Happy Sunday, everyone! I’m excited to host Christina Courtenay (aka Pia Fenton), who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into their life as an author.
Let’s hear from Christina.
I’m Christina Courtenay and I write historical romance and time slip (traditionally published by Choc Lit), and self-publish YA under my real name, Pia Fenton. I’m half Swedish and grew up in that country, but in my teens I moved to Japan with my family and also had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East. I’m a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association. My novels Highland Storms and The Gilded Fan both won the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel of the Year (in 2012/2014 respectively). My latest novels are The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight (time slip) and New England Dreams (YA contemporary romance).
Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
I was a voracious reader as a child and probably read my way through the entire children’s section of my local library, reading anything and everything. It’s still my favourite pastime, but I’m a bit more choosy these days – I mostly read historical romance, YA and thrillers with some kind of historical treasure theme (like Steve Berry’s books), but I have a lot of author friends who write in other genres so I always make exceptions for their books.
Which genre do you write in and why?
I started off writing historicals and time slip, and I especially love time slip because I fell in love with this genre when I first read Daphne du Maurier’s The House on the Strand. Later Barbara Erskine’s Lady of Hay made me like it even more, and I wanted to write in that sub-genre. Both historicals and time slip require a lot of research though for the historical backgrounds, so one year I gave myself time off to write something light-hearted and contemporary, and this turned into my YA New England series. It was great fun trying something different so now I alternate between the two.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
Probably a combination of Georgette Heyer, Johanna Lindsey, Barbara Erskine, and Susanna Kearsley.
Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?
Definitely – I’m currently working on a YA novel based on the Vikings and their Norse gods as I used to love those stories as a child. And my first historical novel was partly set in Sweden, where I grew up. I’ve also been inspired by my time living in Japan. My Kumashiro trilogy is partly set in that country. I think authors can’t help but be influenced by everything they experience, so it all goes into our books.
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
The self-doubt – is this book going to be any good? Will anyone want to read it? I try not to think about it and write the story for myself – sort of like when you daydreamed as a child and made up stories in your head. Then if anyone else likes it too, it’s a bonus.
What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?
The best thing is when readers tell me they’ve really enjoyed something I have written – that’s the most wonderful feeling! The worst is having to do self-promotion – I’m rubbish at blowing my own trumpet and really wish someone else could do it for me. Also, all the time spent on social media and so on eats into the actual writing time. I think most authors would prefer to just write and have someone else handle all the other aspects.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
I think I would try to become an archaeologist – I’m really regretting the fact that I was too lazy to study that when I was younger. Instead I took the easy option of reading modern languages which were never difficult for me as I’d grown up bilingual, but I didn’t actually do much work. Very naughty of me! 😊
It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?
Cotillion by Georgette Heyer – it’s my comfort read, the one book I can read over and over again, and it always makes me laugh.
Please tell us what you are working on or your latest published work.
My latest published work is the time slip novel The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight – When newly widowed Tess visits Raglan Castle, she experiences an extraordinary vision that transports her to 17th century Wales and a castle on the brink of a siege. Her life becomes increasingly intertwined with the past and when the new owner of the estate arrives – New Zealander Josh Owens – the parallels become even more obvious. But perhaps the visions aren’t just trying to tell their own story, maybe they’re also giving a warning …
Thank you very much for having me as your guest today!