New Westminster novelist Colleen Cross debuts thriller series

Author Colleen Cross
Author Colleen Cross

New Westminster author Colleen Cross is hosting a book launch event for her début novel on Friday, February 17 from 6-9pm at the Heritage Grill (back room). I recently sat down with New Westminster author Colleen Cross to chat about Exit Strategy, Book #1 in the Katerina Carter suspense series.

Drawing on her experience in finance and accounting, as well as her interest in how and why people orchestrate massive and tiny frauds every day, Colleen has written a suspenseful tale starring Katerina Carter, a forensic accountant with a struggling business and a potentially compromising new case involving an international diamond mining company. Colleen was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about writing, getting her work published, and her suspenseful exploration of fraud through the lens of an enterprising, but not always ethical, accountant.

Marcy: This is your first novel, correct? Did you have any experience in writing fiction before this?

Colleen: Yes, Exit Strategy is my first novel. Prior to Exit Strategy, I had written a few short stories, but I prefer the novel length.

M: What is the process of publishing like? What advice can you give to other writers who would like to have their work published? 

C: There are many steps involved in publishing. It starts with the writing and editing, and continues after your book is published. Promotion is important—especially establishing a social media platform. I recommend attending workshops, writer’s conferences, and interacting with other writers to learn more, as the publishing landscape is undergoing rapid changes at the moment. There are some very informative blogs on the subject, such as Bob Mayer and others.

M: Was there any research involved in writing Exit Strategy? Obviously you know a lot about finance due to your own career but what about the criminal aspects?

C: I did a lot of research on mining, diamonds and money laundering, since diamonds are a very portable, near-cash alternative. I was fascinated to learn that each diamond has it’s own unique “fingerprint”, which can be used it trace its origin. Fraud has always fascinated me. In addition to my professional experiences with fraud, I enjoy reading about it in general.

M: Do you feel that you draw inspiration for your work from where you live? Is there something distinctly Canadian (or “New Westminsterian”) about Exit Strategy?

C: Exit Strategy is set in Greater Vancouver and in Argentina. Although I haven’t specifically identified the location of Kat’s house in the book as New Westminster, it is a composite of several Victorian houses in the Queens Park neighbourhood.

M: Katerina stumbles into a conspiracy in her work as a forensic accountant. Many of us are familiar with forensics, and with accounting, but less so with the combination of the two. What can you tell us about Kat’s chosen profession?

C: Like other forensic specialities, forensic accounting uses techniques to determine and trace evidence and events to prove a crime. A forensic accountant is able to uncover manipulated data and records, follow a money trail to its ultimate destination, and/or uncover hidden assets. These might be the evidence needed to convict a criminal of fraud, provide a motive for murder, or prove financial abuse.

Fraud is everywhere, whether it’s a multi-billion dollar heist like the one in Exit Strategy, or smaller, everyday ones like auto insurance fraud. It impacts each of us financially, though we may not be aware of it. Fraud is conservatively estimated to cost our economy about 5% of our national GDP. That’s huge. Society could do a lot of good with the money that is lost to fraud each year.

M: It says on your website that Exit Strategy is part of a series. Can you give us any hints about what is in store for Kat in the future?

C: I’m currently at work on the second book in the series, Game Theory. Kat’s fraud investigation at a currency hedge fund takes a sinister turn when she discovers its connection to the mysterious World Institute and the murder of a Nobel nominee. In her personal life she must deal with her uncle’s worsening dementia while her boyfriend mysteriously disappears.

M: Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers about the book?

C: You can read more about Exit Strategy on my website (, and read reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.

For more about Colleen, you can read her blog  or follow her on Twitter: @colleenxcross

Tweetup the ‘least awkward meeting of total strangers I’ve ever been to’

This is a guest post by Marcy Koopmans, who recently moved to New Westminster. This is her take on our most recent Tweetup.

As Jocelyn mentioned in her post on Friday, a large part of what gives New West its sense of self is its sense of history.

Moving here, Wes and I were surprised and, I’ll be honest, a bit amused by what to us seems such an unusual preoccupation with the past. But perhaps this is only because we came from a city which one Twitter user called a “cultural wasteland.” (You’ll get no argument from me on that front.)

That previous city was not one that I chose to live in myself, even though I managed to stay there for 19 years. New West represents home to me in a more real sense because I chose it, because Wes and I chose it together.

That said, even though it has taken very little time for me to feel at home in my new city, as of last Thursday I still hadn’t really met anyone. Twitter has been a great gateway in that regard. Through it, Wes and I found out about the existence of Tenth to the Fraser, the resurrection of the Farmer’s Market, and the Tweetup to follow.

The Farmer’s Market represents a way of life that I think will become increasingly important to our society and way of life in the coming years due to factors such as the recession and the state of the environment. Its continued success will show that we can come together as a community and both provide each other with the things we need — fruit, veggies, almond bark — and support each other economically. All with less impact on the environment that buying food shipped half way around the world.

The Tweetup, while overwhelming for me in the number of new faces and names to remember, was about the least awkward meet up of mostly total strangers that I’ve ever been to.

Perhaps the level of comfort in the gathering was fueled by orange drop martinis, beer and hummus, but I think it also speaks to what New West is as a city. It’s a city both small and big — one of those true clichés that came up during the Tweet up — and one that both loves the past and embraces the diversity that comes with moving forward and embracing progress.

It’s been a long time since I have found myself in a group of strangers where I can talk about the trials of public transportation, education and vampires without meeting blank stares. That, to me, is what is so invigorating and exciting about living in New West: it seems to have something for everyone.


Note: Thanks to everyone who attended the Tweetup, including:

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