(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Cora was written by Cora Moss.)
Kelly stepped through the portal and looked down at her new outfit. Every time she stepped through the portal into a different era, her clothes automatically changed to fit that era, and this time she wore a long blue, white, and silver gown fit for the Renaissance Period as she stepped into the impressive hall of a palace. People meandered about, and Kelly noticed two things—the guys wore tights while the women were headpieces.
A portal opened in a doorway, and Kelly glanced and saw a woman in modern clothes standing on the other side, but as soon as she stepped through the portal, her clothes morphed to fit the era, and Kelly grinned as she approached her. “You must be Cora Moss. I’m Kelly Blanchard. You look fantastic in this era, by the way. Is it your favorite era?”
“Hi! Nice to meet you, Kelly. I don’t know if the Renaissance Era is my absolute favorite, I love all the different eras. But it’s certainly one of my favorites, I grew up going to Renaissance Faires, so it’s always held a special place in my heart.” Cora gave a twirl in her green and gold dress, laughing. “This is actually a dress my mom made for me several years ago, for the Renaissance Faire.”
“It’s a lovely dress! Your mom is very talented.” Kelly smiled at her but then motioned. “Come on, let’s see what this place is like! And in the meanwhile, we can talk.” With that she began to walk down the wide corridor which was lined with pillars showing a garden courtyard beyond where courtiers meandered.
Kelly then settled into her usual questions for such conversations. “So, in real life, other than visiting those fun Renaissance Faire, what do you do? Are you a writer full-time, or do you have some other job?” She raised her brows as she shot Cora a glance.
“Thanks! Yeah, my mom’s a great seamstress, she made all my Halloween costumes as a kid, too.” Cora followed Kelly down the corridor, admiring the beautiful architecture. “I’m not a writer full-time yet, although I’d love to be someday. I’m only 20, so I figure I have some time left. I just started a part-time job at a local ice cream shop, but other than that, I guess I’m a student? I’ve been taken some time off before college, but I’ll be starting fall 2016.” Cora gave a warm smile.
“You still have time.” Kelly gave her an encouraging smile then gestured to explore the garden courtyard. Some trees shaded the pathway as they made their way towards a fountain. “So, what are you studying in college?”
Cora smiled back, walking over towards the fountain and running her fingers underneath the water, relishing the cool, refreshing feeling. “I’m planning on majoring in English, maybe with a focus on creative writing, maybe just plain English. I’m not entirely sure yet. I also want to do a lot of dance and music, though, I’ve been dancing ballet since I was 13, and playing piano since I was 6.”
“If I may give you a word of advice as someone who went to college to study English—if you’re going to be a writer, I suggest you be careful about majoring in English . All your homework you get is reading and writing what they want you to read and write while your own personal writing and reading gets pushed to the side, and that can burn you out. I suggest majoring in something you enjoy other than writing—like dance or music, but…” She shrugged. “Those are just my thoughts. You can do whatever you want though, and I’m confident you’ll make the right decision.” Kelly flashed her a grin.
“Hmm, that’s true…” Cora pursed her lips thoughtfully. “But I’m kind of torn. I absolutely see your point about that, but I also love reading and analyzing literature. Luckily, I still have time to figure it out.”
“That you do!” Kelly nodded. “And you will make the right choice. So…” They came around to a bench in a shady area, and Kelly motioned to it. Some young men bowed their heads to them as they passed, and Kelly smiled at them but then fixed her attention on conversation. “So, how did you get into writing? What really inspired you to start writing?” She took a seat on the bench then looked at Cora.
Cora sat down next to Kelly, gathering her skirts. “How I got into writing…well, that’s slightly complicated. I’ve always loved making up stories, I had an overactive imagination as a kid and loved playing make-believe. But I used to hate the act of writing stories. I don’t really know why, but it always felt so forced and boring to me. However, I have an older sister who’s always been a writer.”
