Greetings book lovers! In case you haven’t heard, Courtney Walsh has a new novel out: Just Look Up. (And if you haven’t seen the great little promo for the novel, then you should check that out here.) So I thought it would be a great time to get to know a little bit about Courtney Walsh and her writing habits. 🙂
Courtney Walsh is the author of Just Look Up, Paper Hearts, Change of Heart, and the Sweethaven series. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, was a New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller and a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. In addition, she has written two craft books and several full-length musicals. Courtney lives with her husband and three children in Illinois, where she is also an artist, theater director, and playwright.
Plotting: Help! (I’m a panster! LOL)
Editing: Deep Breath. And…GO!
Spelling and Grammar: Get it right!
I am quite disciplined about my writing time: True. And I live for it!
What is your favourite part of the writing process?
I LOVE the first draft. I love coming up with characters and names and figuring out how everything intersects and comes together.
What is your least-favourite part of the writing process?
The block that inevitably happens right around the middle. I always have to stop and go back, re-read, reassess. It’s just part of the process, and I’ve learned to live with it, but I dream of one day having that JK Rowling on the train moment where the whole story comes to me like an instant download.
Where is your favourite place to write?
Now that all of my kids are in school, I write at home, in the sunniest room in my house and sometimes on my back porch!
What is your worst habit as a writer?
Probably not taking breaks. I will sit in the same spot for hours…
What is the average time it takes for you to write a first draft?
This is a hard one… I can rough draft in, I’d say, 2-3 months. I’m a quick writer, but editing is a bit slower for me. After that rough draft, I still have lots of work to do before I can turn a book in! But it always feels so good to get the gist of it all down—like they say, you can’t edit a blank page.
What is your go-to snack when writing?
I’m actually really bad about eating when I’m writing. Lots of days I completely forget! Thank goodness for my protein shake!
What do you do when you get writer’s block?
I clean. I find it soooo helpful to just shut my brain off and do something mundane. Usually that’s when inspiration strikes!
What is the strangest thing you have ever researched?
Well, it won’t seem strange, but if you knew me and how non-athletic I am, you’d know that researching downhill skiing for my next novel IS actually very foreign to me! Also, I would never get on skis and go down a hill. Ever.
What is the hardest thing about being an author?
I think the most difficult thing is that it often feels like your story will get lost because there are so many stories out there. It’s such a noisy world, and people are reading more than ever. The only thing I can really do is pray the right people find my books. While I strongly believe in working hard to spread the word, ultimately, I’ve had to hand my books and their reach over to God. They’re His—so He can use them however He sees fit!
What is the best thing about being an author?
My writer friends. I LOVE that I get to brainstorm and talk writing with some of the best people in the business. It’s really awesome to know that I’m not alone!
How do you celebrate typing THE END?
I’m terrible about celebrating—always on to the next thing, but my husband is great about making me take time to either go to a nice dinner, go out to a movie, or just go sit on my back deck and read—these are all my favorite things to do, so I’m always thankful for his nudge.
After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home—a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work—something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.
Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.
Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along—if only she’d just look up.
Where did you get the inspiration for this story?
I was on a trip with my husband in New York City, where I studied in college. I hadn’t been back in several years, and as I walked down the street, I was just taking it all in. That city is SUCH a huge part of my “growing up”. But soon, I realized that literally everyone walking toward me had their eyes down, on their phones. And inside, it was like my spirit was screaming at them… “Look Up! Don’t you see what you’re missing?! Just Look Up!!” And that’s when the idea started…
What was the first part of this story to come to you?
The title! It took a bit to get the story I wanted to tell worked out, but I definitely had the title and general idea/theme first.
Where did you get your inspiration for these characters?
Lane is the most autobiographical of all my heroines. So much of what she deals with is what I’ve dealt with. Being an overweight kid, being teased for that, growing up feeling the need to prove something… that’s all familiar pain because it’s mine. Brooks is one of my all-time favorite heroes! I think because he’s not brooding, he’s a little funny (like my husband) AND especially because he pursues Lane unashamedly. He makes my heart so happy.
How did you get to know these characters?
Well, they were a little familiar because I really do think there are elements of both my husband and I in these characters…but you just spend time with them. I feel like I know them so well because I’ve walked around with them, had conversations with them, worked through their deepest fears with them…they’re a part of me now.
What was the hardest part about writing this novel?
This was the hardest book I’ve written to date because, I think, of how much of my own story and experiences went in to it. Reliving my own childhood, the teasing, feeling like I didn’t measure up, wishing I looked differently—that was tough stuff. But even more recently, I’ve had to face my own need to strive, to overachieve, to, in a lot of ways, try to earn God’s love, even though He clearly tells us it’s a gift we just have to reach out and take. My own health has suffered because of the insane pressure I put on myself, and I know I’m not alone—women are so capable, and yet we always, always feel like we have something to prove.
It was honestly difficult to tackle that because it’s still so raw and fresh, and I’m still learning it.
What was the easiest part about writing this novel?
Writing the words THE END! LOL That was about it!!
What would your go-to snack be if you were an author?
~ Giveaway ~
Do you remember instant cameras, stationary, and the simpler things?
To celebrate the release of Courtney Walsh’s new novel, Just Look Up, you can enter for a chance to win a new instant camera and some awesome stationary items along with a copy of Just Look Up! Visit the publisher’s website for details on how to enter.
GIVEAWAY CLOSES JULY 24th!