Christine Kling has always loved the sea. From her early years on the beaches of Southern California, she has never strayed far from the water. She became captivated by boats when, as a pre-teen, she first took the helm of a rented Lido 14. Since then, sailing has become a huge part of her life—and her writing.
Kling first moved to Florida in 1984. As a boating enthusiast, she loved the miles of coastline and the state’s many waterways. She settled in Fort Lauderdale where she lives aboard a boat on the Intracoastal with Chip, “the intrepid seadog.” After earning her BA from Florida International University, she continued on to receive her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. She had been interested in writing since her freshman year in high school when she worked on the school newspaper. She enjoyed reading books by Florida writers, especially her favorite, John D. MacDonald, but she didn’t take the plunge into novel writing until after she finished her graduate work. “I’m not a disciplined person,” she says. “I knew I wanted to write fiction, but I had no confidence.”
Although she took a job teaching high school English, she never lost her desire to write. But being a teacher and a “soccer mom” to her son, Tim, made it difficult for her to find the time. “I can’t concentrate when I can write for only a couple of hours a day,” she explains. “My ideas need to percolate. The hardest part of writing is the discipline of it—and keeping my butt in the chair. ”
Kling’s first novel, Surface Tension, was seven years in the making. It introduced Seychelle Sullivan, a Fort Lauderdale tugboat captain who shares Kling’s love of the sea and her thirst for adventure. Kling got the idea for Seychelle from Hero, a little tug in Fort Lauderdale, and its captain, a man named Red Koch. Although Red passed away two months after the publication of Surface Tension, his family members are still Kling’s biggest fans.
Kling has written three novels since Surface Tension, all centered around “topical subjects related to crime in a nautical world.” The latest in the series, Wrecker’s Key, was praised by Publisher’s Weekly as “ …a solid tale of nautical adventure.” In it, Seychelle tows a millionaire’s yacht to Fort Lauderdale for a friend. When the friend ends up dead in a windsurfing mishap, Seychelle finds herself investigating a murder. Kling got the idea after attending a meeting of some real tugboat captains. “They were talking about how some unethical people were claiming boats were salvages rather than tows. So I thought, ‘Wow! What if I take that to the Nth degree and have someone causing boats to wreck for the salvage money?’ ” The ending of the novel was a surprise— even to Kling. “I put Seychelle in a fix and didn’t know how to get her out. I didn’t want the book to end the way it did. I even tried writing other endings, but none of them worked - much to my chagrin.”
Although her books deal with death and danger, Kling tries to handle these subjects sensitively. “I sometimes joke that I kill people for a living, but I want that not to be a joke. I’ve had people I love die, and it’s a horrible loss. I never want death taken lightly in my books.” Family issues are another subject that Kling doesn’t take lightly. All four of her Seychelle Sullivan novels feature a child character because, as a teacher and a mom, most of the issues Kling cares about have something to do with children.“Family is very important to me,” she explains. “One of the biggest differences between Seychelle and me is that Seychelle doesn’t want to be a mother.”
Kling recently finished Circle of Bones, a stand-alone novel that is “more of an adventure thriller.” It was inspired by the mysterious disappearance of a real French submarine, the SURCOUF, in the Caribbean during the second World War. “There are all kinds of theories, but no one knows what really happened,” she says. “The ship just disappeared with 130 souls aboard.” In her book, someone finds the sub, but the people who sank it don’t want it to be found and will do anything to keep its secrets. Kling especially enjoyed doing the research for this novel because she is interested in conspiracy theories and the political aspects of secret societies like Skull and Bones. This new thriller took four years to write, and Kling intends to release it as an e-original in August 2011.
Kling’s readers are very important to her, and she loves hearing from them. For her, “there’s no thrill like opening an e-mail and reading something from someone who’s spent time with the people I created and has been touched by their story. Nothing else in life gives you that kind of joy.” She wants her readers to get to know her characters as real people, not superheroes. Her characters are involved in the universal struggle to survive and overcome. According to Kling, “Seychelle is a woman who is trying to get by, and she struggles to overcome her problems. In Circle of Bones, Maggie Riley, a singlehanded sailor, gets into just as much trouble as Seychelle does, but as a former U.S. Marine, she can handle herself a little better.” It is Kling’s hope that if readers see her characters overcoming adversity, maybe they will believe that they can too.
Kling says she writes all her books for readers who dream of adventure. “They may not have done anything adventurous, they may not have the courage, but they believe that adventure is a fine thing. And they’d be willing to take a chance, to put themselves in peril if necessary, to do the right thing.” So if maritime adventure is what you crave, set sail with Christine Kling, and let her be your charter captain for excitement on the high seas.
For more about Christine Kling, visit her website at www.christinekling.com
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