Kourtney Heintz writes award winning cross-genre fiction for adults. Her debut novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin (Aurea Blue Press, 2013), is a gripping story about a man named Oliver, who attempts to save his wife Kai from her out-of-control telepathy, and brings her to the quiet Wisconsin town he abandoned a decade ago, where he must confront the secrets of his past to save their future.
Kourtney has been featured in the Republican American (the AP ran the article nationally), on WTNH’s CT Style, and Everything Internet on the radio.
As K.C. Tansley, she writes young adult time-travel murder mysteries. The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts (Beckett Publishing Group, 2015) is about a teenage girl, Kat Preston, who ignores ghosts so she can have an normal life. The ghosts, however, have other plans for her.
Her personal essay “The 3AM Taxi” was published by the Young Adult Review Network (YARN) in July 2015.
Her article “Know Thy Genre” appeared in the May 2011 CTRWA newsletter and was selected by several RWA chapters for reprint in their newsletters. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and Backspace.
She has been a panelist and presented workshops at writing conferences, universities, bookstores, libraries, and fantasy conventions. (Check out the News section for a list of her previous and upcoming author events.)
She resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amuck at night, dreaming up worlds where the unbelievables thrive.
How I Got Here
As far back as I can remember, I wrote. As a child, poetry was my secret journal. The one code no one could figure out. I tried novel writing, managing to create character sketches and a plot outline, but lost interest by chapter two.
During college, I loved writing essays. A finance major who cherished her liberal arts electives. After graduation, I spent my days as a management consultant doing business writing.
At night I kept a journal, which spiraled into my first attempt at a novel. I read somewhere the first book should be all about you. I’ve never tried to publish it. It’s the one that I happily keep under my bed.
I headed to grad school in California to write 30-50 page thesis papers on politics and international relations. I dreamed of moving to China and becoming fluent in Mandarin. I still wrote poetry, but nothing grabbed my attention long enough to commit to another novel. I figured I was a poet, unpublished but prolific. Maybe novel writing wasn’t my thing.
After graduation, life rejected my plan and took it’s own path. I ended up returning to Wall Street and to business writing.
A particularly long day filled with conference calls turned into a night of me mourning the end of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Harry and Hermione. I wanted characters that didn’t leave. But how could I have that? I’d have to write my own novel. No. Scratch that. A series of novels. Ambitious? Certainly. Typical for me? Pretty much.
I outlined the book and the characters based off of a concept a friend and I had as children. The twelve-page outline flew from my fingertips. My excitement grew as my mind imagined all the high points of the story. I found the much needed escape from the minutia of my daily life. This time I didn’t stop writing after chapter two. In six months, I had a terribly wordy draft of what would become The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts.
Now, I needed to learn how to craft a better novel.
To understand what made me stay up all night to finish a book, I feasted on dozens of New York Times Bestsellers. I took a highlighter to the pages of Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel. I drafted query letters and synopses. I cold queried. Nothing happened.
Well, besides a string of form letter rejections. I started reading agent blogs. Finally, I took a leap and attended my first conference, the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar. There, I learned how much I didn’t know I didn’t know.
My word count remained way too high for a first book. But I was too close to my writing to see what could be cut, so I diligently read The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. With my editor cap squashed against my head, I hacked away at the redundancies, cutting over 10,000 words.
I figured out my book was a YA paranormal mystery. Great, I had my genre. Progress. I joined MWA, Backspace, RWA, and SCBWI. I enrolled in a couple of online Writer’s Digest seminars and classes. I won an E-Bay auction, gaining invaluable feedback from Irene Goodman on my first fifty pages. I retooled the entire manuscript again. I think by that point I was on version 59.
For a side project, I wrote a short story for a contest. I submitted it and thought I was done. I didn’t win, but the characters wouldn’t leave me alone. They demanded their own novel, so I drafted The Six Train to Wisconsin. It was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist and was published in May 2013 by Aurea Blue Press.
I don’t like wondering what’s next so I started drafting another book.
