At 24, Courtney Allison Moulton has accomplished the literary equivalent of winning “American Idol.”
The Mason woman’s first novel, “Angelfire,” a young-adult paranormal book, is being published by Harper Collins, and will be released this week at a launch party at Schuler Books & Music in Eastwood Towne Center. It’s something few first-time authors get to experience.
"Angefire," the first book in a planned trilogy, is a paranormal thriller that follows Ellie, a typical 17 year-old high-school student as she worries about grades, goes to dances, shops for shoes and develops a love interest. But that’s where anything like normal life ends.
Ellie is haunted by dreams of something terrible on the fringes of her past. In her dreams, she is hunted by monsters. She can’t quite put it all together until she meets Will, who is not your typical teenager, either. Will is Ellie’s guardian and has been following her through time, keeping an eye on her.
Gradually, Ellie’s memory awakens and, with Will’s help, fends off “reapers” that devour humans and send their souls to hell. Ellie has done this many times in the past in her various reincarnations, but this time may be different, since each reincarnation has made her more mortal.
Moulton wrote her first book-long manuscript about vampires at 16, and she said she wrote the first draft of “Angelfire” in 39 days for the National Novel Writing Month: “I literally locked myself in my bedroom and didn’t come out.”
The manuscript was good enough to attract an agent that Moulton located through a blind query, again beating the long odds of publishing.
“She told me it wasn’t quite ready," Moulton said. "I added 30,000 more words and did extensive revisions, explaining the mythology.”
Moulton described the editing process as “more-more-more.”
Moulton explained her book is a little non-traditional for the young-adult paranormal genre.
“There is a love interest, but there is an epic story line. You want romance, but you need a plot first,” she said.
Her fans seem to agree. The blogging world, which closely follows young adult paranormal books, is abuzz about her trilogy. She said her launch party will be a “bloggerpalooza,” with bloggers from across the Midwest in attendance.
She said she has been pleasantly surprised the bloggers really understand what she writes. “They get my characters. It feels like they are inside my head.”
Moulton said that she sees a lot of herself in her protagonist, Ellie.
“I wrote the book in my own voice. I am pretty girlie and fun myself. I’m not embarrassed by it, but you shouldn’t be afraid to kick a little butt at the same time.”
Which is exactly what Ellie does by confronting the reapers that want to rule the world. With only Ellie and Will standing between them and world domination there are some particularly nasty, world-class fight scenes with Ellie wielding angelfire — sickle-style swords — with absolutely deadly effect.
Moulton comes by some of that rough-and-tumble action from raising and showing horses at a national level. She says she has even worked horses into the final book of the trilogy.
The author is also part of a new generation of writers that forgoes face-to-face writer groups, instead opting for online interaction with other paranormal writers across the country.
“Writing is not that lonely of an experience," Moulton said. "Being online, within a few seconds, you can have all kinds of connections.”
She routinely writes at night while using instant messaging to stay in touch with other published writers. “I’ll post short paragraphs and they will critique me, and I do the same for them.”
One of the most difficult tasks for a paranormal writer is
creating a mythological world that stays consistent throughout the
entire book.“That’s a challenging part for you, creating a universal
To assist her, Moulton does extensive outlines, often reaching 10,000 words.
Moulton points to some of her childhood reading as an inspiration for writing paranormal novels: “Growing up, I loved R.L. Stine — the whole ’Goosebumps’ underworld.”
The 2004 Mason High School graduate is looking forward to the upcoming book launch and tour and to interacting with fans online, but she’s taking it all in stride.
“I don’t feel like a star. It’s weird and a little surreal, but it’s still cool to go to events.”
Courtney Allison Moulton
Presenting "Angelfire". 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19. Schuler Books & Music, 2820 Towne Center Blvd., Lansing. Free. www.schulerbooks.com. (517) 316-7495