Our interview today is with Cortney Manning. She is the fifth contributing author of Five Poisoned Apples. Hi Cortney, tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.
I am a reader, writer, and teacher. I was raised in a Christian family in Kansas City, Missouri with an older brother and a younger sister. While I have graduated very recently from college with three degrees, I am not done yet! Next year I’ll be heading to Scotland for a Master’s program in Victorian Literature. For now, though, I’m working at a “magical” place in Orlando. I love to travel and have found few things as delicious as afternoon tea (with clotted cream!) in England. In my spare time, I also love to draw.
What’s your favorite genre to read and write. Who’s your favorite author?
When it comes to reading, I absolutely love fantasy, historical fiction, and the classics. The authors of my favorite books are Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Julie Klassen, and Charlotte Bronte.
On the other hand, when I write, I tend to stick to the fantasy genre, though I have experimented a little with steampunk, too.
What age did you realize you loved books? When did you start writing?
For me, reading and writing go hand and hand, and I have loved reading for a long time. Since I was in third grade and I read the American Girl books with my mom, I have been a voracious reader, and each book I read would spark ideas in my head for other stories. It wasn’t until my first year of college, though, that I really started to write out any of my ideas. I contributed several pieces of flash fiction to my college’s yearly anthology of writing, and I’ve entered earlier Rooglewood fairy tale contests, so I was very excited when The Fairest One was selected to be part of the Five Poisoned Apples anthology.
Tell us about this book.
Five Poisoned Apples is an anthology five novellas retelling the classic tale of Snow White.
My novella, The Fairest One, is the tale of Livna, a timid but empathetic princess struggling to balance her need for approval and her desire to help her people. The novella has a bit of romance and a dash of adventure and is set in an ancient Middle Eastern fantasy world with empires, tribes, and magical Dwarven. Here’s a teaser of the story:
Her people look for the prophesied Fairest One – but can Livna find the courage to step out of the shadows and save her nation?
What did you learn about yourself through writing it?
As I wrote The Fairest One, I channeled some of my own feelings.Livna’s fear of failure and letting down those she cares for mirrors my own fears. However, as she learns, fears do not have to hold us back. If we dare to grow, then we can push past those fears and trust God to use our trials and successes to fit his purpose.
Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?
Yes, I typically do think out think out the whole story and outline it first. One of my greatest fears as a writer is to pour too much time and effort into the idea of a story only to discover it will not work or will require a dramatic rehauling. That’s why I prefer to put in the extra effort in advance and then simply polish the story and fill in its gaps. Still, I try to remain open to fresh ideas as I go along rather than sticking strictly to my outline.
Is there a special place you like to write?
I prefer to sit in a quiet spot by myself, often with music playing.
What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded?
Buried in the core of my story is the symbolism of a phoenix representing Livna rising above her fear. However, this symbolism was not in my initial draft. In fact, Livna herself was not a particularly vivid or active character. However, during my editing, this symbolism suddenly worked itself in, and, after that, Livna truly came alive for me as a character. I think it was this symbolism which unexpectedly helped me add more depth to the story and highlight Livna’s struggles and successes.
What advice would you give a new author?
My advice would be to never give up. If writing is something you love, then don’t stop. Whether your story reaches three people or thousands, it’s still valuable. Every story we tell is important and holds more power than we know. Every story has an impact on those who read it.
Even if you write a story that no one else reads, it’s still important to you and your growth as a writer and a person. I know the process of writing and editing The Fairest One has helped me grow as a writer, but so have the stories I wrote which will never be published.
So never give up on writing, not even at times when it seems frustrating and hard. B
What project are you working on now?
Currently, I am working on edits for another Snow White retelling called Yellow Bright. Like The Fairest One, Yellow Bright is also an adventure-packed fantasy, but it is set in a completely different world and focused on Snow White’s stepmother instead as she encounters a realm of intrigue and magic guarded by a dangerous and beautiful dwarf king.
Where can we find your books?