Courtney C. Stevens: FAKING NORMAL

Today at OneFour KidLit, we’re talking to Courtney Stevens, author of the YA novel, FAKING NORMAL. One author, four questions. Here we go!

What inspires you to write?

I never read contemporary fiction until I started writing it. One of the major turning points in my career was the decision to follow a story idea down a rabbit hole. I’d been writing epic-style fantasy for a couple of years and was completely happy. Until. Writers know that niggle. It’s like a weed breaking through concrete. Strong. I couldn’t let it go. So I put my fantasy on hold for a day and did some drafting. Then, I did some writing. And plotting. And then … voice and characterization. Of something very real. And I knew I’d found my place. Not fantasy. Contemporary. Not third person. First. Not story-telling. Story-living. (And then of course I had to read my first realistic book and size up my efforts and study.) I know that day changed my life. That turning point was the first domino in the chain.

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen?

A turning point in my journey was discovering SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). I know many people can row across the ocean of publishing alone, but I am not one of them. I’m perpectually green and in need of miracle grow. SCBWI has grown me. It all happened because of tennis. I was watching one of my students compete in a varsity tennis match when the student’s mom asked me if I was still writing. When I told her yes, she said I should join SCBWI. I did. That night. Trying desperately to remember the initials in the correct order. And my career changed again. I got my craft/technique, critique group(s), my framily (friend-family), agent and editor through SCBWI.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

Four facts about my novel:

1. I wrote the first 50 pages of Faking Normal between a Wednesday and a Saturday, and other than removing the first four pages, they didn’t change much. Some things eak out; some things gush. Faking Normal was an Old Faithful moment.

2. Faking Normal is fiction. I know that doesn’t matter much right now, but I believe when people read it they will wonder if it’s autobiographical. The story is fiction, but the pain is one I’m acquainted with.

3. My favorite character in the novel is not the main character; it’s Bodee (The Kool-Aid Kid).

4. Originally, the lyrics in the novel were not original. They were a wide variety of music that I thought brought great lyrical insight to the characters. But the cost of including was crazy and we decided to use my own songs. Which worked out okay, because I’ve been a songwriter much longer than I’ve been a writer.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

I didn’t drink much milk when I was a kid. (There’s a long reason, and I won’t go into it here.) Because I didn’t, milk was only a breakfast liquid. So was orange juice. (Which I also wasn’t crazy about.) When I was really young, I couldn’t remember which of the breakfast liquids went in the cereal. So I had more than one bowl of Honeycombs and Orange juice. (I promise I have it straight now.)

Courtney C. Stevens grew up in Kentucky and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is an adjunct professor and a former youth minister. Her other skills include hide-and-go-seek, laser tag, climbing trees, and being an Olympic torch bearer. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest. FAKING NORMAL is her debut novel.
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