24-year old Pax Tate is an asshole.
He’s a tattooed, rock-hard bad-boy with a bad attitude to match.
But he’s got his reasons.
His mother died when Pax was seven, leaving a hole in his heart filled with guilt although he doesn’t understand why. What he does know is that he and his dad are left alone and with more issues than they can count.
As Pax grew up, he tried to be the kid his father always wanted; the perfect golden boy, but it didn’t work. His dad couldn’t overcome his grief long enough to notice and Pax couldn’t keep up the impossible perfect façade.
So he slipped far, far from it.
Now, he uses drugs and women to cope with the ugliness, the black void that he doesn’t want to deal with. If he pretends that the emptiness isn’t there, then it isn’t, right?
And it’s never more apparent than when he meets Mila.
Sweet, beautiful Mila Hill is the fresh air to his hardened frown, the beauty to his ugly heart. He doesn’t know how to not hurt her, but he quickly realizes that he’s got to figure it out because he needs her to breathe.
When memories of his mother’s death resurface from where he’s repressed them for so long, Mila is there to catch him when the guilt starts making sense. Mila is the one…the one who can save him from his broken troubled heart; from his issues, from the emptiness.
But only if he can stop being an asshole long enough to allow it.
He knows that. And he’s working on it.
But is that enough to make her stay?
**Warning -Contains sex and violence**
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Since it’s release, If You Stay has spent three weeks atop the NYT Bestsellers list (topping at #5), five weeks on the USA Today Bestsellers (hitting #11), and a nice long stay at the top 100 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
This is an immense achievement! Congrats, Courtney and thank you for joining me for my very first author interview!
Thank you so much!! And thank you for having me! ☺
I have to tell you, when I read the first chapter of If You Stay, I was pretty startled. Pardon my French, but Sh*t just got real. The love interests first touch lips in a scene involving CPR, vomit, and an overdose. Your book is real, unique, and pretty fearless, in my humble opinion. It’s a truly heart wrenching journey that Pax and Mila have to travel. Did you ever feel guilty or emotional about some of the things that you were making your characters go through?
Guilty? No. I wanted the book to be as real and authentic as possible… and so I had to have some ugly things happen. Emotional? Hell yeah. I can’t tell you how many times I cried, or how many times I was writing with a lump in my throat. I hated having to do some of those things. But I had to. I’ll tell you a secret- in the original ending, when Pax goes to Mila’s shop, she took him back right then. But I decided that in real life, she would be too hurt and scared to do that—so I had to make her reject him. And OMG that was hard.
Well, it certainly paid off. I definitely experienced all those same reactions as I was reading.
You’ve said that your real life inspiration for Pax was a loved one who used drugs as a coping mechanism but chose to get help. Did you ever tell this person that s/he inspired you? How did s/he feel about it and has s/he read the book? Regardless, I hope that this person is still doing well.
Yes. Pax’s personality is based on that of someone close to me who used drugs as a coping mechanism. He does know that I based Pax on him and he has read the book. He’s happy about the book—he feels that if anyone can draw hope through his story, then everything he went through was worth it. And while Pax’s story isn’t the same as his, the underlying theme is the same. Bad things can happen, but you can get through them. Reach down, grab your inner strength by the balls and just do it.
I love that the theme of hope and resilience plays such a prominent role in your novel without it being too overt or in your face.
The idea and saying “Love never fails” plays a large role in the novel. It’s beautiful in its simplicity. What is your favorite quote about love and why?
That is my favorite quote about love. And it’s my favorite because it holds a special place in my heart because I can still hear my grandma saying it to me, but also because it’s true. Real love never fails. It just doesn’t. It is strong enough to withstand anything.
Your grandma sounds like a very wise woman. =)
Anything that you can tell us about Madison’s story, If You Leave, the follow up to If You Stay? I’m assuming due to the sisterly bond, we’ll get to check in with Pax and Mila to see how marriage is treating them? (*crosses fingers*)
I can’t share any details with you right now because I’m still writing it—I don’t even know myself everything that is going to happen. But yes, you will see Pax and Mila. And I really hope that you enjoy Madison’s story. I think it’s pretty gripping, as well.
Now, I’d love to learn a little more about your writing in general:
You’ve written for many age groups (YA, NA, Adult). Obviously, you enjoy them all since you wrote the books, but do you have a favorite to write? How about to read?
I think I’m loving the New Adult thing. It really suits my voice and I love how I can write about young people with growing up issues, but I don’t have to worry about crossing that line of appropriateness the way I would have to with YA.
What’s your writing process like? Are you a planner or do you prefer to just have a general idea and see where your creativity takes you?
I’m pretty much a pantser. I start out with a clear picture of how I want the book to start and end, but the middle is a mystery to me usually. I tend to plot only one chapter at a time—I’ll plot it the night before and then right it the next day.
What went into your decision to Self-Publish If You Stay? It seems like such a scary prospect to me and I admire your bravery in doing so.
Well, I’m from a business background so the business side of the publishing world doesn’t intimidate me. And also, there is something about me that sometimes comes in handy and sometimes gets me into trouble… I never feel like I can’t do something. I always think I can do anything if I just put my mind to it. That’s gotten me into trouble before, but this particular time, it paid off. If You Stay came out just as I’d hoped it would.
Hey, as the saying goes…No risk, no reward! I know a lot of us readers are reaping the benefits of your “Can do” attitude!
Finally, as we wrap up, I’d love to discover a little more about you! Hope you’re game for a quick fire round!
Something interesting about yourself that’s not common knowledge?
I have to sleep with a fan on for static noise.
Bad Boys or the Sweet Guys?
Favorite book growing up?
The Trixie Belden series
Last book you read and loved?
Um, since I am lucky enough to have my BFF Michelle Leighton as a crit partner, I recently read her next book in the Bad Boys series, Everything For Us. And it was amazing- and everyone will love it when it comes out.(as an aside: UGH! JEALOUS!!....ok back to the interview)
Alex Pettyfer . Incidentally, he’s who I see in my head when I picture Pax.
He is totally Pax. See exhibit A, folks:
or exhibits 1-6 (as in packs)
And lastly, if you could choose any book boyfriend, who would it be?
Ummmm. Crap. I think I would choose Gabriel McBain from Saving Grace by Julie Garwood. He was my first book boyfriend, many moons ago- and he’s who I stack all other alpha book males up against. ☺
This has been so much fun for me (and slightly nerve wracking as well!) I hope none of my questions were too painful!
Courtney, thanks so much for joining me today and for being a perfect first guest!
Thank you so much for having me!! This was fun!
After our interview, Courtney shared some incredible news: IF YOU STAY (and the two books following it in the Beautifully Broken series) have been picked up by Forever, which is an imprint of Grand Central Publishing (Hachette). Such incredible news for a very deserving book and author.
About the Author:
Courtney Cole is a novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could. She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds. She loves chocolate and roller coasters and hates waiting and rude people.
Courtney lives in quiet suburbia, close to Lake Michigan, with her real-life Prince Charming, her ornery kids (there is a small chance that they get their orneriness from their mother) and a small domestic zoo.
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all the best, dear readers!