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Hampden native explores world of young adult novels

Date: 6/19/2012

June 18, 2012

By Katelyn Gendron

CHICOPEE — Hampden native Courtney Vail believes that female readers are underrepresented in the young adult market, which is why this current Chicopee resident decided in 2005 that she'd write a heroine of her own.

Majesty Alistair, a 17-year-old baseball manager, is the main character in Vail's debut mystery-suspense novel, "Kings & Queens," which as placed the author as the sixth most followed on the country's Vail's heroine is caught in a love triangle between her two male friends, while trying to discover what really happened to her father on the day of his fatal car wreck.

"I wanted a strong tomboyish character. I like strong females in books. She's running from her grief and the death of her father. She's always looking for someone to verbally spar with," Vail explained. "I like to see how teens handle perilous situations. It's a who-done-it so once those pieces start coming together the forces collide.

"With the young adult market, it is full of hungry fans looking for something new and different," she continued. "Although there are some mystery thrillers marketed for boys, mine leans slightly for girls. I wanted to see something more for girls because they are such awesome readers and once they love your book, they will read other things that you write."

Vail described her journey to publish her novel as one that was long and arduous and also began with an entirely different book. She called her first effort, which was written in 2001, as "unpublishable" and one that would have required a major rewrite.

Once Vail had finished "Kings & Queens" she initially sought out an agent and hoped to get her novel printed by a large publishing house, however, that turned out to be the wrong path for her, she explained.

"It was a bumpy road because by idea was originally to get and agent and to get it traditionally published but the sequel [to 'Kings & Queens'] meets the characters 10 years later and put them into the adult category but I wanted to remain in young adult. A smaller publishing company [such as Little Prince Publishing], would allow me to put the books out the way I want," Vail explained, noting that the sequel is due to be published in the fall.

As a mother of three children ages 6, 8 and 11, and two jobs in the graphic design and illustration fields, Vail said she'd love to be a novelist fulltime but that is not a possibility at this time.

She will participate in a promotional tour in April 2013 through the Heroines with Hearts Book Tour, which will reach Richmond, Va., Washington D.C., Newark, N.J., New York City, New Haven, Conn., and Boston. Vail will also be present with other fellow authors at this year's Big E on Massachusetts Day, Sept. 20.

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