Smiling at the memory, Cora tucked a lock of curly brown hair behind her ear. “We’ve always been super close. Anyways, I used to always want to play Bratz dolls with her, but being 3 years older, she found it childish and uninteresting. So, we made a deal. She’d promise to play Bratz with me if I’d write with her. And somehow, even though I hated writing at first, I warmed up to it, and now I absolutely love it.” She gave a smile and a small shrug.
“Oh wow, that is absolutely wonderful! And does your sister still write?” Kelly raised her brows, thinking back to her own sisters who also wrote but only on occasion.
“Absolutely!” Cora smiled. “My whole family is comprised of writers, actually. My dad writes full-time, and my sister’s currently trying to get her most recent book published. And my mom’s a writer, although she doesn’t focus in it much anymore. But I guess writing runs in the family.”
“That’s fantastic!” Kelly laughed. “You’ll have to tell them about this interview. Maybe they’ll want me to interview them someday.” She winked but then settled in to another more important topic. “So, what story are you working on? Have you published anything yet?”
“Indeed!” Cora laughed. “I’ll let them know. I’m working on a variety of stories—I have a bad habit of taking on more projects than I can handle—but my main focus is a YA realistic fiction novel. I’m not even finished with the first draft yet, so no, not published. But hopefully someday!”
Kelly had to grin. “Oh, I’m sure you will be published!” But then she sat back as she asked her next question—most people loved this question, and she enjoyed watching the excitement in their eyes as they answered it. “And what is this story about? Who are the characters? What are some conflicts they encounter?”
“Thanks for vote of confidence!” Cora grinned back but then quieted, her expression settling into a more serious one as she discussed the topics of her book. “The story is, essentially, about a young girl’s struggles with depression and suicide. It’s a very character-driven story, so the focus isn’t on plot twists and turns. The main character is a 17 year old girl named Artemis Blackbourne, and the book follows her as she tries to navigate her broken relationships with her best friend, twin sister and father.”
Kelly nodded as she listened to this. It was a very serious story. She furrowed her brows as she looked at Cora. “And what inspired you to write this story?”
Cora gave a small, rueful smile. “A mix of things. The basic premise for the story was something I started when I was…I want to say maybe 9 or 10? It was only a page or two, and not very fleshed out at all. I just had this vague idea for a story about identical twin sisters who were opposites in personality.”
Taking a deep breath, she continued on. “Anyways, I mostly forgot about it. And then, when I was 15, my cousin died by suicide. I wasn’t particularly close with him, but it opened my eyes to the whole topic of suicide, and I ended up getting involved with suicide prevention charities. And then it just suddenly came to me, the idea to revive this old, half-formed idea and write about suicide.”
She smiled slightly. “But despite the serious topic, it’s not an entirely depressing book. It’s really more about facing your inner demons and the struggle to survive when life sends a lot of crap your way.”
“And I was about to ask you what you’d like your readers to take from the story, but you just answered that questions.” Kelly chuckled then thought of another question and knit her brows. “So, what has been the most difficult part of this story for you to write or express?” She cast Cora a glance to watch her face.
Cora laughed. “I guess I’m a mind-reader! Who knew?” She paused for a moment, considering Kelly’s next question. “I don’t know, it’s hard to say what’s been most difficult. I guess maybe just the general topic, and finding a balance between realistic but without getting bogged down and having it become too depressing to read. It’s also a subject you have to tread kind of lightly with. I think talking about suicide is absolutely important, because talking about it helps reduce the stigma. But at the same time, it’s such a serious subject, and although I’ve been affected by suicide, and have done work with suicide prevention charities, I’ve never been suicidal myself, and I want to make sure I treat this subject right.”
“Yes, that is very important.” Then Kelly paused, suddenly remembering a family member who had been suicidal. That had been a difficult time for the family, but she pushed past it and smiled at Cora. “So, can you tell me one of your favorite scenes from the story? You don’t have to go into absolute detail because you don’t want to spoil anything, but…what can you tell me?”
