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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

THE WRITING LIFE WITH SUSPENSE AUTHOR KIERSTIN MARQUET

Kierstin Marquet is an award-winning author who writes clean, high octane, and often humorous psychological suspense stories where families vs. criminals. She uses her degree in criminal justice and minor in psychology to create authentic characters she hopes readers will want to continue reading about late into the night. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

My writing journey began in an unusual way. I suffered from insomnia in elementary school. One night I was crying because I couldn’t sleep. My dad, a sheriff’s deputy, had just come home from work and heard me. I can still hear the creaky-squeaky sound his gun belt makes when it rubs against the keepers holding it in place as he dropped to a knee beside my bed and asked what was wrong. After I explained the problem, he said, “You like kittens. Why don’t you tell yourself stories about kittens on swing sets and slides at a playground?”

 

Ever since then, I have dealt with my lifelong insomnia by telling myself stories to go to sleep. When I began writing about the nightly adventures into my imagination, I was terrified people would think they were cheesy, so I kept them to myself.


I followed in my dad’s footsteps and acquired a degree in criminal justice with a minor in psychology, but I left crime-fighting to my federal agent husband when we started a family.

 

I was in my mid-thirties before I told the first person—my husband, whom I’d been married to for over a decade—that I wrote stories.

 

Before we moved to the Middle East for his job in 2007, I grabbed a bunch of books on sale from the library to have something to read while I was overseas.

 

One of the books had a male main character who had been unjustly incarcerated in prison for murder. He escaped and was so desperate to find the real killer, he kidnapped a woman and forced her to help him. I thought of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1985 movie Commando. Arnie’s character kidnapped a flight attendant to help him rescue his missing daughter.

 

Excited about an adventure with action and a touch of romance, I dove into the former library book. By chapter two, the main characters were falling into bed hopelessly “in love”. I stopped reading and thought a few things in rapid succession:

 

That’s lust, not love—they’re totally different.

 

How could she REALISTICALLY fall in love with her kidnapper without it looking like Stockholm Syndrome?

 

As ideas started flowing, I thought, “I can write a better story.”

 

The plot needs to be DIFFERENT from the library book.

 

What crime could my male character commit that makes him terrified of the police?

 

In order for him to be a sympathetic character, his crime couldn’t be morally reprehensible.

 

I made the girl he kidnaps the daughter of a sheriff’s deputy and the twists and turns began.

 

But the twists and turns in my real life had just begun. After spending twelve hours a day for two weeks writing, I told my husband, “I need to try to get published in order to justify the amount of time I’m spending on the computer.”

 

My husband, Captain Awesome, responded by giving me five How to Write a Novel type books for Christmas. At first, I was insulted, THEN I began reading them. They changed my life. I devoured sixteen more, and they fed my fervor.

 

In 2013, I won a first chapter contest in the suspense category and was offered a publishing contract. The “name” I would publish them under became an issue. It’s not uncommon for horrible people to stalk, harass, and harm law enforcement officers and their families. Exposing my real name to the world might attract more attention than we wanted. I’d grown up with the threat, so when my husband requested that I use a pen name, I didn’t fuss.

 

But what name?

 

It didn’t take long for me to recall the name of a child I’d met years ago. While on duty, my dad responded to a call and then brought Kierstin to our house until the Division of Child and Family Services could take her. She was around eight years old, shoelace-slender, and had such severe bruises on her body her school had called the sheriff’s department. She stayed with us for a short time, then left with DCFS.

 

Years later, I asked my dad what happened to her. He said, “Oh, honey. The family moved to Idaho and her stepfather killed her there.”

 

That rocked me to the core of my being. Taking Kierstin’s name became a way of memorializing her. Because of kids like her, I grew up with an insatiable need to rescue victims both on the page and in real life.

 

Shattered Lives 

In Shattered Lives, the Aurelian Society Series starter, you’ll meet the teenagers living hundreds of miles apart whose lives become inexorably tangled in a fight to survive hitmen working for a criminal syndicate.


Eighteen-year-old mechanic Tommy Galvez and his family struggle to make it out of a drug and gang-infested San Diego barrio the legal way. Their well-intentioned choices lead to disastrous consequences.


In Mountain Green, Utah, eighteen-year-old Ashten Mason enjoys a life built with cookie-cutter perfectionism and plans of graduating from WSU early. Tragedy strikes when she’s accused of helping her boyfriend cheat on exams. Her pending expulsion leads Ashten to make decisions she’ll regret for the rest of her life. 

 

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47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an interesting life you've had thus far. It sounds like it could be a novel in itself. Ironically, two things stood out to me that I were similar to my own youth. One of my classmates and neighbors was killed (allegedly by his father) when I was in the 5th grade. Another of my grammar and high school friends was murdered by her boyfriend. I used her name, Olivia, nick-name "Ollie," in my Leal and Hart police procedural series as a tribute to her. I'm looking forward to reading your books. Good luck.

Sharee Stover said...

