Thursday, May 29, 2008


Today's Book is

From the very first page, Skizzer takes you on a whirlwind search for Claire's sister, Becca. Becca has disappeared, leaving only a cryptic note. Claire and Becca's husband, start on a quest that takes them to Claire and Becca's old stomping grounds and across the sea. Along the way, Claire discovers hidden family secrets that could change the way she looks at her life.

This book has a good balance of current time activities and well-remembered adventures that took place many years before. The descriptions place you right at the scene, and the search for the truth pulls together pieces of Claire's life that she didn't even know were missing. While some of the events in the story had me scrambling back to find earlier references, I enjoyed the twists in the story. This is a great beach read!

"There are things only a sister should know - sister secrets," said Becca.

And with that word the two sisters buried a little gold box that would perhaps link them to this secret in their past. But years later will that gold box help bring the missing younger sister back?

In her first suspense novel, A.J. Kiesling, a former journalist with a knack for uncovering the latest beat, leads readers on a journey across the Atlantic with Claire Trowling, the older sister, to discover how far a bond between sisters will go in Skizzer.

This starts Claire on a quest. After receiving news of her sister Becca's sudden disappearance, Claire must piece together the shadowy remnants of a past she's long forgotten in order to find her. A cryptic note scrawled in Becca's handwriting leaves more questions than it answers: "Something both terrible and wonderful has happened. I can't explain now..."

When a stack of mysterious letters bound by a rare necklace is found, Claire heads to England-the source of the heirloom-for answers. With the help of a rectory gardener she remembers from her childhood, Claire races to discover the secrets that hold her family captive. Full of suspense and intrigue, Skizzer takes readers on a transcontinental hunt for answers weaving seamlessly between the distant past of childhood and the urgency of the present.


A.J. (Angie) Kiesling grew up loving trees and words--trees because they formed the natural backdrop and playground for her childhood years in rural North Carolina, and words because they captivated her from as far back as she can remember. When she wasn't romping through the woods with her siblings, she might be found with her nose in a book--or lost among the shelves at the local library.

She has worked in the Christian publishing industry since 1985 as an author and editor. A former religion writer for Publishers Weekly and Religion BookLine e-newsletter, she frequently reported on spirituality trends and religion book publishing. Angie is the author of numerous books, including Skizzer (a novel, Revell), Where Have All the Good Men Gone? (Harvest House), Jaded: Hope for Believers Who Have Given Up on Church but Not on God (Revell), and Soul Deep: Prayers and Promises for Cultivating Inner Beauty (Barbour). She also ghostwrote Live Like a Jesus Freak (Albury), the popular follow-up to D.C. Talk's bestseller Jesus Freaks.

Beginning her career as a staff editor for Charisma magazine, she went on to cover industry news and book trends for the award-winning trade periodical Christian Retailing, followed by an editorial position on the startup website Over the years she has worked as an independent book editor and writer for some of the leading names in book publishing: Baker Publishing Group, Jossey-Bass, Thomas Nelson, Honor Books, Harvest House, Creation House, Barbour Publishing, and Xulon Press, among others. Today she heads up the editorial department at Xulon Press, a print-on-demand publisher based in Orlando.

Q & A with Angie (from
Tell us about Skizzer.

The story centers on two sisters, Claire (the main character) and Becca, her younger sibling. At the outset, Becca has disappeared--up and leaving her husband with just a cursory note offering no real explanation. Claire drives to North Carolina to pursue a hunch that Becca might have fled to the town where they grew up, perhaps taking refuge with their elderly Aunt Jess. She stops at a place where they used to play as children--an old estate the local kids called haunted--and finds a letter addressed to "Skizzer" inside a sister-secret box she and Becca left there more than twenty years earlier. The letter says "something both terrible and wonderful has happened" and that Becca needs time to herself, urging Claire not to look for her. But of course that's exactly what Claire and her distraught brother-in-law do. The story weaves between the present and the past through flashbacks to the girls' growing up years in North Carolina. The search for Becca ultimately takes Claire and her brother-in-law to England, to a town that imprinted the girls heavily in their youth. The theme of the story is that the people we think we know best don't always turn out to be who we thought they were.