Cora smiled a little. “Gosh, favorite scene…hard to say, because I think what I like best is the character of Artemis and how she changes and evolves over time—and also how she resists changing.” She trailed off, thinking. “But there’s this scene when she finally talks things over with her best friend/love interest, and it basically wrote itself. I love it because it’s such a huge step for her, she normally bottles everything up inside and pushes people away to avoid being hurt and also to avoid hurting them. So for her to finally be able to talk to her best friend about all the crap that’s been going on, instead of just pushing him away, is a pretty big change for her. And I love it.”
“That’s fantastic. Don’t you just love it when a scene writes itself?” Kelly grinned but then rose to her feet. “Come on, we still have time. Let’s keep exploring.” They came to the end of the path with the choice to go left or right. “Which way do you want to go?” While Cora decided, Kelly peppered her with another question. “So growing up, I’m sure you read a lot. Has anything you’ve read influenced your writing?”
“It’s the best feeling!” Cora grinned in agreement as she stood, brushing over her skirts, before following Kelly. She glanced down the two paths, debating which one to take. “Hm…let’s go…left! It looks prettier this way. As for what influenced my writing…hard to say! I’ve always been a voracious reader, I’ll read pretty much anything I can get my hands on. And I think everything I read influences me to some degree. For this particular book, I’ve been inspired by authors such as John Green, Sarah Dessen and Rainbow Rowell. I love how they write YA with serious topics. I think often people assume that YA can’t deal with topics like suicide, or depression or any of that, because it’s meant for a younger audience, and those topics are seen as too dark. But more and more I’ve been seeing a trend of YA realistic fiction tackling real, difficult issues, and I love it.”
“I think that’s because people are realizing that more and more older adults read YA than previously thought, so difficult issues are finding their way into the stories because, as you said, it’s more realistic—and it makes for a good story,” Kelly said as they wandered the sunny path past the rose bushes and several statues. She knew this path would take them back to the palace in a roundabout way, but that was okay. They were about out of time anyway, but Kelly wanted to ask one more question. “Okay, so we’ve got to wrap this up soon, but…if you could meet any fictional character—your own or someone else’s—who would it be and why?” She snuck Cora a glance, very curious what she would answer.
“Yeah, that could definitely be it,” Cora said, pausing for a moment to literally smell the roses. Roses had always been her favorite kind of flower, and these were so beautiful. And fragrant, too! “Whatever the reason for it, I’m glad it’s happening. Oh man, any fictional character…that is such a hard question!” Cora laughed, thinking at all the possibilities. “There are so, so many. But for right now, I might have to say Captain Wentworth. I’ve been reading Jane Austen’s Persuasion for the first time, and Wentworth is so dreamy. I love Darcy, but I might love Wentworth even more.” She grinned at Kelly, thinking about what it might be like to actually meet Captain Frederick Wentworth.
Kelly smirked. “Well, you can dream!” But then they returned to the cool shadows of the palace, and Kelly sighed. “Unfortunately we both need to get home. Our time here has come to an end, but it was awesome to meet you!” She have Cora a big grin. “Would love to chat with the rest of your family sometime, but for now…” She gestured, and a portal opened in front of that. “That will take you home. Thanks again for meeting with me! It was great! Stay in touch, okay?”
“Aw, darn!” Cora sighed. “The time really flew by! It was awesome meeting you, too, thanks for the fun questions! And for bringing me here, it’s so beautiful.” She took one last, longing look at the beautiful roses. “I’ll definitely stay in touch, and I’ll pass word along to my family as well.” She grinned broadly, thinking of what her dad and sister might discuss.
“Take care!” Kelly waved as Cora stepped through the portal and back to her own home. Time really did fly by this time. It seemed like it flew by faster the more she did interviews, but Kelly smiled and stepped through the portal back to her own home.
Cora Moss’ story ‘Aftershock’ has no release date set yet, but be sure to follow her on Twitter for any updates of her work: