Name: Chrisi Corbett
Where are you from? I was born and raised in Marysville, Washington, a town about 30 miles north of Seattle.
A little about yourself; your education, family life, etc…
I graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Communications.
My first job brought me to Green Bay, Wisconsin where I was the editor for the 5pm, 6pm, and 10pm newscasts.
Then I got married and I took a job in the Creative Services Department for the CBS affiliate in Duluth, Minnesota.
I wrote television commercials and eventually ended up as the head writer for a local, weekly show.
It was great fun, but I left my career in television when I had our twins to stay at home and raise them.
But during that time I kept writing what would eventually become my debut novel, Along the Way Home.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My debut novel, Along the Way Home, a historical western romance set on the
1843 Oregon Trail, was released by Astraea Press on June 11, 2013.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I got the idea on a road trip, driving an overloaded Hyundai Excel from Green Bay to Seattle with my fiancé (now husband).
We were driving my 1992 Hyundai Excel (compact car) and the backseat and hatchback were loaded to the
windows with all my worldly possessions. As an extra bonus, my husband is 6 feet 4 inches tall. Plus it’s February,
and since the middle of winter in the Midwest is brutally cold we’re sporting layers of long underwear, flannel shirts, and puffy coats.
We decided to take our time and stopped off at a number of landmarks,
including Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, and Wall Drug.
By the time we reached the Montana border my hubby was ready to rip out the front seat and drive from the back one,
and I was beyond bored. Around mid-Montana I started whining about how long it was taking, how there was nothing
to do but sit, and how the scenery never changed. Then mid-complaint it hit me—we were traveling in one hour what
would take nearly three days to accomplish in the 1800’s. (Recall we’d just come from Wall Drug in South Dakota so
I think “the old times” were fresh on my mind.)
I whipped out my notebook and the ideas just started flowing. Soon I had pages and pages of notes and ideas about
a possible book. Here’s the actual first line that started it all: A fantastic idea just occurred to me in light of the journey I have just taken…Occasionally I will pull out that same notebook to see how far I’ve come. (For starters,
I learned using the same word twice in one sentence is a big no no.)
The descriptions for the two main characters are completely different from what Jake and Kate are now and there wasn’t
one mention of a covered wagon or the Oregon Trail, but the basic idea was there. Make it about a man and a woman who travel west
, each for their own reasons, to start a new life.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It went through many versions, beginning with something so ridiculous and convoluted that even I can’t
explain my reasoning for it anymore because I don’t understand it myself. Then I called it “The Long Way Home”
for a while, until I learned Laura Ingalls Wilder had a book with the same title. Then I found the one that stuck, Along the Way Home.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
If you give your word, or make a promise, to another person you should be prepared to keep it, no matter the cost.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
About 90% of the locations are actual landmarks that travelers passed by on the Oregon Trail, and about
10% of the places are rivers and lakes I made up because I needed them in the storyline. Some places
I name are Fort Laramie, Fort Hall, Independence Rock, Chimney Rock, Devil’s Gate, Blue Mountains,
Wabash River, Platte River, Columbia River, and many more. I also included a real storekeeper (Captain Payette) at one of the forts my characters pass through on their way west.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The Oregon Trail is an important part of America’s history, and shaped the country as we know it today.
I admire those who were willing to abandon all they’d ever known for the promise of a better life.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
I would say my favorite book series of my youth, the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
I got my first book of hers at a yard sale at age seven, and read it so much the covers literally crumbled
from wear and eventually fell off the book. And had my first moment of absolute book joy when
I learned that there were many more (which was my first brush with the concept of a series).
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
For how to act as a published author, I would say Kaki Warner. I am always amazed at her grace,
and how willing she is to help out and encourage other authors, published or not. She’s been a fantastic mentor to me over the past few years, and she’s a brilliant writer as well.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s the back cover copy for Along the Way Home…
Kate Davis is intrigued when her father reveals his dream of starting a horse ranch in Oregon Territory.
Settlers out west value a strong woman, and though she manages the financials of her father’s mercantile
her competence earns her ridicule, not respect, from Virginia’s elite society.
Jake Fitzpatrick, an experienced trail guide, wants land out west to raise cattle and crops.
But dreams require money and he’s eating dandelion greens for dinner. So when a wealthy
businessman offers double wages to guide his family across the Oregon Trail, Jake accepts
with one stipulation—he is in complete control.
Departure day finds Kate clinging to her possessions as Jake demands she abandon all he deems
frivolous, including her deceased mother’s heirlooms. Jake stands firm, refusing to let the whims
of a headstrong woman jeopardize the wages he so desperately needs—even a beautiful one with
fiery green eyes and a temper to match.
Trail life is a battle of wills between them until tragedy strikes, leaving Jake with an honor-bound
promise to protect her from harm and Kate with a monumental choice—go back to everything
she’s ever known or toward everything she’s ever wanted?
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Have a fun summer with my twins, because they’re only young once. Today we battled for the title of “Corbett House Champion of Checkers” (I lost) and then played on the Slip and Slide and tossed around water balloons. Once school starts again in September I’ll be putting the final polish on the sequel to Along the Way Home.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My critique partners, Margo Kelly and Artemis Grey. They are there to listen to me when I need it, push me when I need it, and are my biggest writing supporters.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Balancing my time between my family and my writing is my biggest challenge.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never ever EVER give up. On your path to publication you’re going to hear horrific things about
your writing and your storylines, you’re going to get rejection after rejection and then a bunch more,
but if you keep going in the face of those criticisms and continually strive to learn all you can about
the craft of writing, and you NEVER QUIT, you will succeed. Because all it takes is one person to say yes.
I had over 50 rejections on the day I queried Astraea Press. I got many more after I
signed the contract (publishing is slow and agent response times are even slower),
I got two rejections the week before it released, one more on release day, and then yet another on the very day I hit Number One on Amazon’s Top 100 list for Hot New Releases in Westerns.
Imagine if I had taken all those rejections as a sign I shouldn’t be a writer and gave up!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Words cannot express how deeply honored and grateful I am to you for reading my book. Thank you so much!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website?
When I’m not writing I love chatting with readers and writers alike. You can find me in one of the following locations:
Facebook: Christi Corbett—Author