Kris Bock, Author of Whispers in the Dark, Talks Writing & Offers #Giveaway

My guest today on the Muriel Reeves Mysteries is Kris Bock. Kris writes action-packed romantic suspense involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Whispers in the Dark involves intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. Rattled follows a treasure hunt in New Mexico. In the upcoming What We Found, a young woman stumbles on the body of a murder victim. Kris also writes for children as Chris Eboch. Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt.

Anne – It’s a pleasure to have you drop by for a chat, Kris. When did you first realize you were destined to be a mystery/suspense writer?

Kris - My writing journey has been long and varied. I went to grad school for a degree in Professional Writing and Publishing. At the time, I was focused on magazine nonfiction. I started a novel for children as something to do for fun while looking for a job. By some astonishing stroke of luck, that book sold. (The Well of Sacrifice, a drama set in 9th-century Mayan Guatemala, for ages nine and up, written under the name Chris Eboch.) Eventually I published 12 children’s books, for different ages and in different genres, both fiction and nonfiction. A couple of years ago, I was feeling burned out and not happy with where the market was going. I’d been reading mainly “adult” books (for grown-ups, not necessarily racy), especially mysteries and romantic suspense, so I decided it was time to try writing one.  I love taking on new challenges and growing as a writer, so this experience has been wonderful. I haven’t necessarily stopped writing for children, but my focus now is on writing for adults under the name Kris Bock.

Anne - Tell us about your book.

Kris - Whispers in the Dark: A young archaeologist seeking peace after an assault stumbles into danger as mysteries unfold among ancient Southwest ruins. Can she overcome the fears from her past, learn to fight back, and open herself to a new romance?

Anne - Would you share an excerpt with us?

Kris – Certainly!

Whispers in the Dark:

I hit something, bounced, scraped, and finally landed with a thud that rattled my whole body.

I lay in the dark, blinded, my head ringing, pain washing over me in great waves. My lungs screamed for air, but it seemed like I’d forgotten how to breathe.

Finally I dragged in a breath. I closed my eyes and focused on breathing, waiting for the world to settle into place.

Rain misted my face, so I must be lying on my back. My head felt heavier than my feet. I shifted and realized I was lying on a slope with my head pointing down.

I tried to concentrate on those little details. I couldn’t handle anything more. Panic fluttered around me, but I refused to think about anything but the present moment. I flexed my fingers. When that worked, I moved my hands over my body, up to my face. My head throbbed, but when I felt around my skull, I didn’t find any serious damage.

I had to move. The thought battered at the back of my mind, a panicky whisper that I tried to ignore. I had to run. Hide. He was after me. I had to get away.

I clenched my teeth hard, as if I could bite back the pain and fear. Memories crowded in, like panicked ghosts wailing at the edges of my mind. Guns, strange men. Dangerous, threatening men. Danesh trying to protect me, the gun going off. My own helpless, panicked flight. Unable to fight, unable even to scream.

I tried to focus on this one moment, the physical sensations of my aching body as I lay on the hard, damp ground. The cold against my bare calves, the lump of rock pressing into my shoulder. That focus helped keep me grounded in the present. Never mind that this present wasn’t a place I wanted to be. I had to deal with reality. But I didn’t have to also deal with nightmares. Not now.

The little whimpers in my throat faded to short gasping breaths. I held on to this moment, this single slice of reality. Now to move forward. I didn’t have to like it, but I had to do it. One step at a time.

Anne – What a rush! I want to read more of Whispers in the Dark! Of the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why? 

Kris - They all hold special places in my heart. Every time I write a new book, I identify with the heroine and fall in love with the hero. I’ve been working on What We Found, a mystery with strong romantic elements, so that’s where my heart is now. This is my most personal novel so far, because it’s based on a true experience of finding the body of a murder victim. Fortunately, I didn’t face all the challenges Audra does, but I was able to draw on those complicated emotions, like feeling a strange connection to someone you’ve never met in life. What We Found also involves falconry, which is something I’ve been exploring in the last couple of years. I don’t own birds, but I’ve gone out on hunts with a friend and written articles on the subject. (You can see some of my falconry photos on my Picasa page, including baby chicks!)

