We are pleased to welcome Joanna Courtney to the blog today. We are sure that many of the answers to our questions will resonate with readers of the blog.
Welcome, Joanna, can you tell us how long you've been writing?
All my life. I was an avid reader from an early age and wrote Enid Blyton style boarding-school
books from 10. I kept long teenage diaries and wrote plays and stories for school events. I studied English Literature at university and once I was working I wrote fiction in the evenings. I’ve always wanted to be a writer so seeing my novel on the shelves is a dream come true.
What about your path to publication?
It’s been a long, hard road and my poor husband has had to deal with many a tearful ‘that’s it, I’m getting a proper job’ tantrum! I started out writing short stories for the women’s magazines when I had young children. I was first published by The People’s Friend in 1999 and over the years I’ve been published by all the major magazines, with serials as well as stories. One of these, ‘Running Against the Tide’ was published as a novel by Robert Hale in 2012 and I’d also been working on a contemporary romance for which I secured my agent, Kate Shaw, back in 2009. We didn’t manage to find a publisher for that but Kate was supportive of my desire to move to historical fiction. The first novel I wrote in the Saxon period was also turned down by publishers, though with enough nice comments to persuade me to write a second, and that one – The Chosen Queen – was finally taken up by Pan Macmillan who have been absolutely brilliant with it.
Do you find it confusing to move between your author name and ‘real’ name?
Courtney is my middle name and also my grandma’s name, so it already feels like part of me and I rather like having a pen name. It makes it easier to find the confidence to do events as I go in almost as an actor – as ‘Joanna Courtney, author’, rather than just as little old me!
Marketing and promotion is a big part of an author’s life. How do you cope with this?
I enjoy a lot of it and I find it easy when I’m editing or researching but when I’m deep in writing a novel it’s much harder to pull myself away from my imaginary world to do all the ‘real’ stuff. That said, though, connecting with readers is wonderful and nothing makes your day like a tweet from someone you don’t know saying how much they’ve loved your book so I could never complain about that.
How do fit your writing around your day to day life?
I have children so on the whole I write during the school day. Up until recently that stopped painfully early at 3.15 but now they are both at secondary school I thankfully have much longer days. I also, however, have to fit in my work as an Open University Creative Writing tutor and have two dogs who need walking – though that’s fantastic thinking time.
What is the next big thing in your writing life?
I’m in the middle of writing the third book of the trilogy. Book 2, The Constant Queen, is finished and edited and due out next May, so I’m now writing the Norman side of the 1066 story for Book 3, The Conqueror’s Queen. It’s proving really interesting as until now they’ve been the ‘baddies’ so it’s lovely getting under their skin and seeing it all from another point of view.
Ever since Joanna sat up in her cot with a book, she’s wanted to be a writer. She’s had many stories and serials published in women’s magazines and The Chosen Queen is the first novel in her historical trilogy, The Queens of the Conquest, about the women of 1066.
My website: www.joannacourtney.com
My blog: www.joannacourtney.com/blog/
Thank you so much for visiting the blog today, Joanna. We eagerly await publication day for The Constant Queen.
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