I grew up in Ohio and Delaware and love traveling to exotic, romantic settings. After a college semester in Kathmandu, my first three “real” jobs were all in northern Japan, where I lived for almost 10 years. I currently split my career between my daytime occupation (improving the quality of veterans’ nursing home care) and my nights/weekend avocation (writing both fiction and non-fiction books). My 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. I love reading, pilates, bicycling, and snorkeling, and health foods that taste like they’re bad for you. You will often find me at a keyboard, a German shepherd at my side, and Ron whispering sweet edits over my shoulder.
Thanks! It sounds like you have an interesting life. Now on to some personal questions.
If you could go back in time to when you were seven years old, what wisdom or advice would you pass on to yourself?
Don’t jump on the bed when your grandmother tells you not to. My grandmother was apparently not kidding when she said the bed would collapse.
For what are you grateful?
I am incredibly grateful to have found my husband. We met on the internet, and I almost deleted his email. I actually had it checked for deletion, but something about his name made me wonder…had I met him somewhere before? People say that to him all the time, I now know. Thank goodness I did!
If a zombie virus took over the world, how many days do you think you could last before you were infected? And what would you do to postpone the inevitable?
I wouldn’t last a second. I’m too gullible. A zombie would walk up to me and say, “Hey, I’m not really a zombie…”
What television sitcom is most like your family? Why?
The Odd Couple. My parents should never have gotten married, although I’m, of course, happy they did! But they fought a lot. It was good for everyone when they each got their own separate shows, so to speak.
What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love to read. Bike riding is a close second.
Let’s find out a little bit about you as an author. Did you always want to be an author?
Nope. When I was young, I told everyone I wanted to be a psychiatrist. I think it was because I knew it was about helping people. For a while in high school I wanted to be a microbiologist. That lasted until I took organic chemistry. Then I was going to be involved in international politics…long story short, I was a late-blooming author. I started writing my first book in 2008.
What authors had an impact on you growing up and as an adult?
I adored James Herriot. I loved animals, but it was really his understanding and affectionate treatment of the people he encountered me into the stories. I still reread those books every now and then.
Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing?
Increasingly, I’m reliant on dictation software. My eyes aren’t the best, and if I’m going to continue writing for most of my waking hours, I’m going to have to do some of that with my eyes closed. I guess it’s my version of writing with my hands tied behind my back!
How did you decide to write a romantic suspense story?
Hey love reading suspenseful novels, and who doesn’t love romance? It seemed like the perfect genre—a combination of two exciting aspects of a good story.
What have you learned the most from being in the writing business?
I have learned how to better self edit. I didn’t have a good grasp of how to do that before. I worked with an editor on my first book. He had wonderful suggestions to which I could discern no pattern until I took an editing class. That’s been an extraordinary gift in my anytime work as well as my book writing.
Title: WILD WITHIN
Author: Christine Hartmann
Series: Wild at Heart Series #1
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
SYNOPSIS: A year after a family tragedy, Grace Mori embarks on the journey of a lifetime…
Two thousand, six hundred miles of blistering heat, wilderness, and soul searching—that’s what Grace signed up for when she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s not a voyage for beginners, but with no husband and her family still recovering from her bother’s death, Grace is more alone than ever.
This trail meant something to her brother, and she’ll hike it in his memory, but she can’t do it alone. So with her brother’s gear and a small group, Grace takes the most important first steps of her life.
Grace finds something more than peace and magic on the trail…
When her first day of hiking ends in heat stroke, Grace is rescued by a handsome, red-haired hiker who calls himself Lone Star. Grace has an immediate connection with him, and their brief encounter leaves her fearing her soul mate has slipped through her fingers. Although he vows to keep in touch, Grace doubts she’ll ever see him again.
When fears become reality, the only people Grace can rely on may be killers...
Grace is surprised to find notes left at supply posts along the trail. Lone Star’s eloquent letters keep Grace going, clinging to the hope she’ll find him—and happiness—at the end of her journey. But as the trail becomes more perilous, menace grows within the group. And when Lone Star’s letters mysteriously stop coming, Grace fears the worst.
As tensions flare and a killer emerges, Grace must battle to survive…and reunite with the man she’s sure is her future.
Later, after sharing a hearty dinner with the RV couple, Lone Star and Grace pitched their tents in adjacent campsites. For Grace, tent poles went into wrong grommets, stakes came loose, and clips misaligned. Lone Star set his up in a flash and sat in the entrance, watching her struggle.
“I wouldn’t mind a little help here, if you’ve got the time.”
“I’ve got the time. But you have to learn this for yourself, darlin’. Soon it’ll be as easy as pie. But not if I do it for you. Besides, I enjoy watching you. You clean up real nice.”
