Tuesday, March 24, 2015


An interview with C.M. Cox., author of Sortilege.

Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?

My name is Courtney Cox and I publish under the name C.M. Cox. I was 11 years old when my work was first published. I wrote a poem about a dog that ended up in a poetry collection with other poets, and a newspaper article about going back to school after summer break that landed me on the local news. I began studying creative writing at a college level at age 16 but did not feel that I was getting the education I wanted. I took a two year break to pursue things like skydiving, spelunking, rereading Harry Potter for the umpteenth time, traveling Europe, and general self-improvement. I tried college a second time but it did not stick then either. I ended up in a writing apprenticeship under a published author and NYU professor, where I was far happier and finally received the education I wanted. 

What got you into writing?

I have written my entire life and have always known that writing books was my future. As a child, my mother read to me constantly and I was often caught awake late at night with a flashlight and a book. I read anything I could get my hands on, and writing was my favorite pastime. I showed up to kindergarten with a completed written and illustrated story. 

What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?

'Sortilege' was my first real novel idea. It started as a birthday present for my sister, with whom I shared a room. I was always forcing her to listen to my little shards of stories and she became quite annoyed one evening that I never finished any of them. It was a short story that became a novel over a period of ten and a half years. The characters introduced themselves to me - an elf and man from a race of plant-people - and I wrote to see what would happen to them. 

Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?

All of my characters are dear to my heart, as they have lived with me for so long! I really enjoy Katz because I feel a special connection to her struggles. She is a fairy with faintly glowing skin, sparkling tattoos - most notably stars tattooed along her hairline - and eyes that constantly shift through the entire color spectrum. She is tall with coppery skin and reddish-brown hair. 

What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?

At the beginning of a new section, there is scene that introduces a candle lighting ceremony. I wrote it centered around the candles and I love how it turned out!

What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?

I love the act of writing itself, the creation of the rough draft. I focus on dialogue in the first draft, but I also love going back and describing things, adding the layers of details, which I usually do in the first round of edits.

How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?

I'm not sure how long it takes, as I drug out the first book over nearly 11 years! I wrote the rough draft of the sequel in about 3 months. I like to lay out the bones of the story, making detailed notes on the setting and characters, and then make a very vague outline. Writing the rough draft is when the magic happens. I never quite know what will happen next in the story, and I love the adventure in that.

What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?

With fantasy, you get to make your own rules!

Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?

Several! When I was 6 or 7 I read 'Bobcat' by Virginia F. Voight; it was the first book that made me realize words could be beautiful. When I was 8 I read 'Where The Red Fern Grows' by Wilson Rawls and cried for the first time over a book, which taught me the emotional impact of reading. When I was 8 I also began reading the Harry Potter series, which were the first books that truly transported me to another world. When I was 14 I read an interview of 'Eragon' author Christopher Paolini (and the book!) and he shared that he had begun work on 'Eragon' when he was 15. His life story and book inspired me to begin working on a novel while I was still in middle school. 

Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?

All the time! To be honest, these surprises are one of the main reasons I keep writing. I don't outline or plan much, so the characters and plot keep me entertained, 

Thanks for stopping by!

Find Courtney online:

Twitter: @cmcoxwrites

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