Amelia Island, Florida –What does it take to confess your deepest secrets? Annie, Sondra, and Jo were the best of childhood friends—but they haven’t seen each other in far too long. In Kristine Ochu’s debut novel “Campfire Confessions” (BooksFluent, March 8, 2022) the women are reunited as they embark on an adventure that is equal parts hilarious, dangerous, and enlightening.
Married to a minister in a small town, Annie’s devoted her life to raising four sons and volunteering wherever she’s needed. Most people consider her a saint—but they don’t know she’s hiding a big secret. Sondra’s married to one of the richest men in L.A. and she appears to have it all—a glitzy lifestyle, beauty, brains, and a successful career. But when a real estate deal blooms into an affair, she quickly realizes she’s in over her head. Jo is four years sober and struggling through a divorce. After a one-night stand takes an unexpectedly comic turn, she’s forced to reckon with a lifetime of bad choices.
When Annie’s secret finally catches up with her, Jo and Sondra rush to her side. Determined to find answers, they pry Annie away from her daily grind, escaping on a canoeing trip that turns into a soul-searching, death-defying adventure. Lost in the woods as one thing goes wrong after another, they find themselves sharing their deepest secrets around the campfire. But as each new revelation unfolds, one thing becomes clear: it will take more than a night of true confessions for the three of them to find their way back home.
KRISTINE OCHU is founder of “The Night of a Woman’s Soul – Creating Your Amazing Life" workshops and is a former Human Resource Executive with a MAIR from the University of Minnesota. She is a member of the Global Women’s Club, Women in Film and Video New England, Harvard Square Script Writers, and community groups. A former log-rolling champion, she still log-rolls along with being an avid hiker, kayaker and explorer. Having previously written screenplays and a children's book, Kristine incorporates her love of nature and adventure into all her stories. She lives with her husband and their rescue golden retrievers, and splits her time between Hayward, Wisconsin and Amelia Island, Florida. For more information, visit www.KristineOchu.com
What inspired her to write “Campfire Confessions”
How her experiences as a log-rolling champion, international human resource executive, and motivational speaker influenced her writing
What sisterhood means to her, and the importance of female friendship
Why adventure is often the best catalyst for self-discovery
What she hopes readers will take away from “Campfire Confessions”
What’s next for her on her journey
What inspired you to write “Campfire Confessions”?
Personally, I was hungry for a book that was upbeat, full of humor and witty banter, including a little “swizzle of sex” while capturing more serious, real-life issues that women are going through. I felt by having three relatable characters who were best friends, and putting them in situations where they each had to face their fears through a soul-searching, death-defying adventure would make it unique and engaging for women.
I also wanted to bring women together in laughter and camaraderie as they share their own adventures and at the same time, to create dialogue around topics that they tend to struggle with alone—their own secrets. My hope was by bringing light to these inner struggles, that we can empower ourselves and each other to overcome our obstacles and live the lives we desire.
You have such an intriguing background as a log-rolling champion, international human resource executive, motivational speaker– and now, author! How did your eclectic background influence your writing?
The diversity of my experiences has given me the ability to write from a variety of character’s perspectives in a genuine way. I’ve seen the incredible power of the human spirit in so many different situations and find people and their journeys fascinating. As a log-roller, after a day of competition, I got to hang out with Lumberjacks and Jills around the campfire, telling stories and singing songs. As a Human Resource executive, there were great times dealing with growth, mergers, and acquisitions, and sad times dealing with lay-offs or plant closings. I was in the heart of it all—the human experience. When I left to pursue my dream of writing, I took courses in all kinds of fields, including personal growth and ended up creating and leading empowering workshops for women. Hearing their stories broadened my perspective and inspired me to write about things women cared about. The challenge was to create a fun, upbeat story with meaningful messages in an adventurous setting to show how powerful we can be!
What does sisterhood mean to you, and how did you incorporate that into this book?
I’ve been blessed to have three sisters and some very close friends. When we get together, we fall back into patterns filled with laughter, banter, antics and sharing memories. Just being together, skyrockets our moods--our energy, and suddenly our problems are solvable--no longer insurmountable. In minutes, we are sharing the good, the bad and the ugly and are able to laugh at ourselves. To me, sisterhood is about trust, unconditional love and support that empowers us to be our authentic selves which is the essence of the book. The deep bond of friendship that the characters have allows them to open up, be vulnerable and confess their secrets. And in the events that follow they need to rely on each other to survive the soul searching, death-defying adventure that occurs!
Why is adventure such a powerful catalyst for self-discovery? Have you ever experienced a soul-searching adventure like the canoe trip in “Campfire Confessions”?
It’s easy to get stuck in our daily environment where it’s safe and repetitive and we no longer grow as individuals. But an adventure? It’s a whole new world! There isn’t the same answer or reaction to revert back to, so we get to learn about ourselves. It feeds our souls, stretches our knowledge, and challenges our belief systems and abilities. It allows us to grow, change and become even better!
I’ve had a number of soul-searching adventures! I once flipped my kayak and became trapped between a fallen tree and the bottom of the river with my face smashed against rocks. When I tried to kick loose, the knee brace I was wearing caught on the seat. I thought I was going to die. It was a surreal moment but somehow the current swept me out. I also had a frightening moment on top of a mountain in Sedona, Arizona when a storm suddenly moved in and the wind was so strong that I couldn’t stand up. I had to crawl down, clinging to any tree root, branch or bush within my reach! Both of these situations caused a lot of self-reflection and lessons that I brought into my life.
What do you hope readers will take away from the book? Are there any empowering messages you’ve hidden in these pages?
First of all, I hope the reader has the wonderful experience of losing themselves in the character’s journey: the highs and lows; and to love the ending!
My goal was to embed numerous empowering messages throughout the book. One message is that we all make mistakes and have obstacles at some point in our lives--but we’re not alone! We can reach out and use the power of friendship, laughter and love to give us the inner strength to never give up. Also, as human beings, we can be very critical of ourselves, so by learning to embrace self-love, forgiveness and letting go of the past, we can empower ourselves to create the authentic and amazing lives we all deserve! In addition, we can take charge and use the abundance of free empowering tools like creative visualization, tapping, using “I am” statements, etc. to keep our bodies, mind and souls positive and healthy!
Kristine writes with striking imagery and a keen attention to detail. The symbolism with a somewhat painful look to the past is touching and meaningful. Highly recommend reading Campfire Confessions in a book club with dear friends.
Ochu captivates from the first page of this sharply written, highly engaging tale of three childhood friends and their troubled—and ultimately triumphant—adult lives.
Campfire Confessions is a book that you’ll want to read twice! The characters and story are so riveting that I missed some of the empowering tools that are cleverly interwoven throughout the adventure. The second time--have a highlighter ready to mark the breathing and energy techniques that helped her characters, so you can use them as needed in your life’s journey!
Ochu’s deft storytelling skills and expert characterization combine to create a resonant tale that would prove a surefire hit with any women’s fiction book club.
I couldn't put this book down! The characters are real, their emotions raw! I loved their friendship and longed to be on the river with them.
An immensely relatable, expertly written tale of female friendship and coping.
This book by Kristine Ochu is a powerful story that brings all sorts of emotions to the surface. Her characters are perfectly imperfect and a reminder that true friendship navigates the many obstacles and trials of life. Must read!