Kristina Riggle lives and writes in West Michigan. She’s the author of Real Life & Liars, The Life You’ve Imagined, Things We Didn’t Say, and now, Keepsake. Her novels have been honored by independent booksellers and also, in the case of Real Life & Liars, a Target “Breakout” pick. She’s also co-editor for fiction at the e-zine Literary Mama. She enjoys reading, yoga, and hanging out with her husband, two kids, and dog.
The new novel, Keepsake, is about a compulsive hoarder and her estranged sister brought together reluctantly to clean out the hoarded home to keep Child Protective Services from stepping in. As the sisters work together, much more than junk is uncovered. New York Times bestseller Marisa de Los Santos said, “This story of two sisters, each broken in her own way, is as unflinching as it is compassionate. I was pulled in from the first page, as Trish and Mary reckon with the devastations of loss and the bonds of family, and as they make their hard, brave, often funny journeys toward hope and wholeness.” The novel also garnered a starred review from Booklist.
Kristina has generously offered to give away a copy of Keepsake to one of our US or Canadian readers. All you have to do is leave a comment, and you’ll automatically be entered.
And now, on with the Deb Interview:
I picked up BREATHING LESSONS by Anne Tyler at a garage sale sometime in my late teens or early twenties. I adored everything about this book, and I didn’t understand then how it captured me so. The plot is about a married couple going on a road trip to the funeral of an old friend. That’s it. Yet, it’s so much more than that, encompassing an entire long marriage with all of its lumps and all of its glory. This book demonstrated powerfully that a story can be “quiet” and still put a reader in thrall. Anne Tyler to this day is my literary idol.
Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.
I love mafia movies. Goodfellas and the first Godfather are tied for my favorite, and this is one of my favorite movie lines ever: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” I haven’t seen a good one in a long time, though. They seem to be out of fashion. I think the most recent one I enjoyed was The Departed.
Share something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh.
Anything from Tobias Funke or Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development. I cannot get enough of that show, and it doesn’t matter how often I’ve heard the lines before, they get me every time. I’m also a sucker for bad puns; the real groaners. Actually, I’m loving the fact that my nine-year-old and I basically have the same sense of humor right now.
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
I was a telemarketer for a few weeks. My college roommate convinced me it would be easy money compared to the dorm cafeteria. Sitting down talking on the phone versus the noisy, hot, tiring dishroom? Sure! Ha. I was supposed to be soliciting for people to buy memberships at the Detroit Institute of Arts when Detroit was scarier than it is now. One guy told me he wasn’t supporting a thing in Detroit until that “bleepity-bleep Coleman Young is out of there” and hung up. That was the only job I ever quit without notice. My roommate had already bailed by the time I decided I just couldn’t do it one more day and went crawling back to the dorm cafeteria, where they took me back without rubbing it in (much).
Has anyone ever thought a character you wrote was based on them?
This happens all the time! I swear I don’t do this, with the exception of bit players included in a sort of affectionate homage. And I have never yet heard from one of those people… Seriously, if I notice a character veering too close to real life I will go out of my way to steer the other way. I suppose there are aspects of people that turn up here and there … that can’t be helped. But I really try to create characters from scratch. I am running out of names to use. If you consider all the people you’ve ever worked with, gone to school with, lived next to, been friends with, friends of friends, church acquaintances… That’s a lot of people! I try not to use names of people I know (i.e. my sister’s name is Kim; I have never used the name Kim and never will) but I’m now finding that’s hard to avoid. Sometime I give up and use a super-common name that belongs to so many people they can’t feel singled out (Michael in Things We Didn’t Say.)
This was fun, thank you for having me back at the ball!
Thank you for being here at the Ball with us today, Kristina!
You can find Kristina on the web at the following locations:
Remember, leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Keepsake!