Sunday, August 12, 2012

Authors ARE Rockstars: Courtney Summers

I am beyond thrilled to host one of my favorite authors ever today, as part of the Authors ARE Rockstars tour: Courtney Summers. My first book of hers was Cracked Up to Be, which I really enjoyed and ate at me in the right way. Then I read Some Girls Are, and I was gutted, stunned, and basically a mess. I stayed up way too reading before forcing myself to go to bed, and got up way to early to finish. This is hands down one of my favorite books ever, and has everything that I adore in a book: a strong hook, raw emotions, a less than perfect ending, and absolutely stunning characterization. That book is what really made me love Courtney Summers, and put her as an autobuy author for me, and I have to admit, of all her stuff, this is one is still probably my favorite, because of the depths it goes to, the turns it takes, and just how potent it is.

Her writing gets to me, physically and emotionally. Her books challenge me, make me think, and generally leave me a distraught mess. Her most recent release, This is Not a Test, took a step out of contemporary with zombies... but the thing that I loved most about that book was how realistic it still was, apart from the whole flesh eating zombie thing: the emotions, the character arcs, the determination to live. The fact that Courtney took a girl who was ready to give up, who wanted to die, and put her into a situation surrounded by people who wanted nothing but to live... and did it absolutely amazingly? That is why I think Courtney Summers is an absolute rockstar. She is talented beyond belief, but also, I follow her on twitter, and she is so friendly, so open. She talks to those who talk to her, she is so obviously thankful for her readers, and she is hilarious even on her own. It's that mix of talented author and genuinely nice person that makes her stand out for me.

So now that I've talked about why I think she rocks, let's get to the interview with her!

We think authors are amazing. You are our rockstars. Do you have an author or authors that you look up to or are inspired or amazed by?

I think readers are rockstars, so the feeling is mutual. :) Robert Cormier is a huge source of inspiration for me! I love how his main characters pushed against reader expectations, like in The Chocolate War (and especially its sequel, Beyond The Chocolate War), where no one was the hero, and who you chose to root for kind of said more about you than the book.

What was your inspiration for becoming an author? Your website mentions that you’ve been writing since the ripe old age of one but you didn’t write your first novel until you were eighteen. Would you mind sharing what it was about? And what were the other two novels you wrote that weren’t published about?

Oh, those books. They have been so buried but I can give the vaguest of rundowns... the first was about a twenty-something girl who hated her best friend, the second book was about a twenty-something girl stuck in a small town who may/may not have been in love with her best friend, and the third was about two teenagers who try to break some rules at school and terrible things happen to them and the people they love. They were all pretty bad but they taught me a lot about writing.

You have dabbled in quite a few creative pursuits throughout your life – singing, acting, photography, music – before finally settling on writing. Aside from writing, which was your favorite? And why?
Probably photography, since I still pick up the camera every now and then. I loved it because I loved creating stories, setting up scenes--all reasons I love writing, too.

What is your favorite part about being a writer? Is it creating the characters or world? Is it being able to get lost in your imagination? Or is it something else?
The writing! Which can also be my least favourite thing about it too. :) But there's just something so amazing and exciting and satisfying about having an idea and putting it on paper and seeing how it comes out--because it's never usually exactly how you thought it. At least that's the case for me.

Of all your books, which was your favorite to write? Which was your most challenging? And which is the character you most relate to?
My favourite book is always the one I'm working on. So at some point or another, all of my books have been my favourite. :) All of my books are challenging in their own ways, but branching into a new genre with THIS IS NOT A TEST made for a slightly more nervewracking writing experience than usual. I don't relate to one of my characters more than others--I think I relate to all of them a little. Whether I want to or not!

Most of your books have been contemporary stories. Your latest release, THIS IS NOT A TEST, has a contemporary feel, but it’s much darker (in that it has an end-of-the-world scale) and there are zombies. What inspired you to change up the setting so drastically for this book? What did you most like about the non-realistic element of the zombie apocalypse? What did you find the most difficult part of adding zombies to the mix?
I have always loved zombies so writing about them was always a matter of when and not if for me. I think my favourite thing about exploring the zombie apocalypse was how to make that non-realistic aspect about it feel realistic and true (although it's up to the reader if I pulled that off!). The most difficult part of adding zombies to the mix was letting go of what other people might think. Being a huge zombie fan, I went in wanting to please every zombie fan but it's just not possible to please everyone.

How would you describe THIS IS NOT A TEST in ten words or less?

Six teens trapped in high school during the zombie apocalypse.

This or That questions

Contemporary or Zombie Apocalypse?

Depends on my mood!

Happily ever after or happily never after?

Depends on the story. ;) (I'm cheating, I know!)

Write at night or write during the day?


Write in silence or write with music?

With music.

Write by hand or write by computer?


Love triangle or soul mates?


Zombies or Unicorns? 


28 Days Later or 28 Weeks Later?

28 Days! So much better.

Characters: Flawed but redeemable or fatally flawed?

Another cop-out answer: depends on my mood and the story.

In a battle who wins: Zombies or Mean Girls?

Mean girls. Zombies would have no chance.

So there's a look into Courtney, and her books, and how awesome I think she is. If you haven't read her books, trust me, you need to. Her fifth book, All the Rage, is hitting shelves in 2013, so you should join me in the waiting for more from this talented author! 


  1. Thank you so much for being a part of the tour. I love getting to know just why you think Courtney Summers is a rockstar. And I totally agree. She's a brilliant writer and I am dying to read every book she's written.

    You've described her style and what her writing does absolutely perfectly.

  2. OK can I say how much I love the doxie in your header??? I have two :)

    Thanks so much for being a tour stop you rock <3


  3. Great post!! I loved the "This or that" portion. It's always so fun to see.

    You made a excellent tour stop, thanks :)


  4. This post was awesome, Kari! As usual, your interview questions ask for all the cool and pertinent facts. :)

    AND YAY ANOTHER COURTNEY SUMMERS BOOK! <333 Can't wait for 2013!

  5. I hadn't heard of Courtney Summers until This Is Not a Test, which I had to read, because of course I did. I loved it, and now want to read all of her stuff. I didn't used to be a contemporary fan, which is how she slipped under my radar. So glad she ventured into my land (post-apocalyptic/dystopian) so I could find her!

  6. I love This Is Not A Test! This was such a great post and I'm actually going to be checking out her other books now! Thanks for the great stop on the tour!