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.
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.