|Photo of Courtney Stevens by Jen & Chris Creed, 2013|
Lee: Please tell us about your Crystal-Kite winning book!
Courtney: Faking Normal is the story of two teenagers, Alexi and Bodee, who have been through terrible circumstances over the previous summer. These two characters have really only shared next door lockers and homeroom, but over the course of the novel they will share their secrets, a home, and hope. My initial pitch for the book was what if Melinda from Speak met Peeta from the Hunger Games.
From the official copy: Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer by her backyard pool. Instead, she hides in her closet, counts the slats in the air vent, and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does—and deal with the trauma. When Bodee Lennox—“the Kool-Aid Kid”—moves in with the Littrells after a family tragedy, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in this quiet, awkward boy who has secrets of his own. As their friendship grows, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her summon the courage to find her voice and speak up about the rape that has changed the course of her life.
Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you’ve gained by being a member?
Courtney: I joined SCBWI in the Spring of 2009. What have I gained? Wow, how many pages do I have to answer that question? In the spirit of space: wisdom, knowledge, an agent, three contracts (five published products), encouragement, a network of professionals, family, friends ... everything.
Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children’s book writers and illustrators?
Courtney: Every time you hit a gap in the publishing field between what you want and what you have, the answer is to study. You can study in a variety of ways--conferences, books, mentors, blogs, intensives, etc.--but you must keep learning if you want to make a career of writing.
I also contacted SCBWI Midsouth (Tennessee/Kentucky) Regional Advisor Kristin O'Donnell Tubb to find out more about Courtney and their region...
I had the honor of reading "Faking Normal" in its earliest draft – way back when it was still titled "23!" – and knew the moment I reached The End that it would be a book someday. "Faking Normal" is special and deep and looks you straight in the eye and gives you honesty mixed with gentleness - just like Court. Court has served as the Midsouth’s coARA for three years, and recently moved into the role of PAL Coordinator. I know of no one who fosters and cares for their writing community more than Court. She is one of the many reasons the Midsouth has the heart and soul that it does.
I’m delighted that the 2015 shiny, beautiful SCBWI Crystal Kite Award was awarded to the shiny, beautiful Court–Courtney Stevens.
To find out more about Courtney and her books, visit her website/blog Quartland.
And discover more about SCBWI Midsouth here.
Congratulations again to Courtney for "Faking Normal" winning the 2015 Crystal Kite Award!