Courtney Rene is well-known among the Institute of Children's Literature crowd. She has contributed to several anthologies and is the author of magazine articles, short fiction, and her first novel, Shadow Dancer.
Shadow Dancer, published in 2010 by Rogue Phoenix Press, is a YA paranormal novel about a young girl named Sunny. Sunny has an amazing gift but doesn't know how to control it. She meets Leif, a boy from the Kingdom of Acadia, on the other side of the shadows, who teaches Sunny how to use her powers.
When the Shadow Guard arrives to bring Sunny back to Acadia, Sunny must learn to defend herself not only from the Shadow Guard and come to terms with the lies and deceit from the people she loves.
Courtney's second novel in the series, Shadow Warrior, also published through Rogue Phoenix Press, will be released on January 15, 2012, and I'm ecstatic that she has agreed to grant me my first-ever author interview!
Good morning, Courtney, and thanks for being here. Congratulations on your new novel! Could you tell us a little about Shadow Warrior?
Thanks so much for having me! As for a little about Shadow Warrior, I don’t know where to begin. The book picks up just a few short months after the end of Shadow Dancer. It’s spring break and Sunny and Leif are going to visit Acadia for the first time. It’s suppose to be fun and exciting, but from the moment they arrive things don’t go as planned. Sunny is ill-prepared and a bit ticked off about it. It doesn’t get better for her from there either. It’s a fun romp through many emotions. I can’t wait to see what my readers think of it.
After I read Shadow Dancer, I was very curious about what Sunny's visit to the Kingdom of Acadia would be like. Was it difficult to create such a place?
It was at first. I think I was trying too hard. Once I let go and allowed my imagination to take over, Acadia came to life.
Sunny is a fun, sassy character but she has so many facets to her personality. Is her character modeled after anyone particular in your life?
Sunny is who I wish I could be sometimes. She is snarky and funny and stronger than she realizes. She also has a bit of my daughter in her. That sarcasm Sunny tosses around, oh yeah, that’s my Sidney.
The cover of Shadow Warrior is great! It hints at an action-packed story, but can you give us a hint about Sunny's relationship with Leif?
I love the cover too! The artist did a great job and I couldn’t be happier. As for Leif, he is going through a rough patch in Shadow Warrior. He is struggling with who he is, was, and who he wants to be, as well as his desperate need to “win”.
What is your favorite part of Shadow Warrior? What was the hardest part to write?
My favorite part is when Sunny gets wounded and separated from Leif. We get to meet new people and struggle along with Sunny as she is left to fend for herself with them.
The hardest part to write was the end. I was sad with it and hurt right along with Sunny. I had to re-write it several times, as it got a bit too dark again and again. I actually had to put it aside for a while to try to figure out why it was going the direction it was. It’s still a bit sad, but the darkness is not so oppressive. I am already second guessing myself though and wondering if I should have left it dark.
Could you tease us a little with an excerpt?
"This is going to feel a bit strange," he said, still looking at me.
"Strange, how?" I asked. Strange weird would be okay, but strange pain, would not.Leif shrugged his shoulders and said, "Just strange."
Then before I could get a better answer out of him, he said, "Here we go. One, two, pull."
I did as Leif instructed. I pulled the shadows up and over me again and suddenly, without warning, I was jerked painfully backward. The world was suddenly dark and grey. Everything was spinning out of control. It was spinning around and around and over and over, and my head clouded and fogged. I felt like I was tumbling and falling, and then we stopped, just as instantaneous as we had begun.
The ground was now solid again beneath my feet. I wobbled once, twice then I dropped to my knees and threw up the entire contents of my stomach. I felt Leif pull back my hair for me and thought absently, that's nice.
My head still spun, even after my stomach finally stopped heaving. I sat back on my feet, my head hung down. A bottle of water was thrust under my nose. I took it and washed out my mouth as I tried to regain my senses. The first real thought that came to my head was, "That felt more than a little strange."
For anyone who hasn't read the first novel, Shadow Dancer, I strongly suggest you get yourself a copy while you wait for January 15th and the release of Shadow Warrior. Courtney, could you tell us how and where it is available?
You can find it:
Through my publisher, Phoenix Press
Barnes and Noble
What are some of the other projects you're currently working on?
I have a new paranormal book coming out late 2012 titled “A Howl in the Night”.
I am finishing up book 3 in the Shadow Dancer series right now, currently titled, “Shadow’s End”. Revisions are the pits. They take FOREVER.
And, I am considering doing a telling of Leif’s story. How he became the man he is and what happens after Shadow’s End. That, I will have to get back to you on though. It’s still just a “hmmm maybe” idea that I am running by my publisher.
Besides, the 'Shadow' novels, where else can we find your work?
The best place to find out that information is my blog (www.ctnyrene.blogspot.com). There is a tab just for published work that I have recently updated.
Courtney, thank you so much for spending time with us and allowing me to interview you. Congratulations, again, and I wish you much success with your writing.
I had fun, there were great interview questions. Thanks again for having me and thanks so much for all your support!
Please feel free to contact Courtney at email@example.com or www.ctnyrene.blogspot.com.
Leave a comment and you may be the lucky person to win a copy of Courtney Rene's, Shadow Dancer!
Winner will be announced on Monday, January 16th.