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Friday, May 1, 2015

The Secret Adventures of Author Courtney King Walker

I'm thrilled to have a super author on Kidbits today, who writes adventures not only for YA but also for MG. She's agreed not only to answer my questions (which already gets her bonus points in my book) but reveals some secrets from her own childhood.

And here she is. . .


For those of you who don't know who this amazing person is (and you should because she just released a fun MG adventure, MOLLY PEPPER AND THE NIGHT TRAIN), here's a quick summary:

Courtney King Walker grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area building rocket ships and rafts out of cardboard, hoping to make it the moon or at least Niagara Falls. But a trip across the border to Tijuana was as exciting as it ever got, so she decided writing about adventure was the next best thing. She now lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and four children, and still dreams of flying to the moon. Her YA debut, ON THE FRINGE, was published in 2011 by Lands Atlantic Publishing.

Thanks so much for agreeing to stop by today! And since I'm sure you have some exciting escapade waiting right around the corner, let's just dive right in!

I just finished you newest book, Molly Pepper and the Night Train, and loved Molly and Noah. You take them to the most amazing places, spots most kids would love to go themselves--the abandoned prison and a magical night train. Were you a small adventurer yourself as a child or dream of similar adventures?

I was a dreamer, that’s for sure. In real life I’ve always been overly cautious and afraid to take risks, especially if danger was involved. That didn’t mean I was afraid of my own neighborhood, however; my siblings and I still explored the creeks and hills behind our house together, certain to discover something mysterious. We just made sure we didn’t talk to strangers, and we definitely locked our windows every night (a big imagination can paralyze you, you know).

An adventure I remember very well to this day happened when I was about ten or so. It was a hot summer day, so my older sister and I rode our bikes up to the store to get ice cream cones. While there, we noticed a nervous-looking man getting out of his car and start to pace around the front entrance of the store for a minute, checking over his shoulder with a nervous look on his face. He then dropped something like a package into a garbage can before driving away. We thought that seemed a little odd, but were really convinced something was up when another man arrived five minutes later to retrieve the same package out of the garbage can! It most definitely was Russian correspondence or a drug deal—something very dangerous, at least. The cops, of course disagreed; they thought we made the whole thing up!

How frustrating! And I'm sure you and your sister were right...probably would have thwarted some secret plot. If only the cops had listened. I'm guessing from this, you had a nose for mystery from beginning on. When you sit down to write, do you already know what and how the clues will be hidden or do the ideas fall into place as you write? (I guess this is almost one of those panster or ploster questions, isn't it?)

All the right clues in the right place come after the first draft, otherwise my brain couldn’t handle it! I just get the story down after a very loose outline, and then when I revise, that’s when all the fun ideas and clues start popping up and I put them where they are supposed to go! I guess you could say I’m a little of both. I need some structure, but too much makes me feel like writing is the worst chore in the world.

If only writing were always easy. What is your favorite part about creating a story? And what would you rather eat worms than do?

Coming up with the initial idea and then connecting myself to the setting and characters is the most fun. I learned the hard way that I can’t write something that sounds good on paper but has no connection to me, whatsoever. I need to visualize and feel and experience the setting and characters like they were pulled out of my own life, otherwise it’s like I’m writing a product description for a catalogue. So, the research (meaning going home to visit my favorite places) is a huge deal and the most fun. For instance, eating my favorite doughnuts to understand Molly’s passion wasn’t all that bad!

As far as the second question, I hate hate hate bridging the big gaps of time in between the last section I wrote and what I want to write next. I’ve learned that in order not to neglect my family life I have to put writing second and my family first. That means stepping away from my story, even when I really have a great groove going, and then coming back to it days or weeks later, trying to find my enthusiasm and rhythm again.

Now, I'm going to ask some fun, quick questions. What were you favorite books while growing up?

I have so many. I loved Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, even Agatha Christie’s books. I guess I’ve always loved mysteries. I also loved Watership Down, The Westing Game, The Hobbit, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

What book are you reading right now?

I just finished an amazing YA sci-fi/romance called A Thousand Pieces of You, by Claudia Gray. It’s so good! You must read it.

When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do?

I love reading and learning about new things by researching new ideas or techniques. I love baking but also eating what I bake, so I try to keep the baking to a minimum; however I have a weak spot for homemade pies and delicious doughnuts (not the cheap supermarket kind). I also love organizing, listening to music, and watching movies.

Mmmm donuts, pies and movies...sounds wonderful to me! Well, I don't want to keep you from any of that (especially the donut researching). Thanks for stopping by!

You can find more about Courtney at:

And of course, we can't leave without giving a short peek at her latest book! Head on over to Bookworm for Kids for my thoughts on it AND there's a fun giveaway running, which you might just want to enter as well!

Hidden somewhere in the fog of the San Francisco bay lies Blue Rock Island, home to the bay area’s two best-kept secrets: Bell’s Bluff, the old, abandoned prison on one side of the island, and the Night Train, a mysterious train ride on the other. When twelve-year-old Molly Pepper receives a secret invitation promising a night of magic and adventure aboard the Night Train, she is skeptical. In her experience, most promises prove too good to be true. The fact that she lost her mom is proof enough.

Still, Molly gives hope another chance. Together with her loyal friend, Noah Wonderly, they sneak out of the house and follow a string of clues leading to the Night Train. But when the train stops at Bell's Bluff, Molly discovers the real reason she was invited. There, she starts to wonder if hope and magic not only fix broken promises; but make you believe in them again.

You can find this at. . .

And don't forget the Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Sounds like a great, fun story! Best wishes, Courtney!
    Love the interview, Tonja!

  2. It's always so good to get to know what makes a writer tick and where the ideas come from for their books. This one sounds great and I wish it all the best :) Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace


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