Monday, September 15, 2014

Debut novelist and MFA colleague, Courtney Moreno, ready to launch "In Case of Emergency"

If you're in San Francisco tomorrow night, you may want to head on over to Booksmith for an evening of New Voices, New Stories: Exceptional Debuts from Writers to Watch. The writer to watch, in this case, is Courtney Moreno, a former USF alum from my MFA program whose writing has wowed me since the first time I heard her read during our initial summer session of 2010. Her debut novel is In Case of Emergency.

That year, Courtney's fiction was also nominated by the department for the AWP Intro/Journals project. After her 2009 LA Weekly cover feature article, "Help is on the Way," was chosen for The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010 anthology published by McSweeney's (click the link to buy her book online, hint hint!), the independent, SF-based publishing company asked her if she was working on anything. No agent. No query letters or synopses to submit while awaiting rejections. A writer's dream path to publication, no?

Our ragtag team celebrates turning in the tome!
Certainly. But nothing is ever as 'easy' as it seems. I do know that while the rest of us grad students each suffered through multiple revisions of an MFA thesis so it would be deemed acceptable by university standards, Courtney had to simultaneously transform hers into a first-draft novel worthy of a 'publishing powerhouse,' as an NPR interview with Dave Eggers describes McSweeney's evolution from just a 'quirky quarterly.' Not to mention the numerous, painstaking revisions she put in to create the polished result.

I'm excited to say that Courtney's 'knockout debut' has already met with much success. The hardcover hit stores last Tuesday, but the book's gathering steam with great reviews from Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly, and more. It made the Huffington Post's Best Books for Fall 2014 list:
"Reminiscent of Leslie Jamison's essay on medical acting in her collection The Empathy Exams, Courtney Moreno's book uses the coping mechanisms she learned while working as an EMT to color her narrator's painful past. Moreno confronts both physical and psychological trauma, expertly blurring the lines between the two."
And it's at the top of SF Weekly's Fall Arts 2014: What You Need to Read list:

" 'When conducting the triage of a multi-casualty incident, start by taking charge.' Thus begins Courtney Moreno's debut novel, which follows noob Piper Gallagher as she learns the ropes of the busiest Los Angeles emergency response unit. The narration, which reads like an instruction manual Gallagher has put together to prepare us to join the team, relays the traumas of the job, punctuating the seemingly counterintuitive hands-on lessons she learns ('do not treat; only label') with all-organic nuggets of wisdom: 'There's nothing as painful as desire; wanting something only reminds you of your shortcomings.' "

It's been a couple of years since I made my weekly Tuesday forays into the city to immerse in great literature, and it goes without saying that I'm beyond thrilled to take part in tomorrow's launch.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...