(This review was originally posted at http://emlynchand.com/2011/02/20/book-reviewinterview-with-courtney-conant-author-of-the-blood-moon-of-winter/)
magine that you are an avid reader who unexpectedly meets your favorite author. Now imagine that your favorite author unexpectedly begins to fall in love with you. Sound like a story? Well, now imagine that right at the moment you begin to fall in love, you realize that you are meant to exist not in this world but in a world you formerly believed to be only a dream. Congratulations, you have just entered the life of Lilyana Makay, the heroine of Courtney Conant’s novel The Blood Moon Of Winter.
Lilyana is a reader’s sort of protagonist because she herself constantly immerses herself in books. Reading The Blood Moon Of Winter is reminiscent of standing in a hallway of mirrors, watching your image reflect itself back over and over again. The novel is a sort of a meta-story, demonstrating its understanding of its own plot and characters as plot and characters through sly little comments about the path the story is taking.
Reading the novel also gives the reader a glimpse into the invisible character of Conant herself. An avid reader, Conant admits that many of Lilyana’s characteristics ended up being unintentional representations of her own self. Coming from a childhood that voraciously absorbed the imaginary worlds created by literature, Conant aims to bring her readers into a world that will capture their interest in the same way hers was captured as a child. The life of Lilyana, who is torn between newfound love in one world and newfound purpose in another, will resonate with readers who often feel torn between the real world and the world created by literature.
Unlike most fictional worlds that take ages to invent, Conant’s flowed out of her like a story that needed to be told. A writer since the prodigious age of four, Conant’s writing came to an abrupt halt at 16 when her entire body of works was burned up in a fire. From that time until she began work on The Blood Moon Of Winter, Conant suffered severe writer’s block. It wasn’t until she discovered NaNoWriMo (an annual contest where writers attempt to write a full 50,000 word novel over the course of the month of November) that her creative juices began to flow freely again.
With a newfound motivation to write, Conant began with one sentence and watched, shocked, as that sentence transformed not into just any book, but a book that contained worlds within it. As the plot progressed, she thought she was writing chick lit, but suddenly a fantasy plot appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. This unexpected shift of genre left Conant astonished at the power of unknown creativity and leaves readers astonished at the power of integrated genres. By crossing the gap between two genres, the story of Lilyana becomes even more compelling, speaking to an even wider audience.
As a versatile musician whose day job has very little to do with art, Conant knows from personal experience the power of crossing boundaries and integrating genres or disciplines, both in literature and in life. She proposes that few people are merely one type of artist—whether through the way they approach life or the actual artistic activities in which they participate, artists maintain a passion that influences the way they think, act, and create.
Conant’s passion is obvious in how she handles her characters, themes, and plot. The book as it stands has been edited very little since its NaNoWriMo inception, so the creative passion that inspired it is obvious in every progressing sentence. The romance aspect of the novel flowers as naturally as the writing style of the author. The characters become so real to the reader that the transition into a fantasy style becomes all the more jarring, yet somehow natural.
Throughout the novel, Lilyana’s two separate worlds serve as a reminder to the reader of the duality in all of us. Reading The Blood Moon Of Winter not only draws readers into fantastic new worlds but also grounds them in the reality that is imagination. Conant’s creative abilities and passion for her work bring out the artist in all her readers. The Blood Moon Of Winter is truly an inspiration for writers, readers, and artists of all sorts.