Christine Hartmann grew up in Ohio and Delaware and loves traveling to exotic, romantic settings. After a college semester in Kathmandu, her first three “real” jobs were all in northern Japan, where she lived for almost 10 years. She currently splits her career between her daytime occupation (improving the quality of veterans’ nursing home care) and her nights/weekend avocation (writing both fiction and non-fiction books). Her husband Ron Strickland is a well-known long-distance hiker and trail guide writer and the founder of the 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. Christine loves reading, pilates, bicycling, and snorkeling, and health foods that taste like they’re bad for you. You will often find her at a keyboard, a German shepherd at her side, and Ron whispering sweet edits over her shoulder.
Her latest book is book one of the Wild at Heart series, Wild Within.
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Thanks for this interview, Christine. Can we begin by having you tell us about yourself from a writer’s standpoint?
From the standpoint of being an author, I was born in 2008, when I began writing my first book, So Far Away: A Daughter’s Memoir of Life, Loss, and Love. Up to that point, I had been fantasizing about writing a book, but I never felt I had the time to do it. What I finally realized was that the time was never going to fall into my lap. I had to make the time. Since then, I have been making more and more time for writing in my life. It is a big part of what I do in my day job. And now it's how I spend many nights and weekends.
When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?
My husband, Ron, is also a writer. So writing is a hobby that we have in common and enjoy doing together. But when we're both taking a break, we like to do things outside: hiking, bike riding, swimming. When I'm near the ocean I can spend hours snorkeling. We get to spend some months of the year in Hawaii, and the underwater world there is amazing. Book 2 of the Wild at Heart series is actually set in Hawaii because I fell so in love with that state.
Congratulations on your new book! Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?
Early morning sun scorched the grimy car hood and forced its way through the window to burn Grace’s bare arms. She fidgeted as she watched the arid plane of sagebrush and light brown dust roll past. The landscape differed completely from the grassy hills, eucalyptus trees, and fog around her native San Francisco. Occasional yucca plants shouldered their way between low scraggly bushes with more branches than leaves. Small boulders peppered the area, looking like enormous grey cottage cheese curds among rolling, sere hills.
This countryside puts the wild in wilderness.
The car bounced past dry pastures and scruffy woods.
Maybe I should have spent more time reading those trail guides?
A glimpse of the Mexican border made her sit up straight.
Who cares? I’m here.
Grace bounced in her seat with excitement.
This is it.
Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing? Can you tell us about your journey?
The journey for this book was smooth but somewhat convoluted. Wild Within started as a thriller and then over the course of working with my amazing agent became a romantic suspense novel. If you ask me, the romance was just dying to come out and take over from the beginning. Limitless Publishing picked up Wild Within as a romantic suspense, and the rest has been a blissful partnership.
If you had to summarize your book in one sentence, what would that be?
As tensions flare and a killer emerges, Grace must battle to survive…and reunite with the man she's sure is her future.
What makes your book stand out from the rest?
People tell me that they like the characters and are surprised how much they even like the villains. That's something I worked hard on. It was important to me that people be able to empathize even with the characters who ended up doing bad things. I believe most people don't set out to do bad things because of some sort of intrinsic character flaw. The combination of circumstances, bad luck, and personal traits push someone in one direction instead of another, so that's how I wrote this.
If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?
It would definitely be in the Fourth of July section. This book takes place mostly in the summer, outdoors on a hiking trail.
Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?
Yes, it is already part of a series, the Wild at Heart series. Book 2 will be out this fall.
What’s next for you?
I'm busy working on book 3 of the Wild at Heart series. Book 3 is set in Vegas, and this time things that happen in Vegas will not stay in Vegas!