“Thanks.” Grace curtsied. Her foot caught in a tent line and she fell. Lone Star chuckled so long he had to hold his sides.
“From where I’m sitting, Lone Star, you’re not living up to Southern gentleman standards.” She brushed herself off. “What’s the Texas expression for go jump in a lake?”
“What I think you’re trying to say is that you think I’m about as fine as cream gravy.”
Grace used a rock to pound in her final tent stake and attached its guy-line. “Yes, that’s what I meant.” She tossed a pine cone at his head. “You’re as fine as clean gravy. So is my tent. Not bad for a first try.”
“Not clean gravy. Cream gravy. And it’s a fine tent indeed.”
Once inside her shelter, Grace was too tired to crawl into her sleeping bag. She pulled it over her like a blanket, thought for a second of Lone Star’s blue eyes, and fell asleep before the cover reached her chin.
Cheerful whistling roused her when dawn was still a light orange glow on the horizon. She pushed the tent flap aside and made out Lone Star breaking camp.
“Didn’t mean to wake you, darlin’.”
“You’re leaving? Already?” Sudden anxiety prickled in her.
“Sure am. Today’s supposed to be cooler, they say. Still, it’s good to start early in the desert, no matter what the prediction.”
“Wait.” Grace scrambled out. “I can pack up and go with you. Quick as a caterpillar in heat. Or whatever you’d say.” She wrapped her arms around herself to keep warm in the crisp morning air.
Lone Star’s face shone with affection. “Just Grace, your coming with me is a sweet thought.” He took gentle hold of her shoulders and turned her around. “But you crawl right back in your bag. You’re staying put today.”
Her attention focused on his hands as he gently pushed her toward her tent. Warm, firm, comforting hands. A sudden longing enveloped her. She struggled out of his grip. “I don’t need any more rest. I’m fine.”
“You don’t know how tired you are.”
“I’m okay. Really.” She jumped up and down. “See?”
“No arguing.” He again ushered her to the tent and waited until she was tightly wrapped and zippered inside. His thighs appeared at the entrance as he folded his long body until his head was level with his knees.
“I loved hiking with you yesterday, Just Grace. My heart is saying stay here with you. But I’ve got 2,600 miles to hike before snow lands in Canada. And my law practice isn’t going to be there forever if I don’t get back to it as soon as I can. I’ve just got to skedaddle.”
He cares more about his work than he does about me.
She fought back tears and willed her voice not to crack. “Okay. I understand. You’ve got your…priorities.”
Lone Star reached for her chin but she jerked it away.
He let his hand drop. “Don’t be that way, Just Grace. You’ve got to have a little faith.”
“Faith in what?”
“Faith in us.” He rubbed his hand against her cheek. This time she leaned into it.
“There’s an us?”
Kindle Unlimited: http://amzn.to/1O1YR0I
How did you decide on your story plot?
To write a convincing suspense novel, you need to find experts who can tell you how they do their job, If one of your main characters is a police officer, for example, you need to find a police officer to talk to. When I thought about people I knew who were experts at something, my husband came quickly to mind. He is a long-distance hiker and trail developer. “Perfect,” I thought. “I’ll set a story on a long-distance trail.” That is how Wild Within was born.
How did you choose your characters’ names and location for your story?
The location was easy. Ron had most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, so I picked that. as for characters names, I usually go through census statistics on popular names and choose names based on whether I think the character should have a popular name or an unusual one. When I look through the list, I pick the name that feels right to me.
Do you have a favorite scene? Why?
I love all the scenes where my main character, Grace, finds her own inner strength. This happens in various ways throughout the book, but I particularly like one of the final scenes where, despite all the odds being against her, she fights back with all she’s got.
Do you have a character that you identify with? Who and why?
One of the things people say about Wild Within is that they like the characters, even the villains. I’m not saying I identify completely with my villains. But it was very important for me to make them realistic and likable, because sometimes circumstances drive people to terrible actions that they wouldn’t have done if the circumstances had been different. Villains don’t need to have inherent character flaws. That said, the character I identify with most in every book is the heroine. She’s not me, but she’s someone I would really like to spend time with if I met her in person.
Let our readers know how they can get a hold of you…
The best way to stay in touch is through my Wild at Heart newsletter. You can sign up on my website: http://chartmannbooks.com
Is there anything else that you want to share… feel free!!
I’m doing a series of romance profiles in my newsletter right now. I am always looking for people who have romantic story they would like to share with my readers. If any of you reading this has an inspiring story about meeting the love of your life, sign up for my newsletter on my website and let me know. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences to get in touch with couples, listen to their stories, and write them up. There are so many ways of spelling romance. The possibilities are endless!