Where do you currently live?
I live in Michigan with my husband, family, and a small menagerie of cats.
Tell us a little bit about your life.
My life is pretty low key. I work full time, raise a family, and write when I can. Interestingly enough, I never intended to be a writer. Short-order cook, security guard, safety officer, childcare provider, and teacher were all titles I’d worn – but never writer. Then I entered an essay contest for “The Worst Vacation Ever” and won. Writing became my new hobby, and soon I had several articles in print with local publications. This was followed by a short story, The Khaki Pants, which was published by RDR Publishing in an anthology that went on to sell over a million copies.
A suspense thriller was my next undertaking, and in 2008 This Time You Lose was named a finalist in the TNBW Strongest Start Novel Competition. Four months later it earned the distinction of being a TNBW Readers Choice Top Ten Novel, and has remained on the Top Ten list ever since.
Have you written anything that you were too afraid to let anyone read?
Yes. When I first finished This Time You Lose, I was afraid to let anyone read it. Two reasons: 1, I was afraid no one would like it, and 2, I had a job at the time working for a very conservative boss, who would frown upon the use of violence and language in the story. Even though I am nothing like the characters in the story, I didn’t want it to impact my job.
Did you experience anything you’ve written yourself?
Yes and no. Had a bit of a rough go of things early in life, so am no stranger to rough language and violence. But thankfully, I have never experienced a home invasion.
Who are several of your greatest literary inspirations?
I grew up reading Stephen King, still love to read him, but I also enjoy James Patterson.
What kind of education have you received, and how has that affected your writing?
I have two, 2 year degrees in unrelated fields... but I’ve never taken a writing class. Took the required English Comp classes in high school & college...but never an actual writing class. I think my lack of formal writing classes has been a wonderful advantage. I learned to write by reading. As a child I read everything I could get my hands on, from Hardy Boys Mysteries to First Aid Handbooks, I was never without a book in my hands. So I guess maybe I learned through reading how to put sentences and stories together. Many writer friends have struggled with their writing because they worry about how they are supposed to write. I just write what sounds right to me – and so far that’s worked.
How much research time customarily goes into your projects?
Depends on the project. I tend to research as I write, so if I come across something in my writing that I need to research, I stop and do it. I try not to get sidetracked, just learn what I need to know and get back to writing.
Who is your favorite literary character?
I like strong women characters. Too many women in fiction are meek and wait around for their hero to “rescue” them. I’ll take the strong female character who makes things happen on her own every time.
Who is your favorite character of your own creation?
Lisa Kaamp - the heroine in This Time You Lose. Although Lisa starts out quiet and shy, when pushed to the limit she becomes one very strong and resourceful woman. One reviewer called her “a tough cookie” and ranked her high on the 'Bad-ass Heroine' list. I guess I’d agree with that.
If you were ever to write an autobiography, what would its title be?
Tell us about your featured book.
This Time You Lose is an intense read. It is the terrifying story of Lisa Kaamp, who operates a small childcare business out of her home in the sleepy little town of Nogeksum, Michigan. Highly respected and known for going the extra mile for her daycare kids, Lisa thought she had handled every daycare emergency possible.
But nothing prepared her for the nightmare she now faced. Lisa awakes one morning to find herself bound and gagged, four strange men in her home, and the daycare children being held hostage in the next room. Terrorized by her captors as the authorities work to meet the ransom deadline, she tries negotiating with the men for the release of the children, and soon realizes that at least one of them has no intention of letting anyone go. With the deadline quickly approaching, Lisa must do the unimaginable to protect the children and get everyone out alive.
Why did you write that?
Years ago, a neighboring community was plagued with a series of home invasions. A childcare provider myself at the time, I wondered what would happen if one of these invasions occurred in a childcare home. A woman home alone, caring for up to a dozen children in a deserted, middle-class neighborhood made the perfect target for one of these invasions – and thus my story was born.
Is there anything special you would like your potential readers to know?
This Time You Lose is an intense read. It will raise your blood pressure, cause you to put off your household chores, and keep you up late into the night. Don’t start reading This Time You Lose unless you have several hours free; it’s the kind of story you won’t want to put down.
What is your favorite season of the year, and what makes it so?
I love Summer. Warm weather, sunshine, cookouts, beach time, and bonfires. What could be better?
When you think of the word “Writer” what comes to mind?
Years ago I would have answered that question by saying a stuffy old guy in a sweater, sitting at a typewriter all day smoking cigars and drinking brandy. Now however, I view everyone as a writer....if I can do it, so can you.
If you could pick one thing about yourself that would be passed onto your child, what would it be?
How about one thing about yourself that you absolutely wouldn’t want passed on?
My fear of public speaking.
What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to try, but never have?
What is your favorite thing to do when you have a day to yourself?
Snuggle into my favorite chair with a good book, a glass of diet Coke, and a bowl of homemade cookie dough.
First thing you’d do if you were handed a million dollars?
Pay off all my bills. Put some away for my sons college tuition, and then maybe take a vacation.
You’ve been given the opportunity to give a televised speech which will be broadcast on all networks, what do you speak about?
Aaaack! Me? Public speaking? I think I’d donate that opportunity to a local charity or school.
What was/is your favorite thing about your childhood home?
It had a huge back yard with a little playhouse, and plenty of room to run, play, ride bikes, and pitch tents in. I loved camping out in the backyard with my brothers.
What inspires you?
Sunny days. I find I’m very productive when the sun is shining...and get absolutely nothing done when it’s dreary and overcast. Hmm, maybe I should move to a sunnier state – I would get so much more accomplished!
What do you most want out of your life? Your ultimate ambition, as it were.
My ultimate ambition is best summed up by a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Our thanks to Chris for being with us today. Click your way over to her book below.