Friday 11 August 2017

Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Chris Norbury (@CNorburyWriter) @IndieBrag

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree to A Bookaholic Swede to talk with me about his story, Castle Danger.

Chris Norbury is a freelance writer and novelist. He independently published his first novel, Castle Danger, in April 2016. In June of 2017, Castle Danger was awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion from He intends to publish his second novel, Straight River, in late 2017.

In the freelance writing area, Chris is a contributing editor to the financial website and writes weekly for He has also published two articles on wilderness canoeing in the Boundary Waters Journal. His areas of freelance expertise include finance, investing, economics, politics, current events, wilderness canoeing and camping, golf, and wine.

Chris is a long-time volunteer Big Brother (since 2000) and will donate one dollar ($1.00) for each book sold—print or eBook—to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Minnesota. He lives in southern Minnesota with his wife and golf clubs. During golf season in Minnesota, Chris works on perfecting his golf game, an impossible dream but also a good excuse to get out of the office.

Chris, how did you discover indieBRAG?

During my research on how authors can promote their independently published books, I consulted several websites that listed and/or evaluated book contests as ways to garner publicity for lesser-known authors. IndieBRAG came up on several websites as reasonably priced, reputable, and worth exploring.

Can you tell me what your book is about?

Two fugitives come together by chance, fall in love, and must decide how much they can trust the other when each is confronted or threatened by their pursuers. For Matt, he must decide if his life and liberty are worth risking in order to help a woman with a troubled past who seems to have risen above that past and has created a successful life for herself and her son.

Allyson must decide if this stranger--who literally fell into her life on her doorstep--can be trusted with her deepest, darkest secrets and also trusted to help her against her nemesis—an evil, crooked husband who only wants to steal back his son.

Matt's moral compass and integrity are tested to the extreme. Allyson must learn to trust a man after having been betrayed in the worst possible way by the last man who was important in her life, her husband.

Matt Lanier seems to be such an interesting character. What can you tell me about him?

Matt is partly autobiographical since I was a musician, and I am a capable cook and avid outdoorsman who considers himself something of a renaissance man—good at many things, but an expert in few if any areas. Matt was raised on a farm, so he's not averse to hard work. He worked in a wilderness business for several years (hence his ability to survive for nine months in the BWCAW). But he's also cultured with his musical background, his love of good food and wine, and the fact he pursued a music career in the "big city" of Minneapolis (this is all backstory).

His integrity got him into trouble in the first place (backstory), which is why he is a fugitive when Castle Danger begins. Musicians as a group are a unique breed, and I tried to bring a typical musician's thought process and take on things to life in Matt's character—for example, the scene where he instantly assesses the danger level of the drunken lothario groping Allyson and comes to her rescue.

His allusions to songs throughout the book are typical of most talented musicians, who always seem to have a song in their heads and generally see the world through "music-tinted glasses."

One thing that really appeals to me about this book is the small-town setting. Can you tell me more about Castle Danger and its inhabitants, like for instance Allyson Clifford?

Castle Danger, MN, is a real place, yet it's not real in my book. The real town is unincorporated and has about 50 residents. It's not much more than a sign on the highway and a cluster of houses between Highway 61 and Lake Superior in the Arrowhead region of northern Minnesota.

The fictional town of Castle Danger has some 500 residents, a small downtown area, and a handful of local businesses. As with all North Shore communities, Highway 61 is the single lifeline to "civilization," and the townsfolks existence depends on that road. Needless to say, in winter, travel can be impossible, so residents are hardy, resilient, resourceful, and seem to thrive in winter's adverse conditions.

Allyson, being a survivor of her troubled past, fits right in because she's a female business owner excelling in the male-dominated world of cuisine. As the book shows, she's strong and assertive, doesn't take crap from anyone, but knows what it takes to communicate with each and every one of her customers. She doesn't mind being in an isolated area because she feels secure in a smaller setting where she can hide her former life.

Pauline Allen and her family exemplify the spirit of North Shore residents. When her husband is gone for days at a time for his job, she handles the home front and her children without complaint. She's a loyal friend to Allyson, and when she and Darrel come through at the end with help for Matt (snowmobile, weapons, etc.), it exemplifies the support the community will offer to anyone in times of distress. Northern Minnesotans are a rugged, hardy breed that rarely look to outsiders for help or handouts.

