About four years ago, Amy Crusan-Kramer's personal desktop computer conked out. She replaced it with a laptop and started bringing it on her commute from Tacoma. "I figured while I have all this time on the Sounder train--I may as well give it a shot."
Writing, that is. Something Crusan-Kramer had never really done before.
"When I was in school, I hated having to write papers--back then it was a chore for me," says the administrative assistant in the law school's admissions office. "I've always loved reading, but this was my first foray into creative writing."
And so while Crusan-Kramer rode the rails, she wrote the tales of Samantha Skylar, following her journey from a tiny coal-mining town in West Virginia to the estate of one of the oldest and wealthiest families in Atlanta. The result is Sam's Story, the recently published first book of a trilogy that is now available at Amazon and iBookstore, and has been featured on both Bargain Book Hunter and Addicted to E-Books.
Sam's Story is pure fiction, in no way, shape or form based on the life of the Crusan-Kramer or anyone she knows. And yet the story came to her quite easily. "A lot of time people talk about writer's block, but I'm almost embarrassed to say that (Sam's Story) just kind of fell out of me," she says. "There were some difficult things to write, emotionally, but otherwise, it was like the story was already there."
Crusan-Kramer logged hour upon hour writing the book on the train, over lunch breaks and during weekends. But mostly on the train. When the trilogy begins, Sam is 14; at the end, she is 40. An undeniable bond has developed between author and protagonist. Crusan-Kramer says she was recently re-reading some the earlier pages and thought to herself, "Oh my gosh-my little Sam grew up!"
Asked which of Sam's qualities she finds most endearing, Crusan-Kramer says, "Her loyalty to the people she loves. It's not easy for her to become close to someone but once she does, that's a real important thing to her."
Most of Sam's story takes place in Georgia, a state for which Crusan-Kramer has developed an affinity. "I'm not from there," the Tacoma native and current resident says, "but growing up, I became an Atlanta Braves fan because I'd watch them on the Superstation." After visiting Atlanta to watch a game in 2000 she fell in love with the city and has returned to the area many times since.
With her first book published, Crusan-Kramer is looking forward to putting the continuing her work on the sequel. Her work at the law school keeps her plenty busy, too, as she processes and compiles applications, keeps applicants up to date and helps coordinate travel schedules for recruiting trips.
"I've always enjoyed working in higher education," says Crusan-Kramer, who previously worked at Pacific Lutheran University. "(At SU,) I've made a lot of close friendships with my co-workers and I enjoy working with the students."
When she was hired 16 years ago the law school had already become part of Seattle University but was still located in Tacoma. At the time, she figured her stint would be relatively short stint, as she wasn't too keen on staying with the school when it moved north. "I really didn't want to do the commute," she remembers.
Now, with one trilogy done and a sequel in progress, that commute isn't looking so bad after all.