Anne – Fascinating stuff, Kris. Although I can’t imagine being personally involved or finding a murder victim. Ugh! How many rejections have you received? Was one more memorable than others?

Kris - I’ve probably received a thousand rejections when you count all the novels, short stories, and articles over the last 20 years. I used to keep the ones that had a personal note, but now I just update my submission records. There’s no shame in rejection: it simply means you’re running your business and getting your work out. (And all those rejections make the occasional acceptance so much sweeter!)

Anne – So true! Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers?

Kris - Take your time. Don’t rush to submit your work, and certainly don’t rush to self publish. Unless you’ve written at least three complete manuscripts, taken several writing classes, and gotten professional feedback, you probably have no idea how strong your writing is. You wouldn’t expect to walk into a hospital and get a job as a nurse with no prior experience; don’t assume you can whip out a manuscript (or even slave over one) and it’s worthy of publication. Take the time to study and practice your craft and get feedback from professional writers or freelance editors. Don’t stress about publication until experienced people are telling you you’re ready. Focusing on publication before you spend enough time focusing on craft leads to disappointment and frustration. The focus should be on the joy of writing and learning to write better.

Anne - Where can readers find you online?

Kris - At my websites: or for children’s books, on my Amazon Author PageBarnes & Noble Author Page. On FacebookGoodreads, my Write like a Pro! blog, and on Twitter.

Anne - You’re offering a giveaway copy of Whispers in the Dark to one lucky reader. What question would you like them to address in a comment to be eligible for the draw? (Please specify print or e-book copy, plus US only or international destination.)

Kris – I’d like to know: How strict are you about the genres you read? I’m curious because this is a mystery novelist’s blogs, and I know some mystery fans are focused on fairly narrow subgenres. My books tend to blur genre lines – mystery, suspense, adventure, and romance. You can also tell me which of my books you’d like to receive (though you’ll have to wait a few weeks for What We Found) and if you’d prefer a print copy (US only) or e-book (international okay).

Thanks so much for having me!

Anne – My pleasure, Kris. The winner of your giveaway draw will be announced here on July 17. Good luck to readers, and please include your email addy with your comment.

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Anne K. Albert said...

Hi Kris, super to have you visit today. Patricia Gilgor tried to combat Blogger's idiosyncrasies, but alas could not leave a comment. However, she very much wants to be included in your giveaway draw, so I'm commenting for her!

Patricia Gligor said...

Thanks, Anne!
I'm actually able to leave a comment using the Google+ link you sent me. Again, thanks.
"Whispers in the Dark" sounds intriguing. I love a mystery!
You asked what sub genres of mystery we prefer to read. I'm most interested in mysteries that take place in "modern" times although I'm not opposed to historical mysteries. I'm not big on psychic phenomena but I've read some that I've enjoyed. I like a dash of romance but I want the mystery to be the more important element. I love a good cozy too.
I've rambled. I guess the point I want to make is that, as long as there's mystery and suspense, I'm in!

Rick Bylina said...

Rejections. I have more rejections than Rodney Dangerfield had put-downs, but enough about me. I'm glad you like to blur the genre and even the sub-genre line. I believe a good book is a good book is a good book. Mixing two genres together makes for a much more complete slice of life because life is rarely channeled so neatly. I never win contests, so the choice of book is moot. Write on!

Anne K. Albert said...

"More rejections than Rodney Dangerfield had put-downs"...funny, Rick! And who knows. You might just have the winning ticket. Charlie Bucket did. Thanks for dropping by. :)

Jake said...

"Whispers in the Dark" sounds like just what I would like to read. Prefer hard copy so it can be donated to local library when finished. Not a genre specific reader. If it is written I will read & enjoy. Have discovered a number of great reads via Anne and Patricia. Looking forward to becoming familiar with your writings.