Author Interview – Courtney Hunt

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Welcome Courtney Hunt

Courtney Hunt is the author of the Cupid’s Coffeeshop series, the Always a Bridesmaid series, and the Kindle Scout winner, The Lost Art of Second Chances. An attorney by day, Courtney lives outside Washington, DC. with her husband and son.

Tell us about your book 

The Cupid’s Coffeeshop series is set in the fictional small town of Ashford Falls, Virginia. If Patrick, Joe, and Zooey Lockhart run their grandmother’s coffeeshop for one year and earn a profit, they inherit the store. Each month, a different couple finds their happily-ever- after in Cupid’s Coffeeshop.

The current book, Coconut Iced Coffee, features Zooey Lockhart’s 21 st birthday trip to the islands where she meets handsome island boy, Charlie Lyons.

What are three things we’d find if we looked under your heroine’s bed? 

Zooey loves to draw so I’m pretty sure we’d find some full sketchpads and maybe a dropped charcoal pencil or two. She’s also pretty girly so she might find her lost earring or a spare hairclip. Charlie just graduated law school so we might find some old law school textbooks, candy wrappers from his all night studying sessions, and his stress ball.

(I like this question! I added it to my character workbook).*Author note: My fabulous CP posed this question to me and I think it’s such a great way to really get into your character’s brain in a deceptively casual way.

What is the theme of this book? How does this book fit into the series? 

After the death of their grandfather, the Lockhart family splintered apart. This inheritance scheme was their grandmother’s way of re-uniting the family. So a huge theme that runs through all the books is the importance of family. It’s also a small town romance series so we see familiar characters helping the main couple find their happily-ever- after.

What inspired this series?

I enjoy writing in coffeeshops and thought they’d be a perfect setting for couples to meet. But I couldn’t settle on just one couple to focus a story or a series on. Finally, I brainstormed about 10 different couples and the idea to do a full year of coffeeshop stories arrived. Pretty soon, Patrick, Joe, and Zooey were chatting away and here we are.

Why do you write this genre? Do you write any other genres?

As a lifelong romance reader myself, I love the strong heroines and the sexy heroes who steal their hearts. Eventually, I wouldn’t mind writing some light paranormal stories or some women’s fiction. The romance genre focuses on the courtship part of a woman’s life because nothing is more thrilling than falling in love. With women’s fiction, I think I’d have the chance to explore motherhood, divorce, friendship, etc. But right now, I’m happily writing contemporary romance. It’s my first love after all and I am blessed with tons of ideas.

Any tips/advice for aspiring authors? What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?

If you’re just starting out, develop a writing practice. For me, I set the goal of writing 350 words per day and kept it up for a 274-day streak, until a family trip to Disney World derailed it. By then, it was a habit.

If you’re a seasoned pro, remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Write at the pace that feels comfortable to you on a daily basis. In the past, I’d write 10k in a day and be exhausted for a week. 3k per day is much more sustainable for me.

I think the best advice I ever heard is from Chuck Wendig’s blog post on learning to write. It’s what started me on my 350 words per day streak. Here’s the link (warning for strong language): http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/02/20/how-to-push-past-the- bullshit-and-write-that-goddamn-novel-a-very-simple-no-fuckery-writing-plan-to-get-shit-done/

Excerpt

This is from the second chapter, when our hero and heroine first meet.

Two days later, Zooey sat on the veranda of an island coffeeshop, her sketchpad on her knees, as she sipped her morning coffee. She stared out at the waves crashing against the shore of Turtle Bay. The sea breeze rustled the palm branches overhead, casting shadows over the remains of her brunch. She tapped her pencil on the half-finished sketch of a gull she’d dubbed Hank. He’d flown away before she could complete it, enticed by something more than her toast crust, leaving Zooey with nothing to do.

When had she become so uncomfortable with the idea of doing nothing? Since her grandmother’s death last October, she’d barely had a moment to think. At first, she, Joe, and Patrick were overwhelmed with getting the coffeeshop restored enough to open, and since their grand opening on New Year’s Day, the store consumed nearly every waking hour. Though she’d occasionally found a moment here and there to open her sketchbook, she hadn’t been very faithful to her practice recently. Once upon a time, she’d spend hours sketching everything imaginable.

She blew her bangs away from her forehead. Maybe she just needed a change of scene to spark her shy muse? As she reached to grab her bag, intending to head to the beach, a man in a white Panama hat caught her eye. She leaned back, appraising him from behind dark sunglasses. He wore khaki cargo shorts topped by a simple light blue linen shirt. He strolled along, his hips rolling with each step as though he listened to some internal music, his graceful walk nearly a dance. She flipped to a blank page, watching him overtly as she sought to capture his essence in just a few pencil lines.

She saw muscular calves with his feet stuffed into flip-flops, and his shirt fluttering in the breeze. His biceps pressed against the shirt sleeve, while his skin, the color of cafe mocha, gleamed, smooth, in the sun. Working quickly, not stopping to hesitate, Zooey sought to capture his essence with just a few simple lines of charcoal.

The man stopped at the hostess stand, his back to her. She captured the way his shoulder muscles bunched under his shirt, with power and grace. Even as he spoke to the hostess, he shuffled his feet in time to his own internal melody and tapped his fingers on the book he carried. She sketched close-ups of him now; his long fingers tapping on the burgundy leather volume, his narrow feet keeping rhythm with the snare drum’s instrumental pouring out of loudspeakers hidden in the palms. The hostess, a broad smile on her face, seated the man at the empty table across from Zooey.

He slouched into the chair, putting his feet up on the opposite one. His shorts rode up, revealing his toned thigh. Zooey flushed but continued to sketch, her own eyes safely hidden behind her dark shades. Inspiration came in many forms, after all. He tossed his sunglasses onto the table and flipped open his book. He read for a second, his stillness allowing her to note down some of the details of his appearance. She bent over her sketchpad, working to refine her sketch of his broad hand supporting the heavy leather tome.

“What are you drawing?” A deep voice, with the musical lilt of the Caribbean, broke the silence.

Zooey looked up, into eyes the exact color of the sea lapping against the shore, a lovely mixture of blues from sky to cerulean. Her muse sat staring at her, his generous mouth quirked up at the corner, his startling eyes kind. Zooey’s heartbeat quickened as she realized she’d been caught.

Thanks for stopping by this week Courtney! Be sure to check her out on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and her website. Click here to buy Coconut Iced Coffee and I’ll dare you pick only one (I love this series!).

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