I’m so pleased to have fellow Tule author, Kris Bock in the Spotlight today. We had a fascinating chat. Kris writes novels of mystery, suspense, and romance, many with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Get a free Accidental Detective short story and bonus material when you sign up for her newsletter. This collection includes a ten-page mystery short story set in the world of “The Accidental Detective” series, information about the series, and the first chapter of book 1. After that are three fun, short stories originally written for children. You’ll also get a free 30-page sweet romance set in the world of the Furrever Friends cat café and a printable copy of the recipes mentioned in the cat café novels.
Kris is also writing a series with her brother, scriptwriter Douglas J Eboch, who wrote the original screenplay for the movie Sweet Home Alabama. Follow the crazy antics of Melanie, Jake, and their friends a decade before the events of the movie. Sign up for their romantic comedy newsletter and get Felony Melanie Destroys the Moonshiner’s Cabin. Or find the books on Amazon US or All E-book retailers.
N: Welcome to the blog, Kris. I’m so delighted to have you with us today. So, what inspired you to start writing?
A: I studied photography first but realized I didn’t want to be a professional photographer. I had enjoyed writing for the school paper, so I switched to journalism. I wrote my first novel, a middle grade adventure called The Well of Sacrifice, while I was looking for work as a magazine editor. I loved books such as Julie of the Wolves and Island of the Blue Dolphins growing up and wanted to do a similar young adventure story. The novel is set in Mayan times, inspired by a summer I spent traveling through Mexico and Central America. Astonishingly, I sold the book! This gave me the mistaken impression that having a writing career wasn’t so hard. I have since written many novels that I haven’t sold, but I’ve managed to make a career of writing by focusing on more steady moneymakers such as educational publishing.
Around 2008, I was feeling restless and wanted a change. I had mostly been reading adult romantic suspense novels, so I started writing those under the name Kris Bock. Desert Gold follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In Valley of Gems, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. Then I added contemporary sweet romance and mystery series.
So I have over 100 published books now, but that includes fiction and nonfiction, for children and adults. The variety keeps me interested! I write for children as Chris Eboch and M. M. Eboch and for adults as Kris Bock.
N: What comes first—the plot or the characters?
A: It varies. For my Accidental Detective mystery series, I started with a character who is trying to reinvent her life as she turns 50. She spent 30 years as a war correspondent, so she’s pretty fearless, but that doesn’t always help her with the challenges of aging. She’s dealing with elderly parents who have health problems, a resentful sister, her own lack of retirement planning, and a body that doesn’t recover as quickly as it used to. These challenges provide humor as she narrates her attempts to solve local mysteries and build a new life.
For some of my other novels, plot came first. My romantic mystery, What We Found, was inspired by finding the body of a murder victim while hiking in the woods. True story! (Learn more here.)
N: : Clearly, you’re an animal lover, what gave you the idea for the Furrever Friends series? Are you into rescuing animals?
A: I’ve noticed lots of sweet, small-town romance series involving dogs, but few with cats. I think it’s because dogs clearly bring people together – think dog parks, walking your dog, obedience training – while cats don’t.
Until you consider cat cafés. These are a relatively recent trend, but you can now find hundreds of cat cafés all around the world. Typically they partner with a shelter, so all the cats you can visit are available for adoption. This gives visitors a chance to spend more quality time with the cats before they choose one. Those of us who can’t keep a cat in the home for whatever reason can at least visit some.
I’m allergic to cats, so my husband and I have two ferrets. They’re like lazy kittens!
N: I love the Cat Café! Is there a place you know that inspired that setting?
A: I hadn’t been to one when I got the idea for the series, but I did visit Catopia in Albuquerque as well as check out plenty of online photos and videos.
N: What were the key challenges you faced when writing the Furrever Friends series?
A: Writing the Cat Café series was fun and fairly easy. Promoting them is harder. I thought I’d found an unexplored niche in romance novels with cats. Unfortunately, because there are so few out there, people aren’t looking for them. It makes it hard to know how to market the books.
N: What are you reading now?
A: A month ago I read Sword Dance, by A.J. Demas, a spy adventure with a romance between a damaged military hero and a non-binary sword dancer, set in an imaginary ancient world. That reminded me that I’d been meaning to reread the Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, so I’m doing that now.
N: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
A: You will write a ton of stuff. Some will be great and some won’t. Some will sell and some won’t. Don’t hold onto any one project as too precious. No experience is wasted, because it all contributes to becoming a better writer and a more interesting person.
N: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell your readers about?
A: In the Accidental Detective series, a witty journalist solves mysteries in Arizona and tackles the challenges of turning fifty. The first four books are written and in the publication process. Book 1, Something Shady at Sunshine Haven, comes out April 7:
When patients are dying at an Alzheimer’s unit, a former war correspondent must use her journalism skills to uncover the killer and save her mother. Kate has followed the most dangerous news stories around the world, but can she survive going home?
Get a free Accidental Detective short story and bonus material when you sign up for my newsletter. This collection includes a ten-page mystery short story set in the world of “The Accidental Detective” series, information about the series, and the first chapter of book 1. After that are three fun, short stories originally written for children.
I hope to write more Accidental Detective books, but at the moment I’m working on a cowboy series about a ranch family that wins the lottery.
N: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
A: I live in a small town in central New Mexico with my husband and our ferrets. I am a full-time writer, and my home office looks out on nature, complete with distracting wildlife such as roadrunners and foxes. I spend a lot of time reading, and I also like hiking, taking walks with friends, archery, and occasional low-key crafting.
N: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I really had no idea. My mom thought I would have to be a librarian, since my main interest was reading. In high school, I got interested in photography, so I went to college for that. If I hadn’t gotten into the one art school I applied to, I might have trained to be an EMT. I got interested in emergency medicine when I was in junior ski patrol in high school.
N: Favorite book when you were a kid?
A: I was a big fan of the Narnia series.
N: Here’s everyone’s favorite question. If you could choose three people, living or dead, to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
A: I hate that question! It’s too hard. The first person to come to mind is my dad, because he died several years ago and I miss him. I recently learned (via 28 Days of Black History) about Pauli Murray, a Black woman who went to law school in the nineteen forties, and Bayard Rustin, a queer Black activist who was a big influence in the civil rights movement. They both sounded fascinating and, judging by their pictures, I think they’d be a lot of fun.
Something Shady at Sunshine Haven
In the Accidental Detective series, a witty journalist solves mysteries in Arizona and tackles the challenges of turning fifty.
Injured in a bombing, Kate returns to her hometown in Arizona to recover. For the first time in her life, she’s starting to feel her age (49), even though she’s living like a teenager again: staying with her father, trying to understand why her sister resents her so much, and running into people who still think of her as Kitty.
Seeing her mother in an Alzheimer’s unit is the hardest part – until an old friend asks her to investigate suspicious deaths at that nursing home. Is a self-appointed “Angel of Mercy” killing patients to end their suffering? Are family members hastening their inheritance? Is an employee extorting money and removing the witnesses? Kate uses her journalism skills to track clues, but the puzzle pieces simply won’t fit.
If Kate can’t uncover the truth, her mother could be next on the killer’s list. Kate has followed the most dangerous news stories around the world. But can she survive going home?