The Literary Vixen presents…
Joining us today is Kris Calvin! Her latest release, Under a Broken Sky: A Novel release on July 12th 2022.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
When I was little, I didn’t feel safe in my own home. Sadly, I’m far from the only child who has endured those circumstances. But my particular response to having a frightening reality was to also fear what my imagination might hold—I didn’t play make-believe, and I didn’t originally have much interest in “telling stories”. Fortunately, I discovered the local public library, where the librarians and staff were unfailingly kind and the children facing peril in my books had happy endings.
For my career, I worked in an analytical and unimaginative, but fulfilling policy job advocating for children’s well-being in the state legislature. In the process, I wrote a lot of dry policy memos and letters. It wasn’t until I was in my 50s that I felt “safe” enough to explore my creative side and write fiction.
What time of the day do you usually write?
5am to 9am.
How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?
Before I start writing, none–I don’t make outlines. But as I write, I pause frequently to envision everything. I need to be able to see a scene in my mind to transform the scene into words, so every sound, color, and texture matters.
Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write?
I am always most enamored with what I am currently working on. What’s already written and out there has to be “forgotten” for my new ideas to feel fresh. Right now that means a dual timeline story with two strong women protagonists set 100 years apart.
What gave you that final push to press publish on your first book?
When I shared my first manuscript for my first book, a “whodunnit” mystery called One Murder More, with a developmental editor, to my horror she pronounced it “terrible”. She said from my years working in policy I wrote clearly, but that what I’d produced was dull and dry. My characters only “saw” things; they didn’t touch or hear or smell. I spent a year in workshops and read countless books on writing fiction, gaining what I could from those who had already done it. I contracted with a hybrid publisher, they set a deadline, and I was ready. For my second book, the first in the Emma & Alibi series, I did 17 drafts before I submitted it to a traditional publisher, who gave me a 2-book contract. For that one, I was “ready” when I was done!
Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
I know a lot of authors don’t read their Goodreads and Amazon reviews. I read each one. I don’t expect a book of mine to be a good fit for everyone, so it doesn’t bother me when that happens (unless the reader is flat out mean and calls me names, which has only happened once). I learn from what people like best and what they struggled with and do my best to use that to improve my writing. The most common positive comment is that people like Emma, my 32-yr-old ethics investigator, and Alibi my homicide cop. They also seem to like the dynamic between Emma and her best friend, Kate, and Kate’s teen son.
Negatives have included a few people saying I describe clothing too much (which as a result I dialed down in my later books 🙂 and that the names are “weird”. (I didn’t change that. I like weird names.)
Favorite book when you were a kid?
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
I love this question! I used to play this game with my kids and their friends.
(1) Responsible. Ugh, I was once on a 3rd date with a man who I thought was about to tell me how fabulous I was and instead he said, “If I could sum you up in one word, it would be ‘responsible’.” No 4th date for him!
(2) Kind. Not always and not perfectly, but one plus side of having lived in fear is I have no interest in making anyone feel anything other than respected and safe.
(3) Creative! This is a new one, late-in-life, but being creative is now a big part of who I am.
What advice would you give to other authors?
Write every day, and don’t share what you’ve written until you are very far along.
What is the one thing you want people to know about you and your books?
I write thrillers where no harm comes to children. They may be in danger, and we may worry for them, but every child you come to know in my books will be safe.
Thank you Kris Calvin for chatting with me! I will include her information down below. Check out her newest release, Under a Broken Sky today!
In this Sacramento-set thriller perfect for fans of Meg Gardiner, Emma Lawson uncovers greed and deception for a living, but this time is different. If only she knew this killer can hear her.
He can see her.
One year into her prized role as the youngest ethics investigator in California’s history, Emma suspects corruption in the state’s billion dollar expansion to train travel. That unwittingly puts her on a killer’s trail – a killer who will do anything to reach his illicit million dollar payday, including personally eliminating Emma Lawson as a threat.
Detective Alibi Morning Sun sees connections where no one else does. For him, a drowning at a lake, a fire in a storage facility and a murder by the river carry a thread soaked in blood.
As Emma follows the money and Alibi traces bullets and bodies, the killer counts down to his grand finale. With each mounting danger, it quickly becomes apparent that the corruption Emma has been digging for is real— and it’s deadly.
Three days. Two days. Now only one…
Kris Calvin’s latest novel, UNDER A BROKEN SKY (July 12, 2021; Crooked Lane Books) is the second in her Emma & Alibi mystery-thriller series. Kris served for more than 20 years as the CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics in California, and was honored for her leadership in advocacy for children by the California Legislature. You can visit Kris online at kriscalvin.com.