want to stick to a single genre!
You’re best known for Rethana’s Surrender and Rethana’s Trial. What’s on the horizon for you? A continuation of your recent work, or something new?
Courtney: Yes, as you mentioned before, I’ll be publishing a few short stories and another novel this year. One of the short stories is a prequel to the Rethana novels. It’s whimsical, without the darker aspect of the longer Rethana pieces. The new Light-Walkers novel will feature some of the characters from Rethana’s story. But this new one is set long before her time.
If you were to talk to your readership in person, and you only had one shot at it, what would you say?
Courtney: I love you. I think you love me too. Let’s run away to Hawaii and make wonderful things together! (You’re paying.)
Um. I mean…. Seriously, dear readers, you are some of my favorite people. If you didn’t exist, I would still write…but knowing you exist makes me want to write harder and better. With a nod to Chuck Wendig: You make me want to art harder!!! So thanks for the encouragement, both when you talk to me directly and when you just show my books your love. I appreciate you. And I want to give you more! Here, have a cookie. And a new book. 🙂
There’s a lot of discussion, both online and in the press, about the ‘state of publishing,’ and the ‘rise of amateur writers.’ What do you think? Has the advent of independent publishing really just handed a loaded weapon into the hands of amateur hobbyists, or is it all about empowering authors more than ever? What are your thoughts?
Courtney: You know, every day I read blogs and articles and tweets about the publishing industry, and for me it has all just turned into blaring noise. Everybody is an expert, and you’re dumb if you don’t listen to their particular point of view. It reminds me of when I had a baby and suddenly found myself poring through stacks of parenting advice books. Each one contradicted the last, and each implied that I was a bad mother if I didn’t listen to them. The guilt was overwhelming. Finally, I decided: Forget it. Forget the experts, forget their manuals, forget their guilt-trips. I’m doing this the way I think is right. I’ll stay informed within reason, but if my instinct says something is right for my child, that’s what I’m going to do.
Same thing with publishing. Forget the experts, forget their statistics, forget charting everything, forget trying to do it the way they tell you to. JUST SIT DOWN AND WRITE. Write more, write harder. Write until your fingers bleed and you haven’t showered in what smells like weeks. And then how you publish that baby? Go traditional if your instincts tell you to. Go indie if your instincts tell you to. Go author-pub if your instincts tell you to. DO ALL THREE.
Yes, I do feel that indie publishing has empowered authors in a way they’ve never been empowered before. But when it comes down to it, it’s all about the writing. An empowered indie author with a poorly-written novel can’t do much with that power. But an empowered writer who’s been ARTING HARDER and turning her books into delicious chocolate-word-cocaine? That author can TAKE OVER THE WORLD.
Getting away from books for a moment, what else are you up to at the moment?
Courtney: My husband and I are raising an 18-month-old! This is an utter joy and also not for the faint-of-heart. 😉
For the other writers reading this, what advice do you have to offer them? What works for you when it comes to setting pen to paper?
Courtney: Mainly the same stuff I said in answer to the publishing question: Keep writing, keep arting harder, don’t stop, don’t give up. Also…be honest with yourself about what keeps you from writing: the distractions you give in to, the other activities you choose instead of writing, the self-doubt you allow to overwhelm you. Give yourself permission to relinquish all of the distractions and doubts. Choose the writing over the rest. Put in your butt-to-chair time. The Muse never shows up unless you show up first. And even if she doesn’t show up, you keep your behonkus in that chair until the words slam out of your head and splatter all over that page. You can clean it up later, and you can do it with or without a Muse* to hold your hand.
(*Hint: does not exist. It’s all you, baby.)
Lastly, I used to do something like this a few years ago in my interviews. I’ve adapted it for this latest batch.
I have five questions for you. Ready? Here we go. Give me your honest answers.
1. If there were to be a film of your life, who would play you in the lead role?
Courtney: Either Drew Barrymore or Anna Paquin, because I’ve heard they remind people of me.
2. Following the same line of thought, if there were to be a film made of any of your work, who would you cast in the roles of the main characters?
Courtney: Ohhh, this is always a difficult question for me! In Light-Walkers, I want to say Liv Tyler or Zooey Deschanel for Rethana, but they might be too old (only because Rethana is 20). I just recently saw Divergent, so I’d love to see Theo James as her antagonist Allasin once he has about 10 more years on him.
In the Saltmarch trilogy, Josh Hutcherson would make a great Peter (and not just because he has played a “Peeta”!) And I could see Anna Kendrick as Holly.
3. What are you reading at the moment?
Courtney: I’m beta-reading Outsider by Becca J. Campbell.
4. What are you listening to at the moment?
Courtney: It varies. Sting, jazz, classic rock, Seether, Linkin Park, Nickel Creek, Tchaikovsky, Lorde. In music, I only rarely stick to one genre or artist.
5. This is stolen directly from James Lipton, but what the heck. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Courtney: “I’ve been waiting for you. Let’s go make stuff!” (And I’m pretty sure it will actually be something like that.)
Lastly, where do you see yourself in twelve months’ time? What will you be doing? Where will you be in life? Where do you hope to be?
Courtney: I see myself writing, living in deep connection with my family and friends, and enjoying a larger readership. I see myself with three new publications under my belt and working either on Legends of the Light-Walkers #4, or on the vampire novel I’ve been waiting a few years to write.
Well, that’s the end of our little interview. Thanks for participating. I’m sure everyone will love Legends of the Light-Walkers: Legacy.
Courtney: Thanks for asking me to do this! It’s been a lot of fun, and I appreciate your time, as well. Keep writing! 🙂
Courtney writes novels, short stories, and the occasional poem. On her blog, you can read about: her current writing projects, the craft of writing, the various oddities of her life, chocolate and coffee, and vorpal unicorn morphing powers. Those are real. She has the blog post to prove it.