Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Author Interview: C. K. Crigger

My good friend C. K. Crigger is my interviewee today. C. K. writes time-travel and sword-and-horse fantasy books as well as novels of the American West. Her latest book, Black Crossing, falls into the latter category, and was published just this month by Amber Quill Press.

Welcome, C. K.

What made you start writing?
I've always wanted to write, and played around with it even as a young child. After my own kids were past the mommy stage, I decided it was now or never and took the plunge. My first novel turned out to be about fifty pages long, so at that point I had to go through a steep learning curve. I never considered quitting, though. I think writing builds on itself and becomes a compulsion. Now I can't NOT write.

How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I've been serious about my writing for over ten years now. My first sale was in 1999, to Books In Motion, an audio publisher. That was Book #1 of my "Gunsmith" series, In the Service of the Queen. BIM has published the whole series. My first print sale was a little sword and horse fantasy from Amber Quill Press, entitled The Prince's Cousin.

What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?
I do some of both. When the story is conceived, I think about it until I have a point to start, a direction to head, an idea of the finale and of course, the main characters. After that, if I'm lucky, the characters will take over the helm and I ride in the passenger seat. That said, I find that while I'm out walking (gotta get the heinie off the desk chair once in a while) is a good time to solve the characters' problems and make additions to the plot line.

How do you choose your characters' names?
There's power in names, and I believe each character needs a name that will define him/her as a person. I go for what I hope are unusual names, names you won't forget the moment your eye passes over the letters, but feel they must still be simple enough to say and spell without causing a reader to scratch her head. Villains, in my books, are often given especially common names. I've used my uncles' names more than once. (Heh, heh. >>evil laugh.<<) Names should also belong to the era in which you're writing. I wouldn't use Hyrtha or Bertha in a modern story, and I wouldn't use Tiffany or Madison in a period piece.

What type of writing schedule do you have?
I must admit I kept a better schedule when I was still working. Now, in the belief I have all the time in the world, I slough off a lot. Still, I manage to write a little something nearly every day, whether it's a thousand words on my novel, a 600-word article for the newspaper, or a 250-word book review for either Roundup (the magazine of Western Writers of America) or my blog. You're most likely to find me writing between 10 - 12, and again from 1 - 3.

How do you handle life interruptions?
Aw, they don't bother me. Unless it's my husband passing out (like from TIA episodes) upstairs and from my basement office, I hear and feel the thump of him falling. That raises my own pulse rate a little higher than comfortable. But dogs needing in or out, or answering the phone, or turning the sprinkler system on or off don't even break my concentration. I'm pretty easy-going.

Do you get blocked? Any hints on how to stave it off?
I don't get blocked. I get lazy, or too self-critical for the stage the story is at, or I indulge in pity-parties. The best way to quell it is to write something, anything, on the current story. Make believe you're accomplishing something, whether you are or not. Surprisingly often, the "junk" writing will have value, and if it doesn't, well, that's why they have delete buttons on computer keyboards.

What have you always dreamed of writing, but haven't yet?
Besides that NY Times bestseller? I'd like to write something that thirty years from now, someone will pick up the latest reprint and have the story connect in a new way.

What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?
The best thing for me is concocting the story and characters. I dislike selling, whether to the initial agent or publisher, or hand-to-hand at a bookstore signing.

What is your next project?
I have so many started that it's a matter of eeny, meeny, miny, moe as to which I finish first. I'm in final edits (before it goes out) of a contemporary mystery, I'm working on a science fiction/adventure, plus I have another mystery and two historical stories in the planning stage. I may not live long enough to finish all of them. Oh, well.

What is your advice for other writers?
Keep working, keep learning, keep reading, and don't lose faith in yourself. Persevere. If for no other reason, write for yourself and appreciate the sense of accomplishment writing gives you.

Tell us about your new book.
Black Crossing, my latest release from Amber Quill Press, is a novel of the American West, a term I like much better than "a western." No cowboys in this one. It's set in the big timber country of northern Idaho.

Here's the book blurb:
A woman’s revenge and a man’s honor meet on a collision course...

Isaac Gilpatrick witnesses the killing of old Marshall Blodgett, and when his mother Ione is threatened with death—or worse—he is intimidated into remaining silent. But the guilt he carries wears at Isaac’s nerves until he can bear it no longer and vows to put the information into the new marshal’s hands.

Unfortunately, Marshal TJ Osgood arrives in town too late. He finds Isaac silenced for good after a crooked judge ordered him hanged. Now, with an under-aged deputy and a hound dog as his only allies, Osgood must sort out the truth, protect the bereaved Ione Gilpatrick, and bring a rough bunch of backwoods timber thieves to justice. That is, if Ione doesn’t beat him to it...

What other works have you published?
I'll start with the latest and work to the oldest, (more or less) listing the genres.
Black Crossing (Novel of the American West)
"Aldy Neal's Ghost" ( short story which was a 2007 Spur finalist) (American West)
The Winning Hand (Novel of the American West)
Six Shot (time-travel)
Crossroad (time-travel)
Shadow Soldier (time-travel)
In the Service of the Queen (time-travel)
Liar's Trail (Novel of the American West)
The Prince's Cousin (sword and horse fantasy)

Thanks for letting me visit, Marsha.

It was my great pleasure. Thank you for the interview.

Visit C. K. Crigger's website at and her book review blog here.


  1. Very interesting. Thank-you for this, Marsha.

  2. Marsha,
    Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the review!


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