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Courtney Maguire | Interview

Being brave and loving banter.

Joining me today is Courtney Maguire, author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her latest book, A Perfect Heresy, is out now! This sci-fi dystopian connects two characters who should be enemies and forces them to work together during the collapse of their society. Find it here.

Thank you for chatting with me today. Can you tell me a little about yourself and why you wanted to become an author? What has your publishing journey been like?

My name is Courtney Maguire and I am a writer of queer fiction. I have always been a lover of stories and a voracious reader pretty much since I learned how. It was only natural that I started making up stories of my own to share with others. I cut my writerly teeth, as many do, in fanfiction. It really is the best sandbox to try things out, be weird, and see what works. My first published book was a contemporary rock and roll romance called Wounded Martyr (currently out of print, but coming back hopefully soon!), which was nominated for an RWA Golden Heart award.

What a lovely nod! Excellent. Can you tell me a little about your latest release?

A Perfect Heresy is a dystopian sci-fi set in and around a city whose theocratic society is collapsing in the wake of rebellion and civil war. Jax, a soldier branded a heretic for refusing to aid in the suppression of the rebellion, is just trying to make xyr way home when xe runs into Koi, an Outsider whose sibling was abducted by City soldiers. Koi, having lived xyr whole life in the Rim, offers to help Jax find xyr way out in exchange for help getting into the City to find xyr sibling and the two of them, once enemies, have to learn to work together to find what they’re looking for.

Ah! So cool to see the gender-neutral pronouns. What draws you to writing romance?

I think I lean toward romance, or at least love stories, because they are always hopeful no matter how messy they are. Love conquers all is a cliché for a reason, right? Love can give people a reason to push through the worst hardships that might otherwise cause them to give up. It’s a light in the dark.

Or maybe I just like writing banter. ;P

Banter is the glue that keeps us together LOL. What are your favorite tropes and themes to play with in your work?

A common theme in my work tends to be self-discovery and/or acceptance. All my characters have something about themselves that they hate or feel ashamed of that they grow to accept or even appreciate. For example, Jax from A Perfect Heresy struggles with xyr faith after being branded a heretic. Even though xe knows in xyr heart xe did the right thing, Jax still feels deep shame around his heresy and only after xe meets Koi does xe realize that shame is a product of indoctrination and not a reflection of xyr faith at all.

A beautiful lesson. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have pre-writing routine or do you just go with the flow?

Image of Courtney Maguire, Author
Author Courtney Maguire

I am mostly a pantser. I go into a project with a list of general points I want to hit and a relatively fleshed out character or two, but not much else. I enjoy letting the story unfold naturally, which sometimes means letting it go off the rails at times. It means there’s often a lot of stuff that doesn’t make it into the final product, but even the parts that get cut are useful in the long run as they often reveal character motivations or help with world building which strengthens the work as a whole.

Speaking of "off the rails" what is the strangest thing you’ve ever researched for your writing?

I researched the physiological effects of extreme blood loss for the Youkai Bloodlines series and symptoms of cocaine toxicity for Wounded Martyr. Not strange per se, but definitely put me on a watch list somewhere I’m sure.

Ha! I think half of those watch lists are filled with authors and their internet searches. Are there any words of wisdom you want to share with new writers?

Be brave. Write the weird thing or the painful thing or the thing you think no one cares about but you. Don’t listen to all the people saying ‘don’t do this,’ or ‘never do that.’ If the story demands you do the thing, DO THE THING no matter what the gurus say. Writing is a deeply personal and individual process. Listen to your peers’ advice, but don’t let it make you feel wrong if it doesn’t work for you.

Well said. What’s the best money you’ve ever spent as an author?

Writing retreats. My publisher, City Owl Press, arranges an author retreat every year and there is nothing more affirming than sitting around with people that have the same struggles, the same heartbreaks, and the same thrills as you. This is especially true if you don’t have people in your regular life that understand how breaking through a narrative wall or plugging a particularly stubborn plot hole can feel like winning a marathon. It is so important to connect with those people.

