Thursday, January 2, 2014

Chrissy Anderson on 'The Life List'

What was the inspiration behind this book?
The moment I left a bar with a guy six years younger than me...when I was a seemingly happy married woman, I knew I had a big story to tell. Well, the story became HUGE when that chance encounter led to massive amounts of lies, desperate and gross manipulation, and shockingly, the kind of love I never knew existed.

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. But then that chance encounter at the bar made me question the life list and all that I had accomplished. In one night my entire world was turned upside down.

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 that millions of women face every day. Those women were my inspiration. There are so many out there who are torn between choosing love and obligation. I know their struggle…I know their heartache.

So what did I choose? You have to read The List Trilogy to find out!
This book is the first in a trilogy. What is the timeline for the rest of it?
Book one, The Life List, has been out for over a year (4.8 rating on Amazon:). Book two, The Unexpected List, was released earlier this year (4.8 rating on Amazon:) and the last book in the trilogy, The Hope List, is set for winter 2014 release. Fans are rather pissy at me right now for the long wait to The Hope List, especially because Unexpected ended on a cliffhanger! I keep telling them it’ll be worth it though because it feeds into a whole new trilogy—tentatively titled The Truth Trilogy. The challenge is I have to come up with the full outline for the next cycle before I complete Hope. I have to build in all the good stuff and it’s soooooo much work. My novels are incredibly character driven! Everyone has a favorite person—someone they identify with or want to get to know. The character of Slutty co-worker is by far everyone’s favorite…and yes, she finally gets a REAL name in The Hope List! It’s a doozy too.
What compels us to write these lists?
Our dreams of what we think will make us happy. But what makes us happy is ever-changing and that right there is the problem with making life lists! By the time you cross off the last item you’re like, “Damn, I don’t want all of that shit anymore! None of it means anything to me because I’m a different person than I was 5, 10…15 years ago!” I say stick to only making grocery lists…can’t get hurt or let down with those(:
How can we console ourselves when we inevitably cannot reach some of our goals?
Alcohol works for me. Ha, kidding. Sort of. In all seriousness, why put something on a list that’s so unobtainable that we’d need consoling? You should know who you are and what you’re capable of goal-wise, right? It’s not like I’d put President of The United States of America on my list of career aspirations when I never even ran for student government! That’d make me plain cuckoo. But let’s say I had a goal of being married with kids and I just turned forty-five and didn’t even have a boyfriend…well, that’s another story. In your early thirties that scenario might seem tragic. Hence the reason why so many women in their early thirties scramble to the altar and in the process settles for less than they deserve, resulting in an unsatisfying marriage, kids they resent, ultimate adultery and/or bitter resent. I digress…sorry about that! Anyway, while it’s understandable there would be some heartbreak as a result of not reaching a goal of having a husband and children, I think a forty-five year old woman makes adjustments to her plan far in advance of a total meltdown. I don’t think she’d sit idly by as her goals got squashed, she’d come up with new ones—better ones to take their place.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments?
If I told you I’d ruin the book(s)! But a close second is ending my comfy career and taking the gigantic risk to write The Life List—to tell my true life, oh-so-relatable, love story. Trust me, it wasn’t easy. It took three years after writing it to get up the courage to let one person read it—let alone publish it! Talk about feeling vulnerable! Every time I read a review of the book(s) I feel like I’m standing naked in front of the person who wrote it!
What is one of your greatest regrets?
D’oh! Again, I’d ruin the book(s) if I told you! I will tell you this, though. It happened when I was seventeen. I’ve forgiven myself for what happened, but the pain and regret over the incident will never go away. Some mistakes are so big that you just have to learn to deal with the consequences your whole life. Every single day I try to do something to amend the regret. While the effort will never make the regret completely go away, it does alleviate it.