The stories keep coming to me and I keep capturing them on paper. Each one teaches me more than I ever thought I could learn.
Q: Why did you create this website?
A: So you could learn more about my writing and me.
Q: Where can I buy your books?
A: All my books are available through the buy links at the bottom of this page.
Q: Can I get a signed copy of your book?
A: Absolutely. I sell signed copies of all my books. The details are on my blog.
Q: Can I read some of your stuff?
A: The first chapter of each of my books is available on their Amazon page. You can get there through the buy links at the bottom of the page.
Q: What inspires you?
A: My daily life constantly creeps into my writing. Pretty much every place I visit has the potential to become a part of my novels.
Q: Who are your current favorite authors?
A: Jay Asher, John Green, Richelle Mead, Stacey Jay, Laini Taylor, Charlaine Harris, and Sue Monk Kidd to name a few. Check out my Goodreads reviews to see what I’ve been reading.
Q: Why fantasy?
A: I can’t seem to imagine a world without fantastical elements in it. I never set out to write a specific genre. I wrote my first manuscript, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, and then tried to categorize it. Turned out it was fantasy, a gothic mystery that could be shelved as YA contemporary fantasy or YA mystery. Check out Articles for more on my genre journey.
Q: Do you really believe in all that stuff?
A: Life is much more fun if things are possible. So yes, I do believe in the unbelievables.
Q: How can you write YA and adult?
A: I get a concept or a character and see where it takes me. My newest work-in-progress turned out to be YA and deeply contemporary fantasy.
Q: Will there be sequels to you books?
A: Yes! I prefer to write series. I love revisiting my characters and watching them grow. There is definitely more to come for Kai and Oliver in Wisconsin and for Kat and the unbelieveables in Connecticut.
Q: What are the things you do on a daily basis to improve you craft?
A: Read voraciously across genres. Pour over books on the craft of writing. Dog-ear every issue of Writer’s Digest and Poets & Writers. Devour RWR (RWA newsletter), SCBWI Bulletin, and The Third Degree (MWA newsletter). Attend writing conferences. Draft 1500 words of my new work-in-progress. Blog. Dissect the tv shows I am enamored by. It’s hard work to watch The Vampire Diaries four or five times, but I make sacrifices for my craft.
Q: What’s the pattern on your wallpaper?
A: It’s something I doodled all the time in school. It’s actually a design that I feature in The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts. I made my web designer create a wallpaper with it. I like patterns where you can see a couple different things. Are they overlapping circles or four pointed knots? I’ll never tell.
Q: How do you get inspired/stay inspired to finish your manuscript? What’s your writing routine like?
A: For me, the pre-writing time is when I kindle the inferno of inspiration. I commit to my characters and I promise to tell their story. I call it storystorming. It’s usually 1-3 months of serious contemplation and tinkering with plotting. Fleshing out the characters in my mind. Learning their backstory. Uncovering their motives. Following a plot thread to its conclusion and seeing if that’s a route I want my characters to travel.
I take notes on everything. I also try to write a two-page synopsis before I begin drafting. I daydream the opening scene for a few weeks before I’m confident that I’ve figured out how the story opens. Once I feel ready to start writing, I set a 1,500 word a day requirement 5 days a week. In a month, that gives me approximately 30,000 words.
Q: Did you always want to be a writer?
A: As a child, I loved writing poetry and stories. But I read too many tales of destitute writers finding fame after their death in the Victorian era. My practical streak demanded I study finance in college. I always managed to include writing in my professional and personal life, but it wasn’t until a severe back injury that I started thinking I wanted to write as a career.
Q: Do you know where the story is going when you sit down to write it? Are you an outliner?
A: Yes, but the characters have a knack for hijacking it. Sometimes, I sit at my laptop confounded by what just happened. Because I didn’t see it coming and yet there it is on the page. So clearly it happened to them without any forewarning to me. I prefer having a synopsis because the story evolves as I write it. The synopsis keeps my mind focused on where it needs to get to but allows me the freedom of an occasional detour into the unexpected.