Your Name (as it appears on your books): Courtney M. Privett

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How would you describe yourself? I’m a thirty-year-old mother of two, a classical percussionist with an engineering degree, a former analytical chemist, and an obsessive writer.

How would you describe what you write? My books are epic fantasy set in a fairly modern world. I don’t write about dragons, elves, evil sorcerers, werewolves, or vampires, but I do write about superhero-like mages and priests. The Geophorian priests each have a single inborn ability, spend their lifetimes learning to control those abilities, and are unable to learn any other ones. Some are weak, some are strong enough to destroy the world, and some have powers which gradually destroy their bodies or minds. For example, I have priests with fire talents, one who recalls the memories of others at the expense of his own, and one who sends the people around him into a state of euphoria just by being close. The Geophorians fell from their golden age upon the ascension of a king and are persecuted in one country and warily accepted in others. I started with an idea for a single book at the age of twenty-one, and it is currently an octet comprised of a trilogy and five stand-alone books stretched across about 8,500 years of Maloran history.

What inspired you to start writing your first book? I wrote short stories as a child and teenager but I didn’t write my first book until I was in college. I was bored between the spring and summer semesters and had a random idea to write a book. I got about 80 pages in before we got hit by a multi-day power outage and I lost my momentum. I stopped writing it but it lurked around in my head for a couple of years. I was working a temp job in insurance and had too much repetition to keep my mind engaged. I was listening to Muse’s Black Holes and Revelations album at work and had an epiphany about how to finish the book. I finished it and then wrote my trilogy, which was inspired by a cautionary tale within the first book.

Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla? I usually prefer vanilla over chocolate, but I’m more adventurous in flavors than chocolate and vanilla. I love fruit, so my favorite flavor of the week was a blackberry lavender snow cone.

What authors influence your writing? Every author I’ve ever read has influenced my writing somehow. I take note of both the good and the bad in what I read, so I try to let the good inspire me and the bad teach me what not to do. I look to Tolkien for his world-building, Stephen King for his realistic characters, Ray Bradbury for his poetic prose. Before I had kids and a fierce writing habit, I read 5-7 books a week, so I’d pick an author and read his or her entire catalog unless I became bored.

What one writing tip do you have for new authors? Just write. Writing well takes practice, so just write and don’t worry at first if it isn’t any good. I recently went back and rewrote my first book since it’s a great story I’d like to publish eventually, and the writing was terrible. It was cool seeing how much I’ve improved over the years, and it’s because I kept pushing myself and didn’t stop writing. Don’t worry about editing during your first drafts because that distracts you from the moment. Rewrites and edits can wait until the first draft is complete and set aside for a couple of days or weeks so you can see it more objectively. But mostly, just write. You’ll never get any better if you don’t.

Did you self or traditionally publish, and why did you choose that route? I chose to self-publish because I’m impatient. Well, not so much impatient, since I must have some patience to have finished these books, but at least running on limited time. I have two children under three years old so waiting years for anything to come of my queries didn’t appeal to me. I like having control over the process and working on my own deadlines. I’m not very good at marketing myself, but as with writing in general, that is something that takes some practice and failure to be good at.

Do you have a blog, and how has it helped with your promotional efforts? Yes, I have a blog. I started it a couple of years before I published, so it’s content has morphed over time. It is kind of lonely over there at times, but I still use it to update my readers about promotions and progress and post excerpts from my books. There is some content on there you won’t find anywhere else, such as the Volle dictionary, and I’ve done a couple of author interviews which have brought traffic to my blog.

What one thing are you OCD about, in general? If my characters aren’t awesome, I don’t have a story. I have to both love and hate them, and their motivations have to make sense. There are no good and evil in my books, only a rainbow of deeply flawed people. I translate this expectation to the books I read and poorly written characters ruin the book for me. My husband thinks I’m overly critical, but I think it’s just that I spend so much thought perfecting my imperfect characters that I wish others would do similarly.

What is the most creative way you have promoted any of your books? I’m still searching for creative ways to effectively promote. I’m new to the publishing game and focus more on the writing than the promotion, so I’m still lost.

What would you do differently if you had to start over? I’d learn how to promote before I published and published my first four books separately instead of all at the same time and with a little more thought than, “Hey, I just clicked publish. Check me out!” I’ve put a little more time into pre-promotions for my fifth book, but I still don’t feel like I’m doing it right.

Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years? I’m kind of an oddball because I’m more interested in the craft than making money off it because I don’t need to earn a living from my writing. I’d like to have steady sales and plenty of feedback. I think five years from now I’ll have the second trilogy published since I have it partially finished now, and hopefully I’ll have written myself out of Malora and into a new book or series, but I’m not counting on that. There is way too much material still hiding in the shadows of my world and I have a feeling I’ll be lost in Malora for a long time to come. My single book turned into a quartet, then an octet of books in different eras of the same world, so I may be wandering my own personal Discworld.

What are the first three rules you would make if you took over the world? The same rules I give my children: No hitting or biting, no touching others without their permission, and share your toys.

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