I ABSOLUTELY LOVE Faking Normal! I think what I like most about is how well Courtney expressed and portrayed the thoughts, feelings, and actions of a teenager! I don't think I've ever read a book where teenagers were so perfectly executed. Even though it may not be pretty, it's reality. I think us teens get looked down upon because people don't understand us, and only see our wrong doings. But we have all these stupid and confusing things running through our heads it's hard for us to cope. Also, we aren't as dumb as people think. We do love to learn and be the best. It's just hard. I can see very clearly through the authors writing that she understands all of that. It honestly gives me something to believe in. That someone like her was willing to take the time to come up with a story that inspires teenagers. I want to thank her for that. Because it inspires me.
I also LOVE Bodee. Bless his heart! I wanted so badly for him to be real so I could just give him a damn hug! He reminds me of a few guys I know. I think that's why he really touched base with me. Because there are guys like that everywhere, and people are ready to look past them! But it bugs me! Also, Lex is an amazing character! Her strength really tugged my heart. Many people might call her weak, but she’s really not. I loved that about her. The battle within her showed much strength, as well as her ability to hide it from the people she loves, so she could protect them. I understand her ability to lie, and her loneliness. Because they're both things I go through every day. I think those are things all teenagers got through. This goes back to the amazing job Courtney did with portraying teenagers. I really have a high level of connection to this book and the characters and would recommend it to everyone! I think it’s relatable to everyone in one way or another. The character bring out something in the reader that has not been brought out before.
What sparked the idea for Faking Normal?
I paid for a critique from an editor at a SCBWI conference in LA. The editor took my current work, pushed it back across the table and said, “This is fine, but I want to see the story you have to write. I want to read the novel only you can write.” Faking Normal is the story I had to write.
What was your writing process like?
Fast. I’ve said fairly often that every book has its own journey. Some come out like old, dead syrup; some like Niagara Falls. Faking Normal was my Niagara Falls. I wrote it trying to meet a deadline for an interested agent in less than three months.
If you ever experienced writers block, how did you overcome it?
I usually don’t have writer’s block, but I certainly have Write the Wrong Thing Over and Over Again block. I’m not sure I have overcome that yet. Humility, patience, and managing stress seem to be the trifecta on getting through to the other side.
When did you first start writing?
I’ve been writing since second grade. That’s when I knew I had a little creativity in my veins, but I’ve only been attempting novels since 2005.
What was your favorite part to write in Faking Normal (if you had one)?
My favorite part of Faking Normal is Bodee. I love the scene in the tent between Alexi and Bodee; it felt powerful and sweet to see these characters get this part of their lives right when so much else had been wrong.
Your least favorite part (if you had one)?
I really didn’t have a least favorite part.
Do you outline?
I do. Pre-writing saves some re-writing.
How did you go about creating your characters?
There was no exact process to be honest. I struggled with their names, but their interior characters were solidified early on in my writing process. Most characters (for me) are not characters I make-up, but rather, characters I feel make and reveal themselves, and then allow me to write down their stories.
Is there any significance behind any of the characters?
Lex is a family name.
I answered for Bodee below, but really no one else is anyone specifically.I hope that anyone might find themselves in these characters. I tried to make them very accessible to teens and adults.
Who is your favorite character?
Bodee. Every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
The motif “sanctuary” is used throughout the novel. Lex talks about hers, and she and Bodee visit it. What is your sanctuary?
Great question. I have several. There’s a spot at Fort Walton Beach, Florida that I travel to regularly to re-center. My church is a sanctuary, in the literal and figurative sense. I also find that my group of friends are the best tree house fort ever; they protect my heart.
Do you think it’s important to have a sanctuary of your own?
Absolutely. I crave safety and place where I can be transparent.
Where did the idea for Bodee’s character come from?
I had a friend who loved me back to (semi) normal after a painful season. He is nothing like Bodee circumstantially, but the way he loved me is reminiscent of Bodee.
Can we expect more books from you?
Well, The Blue-Haired Boy releases the Tuesday after Faking Normal through HarperImpulse. My book two (currently untitled) is slated for 2015. I hope there are many more after these three projects.