January 26, 2013

Free Your Spirit with Historical Author – C.K. Crigger


     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 and writes occasional articles for Roundup magazine.
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. She is a two time Spur Award finalist and won the 2008 EPIC Award for Western/Historical fiction. 

Please tell us a little about your new release without giving too much of a spoiler away.

Here’s the back blurb for Three Seconds to Thunder, the third book in my China Bohannon series:  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 for it 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 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 latest victim. Then, just when the problem appears solved, trouble breaks out again. This time, Gratton Doyle is the one in danger and China who must bail him out.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I’m going to answer this from the opposite point of view because there’s nothing hard about writing the China Bohannon stories. I love every moment of it. The only part that occasionally proves challenging is keeping the action going at a breakneck pace. Otherwise, I love the characters, I get a kick out of the Bedlington terrier, and I adore doing the research for the time and the setting. I’ve even got a partial plot for a fourth book in my head.  

What comes first, the plot or the characters?

Characters, every time. There is no plot without the proper characters to drive and people it. Good guys, bad guys (or girls), all the players...you just never know when what might at first seem a fairly minor character suddenly pops up and has to be restrained from taking over. In Two Feet Below, the second CB book, my heroine winds up in a logger’s camp. I thought I’d milk the scene and then move on, but as it happens, those loggers not only took on a major part in Two, but one went on to star in Three Seconds to Thunder.  

Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example...get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place?

No rituals for me, unless you consider rereading what I wrote in the previous session a prime to the writing pump. However, I read a lot about writers who put on their favorite classic music and write to that. At one time, I used to do something similar —only I remember a song titled “Lightning Crashes” rather than anything highbrow. Now I prefer silence during the actual writing. I will, however, sometimes listen to an evocative song before I start writing. I love having a song as a theme, one that will send me straight into the book’s mood.  

Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

My series books no doubt have a common theme. In my Gunsmith series, it’s my heroine finishing the history trapped inside an antique gun. In the China Bohannon series, it’s righting a wrong and solving a crime.  I hope the standalones are all different and unique! 

How do you go about naming characters?

I just love naming my characters. Possibilities are wide open for me here. I can (and do) collect all sorts of names and sometimes just plain make them up--or I think I do. Tomasella—the heroine in one of my fantasies—is one I thought I made up until I saw it somewhere years later as a last name. My Shih Tzu is named after her. I’ve never seen the name Boothenay—from the Gunsmith series—anywhere else. Names similar, but not precise. The Border Patrol Officer in Hereafter is named after Lily, my Persian kitty who was my writing partner for sixteen years. But names have to suit the time period you’re writing in. And they have to suit the character. Sometimes that character can really be stubborn, too.  One of my westerns began with the heroine named Leah, but dang, she just wasn’t Leah. Apparently she wasn’t Sophia, either. Who she was/is, is Caroline, which strikes me a odd since it’s so close to my own name. As an aside, the other day I sold a book to a lady named Zennetta. Guess whose name is going to show up soon in one of my books?  

What do you see for the future of publishing in e-books?

More copies of my books sell in electronic format than in print already. I look for that trend to continue. While I will never stop buying paper books, I’ve got to say I enjoy the Kindle, too. Electronic books are easy to carry around and don’t require bookcases to hold them. However, if you’re watching TV with one eye and reading with the other, paper books suit me better. So what? I like both, but I think e-books are definitely the wave of the future.  

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?

I’m currently promoting the China Bohannon series. #1: One Foot on the Edge, #2: Two Feet Below, and #3: Three Seconds to Thunder, the last two published by Oak Tree Press. My latest release is from Amber Quill Press and is a futuristic fantasy featuring post-apocalyptic mutants and magic. Its title is Hereafter. I’m also shopping around another novel starring Boothenay Irons, as well as a contemporary mystery. 

What do you do on a typical writing day?

Hah! Somedays I retreat to my basement office and spend a lot of time staring at a blank computer screen. Other days the words spew out like lava and I write like mad. It all seems to even out in the end. If the creative juices aren’t flowing as I’d like, I can always edit and improve and allow my mind to take care of business. 

Please describe your writing environment.

I can’t resist answering this question. First of all, my office is a pit. Papers and notes and scraps of this-and-that all over the place.  I’m surrounded by two overflowing bookcases, stacked boxes, printers, and oh, yes, a 1906 Thomas Edison gramophone, with the big old horn and cylinder records. There are even two file cabinets for actual business type stuff. The carpet is in dire need of cleaning and most often has my best doggie friend lying on it at my side. The kitty frequently visits and stomps across the computer keyboard, scattering stuff even more. When I make an effort and dung out junk and straighten and organize the rest, it reverts to this horrible state in less than a week. I need a maid! 

Connect with C.K. at one of the following: 



Marsha Ward said...

Carol, I'm waiting with bated breath (where did that saying come from, anyway, Shakespeare?) for a character named Zennetta. She sounds so flamboyant. She must have one of those huge hats, draped with veils or lots and lots of feathers and/or flowers. Oh, and a huge bustle, too.

I loved your comments, especially about your writing space. Thanks for making me feel like I'm not alone in having a paper-strewn office!

(word ver listsetr? I hope that's not a one.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for dropping by, Marsha. Zanenetta is actually a small, soft-looking lady, but you're right. She could go big, too. What fun.