Interview with Christine Hartmann, author of 'Wild Within'

Christine Hartmann grew up in Ohio and Delaware and loves traveling to exotic, romantic settings. After a college semester in Kathmandu, her first three “real” jobs were all in northern Japan, where she lived for almost 10 years. She currently splits her career between her daytime occupation (improving the quality of veterans’ nursing home care) and her nights/weekend avocation (writing both fiction and non-fiction books). Her husband Ron Strickland is a well-known long-distance hiker and trail guide writer and the founder of the 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. Christine loves reading, pilates, bicycling, and snorkeling, and health foods that taste like they’re bad for you. You will often find her at a keyboard, a German shepherd at her side, and Ron whispering sweet edits over her shoulder.

Her latest book is book one of the Wild at Heart series, Wild Within.

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About the Book:

Two thousand, six hundred miles of blistering heat, wilderness, and soul searching—that’s what Grace signed up for when she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s not a voyage for beginners, but with no husband and her family still recovering from her bother’s death, Grace is more alone than

This trail meant something to her brother, and she’ll hike it in his memory, but she can’t do it alone. So with her brother’s gear and a small group, Grace takes the most important first steps of her life.

Grace finds something more than peace and magic on the trail…

When her first day of hiking ends in heat stroke, Grace is rescued by a handsome, red-haired hiker who calls himself Lone Star. Grace has an immediate connection with him, and their brief encounter leaves her fearing her soul mate has slipped through her fingers. Although he vows to keep in touch, Grace doubts she’ll ever see him again.

When fears become reality, the only people Grace can rely on may be killers...

Grace is surprised to find notes left at supply posts along the trail. Lone Star’s eloquent letters keep Grace going, clinging to the hope she’ll find him—and happiness—at the end of her journey. But as the trail becomes more perilous, menace grows within the group. And when Lone Star’s letters mysteriously stop coming, Grace fears the worst. 

As tensions flare and a killer emerges, Grace must battle to survive…and reunite with the man she’s sure is her future.

For More Information

  • Wild Within is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? 

The idea for Wild Within emerged in an exercise class. Well, after class, actually. One of my fellow students invited me to go to her author son’s reading at a local bookstore. During the question and answer, her son emphasized the need for finding an expert for whatever subject you want to write about, such as finding an ex-FBI agent if you want to write about the FBI. I left the reading inspired to write fiction, but searching high and low for an expert to match my interests seemed difficult. “Wouldn’t it be easier to find the expert first? Then I could craft a story around what the expert knows.” My husband, Ron Strickland, is a nationally-known long distance hiker, one of only two living founders of a national scenic trail. Ta da. I had my expert. I shaped the plot around his experiences hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, with a little murder thrown in. I leaned on him heavily for the hiking parts, particularly since I can count on one hand the nights I’ve spent in a tent.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

I enjoyed writing Wild Within. That said, it was a time consuming and sometimes difficult process. I have a full-time day job, so I squeezed the writing in during nights and weekends. The best piece of advice I got was to write a very detailed outline. But I still had a problem keeping track of where all the characters were along the trail at various time points. I eventually drew a map of the major peaks and populated it with stick figures. I moved them back and forth so I could keep straight who was ahead of whom.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is Limitless Publishing. My amazing agents at Parkeast Literary found them for me.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

This is my first work of fiction, and the feedback from readers has been terrific. They see the story from so many different angles. For some it’s the romance that draws them in. Others emphasize Grace’s healing process as she hikes the trail. Others like the suspense. Sometimes people see things I didn’t even see clearly myself. That’s a terrific feeling, having the book speak to so many readers.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I am working on books Two and Three of the Wild at Heart series (Wild Within is book One). Book Two will be out—fingers crossed—this summer. Book Three should follow before the end of the year.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

Does sound crazy? I also like VRBO. It’s fun to create fantasy vacations to exotic places I’ll probably never visit.

Q: What’s your nightly ritual before retiring for the night?

My eyes usually conk out by the end of the day. So I listen to an audio book. Sometimes Ron and I put a Bluetooth speaker between our pillows and listen. We’re usually “reading” one book like this together and I’m “reading” another one on the side.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

One of my favorite hiking expressions is “hike your own hike.” It means that everyone hikes for different reasons, all legitimate, all compelling to the individual. The main character in Wild Within, Grace, learns this lesson over the course of her journey. She begins the trail overwhelmed with burdens and expectations she’s taken on. She eventually finds her own sense of what’s important in life.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you so much for the opportunity. I leave readers here with my favorite three words from the book, Grace’s response to a particularly dark situation: “I’m. Still. Fighting.” I hope we all keep fighting in our own ways!

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