Thursday, May 15, 2008


Christine Verstraete, author of Searching For A Starry Night, is the guest of Robert W. Walker and ACME Authors Link this week, and Rob herein puts the questions to Chris, who has graciously accepted to be scrutinized:

Rob: Chris, you’ve written a number of nonfiction projects, including interviewing mystery authors, as well as writing for magazines and newspapers, and now you’ve created a fictional miniature art mystery series with Petey the Dachshund on the cover.
You’re a miniature art collector and are passionate about miniature art. This becomes clear in your YA mystery novel entitled Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery, (Quake/Echelon Press, May ’08). Can you briefly tell us how you came to the plot for your novel, and how your passion for miniatures figured in?

Chris: I’ve been collecting miniatures for quite a few years, so it seemed natural for me to include this in the plot for my first ya novel. I find the miniature art intriguing because of the detail and its size, so I figured kids would be just as fascinated by things in a smaller scale. It seemed to be the perfect attention-getter and something that I could illustrate in real life with an actual sample. What better way to get their attention and hopefully draw them into the book?

Rob: How often do you write or how much time on a typical day do you spend writing?

Chris: From years of newspaper work and as a freelance writer, I’ve been in the habit of writing every day. I always have a story or something to work on.

Rob: Where do you do most of your writing? Any special nooks?

Chris: I have a small office set up at home. It’s big enough for a desk, a couple bookcases and some filing cabinets. But when it gets nice out, I don't hesitate to take the laptop out on the deck. Sometimes it’s nice to have a different view.

Rob: What drew you into writing in the first place? When did you start and why?

Chris: I say that I was born into it! I have a baby picture of myself that was kind of prophetic, showing me with a newspaper and a pencil behind my ear. But I knew in high school that I wanted to write so I figured that studying journalism was the next logical step. It was good discipline and provided good writing training.

Rob: Is the writing bug a blessing or a curse in your opinion?

Chris: I can’t “not” write, so I guess it can be a curse that way. My brain is always buzzing with ideas. But it’s a blessing, too, as it allows me to help others, share information and express myself. Better than keeping it inside.

Rob: Who were your biggest influences? Who do you enjoy reading?

Chris: I’ve always been a bookworm. I devoured books as a kid. My favorites, of course, were all the horse books, Misty of Chincoteague, Black Beauty, etc. Then the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. As an adult, I’ve always enjoyed Stephen King, Dean Koontz and spooky TV or movies. I like fun, touching stories, too, and works by Debbie Macomber, Mary Higgins Clark, Elaine Viets, and more. I read in various genres and also like books set in the 1500 to 1700s or unusual topics.

Rob: What was your first story or book, and how old were you when you penned it?

Chris: One thing I remember writing is a paper on the Tudors and Elizabethan times in high school. I love Queen Elizabeth’s magnificent beaded costume and even drew pictures of it for the report. I probably wrote other things at a younger age, but I don’t remember them. But I bet they involved horses or dogs.

Rob: You seem to be drawn to writing young adult mystery. Are you planning to stick with YA alone, or do you have plans to branch out into other categories?

Chris: I actually started writing an adult mystery, but the first book is your learning process, I guess. I am working on a second adult mystery and also completed a set of short mystery stories featuring Sam and her friends from Searching For A Starry Night.

Rob: Having read Searching For A Starry Night, I feel your characters are genuine and interesting. Do you plan to use these characters in a series of books?

Chris: Thanks, Rob. Guess I jumped the gun in the previous question. Besides the short stories, I do hope to do another mystery or other book with Sam or Lita once I come up with the right setting and idea.

Rob: What do you have in the “hopper” or in store for the next book?

Chris: As a departure, I have been thinking of a fantasy-mystery. I have parts of it figured out. It keeps popping up in my mind.

Rob: How has your experience working with your publisher been like?

Chris: As this is my first print book, I do like the personal atmosphere and thankful that Karen, the publisher, is patient. I tend to change my mind a lot (and keep re-editing. Ha!)

Rob: Is there anything you’d like to add, or a question I failed to ask?

Chris: Since my book involves miniatures, perhaps you’d like to see my collection? I have photos on my website at under miniatures gallery. Braver souls can click the photos link to see photos of my haunted house. Caution: not for the weak. I also feature other miniaturists’ work and various topics at my blog, And finally, thanks, Rob and the folks at ACME, for hosting me. This was fun!

Rob: Thanks Chris for adding yet another dimension to ACME and for being so forthcoming. Your book has just hit the shelves, and we encourage anyone who loves a good read (YA is great for adults too!) to look for Searching for a Starry Night.


Lonnie Cruse said...

Having met Chris and read some of her work, I just wanted to stop by and say "hi" to both of you and congrats on a great interview!

Morgan Mandel said...

Hi Chris,
I've mentioned it everywhere else, so I may as well mention it here.

I really love your book cover!
Morgan Mandel

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Rob,

Thanks for doing this interview. Besides being an interesting person and a talented writer, Chris is very kind and helpful to her fellow writers. We at Women of Mystery wish her great success.


Earl Staggs said...

Excellent interview, Chris and Rob. I enjoyed learning some of your secrets, Chris, even though I suspect you held back on a few.

;-) Best wishes for continued success.