Methinks we have a budding celebrity in our midst, and I just had to meet her. In fact, I was excited and feeling like a fan when I arrived at her Bangor home.
After my visit, I offer this recommendation to all of our famous Maine authors: Move over.
Make way for Courtney Harvey.
She will knock your socks off.
Her writing will enthral you and make you proud she is one of us.
And while this column does not usually serve as a place for book reviews, I wanted to introduce you to Courtney because she is a remarkable young woman who just might break into a very challenging career world and become a well-known, successful author.
Courtney has self-published her first book and, although it is defined as a “young adult, PG-13 paranormal romance,” this grandmother couldn’t put it down until it was finished, with one caveat: It was scary enough for me, that I couldn’t read it before I went to bed.
Set in the Queen City (fun for us!) Courtney’s debut novel, “Open Window: Truth From the Shadows,” describes the psychic world of Bangor High School senior Alex Wells and how her very special gift affects her and those around her.
Alex’s gift, which allows her to see what has transpired in the lives of those no longer living, brings her fear, sorrow and pain but, eventually, a sense of acceptance and joy as she is able to help those around her come to terms not only with her special ability but her ability to help heal, learn the art of acceptance and, above all, learn to love.
I was introduced to Courtney’s first novel by her husband who, at this point, is the better known of the couple, WABI-TV news anchor-reporter Wayne Harvey.
Wayne emailed to tell folks about Courtney’s book and that it is available on Kindle for just 99 cents.
How could any Kindle owner pass up a bargain like that? Not me, and I’m thrilled I didn’t.
The book is now out in paperback, by the way, through Amazon.com/Books at $17.99.
But it’s Courtney I want you to get to know because, somehow, she found the time, during what may well have been one of the busiest periods of her life, to write this book in just 14 months.
The 34-year-old, who has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art education from the University of Maine, is originally from Pittsfield and is a Maine Central Institute graduate.
Courtney and Wayne are the proud parents of three little girls: Mackenzie, 9; Talia, 7; and Camryn, 5.
As if caring for a family of five isn’t time-consuming enough, Courtney has, for 11 years, taught art three days a week at Veazie Community School and works part time in the shop at Between Friends Art Center in Brewer, where her girls dance and where she also teaches art classes and helps with theater productions.
So, when did she find time to write a book?
From September 2009 through November 2010 while she was writing her master’s thesis!
Interestingly, Courtney told me, the idea for the book came while she was sleeping, sort of like a movie in her head.
And yes, she admitted, she is somewhat psychic, has had some experience with mediums and psychic gallery readings and has done her research, which explains how she “literally woke up and had the characters in my head and the story started.”
Courtney had just begun her thesis, she explained, “so I was doing academic work, reading and writing, and I decided I’d do two hours and then do something fun. I didn’t have a plan.
“It was just a pleasure to write. I believe in the realm of possibility. I would wake up and they were there,” she said of her characters.
“It was a linear story. It went as it came, and I wrote late at night.”
It was a chance meeting and discussion between Wayne and former Bangor Daily News film critic and author Christopher Smith that led her to self-publish, she said, because he had met success taking that route.
A friend in New York served as her editor, and she knew, after receiving one quick rejection, if she were going to get her book published, she would have to do it herself.
“I have no writer’s resume,” she said, “so I did my research and decided to go the self-publish route and I’m very happy with that. If I get to the top 200 list, that might be good.”
The reviews have been great, as they should be, and it is particularly nice to read a book that is acceptable for young adults.
“I do teach middle school kids and I wanted to write something they can read,” Courtney said.
And she has done that, with enthusiasm, style, grace and dignity.
Now you know all the reasons I am such a fan of Bangor’s newest author, Courtney Harvey, and why I’m looking forward to a possible sequel.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.