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Interview with Courtney Walsh

Even if Courtney Walsh didn’t write great stories, she would still be one of my favorite people. Encourager. Artist. Friend. Dreamer. Those are a few of her “hats.” Add to that wife, mom, business owner, director, writer and you get a sense of what her life is composed of. In addition to writing contemporary novels, Courtney blogs about the real stuff of life, and her latest novel, Paper Hearts, doesn’t skirt the hard issues either. It’s a love story with realistic challenges. If you don’t know Courtney yet, read on to discover her heart!

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Art, specifically scrapbooking, played a big role in your first series of novels, and it has a role in your newest book, Paper Hearts, too. Where did the idea for the Valentine's paper hearts project come from? And which came first: the story or the project?
I honestly don't remember where the idea first came from...but I know it was during a conversation with my agent. We were talking through the story and this is something I actually have done--written notes of encouragement like this, and I was smitten with the idea of turning that in to a key ingredient in the love story. I guess I wondered what would happen if we took the time to note the things we love about each other...even in the midst of an argument or a challenging time. How would that change the relationship?

I love that you get to combine two of your loves--writing and art--into your novels. Do you plan to continue incorporating visual arts into your stories? And what value do you see in having visual art tied to your stories?
It does seem to be always prevalent in everything I write! The next book in this series also has an artistic element. I am so drawn to the visual arts and find so many interesting parallels between my own life and my characters' lives that I am betting that some aspect of art will be in most of my novels...though I tend to be very curious about so many different things, you never know! :)

Let's talk about the trailer for Paper Hearts. Adorable! Was it as much fun to shoot as it was to watch? Is paper hearts a new tradition for you and your husband? And what do you hope people gain by incorporating this tradition into their lives? (You can watch the trailer here:
The trailer was SUPER fun to film. It was one of those collaborations between my husband and me where I thought I had this GREAT idea until he came along and simplified everything and made it so much better. (We are such a team in so many ways!) We definitely try to pay attention and note the things we love about each other, but I'd be lying if I said I was diligent in it yet! But I really see so much value in paying attention and living an intentional life, especially when it comes to our most important relationships.

How was writing your fourth book different than writing your first book?
You would think it gets easier, but I've not found that to be the case. Writing this one was different in that it was two Points of View and there was a male POV. With my Sweethaven series, I was writing 4-5 female POVs in each novel (a different kind of challenge.) I think the more you do it, the more pressure there is to do it well. I don't know any authors who think "Yeah, I've got sweat." Without that constant "What will make this better? What's the stronger choice?" floating around at the back of your mind, the manuscript will stall.

What song (or songs) would be on the soundtrack if Paper Hearts were a movie?
"I Choose You" by Sara Barailles.

Paper Hearts is partly about dreams--having them, losing them, letting God re-imagine them. What's the best piece of advice you've received about following a dream?
What I've learned is that you can waste all your dreams waiting for the perfect set of circumstances. There's no such thing. You can't wait until you have it all figured out--you have to go for it. Guns blazing. No turning back. And if you fail, you ask yourself "What can I do better next time?" It's like they say, "there's no perfect time to have a baby..." You're never ready. It's the same with dreams. You're never going to have the answers. Also, while I fully believe "NO" is an anointed word, I also believe that when it comes to dreams, you have to know when to say "YES." Say "YES" and figure it out later.

What's next for you?
I'm currently finishing up the next novel in the Loves Park series.

Name one "pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming" moment of your publishing career so far.
When I found out my debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists. I still don't really believe that happened. What a dream come true. That felt like a beautifully wrapped gift given to me straight from Jesus.

Any parting words?
I think when you're just starting out, it's easy to get discouraged, but Paper Hearts is an updated version of the first novel I ever wrote. If you're willing to work hard and take constructive criticism, I really believe good things can't help but find you. Thank you so much to everyone who has read Paper Hearts. It means the world to me. :)

Thanks for sharing with us, Courtney!

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