Laurel Osterkamp: I’m a Survivor fan through and through. There have been seasons when I haven’t watched, but I still love the whole dynamic of who is going to get voted off. It fascinates me. I also really enjoy Project Runway because I love fashion.
CTW: If you had to compete or participate on a reality show of the past or present, which one would you choose and why?
LO: I would love to do Survivor, but I’d have to have a version of myself that doesn’t get dehydrated and sunburned so easily. I’d also have to magically become good at throwing things and being fast. If I could just adopt those qualities, I’d be applying for the show.
CTW: What would be your strategy for surviving until the end?
LO: I’d try to fly under the radar for as long as possible, and make lots of friends. It’s always the bossy, flashy people who get voted out first! I’d also try to make myself useful. Maybe I could contribute something valuable at camp, but I don’t know. It’s hard to predict what you’ll be good at.
CTW: Like the main character in this book, you also recently served on a federal jury. What was that like?
LO: It was quite the experience. Most of what I put in the book was true, like all the snacks we were given, the individual TV screens in front of our plush jury seats, and even the stretching breaks. And there was actually a moment when we all thought the judge had dozed off. The jurors were also based off my real-life jury members, but exaggerated.
CTW: I imagine it's hard to track everything both sides say. How did you keep your focus during the trial?
LO: I took a lot of notes. They did provide us all with these little binders, but we weren’t allowed to take our notes with us.
CTW: What was your favorite part about writing The Holdout?
LO: I really enjoyed all of it, but I guess my favorite part was writing the scene where Robin has her breakdown at Island Assembly (tribal council). It was a chance to go a little over the top, and use both humor and drama. It’s probably my favorite scene I’ve ever written for any book.
CTW: Do you have any favorite snacks you like to eat while you're writing?
LO: What don’t I like to eat while writing? J - I guess my favorites include anything chocolate, or cheddar potato chips.
CTW: I'm having fun following the adventures of Lucy, your heroine from Campaign Promises, November Surprise and Blue State via her blog. How do you balance maintaining that storyline while working on other projects?
LO: Actually, I was still so involved in her story when I started writing The Holdout that it was a tough transition. Then I couldn’t think of a last name for Robin; I just kept coming back to “Bricker.” So I thought, what the hell, just make them related. Boom! Robin is Jack and Monty’s cousin, and I have a bunch of supporting characters who are already developed. It was really fun to write about them from a new perspective while also figuring out who Robin is.
CTW: Can we expect another novelette/short story from Lucy?
LO: Probably. Part of the reason I moved Lucy and Monty to Iowa was so I could involve characters like Jack, Robin, and Ian in the blog entries. I’m also writing a follow-up to The Holdout, and Lucy will be in that too. After that, we’ll see. I was thinking about writing a couple of short stories and working on her blog entries from 2012 campaign. I’d like to compile it all into something publishable.
CTW: What's up next in the world of Laurel Osterkamp?
LO: A nap!
Just kidding. I guess just more of the same. I’d love to finish writing The Fallout (my follow up novel to The Holdout) and have it up by the end of the summer, but it all depends on how busy I get. My dream is to someday get paid enough to write full-time.
Excerpt of The Holdout
Henry, Klemi, Grant and I walked back to camp in virtual silence. But once we arrived and set down our torches, I immediately pulled Grant aside and led him down to the shore.
“What the hell!” I demanded. “Why didn’t you vote out Klemi?”
“Because.” His voice was calm in contrast to my intensity. “I don’t want to be sitting next to Bailey when the jury votes. He could win. But Klemi was right when she said that nobody liked her.”
“Nobody likes Bailey either.”
Grant sighs and looks up at the dark, starry sky. “Robin, come on. Bailey is the underdog. He’s seventy years old, crusty, and no-nonsense. He’s worked hard for everything he has. Anyone sitting next to him will look silly and over-privileged in comparison.”
I pretended like the same thoughts hadn’t occurred to me as I crossed my arms over my chest and jutted out my chin. “You’ve really considered every angle, haven’t you?”
“Of course. Haven’t you?”
I breathed deeply to keep myself calm. “You wouldn’t look silly and over-privileged if you had some tragic story about your parents’ death, would you? Or what if everyone thought you blamed yourself for your sister’s addiction? What if we thought that nobody, including your grandparents, loved you? Then you’d be sure to win.”
Grant didn’t even flinch. Either I was spot-on or I was the biggest bitch in the world. I had no idea which.
“So have you been flirting with Klemi to get ahead in this game?”
“Yes.” Grant replied without blinking, without apology.
I could feel tears start to form. I looked away, knowing I had just lost the staring contest. “What about me? Was that about getting ahead too?”
“No.” He reached to touch me but I stepped away. “Okay,” he said. “Since we’re being so honest, I’ll just tell you now that I’m voting you out next.”
I stared at him with widened eyes.
“Robin, it’s what I have to do. I can beat Klemi and I can beat Henry. Neither of them deserves to win and the jury knows it. But I’m not so sure I can beat you.” He grinned like a car salesman. “You should take it as a compliment.”
“What about your original claim that you’d rather go to the end with someone you can trust and respect?”
His face was lit by the glow of the moon and the ocean waves crashed behind us. The evening air was warm with the sand smooth and cool beneath our feet. It would have been so romantic if it wasn’t for everything about him being completely wrong.
“I lied,” he said simply.
“Well, I didn’t.” I stepped in closer, and whispered. “You’re voting me out?” I shook my head. “Not a chance. I will destroy you before I let that happen.”
He laughed. “You don’t scare me. You could have voted me out tonight and you didn’t even have the nerve to do that.”
Then he patted me on the head. “Enjoy your last two days here, Robbie. Because you’re next to go.”
About the Author
Laurel Osterkamp's award winning novels have been hailed as funny, intelligent, snarky and poignant. She is the author of four novels and two novellas, including the November Surprise series, which, like The Holdout, features the Bricker family. Laurel was recently on a federal jury, and she loves watching Survivor.
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About the Book
Robin wanted to win The Holdout, a cutthroat reality TV show, so she gave it her all, challenge after challenge. Then she fell for Grant, with his irresistible eyes and heartbreaking life story.
But Grant was only using Robin as they competed for a million dollars. Once home, Robin wants to hide from the humiliation as episodes of The Holdout are aired, and she worries her family was right all along; she’s not a survivor.
Yet she could surprise everyone, and have the last laugh.
Besides, Robin now has jury duty. And as she forges ahead, confronting her demons about bravery, justice, and romance, Robin will come to decide which is more important: the courage to stand alone, or the strength to love again.
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