FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
1. How did you come up with your pen name?
“Chrys” is a playful spelling for one of my nicknames, a spelling that I thought was elegant and mysterious. And “Fey” means “magical.” I discovered that synonym in my ancient thesaurus. At the time, when I created my writing alter ego, I was writing a series steeped in the paranormal (this is the series I refer to on social media as my Secret Book Baby Series) and I wanted my name to reflect that. Since then “Fey” has become a goal, whether I write speculative genres or not. It’s a goal to treat the act of writing as magical.
2. Where did you get the idea to write about sparks?
It all started with my blog Write with Fey. On January 6th, 2012, I published my first blog post, Catching a Spark. The post was about finding inspiration for a story, which I called a spark. In that post, I originally used a cropped image of my nephew holding up a sparkler. From that point on, “sparks” became my symbol, my logo, my inspiration. “Sparks” became an unconscious theme for my blog. I say “unconscious” because I didn’t have to think about it. My posts automatically became sparks for writers. So, when I wrote Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You From Idea to Publication and Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer’s Block, Depression, and Burnout, I knew “sparks” had to be a big part of their concept.
3. How did you come up with the idea to write a series involving natural disasters, crime, and romance?
At first, I didn’t have the idea. I published Hurricane Crimes and thought that was it. Then a couple readers expressed wanting to know what happened before and after Hurricane Crimes. I pondered a sequel and realized that the story wasn’t over…a killer was still at large. As soon as I thought of the second book, the idea of a series bloomed, and I knew they would all feature a different disaster and contain what I love about romantic-suspense stories: crime and romance.
4. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
There are countless romantic-suspense stories, and several take place during a storm, but not many authors have used natural disasters as a continuing theme. Not only that, but on top of the disasters there are also crimes of nearly every kind, which is why my collection is known as the Disaster Crimes Series.
5. What inspired Hurricane Crimes?
I had just finished reading a book set during a blizzard and pondered the fact that I had never been in a snow storm because I live in Florida, so the idea to write a story that really focuses on a hurricane immediately became my goal. Although I wanted Hurricane Crimes to be a romance, I didn’t want it to be a typical romance. Thus, I created Donovan, a sexy and passionate man who may be a murderer.
6. What disasters have you experienced?
Hurricane Crimes was strongly based on my experience with Hurricane Francis and Tropical Storm Fay. Hurricane Francis was one of three hurricanes that struck Florida, one right after the other, in 2004. As a matter of fact, while writing Hurricane Crimes, I imagined Beth’s house was the house I was living in when those hurricanes hit. Unlike Beth’s house, mine survived. The only damage was to parts of the porch and the garage door, which was knocked down.
The flooding in Hurricane Crimes was based on the floods from Tropical Storm Fay. She made landfall on Florida four times. Many places flooded. Where I was living, the streets flooded so much that it looked like my house was floating in the middle of a lake.
Thankfully, I have not experienced an earthquake or tsunami, but I did write a scene into Tsunami Crimes that I did experience first-hand, when a huge wave knocked me down into rocks and tried to suck me back. I had to claw my fingers into the rock to keep from getting dragged under.
Flaming Crimes is about wildfires, and I have experienced those. The fire in that story, which threatens Beth and Donovan’s home, is taken directly from my childhood memories. Every part of it: my best friend’s dad saying the fire looked like it was right next to my house, the moment when I see a crowd of gawkers at the end of the street and I yell at them, my dad on the roof with a hose, the firefighter who got burned, the brush truck that got stuck in the fiery woods…everything.
Even real-life random moments were used fictitiously, such as my mom coming out of the house with a bag of potatoes, and one of my cats running toward the fire. She survived, but another one of my cats, Angel, had also run toward the flames. She came home that night. Burned. She died a few days later on my twelfth birthday.
I fully believe in using our experiences in our stories, and that’s what I do.
