An Interview with Courtney Diles

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the most enjoyable aspects of being in a writers’ group is getting to know other writers. But sometimes someone special and different comes along and it makes your heart extra happy when they succeed. That’s the case for me with this month’s Author Interviewee, Courtney Diles.

Years ago Courtney was a high school student who attended our local chapter of a state writers’ group. Sometime during her fours years with us we learned high school students weren’t allowed in the group! All that liability stuff. But Courtney was already a beloved member and her writing and insights matched the adults in the room. In some instances surpassed them. We went to the Board and pleaded our case to keep her – she’d paid her membership dues after all – and while they still would not allow new high school students in, Courtney could stay. Her stories were always filled with the most wonderful details and images and we loved travelling with her in them.

Courtney’s all grown up now and here is the cover of her latest just-released novel!

Roxie Maeda is a college senior who hears voices in her head. When she first sees the demonic creature haunting her crush, she blows it off as a hallucination, but then it shows up in her Psych class, visible to everyone.  

A Writer’s Window: Where did the seed for The Pain Eater come from? Where did the idea of a ‘pain eater’ come from? (I’ve heard of sin eaters that were present at death beds to eat any unconfessed sins of the dying.)

Courtney: The Pain Eater idea actually had nothing to do with sin eaters. The idea came to me during a lecture by Don Piper, the author of the book 90 Minutes in Heaven. He was describing how, after his accident in the ambulance, he heard disembodied screaming. Later he realized it had been himself screaming. But I thought—what if there was someone else there feeling the pain for him? What if that person was doing the screaming?

A Writer’s Window: I see a bit of you in Roxie – her daring, her inquisitiveness, her drive to do good. Of your characters, is there one you felt you ‘knew’ when you were writing the novel? One who revealed him or herself as the writing took place?

Courtney: Roxie’s original name was Moxie, and that summarizes her character pretty well. My original goal in creating her was to make someone extremely different from me. I both succeeded and failed in that regard. I’d like to think she’s more flawed than I am—she can be very aggressive.

A Writer’s Window: What is the most fun, creative part of writing science fantasy?

Courtney: I’m not sure I’d call this book science fantasy. It’s more urban fantasy/paranormal. (I’d want to reserve the term science fantasy for stories that either blend science fiction and fantasy, like my YA project, or entail fantastical scientific systems like Brandon Sanderson creates in Mistborn, for example.)

I can say that the most fun, creative part of writing paranormal romance is figuring out how characters’ paranormal powers and attributes play into their sex lives. I did this better in The Memory Banker (the sequel to The Pain Eater) than The Pain Eater, and even better in a completely different super-secret project, but I can’t say more without spoiling.

A Writer’s Window: You’ve mentioned that your anxiety and depression play into your novels. Are you comfortable elaborating on that?

Courtney: The voices in Roxie’s head reflect the thoughts in mind. I don’t hallucinate them like she does, but the storyteller in me narrates my life like Narra, my anxiety manifests like her voice called Snark, and my depression manifests like her voice named Cruel.

A Writer’s Window: What is your writing space like? How close is it to your ideal?

Courtney: I write on a sofa in the living room. I’d like an office eventually, but in the meantime, it’s nice not to be shut away. I have two dogs who want outside and back in all day, so it’s good for them that I’m not shut up in an office.

A Writer’s Window: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Courtney: I read, I crochet, and I make jewelry. I’ve been going bananas crafting presents for this coming Christmas. This is related to writing, but I also go to the Louisville Writers’ Meetup most Mondays.

Thank you Courtney for the peek into your Writer’s Window! Best wishes on that ‘secret project.’ Can’t wait to hear more about that!

The Pain Eater is available in paperback from Wild Rose Press and as an ebook from Amazon here

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