Our April Guest Editor, poet Courtney Peppernell, is an Australian native who loves a great book and her dogs. When her poetry collection, Pillow Thoughts, was reviewed by American music sensation, The Chainsmokers, Courtney found herself in a whirlwind of fame, further expanding her dedicated fanbase to the United States. Courtney recently shared with She Reads some of her favorite books and some insight into her writing process. Look out later this month for exclusive excerpts of her upcoming collection, Pillow Thoughts II.
What inspired you to write Pillow Thoughts?
I was standing in a supermarket store in Australia, trying to find a romantic card for my girlfriend for our upcoming anniversary. I couldn’t find anything that I felt was representative of my feelings to her, from one woman to another, so I decided to try and write my own. I also really wanted to create a book that people could pick up and read poems/thoughts dependent on how they were feeling at the time. That way, they could always come back and read the same section or choose another section that best suited what they were currently going through.
What is currently on your #TBR pile?
I have long been been a huge fan of Jodi Picoult, and have read many of her titles including her latest novel Small Great Things. After I read this, I was motivated to go back and read some of her earlier titles, so currently I have Keeping Faith and Salem Falls amongst my pile.
Which authors do you admire?
Well, Jodi Picoult of course. A few years ago I wrote her an email asking her some questions about being a writer, and she wrote back to me in twenty minutes. I was amazed that someone who was so busy and successful took the time to write back to her fans who write to her. I also grew up next door to Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief and The Messenger. Markus has always been a big inspiration, as I have seen him grow from writing his first books to becoming incredibly successful in the industry.
What books would your readers be surprised to know you love?
I really enjoyed reading Stephen King’s On Writing; it gave a really strong insight into how Stephen goes about writing his books. As a writer, it also helped me to find a balance between viewing my writing as something that is a business responsibility along with the creative side of it. I guess it seems like people have a very ‘romantic’ view of being a writer where you get to sit around and sip lattes all day and write whatever you like, but the reality is very different to that. It’s very challenging, it’s the hardest job I ever had, although I love every minute of it. Stephen King definitely helped me gain a different perspective on it – he taught me to be creative but also business minded. I also really, really love R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. I grew up reading these, and I remember as a kid, scaring myself silly but now even if they’re very old books, I still enjoy them. They’re very clever. I also watched the movie on my flight from Australia to the US which brought back loads of memories.
If you had to suggest one book to your fans, which one would you recommend?
I would recommend reading House Rules by Jodi Picoult. The story talks about autism, what it’s like to be different in society and the support/lack of support for these people. I found it incredibly moving and it really opened my eyes. My aunty has been in a wheelchair her whole life and has mental disabilities, so for me it’s my normal. But for some, they struggle to understand and show compassion. So I think on a certain level, this book really makes you stop and think and [makes you] want to do better and be better toward people that have greater challenges than you.
You’re going on a month-long vacation, which books do you bring along with you?
I’d bring along Wonder by Raquel Jaramillo/R.J. Palacio. I have heard such wonderful things about this book (and the new movie) and my partner’s mother really loves it and insists I read it. For me, it’s mostly just trying to find the time to catch up on reading because I am always so busy writing. So, I would bring Wonder, Jodi Picoult’s House Rules because I truly love that book and a notebook – I always find inspiration on a vacation. I guess that means I should take more vacations!