Rummanah Aasi
   Today I'm very delighted to have debut author Courtney King Walker to my blog! Courtney's book, On the Fringe, hit bookshelves last week. Many thanks to Courtney and the Teen Book Scene for allowing this interview to happen.
  Let's learn a little about Courtney: She grew up in Walnut Creek, California. After discovering she does not work well in the kitchen, Courtney discovered a love for writing, music and art. Eventually she decided on graphic design for a career, and earned her BFA from Brigham Young University. After residing in St. Louis, Chicago and San Francisco, Courtney now lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and four children.
  Before we get to the interview, check out the awesome book trailer for On the Fringe below:


   Welcome Courtney and thank you so much for stopping by my blog today. I noticed that you lived in Chicago for quite some time. I do too. What area did you live in? Do you have a favorite spot or landmark? 

   I lived just west of Chicago in a quaint little town called Glen Ellyn. It is one of my favorite places…with a Main Street, a little train depot, and a gorgeous stone high school overlooking a lake. On the 4th of July we’d spread out blankets and watch fireworks being set off over the lake; it was as Norman Rockwell as you could get. Chicago is my absolute favorite city – I can’t rave about it enough. From Lake Michigan to the food to the landscape to the art, museums, architecture and enthusiastic sports fans, to the river and drawbridges and the train system…
    Because I’m a food enthusiast, my favorite spots happen to be restaurants. Here’s a few:
  Steak: Gene & Georgetti (Talk about integrity: they’ll refuse to cook your filet well done. “I’m sorry…you must get another cut if you want it well-done.”)
Dessert: Heaven on Seven (get the coconut cake or key lime pie and you will never be the same. I often dream about that coconut cake.)
  Pizza: Gino’s East or Giordano’s (you can order their deep-dish and pay a hefty price to have it delivered anywhere in the U.S. I have done this more than once.)
 Hot Dog, Chicago-style: Portillo’s (Yes. Get everything on it.)

 You're pretty much summed up my love for Chicago. Let's talk about your main characters in On the Fringe. In a few words, how would you describe Claire and Daniel? 

Claire is quiet and observant, and keeps everything inside. Daniel is fun and outgoing with a tinge of sarcasm. He’s like a sunny day.

  Sarcasm is a very good thing to have, especially in a cute guy. :) If you had to choose one song to best describe Daniel and Claire's relationship, what would it be? 

I love when I’m asked this question because music has such a huge influence on my writing. Middle Distance Runner by Sea Wolf perfectly nails Daniel and Claire’s relationship… What I get out of the lyrics is that he can’t run the whole way to reach her, so he needs her to run to him instead, and then they can meet half way.
  Sea Wolf is a great band that I recently discovered and the song is great. What is your favorite passage or moment in On the Fringe

I love when Daniel “revisits” his past to find the bits of Claire in his life he’d overlooked when he was alive. It’s fun picturing them as kids, and understanding the progression of their relationship over the years.

 I really like the sound of Daniel and Claire's relationship. I've always wanted to ask mystery writers how they compose their stories. Did you know the ending to On the Fringe before writing the story and if so, how do you prevent giving the answers away too quickly when you begin the book?

   I believe mystery writers are geniuses (which means I’m really not a mystery writer). I hate to even put myself up there with them. However, there is a bit of mystery to On the Fringe, which I didn’t really plan beforehand. You can say I had an idea of where I wanted the story to go, but not necessarily how I wanted to get there. There were many instances in which the twists and turns popped into my head as I was writing. During the editing process is really where you take a step back and insert clues here and there.

 Very cool. By profession you are a graphic designer. What made you decide to write? Did you approach writing your book as you would have with a graphic design project?

  As a child I retreated into my imagination a lot. On my bio I mention making rafts and spaceships out of cardboard—I remember two things specifically about those projects: 1. Worrying that our raft would eventually make its way down Niagara Falls (I lived in California). And 2. Why did Mom say yes when I asked her if we could fly to the moon? My childhood was like that—full of oversized dreams and endless possibilities. As an adult, the only way to extend that feeling is by writing about the world inside my head and hope others want to go there with me, at least for an hour. Funny thing is, I thought I was going to be an illustrator before I ever even thought about being an author. Then I kept getting C’s in my drawing classes, and reconsidered.
   In college, my design teachers taught me that every project starts with a problem, and your job is to solve it. That’s now how I attack everything in life, whether writing a story, cleaning a house, helping kids with schoolwork, or rolling a piecrust. When I view things as solvable projects, everything seems much more manageable.

  That's such a great way at looking at obstacles. Sometimes I think I throw in the towel too quickly when things get difficult and forget to take things into perspective. A obstacle for me is cooking and finding out the dish I made isn't as great as my mom's. You mentioned about several cooking disasters on your bio. What is your most memorable kitchen catastrophe?

