Featured Author of the Month…Chris Grabenstein


I would like to introduce to you my featured author of the month, Chris Grabenstein,  author of  “The Crossroads.  Here is my review for “The Crossroads”  if you missed it!  Check out my amazing interview with Chris!

Chris was born in Buffalo New York on a cold and wintry night in September.  Yes,  it is cold and wintry in Buffalo every month except July and August.  When he was ten, his dad’s company transferred him to Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Being ten, he decided he better go with him.   Fourteen years later, after college, Chris moved back to New York, this time the City, to be an actor and a writer.  He did improvisational comedy for five years (Bruce Willis was in their group), wrote for the Muppets, co-wrote a Christmas movie with a buddy from college (The Christmas Gift starring John Denver), took a writing aptitude test,  got hired by James Patterson at J. Walter Thompson advertising, wrote and produced commercials for seventeen years, quit, started writing books, started collecting rejection letters, finally got published in 2005 and now have about two dozen books out there in the world!


Sierra: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

Chris:  I started writing my first book in 2001 and finished it in 2003, I think.  It was never published.  Neither was my second or third book.  My fourth book was my first book.

Sierra: Tell us a little bit about your first book or the first book in the series.

Chris:  The first book in my adult murder mystery series was called TILT A WHIRL.  A by-the-book former MP becomes a cop in a Jersey Shore tourist town where nothing bad ever happens.  But then it does.   It won an Anthony award for best first mystery.  This year, the 8th book in that series, FREE FALL, came out.  I also wrote two thrillers for adults.

My first middle grades book, THE CROSSROADS, came out in 2008.  There are now four books in that series.  I also did a caper series for kids, have co-authored a few books with James Patterson, and recently became a New York Times best seller with ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY


Sierra: How did you choose the genre you write in?

Chris: I try to write the kinds of books I like to read.  Mysteries, thrillers, puzzlers, humor, a little sci-fi.  I know what readers want in those genres because I’m one, too.

Sierra: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?

Chris:  The bad guys.  They’re always the most fun.

Sierra: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Chris:  A lot of what happens in my books has happened to me in my life.  For instance, Kyle Keeley, the hero of ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY is based on my memories of having two older brothers.  The only time I could beat them was when we played board games!

Sierra: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as

an adult?

Chris: When I was a kid, my parents had a copy of The Complete Short Story Collection of O. Henry.  I think his twist ending style profoundly influenced me.  I also liked those books like Hotel and Airport that had multiple story threads that all came together in the end.  And, more recently, Stephen King, especially his “ON WRITING” has been extremely influential.

Sierra: Do you ever experience writers block?

Chris: No.  In fact, in my school visits, I teach the kids a trick to avoid it for the rest of their life.  Just use the rules of improvisational comedy.  Say, “yes…and…” and see what happens.

Sierra: Is there an author that you would really like to meet?

Chris:  Charles Dickens.  I like to go on long walks, too.  So maybe we could take one together.  With Fred, my dog.

Sierra: Will you have a new book coming out soon? If so, can you tell us about it?

Chris:   Let’s see, I EVEN FUNNIER, co-authored with James Patterson just came out.  Next June, the paperback of ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY will come out with bonus puzzles and pages.   Mr. Patterson and I have several other books coming out in the new year:  TREASURE HUNTERS 2, HOUSE OF ROBOTS: BRO-BOT, and I FUNNIEST.   My new book for Random House, THE ISLAND OF DR. LIBRIS, will come out in the Spring of 2015.

Sierra: If you could go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your first novel or getting

it published that you would change?

Chris:  The first several pages of TILT A WHIRL.  I made the classic first time author mistake of laying out a lot of exposition (even though it’s pretty well done, thanks to my narrator’s smart alecky voice) instead of jumping right in with action.   Now when I start a Ceepak story, we’re in the middle of some kind of action packed mess and I’ll catch you up with who everybody is and where we are later.

Sierra: Do you have any advise to give to aspiring writers?

Chris:  Read, read, read.  Write, write, write.  And — this is a trick that really helped me — study screenplay story structure and adapt it to word count instead of page count.

Sierra: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Chris:  Thank you so much for reading my books!   It’s no fun writing if no one reads what you write!


Thank you Chris!

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