Loved reading about your writing journey, Kierstin! And can't wait to read your books :)

Sharon Marchisello said...

What a fascinating life you've led! I'm sure you can draw lots of inspiration from real-life events. Such a sad outcome for your namesake.
I used to tell stories to myself when I was little, too. My parents made me go to bed way before I was ready, so I had to do something to entertain myself.
Best of luck with your new launch!

R.E. Cranney said...

Congrats on your publication, Kierstin! I love your writing. Great suspense!

Stephanie Black said...

I loved learning about your writing journey, Kierstin! And what a beautiful way to choose your pen name. Also I am super impressed that you have a degree in criminal justice and a minor in psychology. What a great background for a suspense writer!

Stephanie Black said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thonie Hevron said...

A fascinating history! I can't wait to read your book.

Madeline Gornell said...

Wow! Like Thonie said, what a fascinating history you have.Thanks for the wonderful introduction. Much success!

K said...

You have such a perfect background for writing suspense. Families fighting crime is an awesome genre and far too rare – loved it ever since I saw The Incredibles.

Rosa S said...

Kierstin! I love the passion that you have with your writing and your background. That was so sweet of your father to encourage you to tell stories. It is clear that you pour your heart and soul into your writing. Captain Awesome was 100% correct in encouraging you. Please keep up the great work.

Betty said...

I had the opportunity to heard this story from the author in person, It was as exciting as the first time.

Saludos desde México!!

Unknown said...

This is so great! I loved reading this post.

badge # 979 said...

I'm so glad you were brave and put your work out there. Now, others can enjoy it and be blessed.

Barbara Ann said...

Kiersten,
I enjoyed reading about your background and especially how you chose your pen name. An awesome tribute to the young lady. I am so pleased to have read the beginning parts of the Aurelian Society. You have more talent in your little finger than some of the top names have in all of their books combined. Plus, you have the rare ability to place the reader directly into the midst of the action and never let them go. I am eager to see this series published, and I truly believe it has the makings of a movie series. I, too, have my writing ideas in my bed, but mine come at 6 a.m. usually or right smack in the middle of the night so I have to hop up and write them down. Thank you for all your encouragement and for introducing me to Pro Writing Aid. I have learned so much from you. Kiersten is an excellent writer, and I can hardly wait for the reviews to come in for the series.

Michael A. Black said...

Kierston, great story on how you became a writer, and I happen to know that you're a good one. Best of luck with your new one. Stay strong.

Anonymous said...

Kiersten has two qualities essential to writing ... enthusiasm and imagination. I also know the extent to which she strives for accuracy through research, because she and I have literally spent hours talking on the phone and eMailing back and forth. Unlike many authors, she is determined to 'get it right or don't get it at all...' From the hours we've spent talking and writing, it is abundantly clear Kiersten has done her prep work and is ready to roll. She is destined to become an excellent author and I'm anxious to start reading her books.

Pete Klismet, FBI (Retired)
Former Profiler
Author of four award-winning books
and one International Best-Seller

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Hooray, I learned more about you. I'd hoped to meet you at the PSWA conference, but since that isn't going to happen, I enjoyed reading this about you and your writing.

Heather Moore said...

What an amazing journey you've had! So inspirational!

Unknown said...

What a great way to honor the young girl who was tragically killed. I’m sure this greatly impacted your writing.

I’m privileged to have read some of your writing and have enjoyed it immensely. You tackle a subject that is difficult, yet so important, human trafficking.
Congratulations on your success! I look forward to reading more of your work.

Brenm said...

I loved reading about how you got your start. Your stories are amazing and really have a way of drawing in the reader with humor and suspense. Keep writing I can't wait to read more.

Greg Scott said...

Nice!

Back in my younger days, I sat in the captain's chair of the Starship Enterprise and tried to figure out how warp drive could work in the real world before falling asleep at night.

- Greg Scott

Kierstin Marquet said...

Lois, thank you for the honor of being spotlighted on your blog and allowing me to share my story. I really appreciate it, and thank everyone for their kind words. If you signed up to join my newsletter and haven't gotten response, please email KierstinMarquet@gmail.com.

Kierstin Marquet ~ Author
KierstinMarquet.com
KierstinMarquet@gmail.com

Find me on MeWe.com to see my Writing Authentic Law Enforcement Videos!

COMING SOON!
The Aurelian Society 🦋

Lois Winston said...

It was my pleasure, Kierstin!

Brenda Bateman said...

Kiersten, I have had the privilege of reading many of your books, and I have to say they are as wonderful and genuine as you are. I love that I can become completely and safely engrossed in an action/love story with great characters and an intriguing plot. Thanks for sharing your story and I hope many others find you add fabulous as I do!

Patrick O'Donnell said...

I love stories like this! You have had some very interesting experiences and I'm sure these show up in your stories. This is such a value to readers. Too many authors haven't really "lived" life because of circumstances that may or may not have control over. This shows like a beacon in their stories.

You are definitely the "real deal" Kiersten! I'm looking forward to seeing your author career skyrocket!