The Fire that Inspired Flaming Crimes (Parts 1 – 10):
Part 1 – Circle of Friends Books
Part 2 – Sandra Cox
Part 3 – Elements of Emaginette
Part 4 – Julie Flanders
Part 5 – I Think; Therefore, I Yam
Part 6 – Alex J. Cavanaugh
Part 7 – Just Jemi
Part 8 – Sandra Dailey
Part 9 – Fundinmental
Part 10 – Elizabeth Seckman
7. Why did you decide to make Beth Kennedy a self-defense instructor?
I am an advocate of domestic violence awareness, and I love heroines of steel. Also, Beth needed to be tough to stand up against the obstacles I threw at her. Aside from a karate expert, I figured a self-defense instructor could stand up to a suspected murderer.
8. How did you research tsunamis? Did the stories from the 2004 (Thailand) or 2015 (Japan) have an impact on your writing [for Tsunami Crimes]?
I checked out books from my local library about natural disasters and took notes about tsunamis and how they work. One book I read was I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011 by Lauren Tarshis. This book was really good, perfect for kids. I actually bought it for my nephew, who was reading these books at school. When he showed me one, I decided to take a look and came across the story about the Japanese Tsunami.
I also read two books with first-hand accounts from tsunami survivors. Their stories were powerful. Clothing was ripped right off their bodies. One woman saw a neighbor shouting for her to help, but this woman knew if she let go of the tree, she’d die. And a young girl lost her whole family.
The movie The Impossible, based on the Thailand tsunami, was by far the best source of research for me. Although the wave in the movie wasn’t “real,” I was able to see what a tsunami looked like and what happened to someone caught in one. It’s shocking, to say the least.
Nate Berkus’ survival story that I heard on Oprah after the Thailand tsunami also made a big impact. Nate Berkus, an interior decorator, was vacationing in Sri Lanka with his partner, when the 2004 tsunami hit. Nate and Fernando Bengoechea clung to a telephone phone. Then Fernando was swept away. Sadly, he was never found.
The other story that stuck with me was supermodel Petra Nemcova’s survival. She gripped a palm tree for eight hours. And she had a broken pelvis.
All of this made a huge impact on my writing, and my life.
9. In Seismic Crimes and Frozen Crimes, Beth and Donovan had a Thanksgiving dinner. Do they still celebrate Thanksgiving?
After their Thanksgiving dinner in Frozen Crimes, they learned more about Thanksgiving, such as it’s true history and how it hurts Native American Indigenous Peoples to see celebrations on this day (it’s their day of mourning). That was the last time they had a big feast on this day. Now, they celebrate Truthsgiving, donate to Indigenous-run organizations, and support Florida tribes. They get takeout instead. No turkey, pumpkin, squash, etc.
10. Why are a lot of your characters survivors of domestic violence/abuse or advocates for victims of abuse?
It’s not something I consciously do. It’s automatic. So many of my characters (published and unpublished) have a history dealing with some kind of abuse, and I think it’s because I can relate to that.
Growing up, I experienced sibling/domestic abuse, as a child and through to my teen years. I never knew it had a name. I didn’t even know to call it sibling abuse until a couple of years ago when I learned this term and realized, holy shit, that’s what I experienced. I had also witnessed child-to-parent abuse, meaning the child (in this case a grown adult) abuses a parent. All of those things impacted me heavily. Still do.
I never discussed it, never understood that for all those years after, even while removed from the person in question, that I was going through PTSD. Knowing that it’s possible, that you can have PSTD from any level of abuse, I can look back and pinpoint moments when my PTSD was aggravated—the fear I had whenever I heard a loud truck outside my apartment or saw a note stuck to my front door.
I am drawn to characters who are survivors, as I am a survivor, although they may have gone through different things. I want to write about these heroines of steel. I want to live through them and feel their strength.
In my life, I also want to be an advocate for those who have or are experiencing abuse, so that’s why my characters stand up for victims of all kinds, as that’s my goal, too.
I will always write about these characters. Maybe not for every single story, but for a lot of them. It’s my calling.