Cristina is skilled in taking life’s curveballs and finding inspiration out of even the direst of circumstances. For her, it all began with surviving an earthquake.
On August 15th, 2007, a deadly 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Peru. Cristina and her family were there during that earthquake and were fortunate enough to survive. But from that disaster, she knew she had a story to tell.
She said, “I never really did a lot of writing. But, when I came back home after the earthquake, I knew everybody was going to ask me about it. So, I just wrote this… kind of a diary about exactly what happened. I got so much good feedback from that. Even a journalist told me, ‘You should publish this.’”
After she published the memoir, she wanted to explore new territory using the same experience as inspiration. “I always wanted to write a mystery book because I love mysteries. I’ve been reading them since I was a kid,” she said. “But, it seemed to me like there was nobody else doing something like that… I don’t really see anybody else [writing] a book about somebody surviving an earthquake and dealing with PTSD while also trying to solve a mystery.”
Tremor in the Hills
Tremor in the Hills is Cristina’s exploration of “the struggles of earthquake relief, corruption, and the trauma of a major natural disaster.” The main character, Tamara, is trying to find her missing best friend. She then gets entangled in the case of the murder of a young anti-corruption activist.
Through Tamara, Cristina channels her own experiences of that devastating earthquake. She says, “The main character is kind of a compilation of me and my two daughters, who were also in the earthquake.” Young Tamara deals with PTSD and survivor’s guilt while also having to navigate the harsh realities of class struggle.
Continuing her mission to spread awareness of earthquake victims, portions of the proceeds from her book sales go to the charity Build Change. “I love Build Change as an organization because they don’t throw money at natural disaster victims,” she says. “Build Change actually goes in, and they teach people how to rebuild earthquake-resistant housing. They don’t give them anything—they teach them how to do this. They build with them.”
What’s Next for Cristina
Having moved to Bradenton from Chicago about a year ago, Cristina struggled to pick up where she left off with Tremor in the Hills. “I had writer’s block when I got to Florida. So, I came to a tiki bar one day with just a piece of paper and a pencil like the old-fashioned way! I said I’m just going to write. But, while I was sitting there, I got a completely different idea.”
Her upcoming book is titled Pairs. It’s an adult murder mystery set in the modern online dating world. “A woman gets murdered in the Tampa Aquarium, and there are seven suspects,” Cristina says. “Each suspect is based on a really stupid profile picture [from a dating site]. One guy was just holding a plant in front of his face. You couldn’t even see him. And this is a real profile picture!”
An intriguing premise on its own, Pairs has another trick up its sleeve. Inspired by the 1985 Clue movie, which had three alternate endings, Pairs also has three alternate endings. Instead of choosing your own adventure, the ending will choose you. Cristina hopes the book will come out in late August or early September. “It’s a very satire, very dark humor book,” Cristina laughs. “I keep laughing just thinking about it. I had the most fun writing it!”
Cristina still has plans to continue working on the sequel to Tremor in the Hills, eventually wanting to make it a trilogy. You can purchase the book on Amazon here: Tremor in the Hills. You can read Cristina’s blog at tremorbookseries.blog or reach her directly at TremorInTheHills@gmail.com. To find out more about Build Change, visit their website at BuildChange.org.