Hello Readers and Writers!
Today we would like to introduce you to a writer who has been paid to do things that the biggest fangirl could only dream of... And then she wrote a book about it! Building on what she observed in the music industry, she was able to show the raw, dirty underbelly of what we only know as glamour and fame. She describes her stories as "messy" because they rebel against the frilly stories we might be used to in the genre.
Introducing Courtney Maguire!
RL: When did you start writing as a career?
CM: I began actively pursuing publication around 2017 but I've been writing in some form since I was a kid. I had a pretty active fan fiction blog on Livejournal (yes, I'm old) and then Archive of Our Own which I mostly abandoned once I set my eyes on publication. I do still enjoy the occasional foray into fan fiction, though.
RL: You also wrote for a Japanese music and culture blog. How was that?
CM: Writing for Project: Lixx was incredibly fun and rewarding. I got to travel, hang out with bands, meet fans. What's not to love, really. It was a fangirl dream come true. My first love has always been rock and roll. I love talking and writing about music. Japanese music in this country is, of course, a niche market and I got a particular thrill out of spreading the love for talented bands that would likely fly under most people's radar.
RL: What's your current work in progress?
CM: I am currently working on Book 2 of my upcoming historical paranormal series, Bloodlines. The first will release on City Owl Press in Fall/Winter 2020. It centers around a group of immortal, blood-drinking youkai in Edo-era Japan. It's as dark and gritty as it is beautiful. I actually cut my writing teeth on paranormal so, even though it is quite a departure from what I've put out before, it feels good to be playing with monsters again. Asagi, the protagonist of Book 1, has a particularly special place in my heart and I can't wait for you guys to meet them.
RL: You write Contemporary Romance. What led you to write in that genre?
CM: Honestly, probably fan fiction. There's something really captivating about watching characters you identify with falling in love. Even if it's frustrating and messy. I learned how to work the tropes to make even the most unlikely pairs find their HEA (happily ever after). The best and worst thing about fan fiction is the instant feedback. Your readers will let you know exactly what's working and what isn't and this encouraged me to get weird. Sometimes it worked, sometimes I fell on my face, but no matter what happened, I learned something which I now apply to my novel writing. Add in a dash of personal experience and you have all the makings of great contemporary romance.
RL: Wounded Martyr deals with some heavy topics. How did the story idea come to you?
CM: A lot of the ideas in Wounded Martyr came from what I observed or experienced in my proximity to the music business. I've seen every relationship dynamic between bandmates. Some are like brothers, others are just coworkers, some outright hate each other. Add sexual tension and it's a volatile mix. Being in a band, especially a touring one, is both physically and emotionally exhausting for a lot of reasons and everyone copes in different ways. 'Sex, drugs, rock and roll' is a cliche for a reason. In Wounded Martyr, I wanted to showcase all of these things in a very real, unromanticized way. Ice isn't the cool, edgy rock star you see in movies. He's a fucking mess and I don't shy away from that. But he also has people who care about him and do their best (with varying degrees of success) to keep him from imploding.
RL: How do your books rebel against the status quo in your genre?
CM: They are messy. Forgive me for oversimplifying, but romance tends to favor endings that are neat and rose-colored even if you have to travel a rocky path to get there. Mine are not necessarily that. The characters get their HEA, but it is dinged and scratched by their traumas. Love doesn't quite conquer all. Ice is still an addict and his relationship will struggle because of it.
RL: Talk to me about the path you choose in publishing.
CM: When I started out, I had considered self-publishing, but the more research I did, the more I knew it wasn't for me. I am very aware of what I can and can't do and the financial burden of filling those gaps was more than my budget could bare. So, I started querying. I knew I would be giving up a certain amount of control and money, but the financial risk is much lighter. It is still a challenge and I am working on wrapping my head around the whole marketing thing, but so far, I haven't regretted my decision.
RL: What was it like working with a Publisher who is so open to the LGBTQA Community?
CM: The NineStar Press team have all been really great. The fear with LGBTQA content in 'mainstream' presses is that they get ignored in favor of more profitable work or you feel pressure to make changes in order to please a wider audience. Obviously, with NineStar, you don't have any of that. They are a purely LGBTQA press which means they know how to market LGBTQA content and allow you the freedom to explore every facet of that community.
RL: How do you manage writing time? Is finding writing time an issue for you?
CM: I am actually pretty privileged in that regard. I don't have a strenuous job or a family to juggle, which makes finding time to write much easier. Discipline is my main challenge. I have to force myself away from Netflix or off of Twitter and make use of that time. I keep myself on track by setting long-term word count goals. For example, my goal right now is to have a first draft of Bloodlines Book 2 done by June. I am currently roughly half way to that goal and it is very reachable if I can carve out even as little as an hour a day to write.
RL: Where do you see your writing career going in the future?
CM: Short term: Getting my paranormal series off the ground. It is a project near and dear to my heart and I am so excited to see it out in the world.
Long term: I would love to be able to make even a modest living purely from writing. I have no aspirations to be rich and famous, but being able to quit my day job would be cool.
RL: What are you reading right now?
CM: Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk. It is a wonderfully gritty book on the craft of writing full of anecdotes from his strange career. I am a big fan of Palahniuk and his no-holds-barred style, so I am thoroughly enjoying it.
RL: What can readers expect from you in the future?
CM: More dark, messy, angst-driven romance. My next contemporary title, Drive, releases on April 20 with NineStar Press and follows Red, a deeply closeted man in a small East Texas town who gets swept up into a relationship with the dashing--and dominant--Victor Itachi who turns his life upside down and puts him on the path to self-acceptance. It features a beautiful relationship between Red and his quirky younger sister, a cinnamon roll best friend, and the struggle to come to terms with childhood trauma.
Find Courtney Here:
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