  Using spray whip cream for a cream pie I was making for my mom’s birthday. I was lazy, and didn’t want to go to the store to buy cream, so when I saw the can of spray whip cream in the fridge, I thought I was saved. When my mom pretended all was fine while slurping it up like soup, I felt horrible.

Well, at least you attempted to tried to make something. *grins*  From a graphic design artist perspective, what is your favorite book cover (you can pick any genre) and why? What book cover makes you cringe every time you look at it?

I don’t think I can pick just one. But in YA, there are a couple over the years that I’ve thought were ingenious either for pure concept or for being strikingly gorgeous (or both):
1. Twilight
2. Matched
3. Wintergirls
4. Glimmerglass

 There really are a lot of average covers out there, and as a designer you notice stuff like that. I pick out logos and signs and spacing and apostrophes all the time. So it’s fitting to say that I’m a design snob. Not that I am an awesome designer myself, but I can definitely pick out the good, the bad and the ugly. Still, I hate picking on a bad book cover because it’s really not the author’s fault (most of the time). I’ll have to say that Breaking Dawn’s cover bugs me somewhat not because it’s bad, but because the concept is so literal compared to the series’ previous covers. Twilight’s cover was such a fresh, subtle illustration of what the book was about, which was especially important before readers were really convinced they wanted to read a vampire story.

  It's interesting that you found Breaking Dawn's cover to be too literal. I can't tell you how times I've come across people who are so confused about the cover. What's your opinion about your own book cover? Unlike many other authors, this is your main field, did you have any input? 

  Designing a book cover is any graphic designer’s dream. After completing On the Fringe back in 2008, I started dreaming up my book cover during the whole waiting game that happens to be a huge part of the publishing process. I liked the idea of underwater photography because it really fit the story as well as the mood of the book. I found a lot of really great photos by various photographers, but it wasn’t until Lands Atlantic picked me up and my editor let me have a stab at designing the front cover when I found Elena Kalis’ gorgeous photos. I’m pretty sure she has other shots that have been used as book covers. But this particular one just embodies the essence of On the Fringe. I love how it captures a critical scene in the book, as well as the mood of the entire story. It feels beautiful and innocent, with the blues and pinks melting together, yet completely frightening the way her body is sinking.

  The cover of your book is so haunting and beautiful. I find myself wondering what happened in the story that led to Claire's sinking. I take notes when I read and keep either post it notes in my book or a separate journal to write down favorite quotes. Do you have any reading quirks? 

  I have a tendency to “speed-read,” which means I occasionally miss stuff and have to go back and re-read. I love reading, but don’t always have as much time as I’d like to get through every book. I have a hard time listening to tapes on books because I want the reader to hurry it up, already! But it’s like yoga – I know reading is better if you can absorb it and experience it rather than just get through it. That’s how I know I really love a book, when I want to read every single word.

  I also have the same problem with audiobooks, but I learned a trick. Get the audiobook and a copy of the book in print. This way if the audiobook gets slow, you can stop it and pick up the book instead. It's helped me out a few times. Alright, inquiring minds want to know: what's on your tbr pile?

Lola and the Boy Next Door, by Stephanie Perkins
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin
And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
Pathfinder, by Orson Scott Card

Wow, such a great mix of genres! Courtney, thanks again for being here today. Readers, if you would like to know more about Courtney and her book be sure to stop by her website or find her on Good Reads.  

 Claire is struggling to overcome the murder of her childhood friend and secret crush, Daniel. Everyone else seems to be moving on with their lives, but she's still trying to cope. The fact that she finds herself alone and drowning on her 16th birthday isn't helping.
  Neither is thinking she sees Daniel's face in murky water as she mysteriously resurfaces. But something happened during those four and a half minutes that will make her realize it was not just her imagination.
  As Claire and Daniel try to grasp a possible reconnection, other grudge-holding beings have plans of their own. Now, the two of them have to decide if their fleeting relationship is worth the possibility of Claire being trapped on the fringe forever.

Beautifully told, On the Fringe intertwines fresh ideas about devotion, revenge, and the consequences that come with life and death.
3 Responses
  1. Great interview! I loved the discussion on covers. I loved the comment about not allowing a well done steak. My dad always cooks steak well-done. We ate it about once a week growing up, so well-done steak is what I know best. Over time, I developed a taste for char. I even sort of like burnt toast!

  2. Fantastic interview. I especially enjoyed the talk about cover design because that has always been one thing that fascinates me. I've long wished I was talented enough to do design. I love the cover for On the Fringe, and the trailer is great too.

    And thanks for sharing Ms. Walker's TBR list. I love knowing what a writer reads.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    What a fun interview...I honestly have seen this book about but never really knew anything about it...Im adding it to my TBR..:D

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