Virtual Book Club Author Talk – Kristina Riggle, Author of The Life You’ve Imagined

If you missed it, yesterday was our virtual book club for “The Life You’ve Imagined” by Kristina Riggle. Please feel free to go back and add any thoughts you might have if you weren’t able to discuss yesterday. Today we’re actually getting the opportunity to ask Kristina Riggle some questions about the book. I’m going to start with some based on yesterday’s discussion, but please feel free to add more in the comments, or respond to her responses, and Kristina will pop in as she’s able to shed some more light on things for us.

  1. What made you give Cami a gambling addiction? I just haven’t been able to get over how different that was from anything else I’ve read recently. It seems like everyone in the book club agrees that it worked very well in “The Life You’ve Imagined,” but other people were surprised to read it as well.
  2. As a follow up, Cami’s future seemed to be to be the most ambivalent of all of the women, and another reader mentioned that she was really concerned for Cami not seeming to have a plan in place to deal with her addiction. What was the reason you chose to leave her like that and not wrap up her story more?
  3. And ONE more about Cami: did you have to do a lot of research about gambling and gambling addiction to write her story?
  4. A question from Bookfan: “Would you consider writing Maeve’s story – from where it leaves off at the end of TLYI? I’d love to see where you’d take her!”
  5. There was some debate over whether people wanted – at any point – for Amy to break things off with her fiance. Did you ever secretly want her to, or think about taking the story in that direction?
  6. A question from Shonda: “What was the significance with trailers? Sally lived in one and it burned. Maeve met Robert in one on the land he wanted to buy. While reading, I thought this is important, but I couldn’t figure out why.”
  7. The men of Haven, everyone seems to want to know about them, and many people seem to think there really aren’t any good ones. Thoughts?

If anyone else has any questions, ask away!

7 comments to Virtual Book Club Author Talk – Kristina Riggle, Author of The Life You’ve Imagined

  • I’ll try to come back later today to see Kristina’s thoughts.

  • Kristina Riggle

    Thanks for having me, Jen, and all of you for reading my book and discussing it so thoughtfully. It’s a huge honor.

    1) Cami’s gambling habit grew out of her mathematical prowess (alluded to a few times) that gave her an advantage because she could rapidly calculate statistical likelihoods in her head, not to mention count cards which comes in handy in games like blackjack. So she was a natural, and it’s hard to resist a game where you excel (especially when you make your rent money doing it). Also, she’s hooked on danger. Sometimes people crave what they’re used to, even if what they’re used to is something horrible (her abusive household). So she has unconsciously replaced the adrenaline caused by her father’s unpredictable wrath with the adrenaline of possible loss in gambling.

    2) People who have read my first book, Real Life & Liars, probably know that I leave loose ends sometimes. Life doesn’t wrap up perfectly for everyone at the same moment, especially with so many prominent characters; it wouldn’t feel real. I think it’s a good question as to whether she’ll be able to stay away from casinos and online gambling, and one that I’ll let book clubs argue about. I generally don’t like to fill in the blanks about endings…that’s half the fun for the reader, I think.

    3) I didn’t research much about gambling addiction itself because Cami doesn’t investigate her own problem. She only knows she’s good at it, and she loves the high of winning, and always believed the next big win was around the corner. Though I’m not much of a gambler myself, I could imagine how attractive that would be for her. I did however do some research on cheating at cards for the Robert scenes, and card counting.

    4) I get this all the time about various characters in both this book and the last one, and I take it as a great compliment that readers are so invested in these characters they want to see how it all turns out. However, I love meeting *new* characters, so I hesitate to return to the same people. (Also, I get a little sick of them after a while between all the revising, proofreading and editing…like houseguests who have stayed too long.) That said, never say never. Terry McMillan just released the sequel to WAITING TO EXHALE and it’s been what, 20 years?

    5) I didn’t have a preconceived notion about whether Amy and Paul would stick together as I started writing, I let it develop in a what that felt realistic. I think they have issues as a couple for sure but I also don’t think they’re doomed. It’s interesting, opinions on Paul vary widely. Some see him as a villain throughout and others warm to him by the end. I think he’s complicated (which is just the way I like my characters). And it’s perfectly legitimate to think they’re doomed if that’s your opinion. I’m not a writer who believes there’s only one way to interpret a book.

    6) Trailers are just common in rural areas for people who might have a good chunk of land but not enough cash flow to build a whole house, or in Sally’s case, her trailer was parked on someone else’s property in the rural area outside Haven. It’s a way to live in the country even if you don’t have a lot of money for a farmhouse. And people also sometimes live in a trailer on a property while they are saving/building for their dream home. It wasn’t necessarily calculated on my part…it just seemed to suit each character (and also was a twist of the knife for Maeve who had at one point feared having to move into Sally’s trailer). The difference is that Sally was perfectly content in her trailer. She was an easygoing gal who didn’t need much to make her happy.

    7) I get lots of comments about the Men of Haven, and have already thought they would make a good book of their own someday. I didn’t set out to write a book filled with rotten guys and I don’t think they’re all so rotten, either. They are just as confused and screwed-up as my women, only the women — as narrators — get to have their storylines of growth and change. I simply chose to write about women at this time, and as I said, maybe the Men of Haven will warrant their own book somewhere down the line. My goal with the men was to make them nuanced in their troubles, even with Cami’s dad. Paul, as I mentioned above, is not always viewed so negatively by the end. And Beck is screwed up and causes pain, but he really is doing the best he knows how. It’s an interesting observation from yesterday’s comments that there wasn’t a single functional marriage represented in the book. I can’t argue with that, but this is a story about women who save themselves and each other.

    I hope that helps! I’ll check back as able…

  • Margie

    I just had to chime in about my favorite character Anna. I could’ve read a whole book about her! (I too was a young Chicago lawyer from small Midwest town). What was the deal between Anna and the senior partner who died? Scandalous relationship or mentor/father figure? I loved how his death sent Anna into emotional/professional tailspin. So glad she made the decision she did at the end. Go Anna!

    • Kristina Riggle

      Thanks Margie! I’m glad you connected with her. My intent was that he was a friend and mentor only, but I think it’s often true in workplaces that when a strong platonic connection forms between a man and a woman, rumors of hanky panky are unavoidable. Personally I think that’s too bad!

  • Kristina Riggle

    I have to go to a discussion/signing tonight out of town so I won’t be back online until tomorrow….but I will check back in the morning and answer more if you all have more to talk about…

  • Sorry that I’m late to the discussion. I wanted first off to say thanks for basing your book in the great state of Michigan. Secondly, did placing the story close to home make your writing more comfortable? Do you plan on keeping your story lines here in Michigan?

    I really enjoyed Anna too…will we ever see her again?

  • Kristina Riggle

    Hi Staci….

    Absolutely the writing is more comfortable based here in Michigan. I’m not well-traveled so there aren’t many places I can write about with authority and detail, and I think a rich setting is so important.

    Plus, Michigan has so much variety! All four seasons, all kinds of weather, big developed cities and beachfront tourist towns and rural hamlets and farms… everything but mountains and deserts.

    I’m going to stick with my Michigan settings.

    So glad you liked Anna. Never say never about my characters returning, but not right now. Book Three has a whole new set of complicated people…