Interview with Nichole Christoff, Author of The Kill Box
23 Oct 2015
Private-eye-turned-security-specialist Jamie Sinclair returns in The Kill Box, and this time, she tackles a cold case that could cost her the one person who means the most to her. When the consequences of an unsolved crime catch up with Jamie and military police officer Adam Barrett, a late-night phone call sends her racing to his hometown in upstate New York. In a tinderbox of shattered trust and long-buried secrets, Jamie must fight to uncover the truth about what really happened one terrible night twenty years ago. And the secrets she discovers deep in Barrett’s past not only threaten their future together–they just might get her killed.
I loved writing this novel for many reasons, including the fact that so much of the countryside where I grew up ended up finding its way into the narrative. For instance, there’s a very special apple tree in the book that’s very much like an ancient tree at my grandmother’s house. Five generations of my family have held celebrations in its shade.
What fictional literary world would you most like to visit?
Since high school, I’ve loved Robert Jordan’s world in the Wheel of Time series. It’s so rich with its upside-down weather and galloping, trans-continental adventure. I’d need a special skill to get along, though. Can doing the laundry be a special skill? If so, I’m all set.
Who was your childhood hero?
Hands down, I’d have to say my mom. No matter what troubles came our way, she always had a knack for making things work. If the lawnmower engine bit the dust, she’d find a way to fix it. If I had to craft a last-minute science project, she’d help me figure it out. She was capable and funny, compassionate and smart. That was the kind of person I wanted to be. It’s the kind of person I hope I am.
What’s the best tip you give to your creative writing students?
Well, my students might disagree, but my best advice is: read, read, read, and ask why. Read things you don’t like as often as you read things you love. Ask yourself why you react to those works the way you do.
What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?
Oh, goodness! So many books! I go back to Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep again and again. It’s so twisty, yet the truth is looking at you and Marlowe the whole way through. I can’t get over Robert Crais’ L.A. Requiem. Because of that book, I think I’ll love Joe Pike forever. I re-read William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition about every other year. There’s something so bittersweet about that story. It keeps me coming back. And I just want to cheer every time I finish Tami Hoag’s Dark Horse. She’s got a protagonist that never quits. I love that in a book.
You wouldn’t be caught dead, where?
Cabot Cove, Maine! With all due respect to Jessica Fletcher, visitors to her little burg have a habit of running into the Grim Reaper.
What’s your favorite quote or scene from The Kill Box?
Well, Jamie learns some deeply personal things about Barrett–and about herself–that really knock her for a loop. She comes to an important realization in the dark, under a blanket of stars, and she has to hug herself to hold herself together. I think that may be my favorite scene because, sometimes, the truth can catch us unaware like that. And it always changes everything.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Sometimes, things don’t work out the way we hope. When I face a set-back, I remember Aesop’s tortoise and hare. I try to remind myself, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
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