August 15, 2014

Casual Friday: Interview with Courtney Alameda, author of SHUTTER

Happy Friday, Misfiteers!

Erica here, sitting in for Misfit Gina (don't worry we won't get in trouble with the teacher). Today we have a special guest at our lunch table--YA author of SHUTTER (Feb 2015), Courtney Alameda! I've had the pleasure of corresponding with her and I can tell you she's awesome and I can't wait to read her book (look at that cover *shudders*)! Gina asked Courtney a variety of questions from her writing style to what supernatural ability she'd want. Want to know which one she chose? I'll let Gina and Courtney take it from here... catch ya on the flip side. - Er

Thanks for joining us today, Courtney! Tell us a little bit about SHUTTER and what inspired you to write it.

Here’s SHUTTER’s synopsis from Goodreads:
Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain
. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

All my novels are catalyzed by individual characters, rather than by ideas. In Micheline’s case, I started envisioning a tiny girl fighting this massive, ultraviolet ghost with nothing but her wits and an analog Nikon camera. Exorcising ghosts on camera isn’t exactly a new idea—it’s been done in both films and video games—so my challenge was to find a way to explain Micheline’s abilities in a compelling way. When I stumbled upon tetrachromia in my research—women born with an extra color cone in their retinas—I knew I’d found the basis of my fantasy construct.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt you can share with us?

My favorite lines contain spoilers, but I quite like the moment Micheline steps onto St. Mary’s fourth floor—alone an in violation of Helsing code—and begins to realize she’s in over her head:

The stairwell to the fifth and sixth stories was silent; bloody fingerprints wrapped around the door to the fourth floor. Adrenaline sawed off the edge of my fear, and the cocktail of the two turned my senses wolfish. Think like a predator, Dad’s voice whispered to me, never the prey . . .

Here goes. I leaned on the door lever, spilling limp light into the hallway beyond. Snatches of a lullaby wafted out, pebbling my skin with gooseflesh. I trembled, pushing away memories of Mom singing to my little brothers. I didn’t want to remember them, not now.

I started forward, holding my camera like a gun. A bloody taint corroded the air and burned in my lungs. Inside the rooms, wreckage. Equipment made venomous shapes in the darkness. Divider curtains hung in shreds from broken tracks. When I looked harder, I saw a woman slumped on her bed, shrouded and splattered in shadows. A girl about my age lay outside her door, unmoving. Blood gelled on the floor under her. As I got closer, I almost lost courage—the girl’s hands were dismembered at the wrist, her
eyes gouged, teeth torn out and scattered.

I’d seen dead people before. Lots of them, in fact. But I’d never seen such careful murder from a ghost.”

Tell us a little bit about your journey from writer to agented writer to published author – how did it happen?

I wrote for ten years before I met my wonderful literary agent, John M. Cusick, at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference in Sandy, Utah. I’d never queried before, thinking my work wasn’t good enough for publication; but John offered representation, we revised the book together, and out it went. Imagine my surprise when it didn’t only sell, but sold to my dream publishing house—Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan!

In short, I have the quintessential fairytale publishing story. (Please don’t shoot me!)

Give us a glimpse of your writing process – plotter or pantser? Favorite place to write? Slow or fast drafter? Are you working on anything new?

Proud pantser! Though I do feel like Terry Pratchett’s plotting metaphor describes my own process marvelously:  “Writing a novel is as if you are going off on a journey across a valley. The valley is full of mist, but you can see the top of a tree here and the top of another tree over there. And with any luck you can see the other side of the valley. But you cannot see down into the mist. Nevertheless, you head for the first tree.”

Despite my pantser inclinations, I draft slowly. I will write and revise an entire chapter before moving on to the next, with great attention to detail; I never skip ahead, and am infamous for my ruthlessness when it comes to sub-par work.

There are currently five different Scrivener projects on my desktop: Two of them are active manuscripts, both horror with fantasy and/or science fiction overtones; the other files are receptacles for musings, research, and bare-bones sketches. My creative subconscious is far more generous when I am willing to make a digital space for all its offerings.

How do you plan to celebrate SHUTTER’s release?

With a party, of course! I’m very fortunate to have worked for the historic Provo City Library for the last five years, and they will be hosting my launch party in their ballroom next February. There will be shenanigans (and cupcakes. Lots of cupcakes)!

The obligatory food question – what’s your favorite flavor ice cream? Any food you can’t live without?

Can I have two? I love Talenti’s Chocolate Chip gelato, it’s supernal; better yet, the guy I’m dating makes an incredible raspberry ice cream with candied pecans that’s to die for. (Yes, you should all be so lucky as to date men who make you ice cream, read YA, and write!)

Also, it’s a well-known fact that I cannot work/function/live without Dr. Pepper. Consider it my hummingbird food!

If you could have a supernatural ability, what would it be and why?

Psychokinesis! I would love to be able to “grab” books off the shelf for my patrons without having to leave the reference desk. Also, reading in bed would become so much more comfortable!

Lastly, hit us up with all the important links where we can find more information on you and your books!

Thanks so much for having me on the YA Misfits! You can find me (and SHUTTER) on the web at:

Twitter: @courtalameda

Thank you, Courtney for stopping by!! You'll want to pre-order this one, folks - OR, you can leave a comment for your chance to win an ARC! That's right, just leave a comment below, and you are in the running for an advanced copy. Don't forget to include your e mail and/or Twitter handle so we can contact you if you win!

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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