Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Take Five And Meet Author Courtney J. Hall

Today we are lucky to meet Courtney J. Hall. As you read on, do any of you know what a Coffitivity app is?  I've got to find out.

Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Courtney.  Tell us, what inspired you to write your book Some Rise by Sin?

Hi, L.A. Thanks for having me. I’ve been an Anglophile for as long as I can remember, and became interested in the Elizabethan era about twenty years ago when I stole one of my mom’s Bertrice Small romances from her bookshelf. I was way too young for most of the action in that book, but as it turned out, the story hooked me more than the many euphemisms for various body parts that would have fascinated a normal 12-year-old. I then spent years devouring anything I could find – nonfiction, historical fiction, historical romance – and eventually branched out to learning about the royal history of England from the Wars of the Roses straight through to the Regency. 

About eight years ago, the heroine of my novel, Lady Samara Haughton, came knocking and asking me to write about her. At first I envisioned a trilogy about Lady Samara and her two younger sisters coming of age in Elizabethan England. But as it turned out, my hero was actually the one with the story to tell and he had a rather strong connection to Queen Mary I. So I jumped at the chance to write about a period of time that is so often tossed aside in favor of Henry VIII (or any of his wives) or Elizabeth I.

Have you been a lifelong reader of historical fiction?  What are some the first books you remember reading?

Although I was a fan of Little House on the Prairie and am still obsessed with Anne of Green Gables, I don’t really consider them historical fiction because for the most part they were set in times through which their authors actually lived. I got heavily into historical fiction as a teenager, along with historical non-fiction.  As I mentioned, I started out when I found Bertrice Small’s Skye O’Malley on my mom’s bookshelf. Once I realized it was a 6-book series (with more to come, in time), I just started gobbling those books down like candy. Purple prose and throbbing anatomy aside, that lady made history fun. Once I determined that the Tudor era was my favorite, I started reading Philippa Gregory like it was going out of style.

What do you do to rev your creative juices?

Put on some music (even though once I get down to it, I have to turn it off – I need silence! Or my Coffitivity app). Open up my document and read what I wrote the day, or week, or sometimes month before. I’ve also been trying to get into meditating for a few minutes before settling down to write. I’m finding it hard to shut my mind off, though. But I’ll keep practicing!

What would be your advice to people who are considering a writing career?  And/or what would do differently in your career?

My advice would be to reach for the stars, but try and keep yourself grounded too. It’s a harsh business and you need a thick skin, and most of us don’t go on to become the next J.K. Rowling. Get your enjoyment from telling stories, and don’t get too wrapped up in the business of selling stories. It might happen – anything is possible! – but then again, it might not.

In hindsight, there’s probably not much I would change about my own career. I’m still a newbie, with just one book under my belt, and even though it took me three rewrites, a trip to England, and seven years to complete, I wouldn’t change a thing about the process of writing that book. It was a learning experience and I learned how not to write a book. Because of that, my next one is coming along much more smoothly! The only thing I think I would do differently involves marketing. 

Like many, I was excited to have written a book and sent it off into the world without a clue as to how to have people find it. Given the opportunity to go back in time, I think I’d have studied marketing a bit more before that big launch date.

You’re having a dinner party.  What character from your novel do you hope doesn’t show up?  Why?

Peter Norris, Lord Waltham. He has a bad habit of chewing with his mouth open and groping the help.

Give us a brief summary of Some Rise by Sin:

When Cade Badgley returns from a diplomatic mission in Rome to discover that his estranged father is dying, he has no choice but to accept an unwanted earldom, a crumbling estate and empty coffers. A kindly neighbor offers aid in return for an escort that will take his daughter to London to find a husband. Though the girl is a tempestuous artist with no marriageable skills, she quickly becomes sought-after by a man Cade has every reason not to trust. As Queen Mary Tudor lies dying, threatening the security of the realm, Cade finds himself in a battle involving his conscience, his heart, and his very life - and that of the woman he's come to love.

Buy Links: 

Born in Philadelphia, Courtney J. Hall’s writing career began when she figured out how much fun it was to make words rhyme. She has since gone on to publish embarrassingly bad poetry, melodramatic short stories and has written beginnings to at least a half-dozen novels. Most recently, her writing has been steadily improving thanks to the best critique group in the world, of which she’s been an active member since June 2008.

Courtney lives with her husband and a stolen cat in suburban Philadelphia and recently published her first novel, Some Rise by Sin, an historical romance that takes place at the tumultuous end of Mary Tudor’s reign. Some Rise by Sin was published through Five Directions Press in March 2015.

Courtney is currently simultaneously trying to plot the companion to Some Rise by Sin, to be titled Some by Virtue Fall, and writing her first contemporary holiday romance. She doesn’t like it when things come too easy.
Find Courtney: 
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


  1. Thank you so much for having me! Coffitivity is an app (mine's on my iPhone - not sure if they have it for Android, etc.) that plays recordings of the kind of background noise you'd hear in a busy coffee shop. It's basically just voices and some clinking plates and silverware. Apparently there have been studies done that prove that coffee shop-type background noise is extremely good for productivity, so some people made an app! There's a few different styles and a feature that lets you play your music along with it, but I find that too distracting. But I swear when I'm using it, I can write 1000 words without even realizing it. (I don't work for the developer, either - I just find it that helpful!)

  2. Hi Courtney, I'm so glad you're with me today. How interesting that coffee-shop noise is supposed to help productivity. I'm going to try it. Like you, listening to music when I actually have to write is too distracting, but I use it to put me in a mood when I need it for a specific scene. Then silence to write.

    But maybe now, Coffivity. I'll try it and let you all know what I think.