Courtney Allison Moulton is the author of Angelfire, a kick-butt debut novel about angels, reapers, and a war against Heaven. Courtney is a fellow equestrian, only she has her horse jump over things. On purpose! That takes guts! Maybe she has a lot more in common with warrior Ellie than one would first suspect? Courtney was able to drop by the virtual offices to discuss her book.
Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
I’m an author, photographer, artist, and equestrian!
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming novel, Angelfire?
Angelfire was my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel. It’s about a seventeen-year-old girl named Ellie who is the reincarnation of an ageless warrior and the only one able to wield swords of angelfire. She battles the reapers, monstrous creatures who devour human souls and send them to Hell in order to rebuild Lucifer’s army of the damned for a second war against Heaven. She doesn’t remember her past lives or understand exactly what she is, but her soul remembers one thing: her Guardian and sworn protector, Will. As she uncovers the terrifying secrets of her origins and of Will’s mysterious past, a powerful reaper has discovered a weapon that may be able to destroy Ellie’s immortal soul forever, ending her reincarnation cycle and unleashing Hell upon Earth.
How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
I was watching The Time Machine, which is about a scientist whose fiancé dies and he builds a time machine to go back in time to save her, but she keeps dying in different ways. Eventually, he gives up. I wondered what would have happened if he never gave up trying to save her life, even though he knew she was doomed to die. That was how Will’s character was created. His name means ‘resolute protector’ and I wanted him to be a kind of bodyguard to this girl with superhuman strength and abilities. It’s his job to protect her even though she’s doomed, but she means more to him than just his charge because he’s in love with her. He has always kept this secret from her throughout the centuries because he fears how it might complicate their mission and also because it is forbidden by the one who gave him this responsibility. But I didn’t want the story to be just about him. The more I played around with the idea of a boy trying to save a girl’s life over and over, I decided I wanted the story to be told from the POV of a girl who fights monsters. Then Ellie was born.
What have you learned about yourself through your characters?
I think it’s more of my characters experiencing some of what I learned growing up or learned recently. I never had an Apocalypse to stop or anything, but my characters learn things that I’ve had to learn.
Is there a message you want your readers to come away with after reading
I’m not really one to include messages in my books. I just want to write a story and for everything that happens in it to be the most riveting direction for the story and the characters. If I had to decide on a theme for Angelfire, it would definitely be freedom and strength of humanity. In a lot of fantasy books, human beings are seen as pathetic and weak in a supernatural world filled with creatures who have supernatural strength. While humans may be physically weaker than other creatures, we have great strengths in so many other ways. We’re passionate and reckless and our ability to love is infinite. For the most part, we are free to chose our own paths in life and love whom we love. We take all of that for granted and don’t realize the freedom we have until it’s gone.
Learning how to write as a whole was very challenging. Discovering my own technique, how to pace the plot, how to add and reveal mysteries… Learning finesse was so difficult. The more you write, the better you get, and the more you revise your book, the better your books gets. I still struggle with some things sometimes, but I’ve got a great support system of other writer friends, my agent, and my editor.
Can you tell us about your experience finding a publisher? What was the
Going on submission to editors was even harder than querying agents. For the first month, we didn’t hear a peep. A month after that, I began revisions for the editors interested in my book and those lasted for over five months. It was the hardest summer/fall of my life. When I’d finished the editor revisions, my agent—the industrious woman that she is—had me go through round after round of her own revisions and suggestions, pushing me to be the best writer I could. We really fed off of each other’s ideas and expanded plot threads and themes to levels I never thought possible. I really learned how to write a book during those months.
What was the editing process like? Has editing changed your manuscript much from the original you submitted?
The editing process before my book sold practically killed me, but the edits AFTER my book sold took two weeks and were pretty easy—but that is a rare example. I know authors who have endured months and months of edits after they land a book deal. Angelfire has changed so much since the original concept. The story has deepened and taken on a life of its own, not to mention all the added length since I signed with my agent. Many of the mysteries in Angelfire were intended to be revealed in later books.
What’s the most gratifying aspect of having your book published?
The best part about getting published is having people find you who actually want to read your book. The process of getting an agent and selling it to a publisher is so hard emotionally and filled with so much rejection that it’s very surreal when people say they like your book. I’m still in the mode where I’m thinking, “Are you sure you want to read this book? Are you sure you liked it? Are you a crazy person?” I can’t even describe how amazing it feels when someone tells me they think my book sounds cool. I hope that one day when they can finally read it, they won’t be disappointed.
Who was your biggest supporter while you were working on the book?
That would definitely be my mom. I don’t talk about my writing with real life friends because I’ve been laughed at before, so I talk to my mom about everything. My mom loves my characters as much as I do. When I was trying to figure out this story, sometimes I would sit down and talk at my mom for nearly an hour, just sorting out loud whatever parts I was having difficulty with while she listened. My mom isn’t a writer, but she reads just as much as I do and always has great advice. Some of the best parts of Angelfire were because my mom encouraged me to write them.
If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, what would it be?
I had a really difficult time learning how to read when I was little and didn’t learn how until I was in the second grade. The earliest book I remember reading was Charlotte’s Web and once I figured out how to read, I read everything I could get my hands on and sometimes read the same books over and over. When I discovered the Goosebumps books, I became obsessed and read pretty much only fantasy and horror books.
You are a fellow equestrian! How long have you been riding? What is your favorite aspect of hanging out with the ponies?
Equestrians unite! I’ve been riding almost my entire life, about sixteen years, and my favorite thing about horses is their different personalities. Each one is so unique and a lot of times they feel just like other people. My horse, Pia, has so many quirks and a great sense of humor. I had her since she was just a few months old and she’s six years old this year. Every few weeks she comes up with a new game to mess with me. Currently, her favorite game is grabbing my shirt and trying to pull it over my head. I can’t express how inconvenient that is.
You can learn more about Courtney by visiting her website and following her on Twitter. Angelfire hits stores February 15, and you can order a copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the handy widget below.