Wallowing in misery=bad! I don’t believe we should let regret ruin our potential to make ourselves, and those around us, happy.
One of my favorite books on a similar topic was 'The To-Do List' by British author Mike Gayle. Do you have any other similar favorite reads?
Nope. This is so tacky, but I’m not much of a reader. It’s not that I hate it; I just don’t allow myself enough downtime to enjoy a good book. By the time I plop into bed at night, I’m spent! And I never take vacation so that rules that out! However, whenever I fly I make a pit stop in the airport bookstore and grab something off of the shelf. Sadly, nothing I’ve read comes to mind to tell you about. Sorry, I’m worthless when it comes to this question! Oh, wait! I did read all of The Harry Potter books! My nine year old made me! They were amazing! J.K. Rowling has made me ask myself several times, “Who the F do you think you are trying to be a writer!?!?!?”
What book did you read last? Are you currently reading? Is next on your TBR pile?
Even though I don’t read a lot, I do have a TBR pile, but it consists of non-fiction stuff like Charles Krauthammer’s new book and a bunch of stuff about J.F.K. Yawn, yes?
What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
The TV was on one night when I was cooking dinner and someone was being interviewed on some show. I can’t remember who was being interviewed or what show it was, but I dropped my broccoli and ran for a pen when the person being interviewed said, “Follow the truths of human interaction and you will never let your reader down.” The scribbled scrap of paper is in a frame on my desk!

It’s easy to fluff/lighten things up in a book, especially one based on a true story like The Life List. There were many times I felt compelled to stray from what I really did or really wanted to say. I was scared the readers would hold it against me or judge me for putting it all out there. But when you stray from the truths of human interaction—when you avoid the uncomfortable and try to make things pretty for story-sake—the story immediately loses its interest, it becomes phony. It becomes blah! I chose the opposite of blah. 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.

Ironically, a lot of my readers have held what I did and said against me and they have judged me for the mistakes I made. They told me so…as they were giving me a 5 star review! That I made them laugh, cry, scream at the book for the injustice and inappropriateness of my behavior, that I was authentic and vulnerable compelled them to leave me a glowing review. More times that I can count I’ve been called the woman you hate to love. Following the truths of human interaction is, so far, making most of my readers applaud and it’s making me smile.
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a very messed up left-brain, right-brain person! I have an intense need to run a multi-billion dollar corporation, and be a housewife who tends to her own garden and cooks seventy-five course meals for her family every night. There’s an equal amount of drive in me to be both of those things and it leads to a lot of frustration! For most of my life I’ve been learning how to manage the pull. I haven’t mastered it, but I’m getting better at it. For example, four days a week I completely dedicate myself to book stuff (i.e. writing, blogging, social networking, business operations, research, marketing, and sales). In these four days I DO NOT attempt to do anything domestic before 3pm (the time I pick my daughter up from school and all hell breaks loose). Then, three days a week I completely dedicate myself to domestic stuff (i.e. clean, shop, laundry, meal planning…) I don’t even look at my Facebook page in these three days! It distracts me from enjoying the domestic side of my life. The minute I try to blend the two worlds I get agitated and unsatisfied. Nothing gets done and I fall apart. Seriously, I should be studied!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I think I’ve shared enough (-:. You’ll think the same after you read The Life List!
Thank you so much for your time!

The Life List
by Chrissy Anderson


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 rollercoaster 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.

Read an excerpt:
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.

**My thoughts**

As I mentioned in the interivew, I had once read a similar book by one of my favorite authors, Mike Gayle. I also recently crossed off a big thing from my own "bucket list" of sorts. So, the concept of this book was something that really spoke to me. Sometimes it is fun to take a break from your own life to learn about the troubles that others have in theirs. I think that is part of the appeal of so-called reality TV. And that is the audience that is going to love this book.

Chrissy Anderson is good at putting on appearances, to hide the misery that really rules her life. In fact, when her story begins, she isn't even really aware of how miserable she actually is. It isn't until she accidentally meets a young man named Leo that she realizes what a mess she has let her life become, and takes action to deal with it.

You're thrown for a loop when you start reading, because the book starts with Chrissy giving the eulogy at her best friend's funeral. She keeps referring to a man who is sitting in the congregation. It takes a fair chunk of the book (over 400 pages) to finally bring the story back to both of these things, and to reveal who the man is. I often found myself wondering when it was going to happen, so that I could put it all together.

