Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kings & Queens Blog Tour: Interview with Courtney Vail

Hi everyone! Thanks for coming by my tour stop for the Kings & Queens blog tour. For the full schedule click on the banner to be taken to SupaGurl Books tour page. Today I am lucky enough to have an interview with the author Courtney Vail. My review for Kings & Queens will be posted on Saturday so be sure to stop back for that. :) I will start off by giving you the basics of the book and move onto the interview.

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Seventeen-year-old Majesty Alistair wants police to look further into her father’s fatal car wreck, hopes the baseball team she manages can reclaim the state crown, aches for Derek…or, no…maybe Alec…maybe. And she mostly wishes to retract the hateful words she said to her dad right before slamming the door in his face, only to never see him again.

All her desires get sidelined, though, when she overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. She doubts cops will follow up on her tip since they’re sick of her coming around with notions of possible crimes-in-the-works. And it’s not like she cries wolf. Not really. They’d be freaked too, but they’re not the ones suffering from bloody dreams that hint at disaster like some crazy, street guy forecasting the Apocalypse.

So, she does what any habitual winner with zero cred would do…try to I.D. the nutjobs before they act. But, when their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and even friends start looking suspect, the truth and her actions threaten to haunt her forever, especially since she’s left with blood on her hands, the blood of someone she loves.

 Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for me.

What sparked the idea for your book?

I wanted to have a story that incorporated a strong girl, baseball and weirdness. I had nothing but a love triangle in mind with a girl who was manager of her high school’s baseball team but I had no suspenseful angle to plunk it into. Then one night, I dreamt I was running in the woods and overheard two dudes planning a church and I escaped them in this quaint town. From there, my story was born and it grew into something totally unexpected and awesome. It surprised me, all the twists it took. I love when that happens, when your own characters and storyline surprise you.

Are any of your characters based on real people?

No, not really. One of my friends, Ken, his mom died when he was little and he was abused as a child by his dad and stepmom, and he shot his dog out of anger. That background is somewhat similar to Derek’s, but they’re totally different, personality wise. Derek is his own breed. He would smack me  upside the head or tear me a new one if he heard me saying he’s copied after anyone. That’s probably the closest I got to anyone real with my characters. Majesty shares a couple of my faves: baseball and Ben & Jerry’s.

This is the first book in a series. How many books do you have planned for it?

Right now, I only have Sapphire Reign planned, which comes out this summer through Little Prince Publishing. It opens ten years after Kings & Queens. I’m not sure about a third yet, I don’t have a plotline for it, but I do have a title just in case: Dark Empire. I’d love to see a trilogy come out of this, but I don’t know. I like for each book to be strong in and of itself and stand-alone. Maybe my readers can help me come up with direction, where they’d like to see the story go after Sapphire Reign.
Sapphire Reign is an adult novel with three adult POVs, a teen—Skye, Majesty’s sister--and an 11-year-old--Crystal, so the third book would have to include them. I know that that’s weird and unconventional, to have a series bridging an audience, but I’m weird. I can’t help how the sequel came to me. I wasn’t really sure about it at first. It’s much darker and more violent than Kings & Queens. Originally, it was just for fun, for me, and for the people who kept asking how my characters were doing. But when I had early readers giving me feedback and totally falling in love with Crystal and begging me to put it out, I stopped shopping Kings & Queens and decided to seek out a small, indie pub instead. I couldn’t risk her, it, not getting out there. I didn’t want bigwigs telling me what I already know, that series just don’t do that. And then my series would’ve suffered the fate of a business decision? Uh, I don’t think so. Why should the second book get stuffed in a drawer because of shelving confusion?
Now, if readers want to reunite with my characters and meet some kick-ass heroines in the process, they can. And there will be no one to tell them or me, “NO. Series just don’t do that.” I’m in control of what happens. The covers and layouts can have congruency. The word count can be what it needs to be. I can write a third book … or not. I love the flexibility I have! 

I think that sounds really awesome. I am glad that you can do what you want with your books and I think that as long as you enjoy what you are doing, your fans will too. 

Did you have the whole series planned out before you started, or are you just going with it?

Originally, I had just the one book. The ideas for Sapphire Reign took me by surprise, shocked me at every turn, and kept on wigging me out all the way to the end. If you end up reading Sapphire Reign, it will blow your mind. It’s braided plot is weird enough, but the plotline and events are totally insane. There’s nothing else like it. 
So the cover is awesome!! Did you have any input in the design for it?

I am one of the designers for my publishing company, so I designed the cover actually, it’s just credited under my designer ID rather than my pen name. I designed several covers and teen readers and my critters selected the one that sits on the book. 

What is the hardest thing about writing? Do you ever get writers block? 

The hardest thing about writing is my distractibility. I’m trying maintain my household, to market, write three other books, keep up with sports, do the design work I’m commissioned for, organize a non-profit music production company, so,  I get sidetracked very easily. I work well under pressure, so, I can handle it, I just need to economize my time better. I don’t really get writer’s block, as much as I get bored. That’s why I work on several novels at the same time. 

Wow! You have a whole lot going on. That's great though. I couldn't handle so many things.

How long did it take you to write Kings & Queens?

It took me 18 months to write it and almost two years to edit it. Then I shopped and tweaked it for a while. It went through two critique circles and a literal tornado to come to press. And it’s out now. Yay!

Do you have any writing habits? Music, coffee, snacks etc...?

No, not really, but I need coffee every day. 

Yeah, coffee is a must for me too. Without it I can't function. 

If you could hang out with any of your characters, who would it be and why? What would you do?

I would hang out with Warren Niles. He’s smart, has an intriguing vocabulary and outlook, and I’d like to hear his philosophies about life as we paint massive canvases.

Anything else you would like to add?

I write weird … and I can’t seem to get away from that. So, that’s how you’ll know me and my work … she’s that weird writer with those weird, weird books.

I have to say I am really enjoying the book and I don't find it weird at all, just interesting. Maybe I am weird too. Lol!!

Thank you so much for doing this interview!! It's been a pleasure.

About the Author

COURTNEY VAIL writes totally twisted YA and adult suspense. She enjoys braiding mystery, suspense & romance with some kind of weirdness. Her addictions to crazy coffee concoctions, Funny Bones, Ben & Jerry's, and bacon keep her running and writing. She currently lives in New England with a comedian stud and a wild gang of kidlets.

Kings & Queens   ~  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~ 
Blog: Gotta Have YA


  1. This doesn't really sound like a "Lauren"-book but I got to comment on the cover. I think the lip crown is fab!

    1. Right?! I love the cover!! I am just about done with the book now and it's interesting. I just came off of reading the most epic series ever so I am kinda having a hard time. I don't think any book will be able to live up to the As The World Dies series, and I am going to be in a funk for a while I'm sure.

  2. Awesome post! "a strong girl, baseball and weirdness" baha I'm IN!! And the cover is awesome it's cool that she designed it! I've seen it around on a lot of blogs it's sparking my interest!

    1. It's interesting. My review will be up on Saturday. I am in such a funk after finishing Siege, but I am trying to keep my focus and judge the way I would normally if I wasn't on a ATWD high!! lol!!

  3. Thanks so much for having me on your blog and for being a part of my tour! I enjoyed the interview. I will have to check out As The World Dies.

    1. Thanks so much for being on my blog!! I really enjoyed Kings & Queens it was great!! You definitely should read the As The World Dies series. It's Epic!!


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