Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Guest Author: C.K. Crigger

It's always exciting to discover a new mystery author and I was really lucky to have C.K. Crigger here for the first blog in 2012.She has a new book coming out this year and from the blurb, I can't wait for the release. One of the things I like most about having authors participate in interviews is that I always learn something new about writing and the people who enjoy this profession. There is always some new aspect, some new thing I never thought about, or knew before, and CK Crigger is no exception.

C.K. Crigger
Why did you decide to write?
I can’t help laughing at this question because I belong to the generation who started out with, “See Dick run. See Jane run. See Spot run.” Even then I thought that was pretty uninspired storytelling. I always figured I could to do better and nothing in the intervening years has changed my mind. I still think I can write better stories than many of those being published today. Of course, there are those writers--many of them--who make me sigh and say, “I wish I could write like that.” All I can do is keep on keeping on.

How much research do you do?
How much research I do depends on the story. Some require quite a lot, some not so much. The book I’ve done the most research for is the second in my Gunsmith Series, Shadow Soldier. I did lots no only for the guns used in the story, but for the whole WWI era. I discovered I love that period of history. The least research was probably for a little fantasy called, The Prince’s Cousin. The others have been a mix, more for the China Bohannon series, immersing myself in the 1890s, than for the westerns.

What’s your favorite method for researching?
I’ve found all research requires extensive reading. For my historical stories, an interest in antiques helps, by providing inspiration. Who used the items I now collect? How does the object fit into the period’s lifestyle? How does it fit into the story? Sometimes what a writer does is not pure research, as such, but fact checking. You might be surprised how often what you think you positively know is wrong.

Do you have a favorite theme or message for your readers?
Although I don’t particularly start off a book with a theme or message to my readers in mind, I’ve discovered over the years that my heroines and heroes often have an overly developed sense of responsibility. If there’s a wrong needing righted, they can’t rest until it’s done, whether it began as their problem or not. This is often the very trait that leads them into trouble.

When do you write/what is your writing day like?
I used to answer this question by saying I write mostly in the mornings, although when I held down a full-time job, I wrote from 7 - 9 every single night. Nowadays, I write when the notion takes me, sometimes with only fifteen minute intervals. But I find I plan more of what I’m going to say before I begin, so it all seems to work out.

How do you approach a new book? Outlines? Just an idea?
I’m a total seat of the pantser writer, so I approach new books with just an idea. I don’t outline, as such, although I have a notebook for each book with names, characteristics, potential scenes, and the main conflict. These ideas often get ditched along the way, but they do give me a starting point. Fun stuff to read back on when you finish the story and see how everything evolved from those first ideas. For instance, I have an idea for the fourth China Bohannon story. One, it’s to be set in the fall with the weather getting cold, and two, the plot will be based on horse racing. Spokane was a big horse racing town in the 1890s.

How do you develop your characters?
Once I’ve introduced the characters, they sort of grow on their own, changes stemming from the events happening to and around them. Sometimes I’m afraid they don’t show enough growth--that old character arc thing so important in writing--but I promise, I do work on it.

Who are your favorite authors? Have any authors inspired you or influenced your work?
I love Lois McMaster Bujold, and not only her Vorkosigan series. She’s one of those from whose work I sit back and wish I were able to write like that. I like Craig Johnson for his intelligent simplicity. I like Cherie Priest and Sophie Littlefield. Oh, there are so many I’m having brain failure right now. Oddly enough, the only author I feel may have influenced my own writing, and that only what I was writing at the moment, is Barbara Hambly. Why? No idea, but it’s weird.

What makes a great book in your opinion?
In my opinion, characters make the book. Of course, story is part of the whole. Sometimes you can read a satisfactory book that relies more on subject matter or how characters fit within the plot. Frequently, an exciting story can compensate for mediocre characters. But for a great book, you need great characters.

