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Christina Courtenay Interview

Posted on 10 November 2010. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to romantic novelist Christina Courtenay

Tell us something about your background.

Iíve been a member of the Romantic Novelistsí Association (RNA) for about 10 years and being on their New Writerís Scheme helped me get published, first with Regency novellas for DC Thomsonís ďMy Weekly Pocket NovelsĒ (Iíve done three and a fourth is coming soon) and now historicals for Choc Lit. Theyíve just published Trade Winds, my first full length novel. Iím an RNA committee member, currently responsible for the Love Story of the Year Award and Iíve won two of their prizes - the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy in 2001 and the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2006. At the moment Iím hard at work on the revisions for my second Choc Lit historical which is called The Scarlet Kimono.

Other work besides writing; eg. Editing, dramaturgy, tutoring, and how it works/worked for/against your own writing

I donít do any tutoring, but I am now a reader for the RNAís New Writersí Scheme, helping them to critique manuscripts. This does make me look at my own work more critically, which can only be good!

How did you start writing?

I started writing when my oldest daughter was 6 months old, thinking it would enable me to stay at home with her and not have to go to work. I thought it would be dead easy to write a Mills & Boon or two Ė little did I know! Well, so much for that theory - my daughter is now 21 and Iíve only just had my first full-length novel published!

Who are your favourite writers and why?

My favourite writers include Georgette Heyer (amazing alpha heroes and great sense of humour), Barbara Erskine (I love time slip novels and hope to have one published myself one day), Ellis Peters and Elizabeth Chadwick Ė both of whom have an amazing ability to make history come alive. I used to mostly read historicals, but in the last few years Iíve started reading other genres too and I love all the books from my fellow Choc Lit authors. I also like some YA novels Ė Melissa Marr and Sarah Dessen in particular. Iím influenced by everything I read, so I canít really pinpoint one author in particular.

How did you get your first agent/ commission/publication? Can you tell us about the process/journey?

It was all thanks to the RNA. Their New Writersí Scheme taught me what I was doing wrong and encouraged me to produce a manuscript a year, and all the talks, workshops, conferences and parties helped me to learn, make friends and network. Someone told me to send a novella to DC Thomson and to my surprise, they accepted it and voilŗ, I was published.

What's the worst thing about writing?

I donít really think it has many downsides for me. I love writing and everything involved in the process. Of course it can be frustrating when it doesnít quite flow the way you want it to, but thatís something you have to accept and work around.

And the best?

The freedom to work whenever you want to (Iím a night owl, so used to hate getting up in the morning to go to work), meeting lots of other enthusiastic and friendly authors and being allowed to make money out of doing something so enjoyable!

Tell us what kind of response you get from audiences/readers and if/how this affects/influences your writing

Iíve been very lucky so far and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I think this has made it feel as though all those years of trying were not in vain and itís lovely to hear that other people enjoy what you write. Whenever I get a nice review or comment, it makes me want to write even more.

Breakthrough moment?

When I met my editor at an RNA party and a chance question led to me submitting my novel to her. It is very hard to pitch your work to editors or agents, who have no doubt heard it all before, but when it pays off, itís wonderful.

What inspires you to write?

Going to writersí conferences, talks and workshops always gives me a buzz and I usually come out of there motivated and energised. Also being with other writers, chatting about ideas and characters. I often do ďbrainstormingĒ sessions with one of my writing buddies and itís great to bounce ideas off someone else like that.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

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