Chrissy is not an easy person to like. In fact, even at the end of the book, I wasn't sure if I liked her. She is extremely self-centered and whiny and can't make up her mind about what she really wants in life. She strings along men and her friends, alienating them while also sucking them into her vortex of confusion. She lies to her therapist and belittles everyone. You find yourself siding with her friends, yelling at her as she needlessly drags out her situation month after month. "That's not how novels work!" I found myself yelling at the book. And then I paused for a moment and reflected on it. It isn't a traditional novel. It's a memoir of sorts, illustrating the traumatic events in her life that caused her to finally change it. You have to remind yourself that sometimes the ugly stage is necessary to reveal a healthier, more beautiful person within.

You do question what choices you would make if you were in her situation. Sure, it seems to easy to the outsider reading the book. But what if you were really in her situation? Would it be so cut and dry for you? Do people who get themselves into these predicaments really make the conscious decision, "Hey, I am going to make some really bad choices and royally screw things up for myself for a while, no matter what anyone says!" Haven't you ever gotten sucked in to a relationship or situation that you never thought you would be in? I give Chrissy a lot of credit for having the guts to share her story. It isn't easy to bare your soul to the world like that.

I will admit that about halfway through, I was having some difficulty pushing through. The first half of the book kept me curious as to what she was going to say or do next. I was obligated to finish the book to write my review for this tour. I kept thinking that I wouldn't be surprised at how this installment ended and wouldn't want to keep on reading. The momentum did pick back up, though, in that last quarter, and I admit that I am a little curious about what happens in the second installment.

Available on Amazon

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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.

Chrissy will be awarding a $50 Victoria’s Secret Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

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  1. Sounds like an amazing read!!
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    Happy New Year!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  2. Happy New Year everyone! Chrissy here...and sadly still nursing a New Year's Eve hangover! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did on Tuesday night, I hope even more it's not taking you as long to recover!
    This was a fun interview for me and I appreciate the time and interest Andi's Book Review put forth to make it so. I'll be checking in throughout the day to answer any questions and address comments about The List Trilogy. I also invite you to stop by Amazon and read reviews of The Life List. Talk soon:) xoxo, Chrissy

  3. Very candid. Thank you for the honesty.

  4. Chrissy's books are excellent, and certainly a whole lot better than this interview makes them sound. Chrissy's character has a lot of depth: she's funny, and fun, and exasperating and occasionally irritating, but she is never, EVER dull. Her story is one that could be told (with a few personalized tweaks here or there) by a third of the people reading this interview. Another third knows someone like Chrissy. And the last third has played her drama out in a fantasy, at least once.

    I read The Life List on a lark because it was a Deal of the Day on Amazon. I didn't have any super high hopes for it, I was just looking for something to pass the time. Suffice it to say that I finished it in one day and IMMEDIATELY went back to Amazon and bought Unexpected. Finished that one the next day, went back for Hope, and almost had a full blown tizzy when I discovered it wasn't out yet. And just now I see that we're looking at winter 2014, which is a full two seasons later than I'd last heard... so Chrissy, if you're reading this... YOU SUCK!!!

    Seriously, read the book. You'll love it, and her, even though you'll want to smack the Chrissyness out of her more than once. But most of all, you'll relate to her humanness, you'll cheer for her and curse her... and then you'll read book two.

    1. Hi Laura! Thank you for the comment! Love you for leaving it. You'll be happy to know that it's winter 2014 RIGHT NOW and it will be until end of March, which is only 3 months from now:) Not sucking anymore, am I?!?!?
      xoxo, C.

    2. I am waiting for book three. I too was so disappointed it wasnt available earlier. Looking forward to it. March is here now??

    3. I am rereading the first two books again in anticipation for the third which is supposed to be out by now....I am dying here.

  5. Great interview! I LOVE getting to know the authors I adore. Thank you for being so honest and writing The Lists.

  6. Great interview! I LOVE getting to know authors a little better! Thank you for your honesty in writing The Lists.

  7. Chrissy is so different from me. I had a hard time with her choices. She betrayed her husband and her lover.

  8. Loved the interview. Sounds like a great trilogy.

  9. Her choices were questionable, yet intriguing.
    Not completely sure what I would've done.

  10. I definitely want to read this series after reading this review... I LOVE reality tv shows and Laura Trojan's review on the book made me even more interested! Thanks for sharing ladies :)


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