Kristina Stanley was the director of security at an isolated resort in the depths of the Purcell Mountains, British Columbia. Her time in that job, her love of skiing, and her adventurous life in the wilderness led her to write the Stone Mountain Mystery series. DESCENT is the first in that series.
Kristina’s books have garnered the attention of prestigious crime writing organizations in Canada and England. Crime Writers of Canada nominated DESCENT (July 2015, Imajin Books) for the Unhanged Arthur award for the best unpublished crime novel. The Crime Writers’ Association nominated BLAZE for the Debut Dagger (to be published fall 2015, Imajin Books). She is published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. I sat down with Kristina to find out a bit more about her, and her exciting new series.
DESCENT introduces us to Kalin Thompson, an inexperienced director of security at the Stone Mountain Resort, set in a remote area in British Columbia. Tell us a bit more about Kalin and the premise of the book.
Kalin left her life in the city after her first husband was killed in an unsolved hit-and-run. Her background is human resources, her talent is dealing with people and she’s in love with a new man. Kalin is not a person who considers failure an option and puts all at risk to find a killer.
In the first book, Kalin Thompson is promoted to Director of Security at Stone Mountain Resort. She soon becomes entangled in the high-profile murder investigation of an up-and-coming Olympic-caliber skier. There are more suspects with motives than there are gates on the super-G course, and danger mounts with every turn.
Kalin’s boss orders her to investigate. Her boyfriend wants her to stay safe and let the cops do their job. Torn between loyalty to friends and professional duty, Kalin must look within her isolated community to unearth the killer’s identity.
What prompted you to set your series at an isolated ski resort?
The Stone Mountain Series exists because I moved away from my home in the mountains of British Columbia, and I missed her terribly. I left for an adventure on the seas, and my past life of living in a ski resort became my muse.
Stone Mountain and Holden do not exist on the British Columbian map. I made them up. For those of you from the area, you may see a resemblance to Panorama and Invermere. I love the area and wanted to write about it, but didn’t want to be restricted by an actual place. My imagination needed more freedom to get the story out. The positions at the resort exist in some form, but the characters are fictitious.
What or who inspired you to become a writer?
Joan Barfoot, author of EXIT LINES and many other books, was my mentor through the Humber School for Writers Creative Writing by Correspondence Post Graduate course. She taught me to pay attention to the craft of writing and not just the art.
Her advice: Learn how to use punctuation and grammar! You wouldn’t try to paint without knowing how to create colors by mixing them, would you? Or play the piano without practicing the scales? This advice stayed with me, and I often refer to Joan’s notes on that novel, reminding myself what she taught me.
What’s the best writing advice you have ever read or been given?
Be open to feedback. Find others you trust. I know it’s hard to share your work, but ask for honest input. Convincing friends to give you negative feedback is difficult. People who care about you usually don’t want to hurt your feelings. Explain you need the information to make your novel better. Then provide a list of specific questions. I ask beta readers to do or answer the following:
- Mark anywhere you skim
- Did you get confused on who a character was?
- Note anytime you suspect a character of being the villain – this is critical for a mystery
- At any point did you want to put the book down?
How many books, on average, do you read in a month, and do you read your genre when writing?
I probably read two to three books a month and usually in the mystery genre. Being a writer is like having homework for the rest of your life. When I read in my genre I pay attention to what I like, don’t like and try to learn from the book. That way, I can convince myself I’m spending time working on my novels and not just enjoying myself. If I’m not reading fiction, I read books on how to improve my writing. Outside of the mystery genre, I love to read a good paranormal story. That’s when I’m just goofing off, and who doesn’t need to do that?
What’s next for Kristina Stanley?
This is an exciting question. I’m polishing the third novel in the Stone Mountain Series. In AVALANCHE Kalin Thompson’s brother disappears in an avalanche hours have a major theft occurs at Stone Mountain. Search and rescue do all they can to find him while Kalin struggles to prove he didn’t steal the money. It’s all about making the protagonist’s life difficult, isn’t it?
I’m writing the fourth novel in the series. A friend of Kalin’s is murdered while riding his ATV. What I need is a title that fits with DESCENT, BLAZE and AVALANCHE and links to man who is forced off a cliff into a frothing river. Feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments below. I can’t keep calling it the fourth in the series.
Thank you Kristina!
You can find Kristina Stanley at www.KristinaStanley.com.