What are you working on right now?

Like most writers, I am bouncing around several WIPs at the moment. I have a couple of new entries into the Youkai Bloodlines series in the drafting process. I also have a new futuristic romance in the very beginning stages of development (if you follow me on Twitter, you’re likely to see me rant about it). I am also hoping to re-release Wounded Martyr soon, so keep an eye out for that if you are into steamy rock-and-roll romance.

Nice! I’ll keep my eyes peeled. That all sounds fantastic. Thank you for chatting with me today!

Readers can find out more about Courtney's books on her website here. And connect with her on social media at the following:

A Perfect Heresy is OUT NOW. Get it here.

Excerpt from A Perfect Heresy:

Koi and Jax sat on a pair of overturned mop buckets in what was once a janitor’s closet. Koi sat with xyr arms wrapped tight around xyr abdomen as Jax laid out the supplies at xyr feet in a neat row: a clean cloth, bottle of water, antiseptic wipes, bandages. Xe pulled off a few pre-measured strips of cloth tape, tearing them between xyr teeth and sticking one end to xyr thigh. All so precise, methodical. Koi’s eyes tracked xyr movements, watching the little blue stone swing from xyr ear, casting spots of blue light on the walls.

Xe noticed everything about Jax. The way xyr straight, black hair curled only where it touched xyr collarbone. The faint pinkish purple of a fresh bruise forming just under xyr collar. The way xyr thin cotton shirt stretched over xyr back as xe bent to retrieve the cloth. Koi hugged xemself tighter as Jax dampened the cloth with the water, clear rivulets making their way down xyr olive-skinned forearms and dripping from xyr elbows.

“Give me your arm.” Koi jumped at the sound of Jax’s voice, ripping xyr eyes away from xem and swallowing hard. “Come on, I won’t bite you.”

Xe reluctantly unwound xyr arms, exposing a long, ugly slice down the inside of xyr right forearm. Jax cupped xyr hand around xyr elbow, sending tendrils of warmth across xyr skin as xe gently dabbed at the blood drying around the wound.

“What are the pills for?” xe asked without looking up from xyr work.

“Doesn’t matter.” Koi bounced the two remaining pills in the palm of xyr free hand before popping them in xyr mouth. “They’re gone.”

“Is that…bad?”

Koi huffed. “It’s not good.” A hard silence fell between them, and Koi chewed xyr lip. “Why are you helping me?”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Jax answered.

“You’re a Citizen.”

“Are you judging me for where I was born, Outsider?”

“Technically, we were born in the same place.”

Jax’s expression twisted, xyr lips pursed as if tasting something bitter. Xe slapped the last piece of tape roughly across the bandage and pushed Koi’s arm away. Koi’s chest tightened as Jax gathered up the remaining supplies and stuffed them into xyr bag, standing and kicking the bucket back into the corner.

“You’re leaving?” Jax didn’t answer, the lines of xyr body pulled hard and jagged as xe reached for the door. Koi stood, toppling over xyr bucket and sending it rolling across the floor. “I don’t understand.” Xyr muscles twitched with shots of adrenaline, xyr small fists bunching at xyr hips. “What was the point of all this if you’re just going to leave?”

“You’re not afraid I’ll use your skin for my boots?” xe shot back in a mocking tone.

“So, you’re just going to pen me up in here like an animal?” Xyr voice shook and eyes welled with bitter tears. “That’s all we are to you, isn’t it, Citizen? Workhorses and breeding stock—”

“Watch your mouth, Outsider,” Jax growled, xyr easy demeanor giving way to something darker. “You asked for my help. If you can’t trust me, then—”

“Why should I trust you?”

More by Courtney Maguire:

"Equal parts romance and adventure, this historical LGBTQ fantasy is both scintillating and gripping, adding an aching beauty to an otherwise sanguine tale."

-Indies Today (Blood Pact)


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