Castle Danger is your debut book, have you always wanted to write?

I didn't get serious about writing until 2008 (age 52!) when I started writing short stories more or less on a dare from my wife ("You write such interesting emails!"). I found that I enjoyed the writing process, so I began submitting stories and articles to various publications. After I had sold my first article to the Boundary Waters Journal—one of the top wilderness canoeing publications in the country—I began to think I could climb the steep mountain of writing a novel. That's when I got serious about long form writing. Castle Danger is my second novel, but my first published novel. I'm reworking my first novel, which is the prequel to Castle Danger, and hope to publish it in 2017.

Any authors that have inspired you?

There are almost too many to mention. Early influences were R.L. Stevenson (Treasure Island) and Jack London (Call of the Wild). Big picture influences in the suspense/thriller genre include David Baldacci, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connolly, and Lee Child. Minnesota authors that have influenced me are Sigurd Olson, Paul Gruchow, John Sandford, and William Kent Krueger. The latter is probably the most directly responsible for my plunge into novel writing. When I first started writing, I was deep into his series featuring Cork O'Connor, a sheriff in northern Minnesota who solved crimes while dealing with his heritage of being half white, half Ojibway Indian in his hometown of Aurora, MN.

The storyline seems very thrilling, just the kind of book that I love to read. Was it hard to write it, getting the plot together?

Novel writing is by far the most challenging mental exercise I've ever undertaken! No one tells you that attention to detail is paramount, that your characters must be consistent from page one through page 300, and the plot must be cohesive, believable, and unique all at the same time. Oh, and don’t forget, characters must also be different from those in other books, and the tension and suspense must escalate to the end. All the while, the dialogue must be crisp, witty, real, and intelligent.

On top of that, I agonized for months that something was missing. I didn't know it until a trusted beta reader pointed out a plot flaw—not enough pressure on Matt to flee or fight because of a pursuer. Because of that, a new character, Ben Nowitzki, was created. He's the disgraced cop-turned-private-detective who is on Matt's trail through the last two-thirds of the book. Adding that tension and suspense to Matt's situation gave me the courage to say, "This book is ready for the world!"

Do you plan to write more books about Matt Lanier or is it standalone?

More books about Matt. I hope to publish the prequel to Castle Danger, titled Straight River, in 2017. In that book, I completely ruin Matt's successful, middle-class, professional musician life after he tries to help a neighbor keep her farm and also determine the real cause of his father's suspicious death.

After Straight River comes out, I intend to write the sequel to Castle Danger. This story will show Matt attempting to clear his name of the crimes he's accused of and regain a sense of normalcy to his life by stopping his nemesis, an evil real estate tycoon who has wanted him dead since the early pages of Straight River. It all sounds very convoluted, but it will make perfect sense once all three books are available and can be read in sequence.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

My family has been vacationing regularly in northern Minnesota since about 1960. I've been on numerous camping trips at the beautiful state parks along US Highway 61, which runs parallel to the North Shore of Lake Superior. One of my earlies memories is seeing the green-and-white highway sign indicating the unincorporated town of Castle Danger. I thought it sounded mysterious and romantic at the same time. A handful of people live in Castle Danger, but it has no main street or obvious town borders, which added further to its mysterious nature. When I decided during the writing of the book that Matt would decide to go to a small town on the North Shore, the first and only candidate for a name was Castle Danger, since I could create fictional Castle Danger any way I wanted.

Who designed your book cover?

Todd Engel of Engel Creative Graphic Design. I connected with him through my publisher,

Last, but not least, what are you reading right now?

I just finished listening to a Clive Cussler novel, Lost Empire, as well as J.A. Jance's Trial by Fury. Next up will be The Book Club Murders by J.J. Ollman, a fellow Minnesotan who also sets his mystery/thriller/suspense novels in the great state of Minnesota. I try to achieve a balance of reading bestselling authors as well as local Minnesota authors and lesser known writers I have either met or have come across their books via my publisher or other independent author sources such as indeiBRAG.


We are delighted that Magdalena has chosen to interview Chris Norbury who is the author of, Castle Danger, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Castle Danger, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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