Courtney Moulton (bio and website linked below) latest novel, Warden’s of Eternity, releases on January 21st. After hitting obstacles from agents and an industry that wanted more whitewashed material, Moulton finally has a chance to write material with a voice more authentic to her own.
Infused with her passion for ancient civilization and own voice point of view, Moulton is entering exciting and new territory. I was thrilled to have her agree to let me publish this interview along with my review (linked above).
1) Looking at your previous work, Wardens of Eternity is the first published work that has utilized the passion you have studying ancient civilizations? Can you discuss this further?
I’d say Wardens of Eternity is my first published work that utilizes my passion in a straight-forward way. In all installments of my Angelfire series there are flashback scenes set during different eras of time. Ancient cities and peoples are discussed indirectly. When I first began writing novels seriously as a teen, there was no strong desire from agents and editors for fantasy books set during different time periods. The market for that subgenre hadn’t developed yet. There was also little interest in stories about nonwhite, non-European characters. Angelfire was my response to the many suggestions I got from agents and editors to write something more “marketable.”
2) The above was born from a need to reconcile your multiple ethnicities, which you feel blessed (“cherished”) for. How does it feel to be able to merge that into a fantasy world and have it published?
It feels incredible and freeing to be so honest about this subject, but it’s also very frightening and intimidating to talk about something I’m still tryig to understand myself. I don’t claim to be any sort of authority. However, I know how I felt growing up, desperate to fit in with the girls around me when I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. I bleached and straightened my hair so I’d look like them and I slathered on infant sunscreen to lighten my skin. I always had a strong interest in learning about where I came from and I really enjoyed writing about a character who feels the same. Fantasy has always been a safe place to explore real world issues in an exciting new world. Despite Wardens of Eternity being full of magic and monsters and dieselpunk technology, it’s certainly the realest thing I’ve ever written.
3) What message might you hope others that struggle with what you did during their adolescent years take from your story and Wardens of Eternity?
Ziva embarks on a journey of self-acceptance and self-love, something we all experience in our lives. She specifically struggles with the way she looks and where she comes from. People are so determined to categorize everyone and fit us all into boxes so we can understand each other. This has caused us to focus way too much energy into finding our place and where we fit in. I hope readers of Wardens of Eternity feel inspired to make their own place in the world. I spent my adolescence trying to hide how I looked different and only when I was well into my twenties had I learned to love how I stood out. It takes a lot of courage to embrace being different and so many more of us are owning that all over the world. I have so much hope for future generations.
4) If you look at your writing as a character, and a character arc from the first book until now, how has it changed?
My writing has certainly matured. We should all grow as people and writers—that’s what makes a good character. I’ve gotten braver, too, as a writer, tackling themes I wasn’t ready to write about until now. Experiencing challenges in real life propels our growth and knowledge, just as it should for our characters. How can anyone grow if they’re never faced with a challenge that forces them to change?
5) What is the historical difference between Angelfire and Wardens of Eternity? Similarities? What about on the fantasy side?
The Angelfire series is set during contemporary times, with the exception of flashbacks and the historical setting of A Dance With Darkness, whereas Wardens of Eternity is set in the late 1930s. This past, however, is more of an alt-dieselpunk world. I felt that the aesthetics of a gritty, Art-Deco-and-diesel-hazed New York City would be a cold, stark contrast against the Ancient Egyptian fantasy and magic. This was so much fun and so exciting to write!
6) What do you see yourself doing going forward in your next projects?
My next projects after Wardens of Eternity are inspired by historical events but set in entirely fantastical worlds. Historical fiction and fantasy are still iffy on their marketability in YA, so this is my way of cheating a little bit and getting to write what I want to write. While I’ve written a lot of published and unpublished historical fantasy projects, I’ve never written anything in a brand-new world before. My knowledge of history and linguistics makes the challenge of creating an entirely fantastical world really fun! I know how civilizations are born, thrive, and die culturally and linguistically, and this will help me craft a believable fantasy world.
Courtney Moulton is the author of WARDENS OF ETERNITY (January 21, 2020; HarperCollins/Blink) and the acclaimed Angelfire series of Young Adult fantasy novels. She was born in Texas and grew up in Michigan, where she spent a lifetime studying ancient civilizations and writing about magic and monsters. Her debut novel ANGELFIRE was published when she was just 24 years old.