Chrissie lives in London with her husband and is a freelance Production Coordinator working in the TV, documentary and film industry.
Chrissie is also an Author. Her thriller Integrate was released in October 2013. Chrissie is currently working on two sequels to Integrate called Temperance and Retribution. Both will be released in 2015.
Other written work includes factual articles for the Bristolian newspaper and guest articles for the charities Epilepsy Awareness Squad and Epilepsy Literary Heritage Foundation. Chrissie has also written a book of short stories and poems, one of which was performed at the 100 poems by 100 women event at the Bath International Literary Festival in 2013.
Chrissie is passionate about Ancient History, Archaeology and Travel, and has completed two six-month Archaeology and Egyptology courses with Exeter University. She also likes to read, collect books, make bracelets and listen to music.
Brief synopsis of your book:
The book is a work of historical fiction set in during two time periods: Elena Petrakis lives on the island of Zakynthos in Greece and loves her life, but world war two looms and she is forced to fight for her freedom through the harsh realities of war.
It is the 1990’s and Kate Fisher lives in Cornwall in the UK. On her twenty-first birthday she discovers she is adopted and struggles to come to terms with the news.
Kate learns that the two women, who lived decades apart, on different continents, have a lot more in common than she ever dreamed possible, and she goes to Zakynthos to see what she can find out. What she learns shocks her and changes her life as she knew it.
Among the Olive Groves
Current book or project you’re working on:
What moment or event sparked the inspiration for your novel?
I was on holiday in Zakynthos (Zante), Greece in 2005, and got chatting to a local about the island’s history. They mentioned something that happened to one of their relatives during world war two (I can’t tell you what as it’s a spoiler!), but this one sentence stayed with me and I felt the need to write about it.
What is the most complex issue you dealt with, as a writer, in your current novel?
I think the most complex issue was how to write about world war two. A lot happened during the war and some of the accounts you read when researching about it are quite horrific. I wanted to write an honest book that showed the reader the reality of war, but I didn’t want what I was writing to come across as sensationalist, or write things that were too gruesome or shocking. It was a very fine line and something I had to work very hard on to get right.
Are there any characters in your book that remind you of yourself?
I think that Elena Petrakis and Kate Fisher are a mix of me. Elena has my feisty, determined, stubborn traits and Kate has my emotional and worrisome traits!
What genre and age group does your book fall into?
The genre is historical fiction, and I would say it’s an adult book because of some of the war related themes in it.
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Agatha Christie – She is my favourite author and her books are brilliantly written with fantastic characters, they always keep you guessing until the end. She was also very interested in history and archaeology like I am.
2) Belinda Jones – She is my favourite Women’s Fiction author. I met her a few years ago and she writes great books. She has been so supportive and I couldn’t have got this far without her support.
3) Nora Roberts – she writes great books (and has written almost 200!). She has proved that as a woman, you can follow your dreams and become really successful if you work hard at it.
Do you read a book, while you are writing a book?
Yes. I read every day, for anything between 1-3 hours! I read almost every genre going except for horror (I read the rats by James Herbert when I was about fourteen and it scared the life out of me!).
How many books have you written?
This is my second book. My first was a novella called Integrate, it was released in November last year.
Which book is your favourite and why?
I like them both for different reasons, but if I had to pick one, I would say Among the Olive Groves is my favourite. I love the characters and the story a lot. I also really like the setting, it was a really inspiring and beautiful place to write about.
Is there anything that helps get you in the mood to write?
Music, a cup (or pot!) of tea, and lots of food! I forever snack when I write. Peanut M&M’s are my downfall, as are dark chocolate digestive biscuits!
What were three challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) The first was getting the history right. I’m a bit of a history geek, but my love of history is more ancient than modern. So I had to do a lot of research about world war two. I visited many museums, read a lot of books, and watched a lot of documentaries. Some of the information was quite harrowing, but it was necessary to do the research in order to get the book right.
2) The book is set on the island of Zakynthos (Zante) in Greece. Even though I know it quite well it was a challenge getting the intricacies of island life and Greece right. I am eternally grateful to readers who live on the island for pointing me in the right direction and for picking up on these aspects during the editing process.
3) The book is very emotional. The war is a hard subject to write about, and I pushed my character Elena Petrakis to the very edge (and probably beyond) her limits. There were many times when the emotion got to me and gave me sleepless nights, or had me crying while trying to type/edit, but I think that emotion is what makes Elena’s story so important.
What is one of your favourite sources for research and why?
I have so many sources and it’s hard just to pick one. I am a very visual person though. I love wandering around museums, places where the book is set, or looking at photos. I find it gives me a much better idea of what I’m writing about, and makes it easier writing a little easier. I actually have a lot of photos pinned around my desk!
Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so what helps you to ‘overcome’?
Not often, I think with my Historical Fiction books I tend to get History block! What I mean is that sometimes I can get to a point in the book where I realise that I need to do a bit more research before I can carry on writing, so I have to stop. It can be just as frustrating as writers block!
Do you take part in creating your book cover and if so what do you find the most difficult part of the process?
Yes. I decide what I want for my book cover and then pass all the information to my cover designer. He is fantastic at delving into my brain and coming up with what I want. He usually gives me a number of different options and then I get a number of people to vote for the ones they like and then we tweak them, until we settle on the final image.
What part of the process becomes the most critical for you?
Structural/content editing and beta reading. This is the point where others get to tell me if I’m heading in the right direction and if it all makes sense. This is so critical to me. I am lucky to have an excellent editor who helps me with the structural stuff, and she is dynamite at spotting inaccuracies! I also think that beta readers are essential too, people who know the places where books are written, or are familiar with the subject matter, they can help pick up things that may have caused a problem with readers down the line. It is a very intensive time, but definitely worth it.
Do you study science, criminology, police, medical, or anything special to help you with your writing?
Yes, I love ancient history and archaeology. I always have, and the studying that I have done in the past few years (a 6 month Egyptology course and a 6 month Archaeology course with Exeter University), have proved invaluable. I hope to try and do some more history courses in the future.
Personal favourite info:
Drink – Tea! I love a cup of Tea
Food – Cheese and orange marmalade sandwiches
Vacation – Anywhere that has ancient ruins for me to wander around
TV show – Charmed. My all time favourite series
Movie – Practical magic
Animal – Cat, we own two!
Sport – I don’t play any, but love watching Formula One (motor racing).
Book – And then there were none – Agatha Christie
Comedy – Friends
Struggle – My epilepsy
Addiction - Cheescake
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Where can readers find your book?