Interview with Courtney Privett

Courtney Privett

Interview Date: 4/2/2012


Courtney Privett was born in Detroit in 1982 and raised in northeastern Michigan. She relocated to Missouri to obtain a degree in Ceramic Engineering, and now resides in Kansas with her husband, two children, and two disobedient cats. She is a former analytical chemist and a current percussionist for several community groups.

Courtney wrote her first book, a young adult fantasy now being revised for publication, while still in college as a diversion from differential equations and has been obsessed ever since. She wrote the first draft of "Echoes of Oblivion" in six months while working a temporary job in insurance. "Echoes of Oblivion" was quickly followed by "Mayfly Requiem", which was written by hand over many late nights.

Courtney has many interests and nearly all of them have been brought into her books. In addition to being a classically trained musician and an engineer by training, she is an avid crafter, a former hockey and soccer player, a vegan baker, an occasional world traveler, a confirmed narcoleptic, and an outdoor enthusiast. Before she was known as "Mommy", she was an exchange student to Japan, a classic rock radio deejay, and a Kappa Kappa Psi brother.

When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

I wrote a lot of poetry and short stories when I was a teenager, but I didn't start my first book until I was a twenty-one year old college student. It was the summer between my junior and (first) senior years and I was bored. I was only taking one summer class and needed a good distraction from engineering. I decided to start writing to see how far I could get. I wrote about seventy pages and then a power substation burned down in August of 2003 and we had a multi-day blackout. I lost my momentum and put the book away for a couple of years. I picked it back up when I was working a temp job,finished the first draft, and haven't been able to stop writing since.


If you could have one superpower, what would it be? (Assuming said power would be reasonably "powerful.")

I have two small children and not enough hours in the day, so I want to borrow Lani's power (the narrator of Mayfly Requiem). He can slow down or stop time for the entire world, for just part of it, or for a single person. He can extend a single moment into a lifetime while the rest of the world stands still. I'd love to create a few more hours in the day so I can play with my children, nap, get housework done, make dinner without anyone screaming at me, and still have time to write.

Kev's response:  Ooh, I like this one.  I could use more hours in a day!


Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?

I have a couple of favorites. I love Hellboy's attitude, Batman's toys, Doctor Manhattan's diminishing hold on the last of his humanity. I've never been a fan of the nearly-perfect heroes like Superman because I prefer flawed, relateable characters instead of ideals, and the old boastful heroes like Beowulf drive me up the wall. Give me a dark antihero any day.

Kev's response:  Hmm, she likes the bad boys....


Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

I find inspiration everywhere. I have characters partially inspired by people I've met. Sevilen Achara's narcolepsy is inspired by my own never-ending battle with the disorder, and by my annoyance at its often-ridiculous portrayals in entertainment. I have traveled to Europe, Japan, and Central America, and those locations have inspired cultures and geography in my books. I am motivated by completion. I hate leaving things half-finished, although I certainly am guilty of doing that. Writing is a compulsion for me and I have trouble thinking about anything doing else when I am in the midst of writing a book.

Kev's response:  A kindred spirit!  I am so driven and obsessive I liken myself to a freight train.  Once I've built up some speed on a novel, I have difficulty doing anything else until I'm finished.


Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

A little of each. I write out outlines for important events,but improvise in between. Mayfly Requiem was almost entirely spontaneous, with a few specific events plotted to line up the history with the trilogy.


Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

I sit down and work every night after the kids are in bed. Sometimes I only get a couple of paragraphs done, sometimes entire chapters. I carry a notebook with me to jot down dialogue, scenes, or ideas when I'm inspired away from home or when I don't have enough time to write it in full, since I tend to compose my thoughts out of order. I took a long break when I was pregnant with my daughter because I was too fatigued to think straight, but now she's a couple of months old and I'm back on track.


Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

I have only written fantasy so far, but I have a couple of ideas for science fiction stories that I might work on when I finish the last two books of the Malora cycle. I read everything I can get my hands on. My bookshelf contains science texts, biographies, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, mythology and religion, Japanese literature, children's books, classic literature, and whatever else sparks my interest. I skulk around used book stores on a regular basis and have been known to haunt library book sales. I read junk mail pamphlets and cereal boxes. I'll read anything that isn't nailed down. Strike that. I'll read anything, even if it is nailed down.


What do you enjoy the most about writing?

I love the amazing rush that comes with completion. Finishing a book is like giving birth and it leaves me giddy and sleepless. I also love those moments of spontaneous inspiration, where something beautiful appears on the page and I'm not quite sure how it got there. I read it over and over, and think, "Wow... did I really write that? It's awesome!"


Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

I hate transitions. They're necessary, but tedious to write. I want to be right in the action and not explaining past events or dancing through essential details while waiting for the next interesting thing to happen. Editing doesn't bother me because it is like practicing an instrument (I'm a classical percussionist for several community groups). No one gets it right the first time, and there is satisfaction to be found in perfecting words and characters.


Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

I have a phobia of horses. Equinophobia. I was sleeping in a tent at a relative's farm and her horses broke out of the pasture and trampled the tent. I wasn't seriously hurt, but my pre-existing nervousness around horses turned into a phobia. Since I write fantasy and my world has horses, this leads to some major trembling hands moments. I decided early that I either had to suck it up and write about horses, or come up with a surrogate creature to serve the same function. I couldn't think of anything reasonable and rychan make lousy pack animals, so I decided I'd deal with the muttered curses and sweaty hands and write in the horses.

Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

I usually write one at a time, but right now I have two works in progress. One is in rewrites and the other is two-thirds of a first draft.


Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

E-books really open up the world to readers and indie writers, but paper books should never die. It is a totally different sensory experience to read with a physical book in your hands. You can feel the dry paper under your fingertips, smell the musty pulp of an older tome, hear the pages whisper and rustle under your fingers, judge the heft of the book in your hands, and see your progress through pages instead of percentiles . No home is complete without overstuffed bookshelves, and you can learn a lot about a house's inhabitants by what is displayed most proudly on their shelves and what bindings are most worn. Books are a physical reminder of the progress of civilization. They teach us about where we came from and where we could be going. And, if and when the zombie apocalypse arrives, you will only have paper books to keep yourself distracted in your bunker because there won't be any power to charge your Kindle with and and if you use the generator, the sound will attract the zombies.

Kev's response:  Windmills!  We need more of those, so that when the zombies attack we have more power sources to charge our Kindles!


What are your current projects?

My incomplete draft is a sequel to Echoes of Oblivion. It is told by Thora Achara's granddaughter, Isen, and it is about learning to live, creating hope, and forgiving yourself when everything in your world has fallen apart and you are left with nothing but grief and hungry wolves. It is a coming-of-age story disguised as a post-apocalyptic adventure.


I am also currently rewriting and editing for publication the book I started in college, The Crystal Lattice. It takes place almost 5,000 years after Echoes of Oblivion, when isolation, magic, and environmental influence have fractured humanity into many different races. It sees the redemption of the Aulors and hopefully an end to the Web-driven rise and fall cycle which has plagued Malora for its entire existence.


Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

Self-publishing is so easy and accessible right now, that it really is worth it to try. Writing and editing are the hard parts, so once you've done that, e-publishing is just one more little step. Make sure you have a polished product before you put it out, but don't be afraid to let your babies loose upon the world if you think they are ready. They will never do anything but rot in your head if you leave them on your hard drive, so set them free. And make sure you don't have lazy proof readers like I did. My errors are fixed now, but I had to re-release my books with corrections not long after my initial release. Don't trust yourself to catch all of your errors because you are way too close to the source. Self-publishing helps you determine if there is a market for your ideas without either having to know someone on the inside or twiddling your thumbs through the ridiculous turn around time for rejections or interest from traditional publishers.


Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?

My blog is

My Facebook page is

My Twitter handle is @CourtneyPrivett

My Goodreads profile is

My Amazon author page is

Kev's response:  Courney, thank you so much for joining me, and good fortune on the novels!
comments powered by Disqus