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“Behind all the Books We Love From Author Valerie Cotnoir”
Books are often so much more than just a way to pass the extra minutes or hours of the day. Books are both a way to escape reality, as well as to reshape our reality with the values we take from stories or testimonies. Any dedicated reader likely has a favorite book that changed the way they looked at life or a situation, and that’s because authors–often intentionally–write their books from personal passions or experiences.
In our new blog series, we are sharing the purposes and inspirations of these books. Behind the Books We Love From the Authors We Love will be an ongoing series for the next few months and will feature authors of all genres to all ages of readers. You may recognize some of their books as being featured on Literature Approved before, and others are entirely new. But these posts are sure to give you a fresh look at a book that you loved, or may even motivate you to pick up one you’ve never read. We invite you to join us by checking back with us every couple of weeks, or ensure that you’re following us so that you get the articles in your email–who knows, maybe your favorite author will be featured?!
Behind “Everlasting” from Valerie Cotnoir
I don’t remember how old I was exactly, but I was young. Maybe eleven or twelve. But I have this vivid memory of following Mom through the aisles at an arts and crafts store and this question sort of popping in my head:
What if a girl of sixteen was cursed so that she grew really old—to the age of ninety!—within a few weeks or months?
This was quickly followed by another question:
What if a boy was in love with her and would stop at nothing to prevent her death?
As we continued roaming the store and reached the toy aisle, I saw this row of figurines: wizards, fairies, kings, elves, and so on. They were very colorful and their facial expressions varied, sparking my imagination. My sisters and I, while Mom shopped, liked to play with these figurines whenever we went to this store. Eventually, a new thought occurred to me: what if this girl and boy lived in a fantasy world? Better yet, what if the girl was actually a fairy?
Before I give too much away, let’s just say I went home and wrote what I imagined to be the prologue of this story. Later on, I wrote the first two or three chapters. This story, or the start of one, sat in my documents for a long time before I looked at it again, as more ideas came to me and I got distracted. When I was in tenth grade, I joined a writer’s club with other homeschoolers and, having finished writing another book, I considered which novel to write next. I came across Everlasting—as its title has been since the beginning—in my documents and decided it was time to finish writing it. I was sixteen when in January of 2014—soon after self-publishing my first novel—I finished writing the first draft of Everlasting.
Almost three years of editing later, I self-published Azalea’s and Malachi’s story in December of 2016.
There are many elements and themes in this story. Yet, so much of it has always been, since the conception of it in those store aisles, that it can be difficult for me to separate what messages I tried to incorporate versus what parts of the story just are. After pondering these thoughts, however, I think I can articulate a few.
A huge element of Everlasting is the motley crew of characters that join Azalea and Malachi on their journey to defeat Sebastian, Azalea’s cruel, power-hungry uncle. While the concept of a bunch of eccentric characters forming a team isn’t altogether original, one of the elements about it I stressed was the idea that when it came to stand up and fight—and fight for something worth fighting for—the individuals who signed up—the only ones willing to risk their lives—were the smallest, weakest and most insecure persons of each tribe. They were forced to overcome their fears and doubts in order to truly contribute to the team. In other words, sometimes big, heroic deeds come from small people.
Because sometimes it’s the little people who have the biggest hearts.
Another aspect of Everlasting is the many groups of creatures, the “others” you could say, that don’t fall under the category of human or fairy. In this heated rivalry between humans and fairies, the other creatures (elves, dryads, mermaids, etc.) get neglected and forgotten. Their significance is basically nonexistent. But as Azalea and her friends travel throughout Orutia (uh roo shuh) and seek help from these groups, Azalea especially realizes the need for the throne to recognize these creatures and their needs and desires. A lot could be accomplished if the clusters of creatures worked together rather than lived their separate lives.
Finally, and most importantly, there’s the meaning behind the title of Everlasting itself.
This is another case of “has just always been”. Shortly after writing the prologue, I saved the document and was forced to come up with a title. It didn’t have to be permanent necessarily, but I had to write something down in the meantime. I thought for about a minute and then typed what made the most sense: Everlasting. After all, the last sentence in the prologue I’d just written was: King Zechariah and his daughter would soon learn that, although death can take away someone you love, love itself is never conquered by anything, but is everlasting.
And here lies the very point of this story: Malachi’s love for Azalea is so determined and selfless, never once willing to give up, that it became everlasting. It was, it is and always will be—until the end of time. It’s as simple as that. Just as simple as it was for me to come up with the title.
Honestly, this novel was one of the easiest for me to write. Ha, I wish all my novels came to me as easily as this one did. Sure, there were hiccups along the way—mostly to do with world building. But the actual characters themselves came easily to me. It’s like the story itself came from some deep, hidden part of me and was finally released when I laid my fingers on the keyboard. Honestly, that’s how all my best stories seem to come. From deep, deep within.
Have you picked up Everlasting? Do you enjoy fantasy adventures? Drop a comment and let us know what you’re thinking and we’ll make sure Valerie sees it!
Valerie Cotnoir is a Homeschool graduate currently pursuing a Bachelors in History through Lumerit Education. She was born in Montreal, Canada, but lived for fourteen years in Plano, Texas before moving with her family to the Raleigh area in North Carolina. She is the oldest of four and has two sisters and one brother.
She has been writing since she could hold a pencil and reading books just as long. Her favorite pastimes (besides reading and writing, of course!) include working with preschoolers, watching movies and spending time with her family and friends. Her first published novel is “Bridget’s Journey” (2013) and she has also published a fantasy novel, “Everlasting”, in December 2015.