Today I'm pleased to be interviewing Chrissy Anderson, author of the controversial semi-autobiographical trilogy, The Life List. This post is part of her ongoing blog tour. She's giving away a $50 gift certificate to Victoria's Secret as her grand prize. Use the Rafflecopter widget at the end of the post to enter.
Lisabet Sarai: Since the main character in The Life List has the same name as you, I have to ask: how much of this book is real and how much is fictional? And if at least some of the book is fictional, why did you choose to name your heroine after yourself?
Chrissy Anderson: First off, thank you for including me on your blog Lisabet! I sincerely appreciate the opportunity for your followers to get to know me and my real-life-love-triangle novel, The Life List! Although I can’t give you an exact ratio of what’s real and what’s fiction, I can tell you that this book is based on my true story. But I suppose, if my life depended on it and I had to come up with a ratio, I’d go 90% real life, 10% embellishment. What’s sort of funny (or tragic, depending on how you look at it) is that people think the real stuff is fictitious and the fictitious stuff is real. I really did do and say some pretty outrageous things in my attempt to find happiness, and it still blows my mind at how disturbing and chaotic my life was for a while. You can all breathe a sigh of relief, though, because I am in love and happily married to one of the two men in the novel. Can’t tell ya if it’s Kurt or Leo because that would just ruin the entire List Trilogy and that would be plain ‘ol mean.
To call Chrissy a “heroine” is kind of laughable because most people would say she’s as far from heroic as one could possibly be. I mean, what she put Kurt and Leo through was just plain cruel, and most would say unnecessary. But I have a rebuttal! Until you’ve been forced to choose between love and obligation you shouldn’t judge. It’s a struggle I don’t wish on any woman—ever. I’m a real woman with the kind of real problems that so many women are secretly dealing with and I just jumped right out there and exposed all of my secrets. That’s what grabs my readers right off the bat. I think this particular review left on Amazon does a great job of summing up my effect on readers:
“This book is a must read. It's brutally honest, well written and inspires hope. This woman goes from cowardly to courageous. What a roller coaster ride! I adored every moment of it. You will hate her, you will love her but what you will NOT be able to do is put this book down!”
A word of warning…My writing style is not for romance readers who are used to following the typical girl-meets-boy-happily-ever-after-format. I’m mean at times, acerbic, raw and edgy. Don’t get me wrong, the trilogy ends the way it’s supposed to end with everyone in the happy place they should be, but The Life List and the rest of the novels in the series (The Unexpected List & The Hope List) are pretty nitty-gritty. I write about real life sh*t and I swear, joke, and judge a lot in the process!
LS: Many readers, at least of romance, dislike books that feature adultery. Are you worried that your honesty about your character actions will turn readers off? If not, why not?
CA: Here’s the deal: I was a good girl—a girl who created a detailed life list at the age of sixteen and I diligently stuck to it. I worked my ass off to achieve all of the things I thought I wanted in life and by twenty-eight…I almost had it all. I sincerely thought I had everything I ever wanted…the hubby, the home and the career. But then one night a chance encounter with a stranger made me question my life list and all that I had accomplished. In one night my entire world was turned upside down and it scared me to death.
My story is based on my life and it examines the sanity of blindly following the bucket list we make when we are young and the impact of changing our minds after we have checked most things off the list. It’s a dilemma millions of married women face every day. I wrote my story for those women—the ones torn between choosing love and obligation. I know their struggle…I know their heartache. My story isn’t for women who live in glass houses and can’t accept the fact that mistakes happen…people change…and sometimes you can be in love with two men at the same time. My advice to readers who can’t tolerate adultery is to stay as far away from my work as possible.
LS: It sounds as though there's a moral to The Life List. As a writer, how can you avoid being too heavy handed about the lessons your heroine learns? What did you do to keep readers engrossed in the *story*, without hitting them over the head with the lessons?
CA: No moral and no lessons. There was no preaching a right way or a wrong way to live in my books. It’s just my story, plain and simple.
One of the main characters in my book, therapist, Dr. Maria, doles out a lot of advice and my readers seem to like a lot of it. One of my favorite pieces of advice she ever gave me was, “You can’t make choices that you think will hurt less, you just have to make the right choices. Only then will you be truly happy.” Doing that is harder for some of us than others.
How I kept readers engrossed? By being brutally honest. There were times when I thought, “Holy cow! I can’t admit I did that, or say what I’m really thinking! People will think I’m certifiable!” But there’s a saying that’s framed on my desk and it says, “Follow the truths of human interaction and you will never let your reader down.” Hard as it was, I committed myself to the truths of human interaction—the good, the bad, and the ugly of it. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my choices, but I want everyone to ask themselves, “What would I do if I were Chrissy?” There’s no way my readers would ask themselves that question if I avoided the truth with fluff.
