Updated: Mar 27, 2019
I "met" the lovely Courtney J. Hall on Instagram, and got to know her work when I won a free copy of her novel, A Holiday Wish. I devoured the sweet Christmas romance in a few sittings, and thoroughly enjoyed the humorous first-person narrative of her fun, relatable heroine, Noelle Silver. I have since followed Noelle's journey in the followup novella, A Valentine's Date: Scavenger Hunt.
A fellow indie author, Courtney published her first novel in 2015 from her home outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and adopted cat, whom they love like a human child.
I am thrilled to bring you a small glimpse of her writing life!
Hi Courtney! First, thank you so much for participating in this interview. I love getting to know fellow authors and their writing process.
First, how long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was really, really young – probably about 5. I started with poetry, writing a poem about fall that I was asked to read over the elementary school intercom in first grade, and added short stories to my repertoire in middle school. I continued writing both poetry and stories through high school, college, and after.
I started with poetry as well! Though, not at five! I'm impressed with your early start. What inspired you to write your first novel?
Over the years I wrote the beginnings to a ton of novels, but like a lot of writers just starting out, had no idea what I was doing, and I was lucky when I made it past chapter 2. I never finished any of them. The only two stories I got anywhere with were fan-fiction – a sequel to the movie “Labyrinth” when I was 13, and (I hope I don’t regret confessing this) Backstreet Boys fan-fiction when I was 15. But in my mid-twenties, I realized that I could combine my love of English history with my love of writing, and started what eventually became Some Rise By Sin, my first published novel. It took 7 years and a trip to England, but I finished it and published it in 2015.
Haha! I love that you wrote Backstreet Boys fan-fiction! And I can relate to taking a trip to Europe as inspiration for a novel. Besides travel, do you include Easter eggs (secret messages/inside jokes/personal tidbits) in your stories?
Not consciously – but each of my main characters carries a little bit of myself inside her. For example, Noelle would do absolutely anything for her sister, even giving up her dream profession and leaving the town she loves. In the same situation, I'd do the same for my own sister, no questions asked.
I think including bits and pieces of ourselves in our work is part of what makes writing such a special occupation. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
I love creating worlds in which I’d want to live, and people with whom I’d love to spend my time. If I can’t imagine myself being friends with a character, I can’t write her (or him). And after 90,000+ words of torturing those poor people, I love making sure that they get their happy endings.
Yes! Taking our characters from heartbreak to HEA is a fun, emotional journey! Plus, it can be beautifully cathartic. What part of the writing process do you enjoy the least?
When the story doesn’t work. Before I begin writing I sit down and at least try to sketch out a skeleton of the story I want to tell, getting the beats roughly in place so that I’m writing toward a goal. But sometimes, no matter how carefully I plan out those beats and how well they work in my head, on paper, the story doesn’t actually hang together. That is very frustrating. But thankfully I have the support of amazing critique partners, who are great at telling me before I get too far what isn’t working, and giving me ideas for how to fix it.
Gah! It's so frustrating when a story isn't coming together the way we envisioned it. Especially when it's the story of our heart, or there's an important theme we long to share with our readers. What is the theme in your most recent novel?
A Holiday Wish (2016): Letting go of the past is the key to a happy future.
I love that! And it's so true! Speaking of theme, is there an overarching message in all of your novels you hope to convey to readers?
There’s nothing better than finding someone who loves you for exactly who you are.
Amen! What a beautiful truth. And one I love to read about. Since A Holiday Wish is only the beginning for you, where would you like to see yourself career-wise in five years?
I’d love to have a few more books to my name – I’m working on the second Silver Bells novel now, and I have ideas for three more and a couple of novellas. That should take up at least the next five years, especially with the rough time A Holiday Gift has been giving me! I’m also in the planning stages of starting a book design company. I currently do covers for indie romance novelists, and in five years I hope I’ll have expanded my portfolio and have a thriving career doing both covers and interiors for printed books.
That's a fabulous five-year plan! I can't wait for the next book in the Silver Bells series. And what an excellent idea to branch out into a cover design company. As an indie, it's so beneficial to diversify. What is one piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring author just starting out?
You’re not going to be a millionaire. You’re most likely not even going to be able to quit your day job. But if you work hard, learn your craft, and most of all enjoy yourself, you’re going to have a fun little side job and, most importantly, a lot of fulfillment.
Absolutely! It's important to have realistic expectations when we start this journey and consistently remind ourselves why we began writing in the first place. Which is a lovely note to end on. But before we wrap up, can you tell us one non-writing fact most people don’t know about you?
I used to be a competitive dancer – jazz and tap.
Ooh, now I'm wondering if dancing will make its way into one of your future books! ;)
Thank you again for taking the time to share with us, Courtney.
For anyone who would like to know more about Courtney, please visit her website and follow her on your preferred social media platform.
You can also purchase the first book in the Silver Bells series, A Holiday Wish, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.
"A wedding planner dumped by her fiancé struggles to help a bride whose brother wants only to stop the ceremony in this sparkling romance."