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Locally Writ: Author Carol Crigger sets her stories close to home ‘in the places I know’

Although best-known for “The Woman Who” series and other western novels, author Carol Crigger frequently ventures into science fiction, mystery and detective dramas. But, regardless of genre, Crigger makes a habit of setting her stories close to home here in the Inland Northwest.

“I like to set my stories in the places I know,” Crigger said, explaining that it is particularly important to her in this case because “our area is, I think, underrepresented in westerns.”

And it seems to have paid off; in 2019 and 2020, Crigger won Spur awards for Best Western Romance Novel from the Western Writers of America.

Set in Spokane at the turn of the 20th century, Crigger’s most recently completed collection, the “China Bohannon” series, tells the story of a young woman with a knack for detective work.

In “Six Dancing Damsels,” the series’ conclusion, China’s time at the Doyle & Howe Detective Agency is coming to an end as she works to set up her own security service unaffiliated with the agency.

Everything seems to be coming up daisies until a member of a dance troupe she’s been charged to protect is murdered. Will China find the culprit before they strike again?

Much like her heroine, Crigger knew what she wanted to do from an early age.

“From before I even went to school, reading was magic to me,” she said. “And I guess it still is because I read constantly.”

At 8 years old, she had already decided that someday she would write a book of her own.

“It took me a while, but I did it,” she said. “It really takes persistence to fulfill your dreams.”

Since she started writing seriously in 1995, Crigger has had 24 novels published.

And now, with the “China Bohannon” series completed, Crigger is already working on her next three books.

With her mind constantly full of story ideas, she said, three projects at once is hardly unusual.

“There’s never a time when I don’t have another idea for a book,” she said. “I’ve had so many people say, ‘How can you keep thinking of all these books?’ – but there are ideas everywhere.”

She doesn’t keep to an exact schedule or word count, but she writes every day.

“I don’t think I would have a complete day if I didn’t sit down at the computer and say something,” she said. “I would love to get 1,000 words a day, but I’d rather get 200 good words than smash out something that doesn’t mean anything. I don’t like having to go back and correct myself constantly.”

To aspiring writers, Crigger offered the following advice.

“Learn the basics – how to format your manuscript, how to approach publishers. But, at a point, you have to stop reading books about writing and just start doing it yourself. It might be really good, and it might be godawful. But you need to sit down and write.”

The “China Bohannon” series is available at Amazon.

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