Sunday, December 9, 2018

Falling for Books: Courtney's book

Interview with Courtney Walsh about her book, Just Look Up:

What is your book about and why did you title it “Just Look Up?"

Courtney: I actually thought of the title for this book before I even had an inkling of a story. On a trip to NYC after years of being away, I noticed walking down the street that everyone had their heads buried in their phones. I, being completely enamored with New York, could not believe all people were missing. I kept thinking, “Look up! You’re missing it all!” And then I realized we do that with our lives. We keep our heads down in our phones and we miss all the life happening around us. I took that idea and turned it into this story. 

Alexis: Describe the setting for your book. How did you choose it? Where is it located?

Courtney: I’m from the Midwest, and I’ve long loved Michigan and all the small cottage towns along the lake, so I created Harbor Pointe, which is a fictitious town that pulls in some of my favorite elements of a variety of real (and imagined!) places. 

Alexis: Lane Kelley is your story’s heroine. She’s an interior designer based in Chicago. How did you research her character and decide on the details that make Lane, “Lane?”

Courtney: Honestly, Lake is the most autobiographical character I’ve ever written, so I didn’t have to do a lot of research to figure her out. She works too much—to the point of making herself sick—and she’s incredibly hard on herself. She always feels like she has something to prove. She’s struggled with her weight in the past, and the teasing/bullying that went on when she was younger still have a slight hold on her today. I think there’s something in Lane most women will relate to as her issues are largely universal. 

Alexis: Early on in your story, Lane is at a crossroads: Pitch successfully to a big client that will advance her career, or travel home to address a family emergency. Has she always felt torn between her dreams and her family’s needs? Explain.

Courtney: I think so. I think when you’re a driven, ambitious person, it’s hard to put work aside, even when you know it’s better to do so, and even (sadly) at the loss of really important relationships. Work has such a hold on us these days—it makes it difficult to rest, to spend time on what really matters, to step away even for a few days. 

Alexis: Describe Lane’s hometown. What makes it special? Why did she want to leave?

Courtney: Harbor Pointe is a charming lakeside town that depends on tourism. There’s a “summer crowd” and then “locals”, who are as quirky and eclectic as the cotton candy-colored buildings that make up its downtown. But, as is the case for many of us, Lane’s hometown, while a respite for so many, has too many secrets and taunts from the past. This makes it difficult for her to stay. 

Alexis: Why do you say that Lane’s family is eclectic? Have they always seen life differently?

Courtney: I’ve always viewed the Kelley family as boisterous, the kind of people who only have outside voices. They aren’t the same kind of driven and ambitious that Lane is—they are perfectly content to run their cheese shop in this small town and live a simple life. That makes Lane feel like the odd man out. They are the type of people who would embarrass someone like Lane simply by being themselves, and she has to come to terms with the fact that it might be her—not them—who needs to change. 

Alexis: Ryan Brooks is the hero of this story. He’s very adventurous. What are his positive points, flaws, strengths, and weaknesses?

Courtney: Ryan Brooks is one of my favorite heroes I’ve ever written. He’s flirtatious and forward, and while his life has not been all rosy, he still has a positive outlook. He’s a veteran, an unassuming hero, the kind of man who doesn’t like the spotlight, but he wants to build a good life for himself, and he’s doing that. Mostly, he wants to be sure he doesn’t end up like his dad, and I’d say one of his flaws is the unforgiveness he’s carrying toward his own father. 

Alexis: How long has Ryan “secretly loved” Lane? Why didn’t he tell her how he felt?

Courtney: I think Brooks has loved Lane forever. Even when she was heavy. Even when she thought she was ugly. He saw something in her that no one else did. He just loved her for who she was. BUT, he was her brother’s friend, and their lives never really allowed for a romance to blossom—she moved to Chicago, he joined the military. Now that she’s back, though, it’s hard for him to set those feelings aside. 

Alexis: Did (romantic) sparks fly when Ryan and Lane were reunited early on in this story? Why or why not?

Courtney: I think yes. Sort of. The kind of sparks that fly, but you maybe don’t admit are flying right away. Brooks always teases her, and he knows how to push her buttons, so their playful banter was fun to write. Lane arrives home with a chip on her shoulder, so he has a big job to try and break down that wall.

Alexis: Why is Lane closed off to Ryan and why is Ryan keeping secrets from his past?

Courtney: Lane is closed off to everyone, but especially to Ryan. He sees through her façade, and she doesn’t like it. And as far as his secrets—I really think he’s embarrassed. He doesn’t like thinking about where he came from. He’s moved on and tried to make something of himself. He wants to be taken seriously, and his past makes that difficult for him. 

Alexis: How does your personal faith in God affect your storytelling?

Courtney: It’s just always there. It’s such a part of who I am at my core, there’s no way around it. It seeps in through the cracks, and I’m glad it does. I think faith provides a sort of hope and light in a very dark world. 

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember the most about Just Look Up? Why?

Courtney: I think the characters and the theme. I would love for more people to commit to looking up. Like with this holiday season…What if we thought less about ourselves and our goals and our plans and THINGS and focused instead on the people in our lives? Instead of piling gifts high, what if we created moments and memories? It’s so hard to unplug and just BE in the moment, but I think that would be my challenge to my readers (and myself)!

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Courtney! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Courtney: Thank you so much for hosting me here! I really appreciate it!

Author Bio:
Courtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theatre director, and playwright. 

Just Let Go will be her eighth inspirational romance novel. Her debut, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category.

A creative at heart, Courtney has also written two craft books and several full-length musicals. 

She lives in Illinois with her husband and three children.

Book Blurb for Just Look Up:

After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home—a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget.

With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work—something her eclectic family doesn’t understand

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. 

Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along—if only she’d just look up.

Buy Courtney’s book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ChristianBook, or Tyndale

Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below:

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