LS: I personally never had anything like a life list. I had goals, obviously, but to some extent I've taken life as it comes. Do you know many women who are like your heroine, who envision their ideal lives and then work to make that ideal real?
CA: Not many…until The Life List was published! Now I get emails every day from women who tell me, “You’ve written my story! I’m you!” The validation feels good, but it’s also sad. I knew there were a million “Chrissy’s” out there, and they’re exactly who I wrote the book for. But still, I wish more of them were unlike me more than like me. For some of us, there’s an ideal we attach ourselves to and for some moronic reason we can’t shake it. Then one day we wake up and we’re at some kind of f’d-up crossroads. We’ve come so far down one road, but out of the blue there’s another one that looks pretty damn good. But how do you un-do a life without breaking hearts and/or causing confusion? The thing is, most of us don’t, and who do you think suffers in the end? See where I’m heading with this? So many of us are living our lives for other people. Tragic.
I envy the women like you who have taken life as it comes, or the women who had ideals early on in life and to this day are happy with them. Smart and lucky! All of you
LS: Your book is obviously targeted at female readers. Do you think a man would get anything out of it?
CA: That would be a HUGE, yes! Here’s an Amazon review from one very cool dude:
“As a guy, I wanted to read this book because my girlfriend loves this series. And, not only is the true life story captivatingly and fascinatingly written; for me, it was an opportunity to see how the female mind works. I mean as a guy, I can only try to guess why women do what they do, how they think, what they want in a guy, what they don't like in a guy. It's like an instructor's manual on how to be a good man.
Because it's based on Chrissy's real life story, her real experiences, and her 100% bold, blunt, and flat out honest perception of guys, of love, of commitment, of passion----and her play by play thought process: what a great opportunity to learn, to get insight on how to understand that mysterious female mind, and to work on being the best man I can be.
It's a definite page turner...and I would love to read the 2nd and 3rd books in her series.
Way to go Chrissy Anderson!”
Way to go Chrissy Anderson!”
Thank you so much Lisabet! This has been fun. I hope I hear from you on my website or facebook page. I’d love to keep in touch!
When she was just sixteen, Chrissy Anderson made a life list…
…The outcome is a dream husband, a career to envy, and the kind of best friends every girl wants. Then out of nowhere…an affair. What would you do if you realized the life you created wasn’t right for you? You think you know the answer? Think again. Follow Chrissy as she lies and cheats and ultimately learns to tell the truth to herself and those that she loves.
At twenty-eight, Chrissy has been steadily checking off the boxes on her life list as she mocks the style and life choices of everyone around her. She’s got it all—or so everyone thinks. Her life begins to fall apart when she unexpectedly meets a much younger man, Leo, who makes her question just how perfect her “perfect life” really is. With the help of her no-nonsense therapist, Dr. Maria, Chrissy learns more about herself than she anticipates. But it isn’t until she stares an untimely death in the face that Chrissy is catapulted into an overdue reality check. Only then does she scramble to correct the mistakes of her past…trying to figure out if it’s her husband Kurt, her lover Leo, or both that she has to leave behind to make everything right.
Women of all kinds will be able to relate to the pressure of constructing the ideal life, only to fall short. Not everyone will agree with Chrissy Anderson’s decisions, but all will pause as they follow along on her journey to ask, “What would I do if I were her?”
The Life List, book ONE of The List Trilogy, will take you on a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows as Chrissy makes mistakes on her bumpy road to happiness. Come along for the ride and you’ll be left breathless and ready to find out what she does next in book TWO, The Unexpected List.
Three Snippets from The Life List:
And then out of nowhere I turn into Heather Locklear. No, Tawny Kitaen! No wait…I’m one of those smokin’ hot chicks on a Budweiser poster who’s licking the side of a dripping wet beer bottle! Whoever the hell I am, I’m NOT Chrissy Anderson. She would never have the guts to look deep into a beautiful stranger’s eyes and say, “Do you want to kiss me?”
I just made it official. I’m a twenty-eight year old married woman with a twenty-two year old boyfriend who lives twenty minutes from a husband who he doesn’t know exists. That God I started believing in a few minutes ago is sending me straight to Hell.
I look like I should be begging for food and, in a way, it feels like I am. But as hungry as I am for him, he’ll never find me. He has no idea where I live and even if he knew the city, he would never guess this neighborhood. Only married people live here.
CHRISSY ANDERSON spends her life doing exactly what she always wanted: doting on those she loves. A former fashion executive, she is a writer, wife, and mother whose own life events inspired The Life List. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with the love of her life and her beautiful daughter.