DS Canon said...

I’ve been blessed to know Kiersten for years. Her excellent storytelling is based on real world experiences. Her books a page-turners that never disappoint.

Kierstin Marquet said...

I finally figured out how to make comments to individuals posting about me. Sorry, everyone, I'm little slow. I hope to figure out how to reach everyone who commented before I had my epiphany.

DS. Thanks so much for your kind words. I can still recall your amazing talent with words illustrated by your authentic description of the jungle in JADE SKY. I still think Indiana Jones' daughter was the perfect description for Meg.

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to comment.

Anonymous said...

I have had the wonderful opportunity to read these books directly from the author and Kiersten is amazing in drawing me into the story with descriptions that have me feeling, tasting and smelling what’s happening! Kiersten pays particular attention to the details and the books just flow so well that when I ended them, I was searching for the next part. She is an award winning author in my opinion and I’m honored to be able to call her my friend. Good luck Kiersten with everything ahead of you!

Kierstin Marquet said...

Thanks Angie for the uplifting message and letting me know you were the "anonymous" one here. I hope to get Book 3 to you very soon. :)

ridgely johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ridgely johnson said...

Blogger Unknown said...
…A exceptional writer drops you in a story and you can’t turn the pages fast enough! How? Engagement -
I could hear the squeaking of Kirsten’s father’s leather belt as he kneeled down to comfort her… and she had me!
With powerful verbs and realistic plot lines, Kirsten’s books fly off the shelves… or down the wire! Knowing her personal backstory is a bonus for any fan. Thank you for sharing it.

Shirley said...

Wow. That's a horrible story about what happened to that little girl. Kudos to you for keeping her name alive. I never knew that story.

So happy to meet you at a Killer Nashville Conference a few years back. I remember you won the crime scene trophy.

Also, so happy to be able to keep in touch. Your story is fascinating.

Kierstin Marquet said...

Shirley,

That KillerNashville Conference was fun! After winning their crime scene mystery award, my husband and I thought it would be fun to do a WRITER'S RETREAT with a CRIME SCENE MURDER MYSTERY. It's tentatively planned for October 2021. Covid might put a kink in the plans, but we're hopeful. I'll be sure to let you and Lois know (and anyone else who is interested) about it. I'm hoping a friend of mine who is an author/pharmacist will come and teach a class on potions/ways to kill off a FICTIONAL character, and I'm best friends with a former coroner and she'd be willing to give us a presentation on dead bodies. (Ewww, but so essential when writing). I'll be giving my Psychology of Villains presentation, and I'll reach out and invite some other law enforcement/author friends to see if they'd be interested in offering a presentation on their expertise in their field. If anyone else is excited about these ideas, they can email me at kierstinmarquet@gmail.com.

Also we're still battling with newsletter problems. If you tried to sign up and didn't get a response, please email me at the above address.

Unknown said...

Hi Kierstin, what a great autobiography. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your history, and how your writing came about. For some odd reason, I can hear the "creaky-squeaky sound of the gun belt", and see that scene unfold. Keep rockin'.
Barb Butterfield

Kierstin Marquet said...

Thanks, Barb. Yeah, the creaky-squeak was always a comforting sound. I just knew if there was a problem, he'd take care of it.

Quillen Johnson said...

Your personal story is so interesting. I like the idea of taking the name of the little girl to use. I look forward to reading your book!

Kierstin Marquet said...

Thanks Q! Typically talking about Little Kierstin makes me cry--especially since I couldn't have my own daughter. I just for that little girl who suffered so much.

Tierney James said...

Thank you for sharing this about yourself. No wonder you're an incredible author. We never know what will change our lives and the world

Unknown said...

Love reading about your journey!! Thanks for sharing

Kierstin Marquet said...

Thanks, Tierney! It's true everything in life prepares us in some way for the future. It's how we use that information that defines who we are.

Weaver said...

Such a touching story for your pen name! Thank you for sharing it! <3

Kierstin Marquet said...

Yeah, her story is heartbreaking.

Michele Holmes said...

Kierstin, I loved your story and also this background of how it came to be. I appreciated your disgust with the library book which had the characters falling in lust, not love, by chapter two. I've come across that too many times, and it's "throw-the-book-across-the-room" frustrating. I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel to Tommy and Ashten's adventure and very realistic development of their relationship.

Kierstin Marquet said...

Thanks Michele! I'm counting down the days until I can send this to you!

Meredith Rankin said...

Kierstin, like so many other commenters, I was moved by your story of little Kierstin. Things like that should never happen, but as we all know, they do. I think that choosing Kierstin as your pen name is a moving way of keeping this little one's memory alive. And what a terrific story about how you became a writer, too!

claire o'sullivan said...

How much pain to hear that story of the child who was murdered! Looking forward to your book.

Kierstin Marquet said...

Claire, I know, child abuse is so tragic. I don't understand the mindset of people who can do it. Stopping people by bringing awareness is worth every effort. I don't think people realize how prolific it is. Thanks for posting!