How did you come up with the idea and name for Skizzer?
The idea for Skizzer is mostly fiction, but the word "skizzer" itself very much has roots in my life story. I grew up in a large family with five children, and my next nearest sibling in age--my sister--was almost like my twin. My mother tells me that when we were little bitty girls, I would call her my "skizzer," being unable to say "sister" properly as a toddler. So the word and the family story stuck in my mind over the years. About twenty years ago, when I first thought about writing a novel, a germ of an idea took shape. I knew I wanted to write a book about sisters, as that was always such a powerful influence in my life, and the name Skizzer came to me but nothing more. With that inspiration came a renewed invigoration to write the story, but over the years I stopped and started it several times, always dropping it in frustration. I didn't feel ready, as if something inside me needed to season, or that I needed to accumulate more experiences before I could make what I felt inside resonate with readers on the page. Fast-forward several years, and I started writing Skizzer again, but all I had was an opening scene-this vivid scene that I couldn't get out of my head, but I couldn't see anything beyond it. Still, I started writing it, in third person, but for some reason the story felt clunky. I let it rest for a few months and then had another inspired moment: "Maybe I should try writing the story in first-person," I mused. And when I did the story of Skizzer and especially the character of Claire sprang to life.

You captured the adventure of childhood very well between the two sisters Becca and Claire. I wanted to join their adventures! Did you share adventures with your siblings or friends when you were a child?

Oh yes, you nailed it there. Growing up in North Carolina in the '60s, we five kids were given free rein to plunder the woods behind our house, and nobody worried because what harm could possibly come to you in the woods? (Yes, it was a very different time.) Our mother would call us home by the dinner bell, and we would stumble back into the "real world" tired but happy, sometimes scratched up by tree branches and briars, but that just went with the territory. Our neighborhood, like the one Claire and Becca grow up in, was on the very outskirts of town--half civilized, half rural and wild. My siblings and I played at an abandoned estate we called the Haunted House, and down the road was a vacant lot inexplicably filled with boulders. Across the street from the Boulders was a magical place the neighborhood kids dubbed Shady Rest with huge canopy oaks and dirt roads winding through it. I think of how much fun we had back then--the wars and dramas and vine-hanging we experienced--and feel regret that today's children miss out on so much wholesome outdoor play. Those woods, especially, became the breeding ground for my imagination. The glade described in garden behind the Rectory Inn is very much like one my sister and I found in the woods behind our house.

My favorite character is Gretchen because she was the most mysterious and complex. Who is your favorite character and why?
Without a doubt, my favorite character is Colin Lockwood because he is in many ways my idea of the perfect male. Like Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy, he has that irresistible combination of aloofness and genuine goodness once you get to know him. He has a certain mystique about him that draws Claire like crazy, but instead of finding bad character underneath she is surprised to discover that in this case still waters run VERY deep. Colin is what I would call a good guy/bad guy, inherently good but still quite a bit bohemian. I have fallen in love with this character and can't wait to pursue more about him and Claire in a sequel.But how cool to hear that Gretchen was your favorite character! I didn't see that one coming.

Skizzer deals with family secrets. When should family secrets be revealed and when should some stay hidden?
My parents' generation believed in hiding skeletons in the family closet, locking embarrassing (or shocking) secrets away from prying eyes. The trouble is, those secrets always find a way out of the closet sooner or later, and sometimes with disastrous results. We all have secrets, but I believe Jesus really meant what He said when He told us "the truth shall make you free." It's so much better to bring secrets into the light of day, where often they are stripped of their "taboo." Even if the truth hurts, it's so much better than being deceived. Deceit is a form of betrayal to me.

What do you want your readers to take away after reading Skizzer?
Like Claire, I hope they awaken to the reality of God in their lives, whether they have slowly dulled to their once-vibrant faith like she has, or whether they have never considered God as a possibility at all. For all my readers, I would wish for the resurgence of hope in some lost dream--the "fullness of time" moment we all silently long for.

You can purchase this book on Amazon!

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