If a reader took away one thing from your book(s), what would you like that to be?
I just hope that when a readers puts down my book at the end (see. I trust my stories will not belong in the DNF category) they say, “Got my money’s worth. I was entertained.” The whole idea behind my books is simply to entertain.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
My tips are the usual things. Write, rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite again. Persevere. Write for the sheer joy of getting those stories and characters out of your head.

Where do you see yourself as an author in five years?
I hope I’m going at it stronger than ever, but if not, I’m thankful for whatever success I’ve had to date. Writing, as about everyone knows, is a tough business. Hey, everyone is a critic!

Where do you see the publishing industry going in the next few years and where do you see yourself within this industry?
I can’t help thinking e-books will gain more market share. I know I love my Kindle, although when it wears out, I may try a Nook or whatever new is out by then. Technology changes so fast! My books have been available (and still are) as e-books from the very beginning of my career. I’ve seen that except for hand-selling print copies to a few favored customers, most of my sales have come from the e-book stores and in audio. I don’t see this changing, but only growing stronger. Besides, my poor house has about run out of room for hardcovers and trade paperbacks, even though I’ll always love holding a printed on paper book in my hands.

Brief Bio
Born and raised in North Idaho on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation, C.K. Crigger lives with her husband and three feisty little dogs in Spokane Valley, Washington. She is a member of Western Writers of America and reviews books for Roundup magazine as well as occasionally for the Buried Under Books review site at

Imbued with an abiding love of western traditions and wide-open spaces, Ms. Crigger writes of free-spirited people who break from their standard roles. In her books, whether westerns, mysteries, or fantasy, the locales are real places. All of her books are set the Inland Northwest, the westerns with a historical background. Her short story, Aldy Neal’s Ghost, was a 2007 Spur finalist. Her western novel, Black Crossing, won the 2008 E.P.I.C. award. Letter of the Law was a 2009 Spur finalist in the audio category.

Visit her website at:

Book Blurb for THREE SECONDS TO THUNDER, to be released early 2012 from Oak Tree Press
China Bohannon is a modern 1890’s career woman, but the Doyle & Howe Detective Agency hasn’t turned her loose on a case of her own just yet. China is champing at the bit and when a call for help comes in, a trip into the mountains above the St. Joe country sounds just the thing to prove her worth and assist a friend at the same time. Porter Anderson’s uncle has disappeared and a Johnny-come-lately timber baron has claimed the family homestead. What’s more, he has a bill of sale that Porter knows his uncle didn’t sign. The problem is proving it—or so it would seem. Porter doesn’t believe his uncle sold out and left the country without telling anybody. He’s afraid old Lionel Hooker might be dead—murdered.

Declaring the case unsuitable for a lady like China, Monk Howe takes it on, but now no one has heard from him in days. China sets out to discover his whereabouts as the dry lightning of summer sets the woods ablaze.

What she finds is a trail of lies, theft, and murder, with her uncle Monk likely the next victim. Then, just when the problem appears solved, trouble breaks out again. This time, Gratton Doyle is the one in danger and it’s China who must bail him out.

* * * * *
Thank you and I can't wait to see your latest book arrive this year!


Marsha Ward said...

I always get my money's worth with a C.K. Crigger book! I've been following Carol's career for some time, and she's one of the best, most versatile writers I know.

Amy said...

Thank you so much for visiting and leaving a comment! I totally agree.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Marsha. And back atcha.
Amy, thanks for having me here and allowing me to "speak."

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Good luck, C.K., with your new book. The Oak Tree books are lovely! I always receive nice comments on mine.

Mary Montague Sikes

Sunny Frazier said...

It took me three tries to figure out what DNF meant (did not finish).

I'm going to crow a bit for finding Carol in the query pile and acquiring her as one of our early Wild Oaks author over at Oak Tree Press. Looking forward to book #2.

Kat Hinkson said...

My list is growing for books to read. DNF is like an UFO (unfinished object). I don't refer to my manuscripts as UFO's, my knitting yes, I refer to my stories as WIP. Great post.