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Creatively Percolating: 

(Author Interview & Excerpt below!)


Be one of the first to receive a personalized copy of Cristina's first ever 2-book combo of the original award-winning novel LIVING IN SECRET and its long-awaited sequel: ESOTERICA, with well-wishes from the author!





Amelia once ran from a father who had custody to begin a new life and identity in San Francisco, LIVING IN SECRET with her mother...but was eventually found and brought back to her father's home, which soon became abusive.


Almost 14 now, it is time to take matters into her own hands. A dad having sex with his own kid is a crime, isn't it? Aren't criminals supposed to be in jail? In the thought-provoking sequel ESOTERICA, Amelia is determined to make a legal place for herself with her chosen family in California. Maybe it's time for a lot of things about America to change!


Join Amelia's family and friends as they finish their harrowing, contemporary journey to claim the true values of home, love, healthy family and country...featuring the original characters from one of Tower.com's bestsellers on Family, Marriage & Divorce in the original novel's publication year, for which -- over 2 decades later -- the author still receives this kind of mail: "I haven't been this engrossed in a book in a really long time. I can't get over how good it is, but I am also so distressed by not knowing what happens (next)!" Rebecca A.


(Both LIVING IN SECRET and ESOTERICA are also already available separately in various e- & trade paperback print formats!)



The original novel:





Living In Secret Deluxe Edition:




The sequel:






  • "courageous and thought-provoking," 

  • Publisher's Weekly


  • "A favorite...'Read another chapter!' came to be the refrain as our read-aloud time began to cut into recess and free time," 

  • Rethinking Schools


  • "Written almost twenty years ago, the topic and sentiment remain relevant today," 

  • Rainbow Family Collections


  • "Once I started, I couldn't stop" "read it 3 times...loved it every time!" 

    online reviewers




What's in store as the adventure continues? 

Find out...in what's turning out to be a trilogy!

Here's what author Cristina Salat has to say...



A Conversation with the Author:

June 2016




How did you come to write a sequel to LIVING IN SECRET?


Truthfully, I've always known what the next steps on Amelia's journey were...plus I really like these characters, and wanted to spend more time with them.

It just took awhile for the rest of society to catch up enough for me to be able to do the next parts of the story justice!



Does ESOTERICA, or the novel that preceded it, come from your own life experience?


Yes and no.

None of what any characters in any of my novels live are specifically experiences from my own life, however they are all real life things many people experience...and circumstances I care deeply about.



Characters from a different novel, THE SKIN OF WATER: Defending The Dreamcatchers, also appear in ESOTERICA. Was this intentional?


Actually, I had no idea Pipsqueak and later Missy from THE SKIN OF WATER were going to play a pivotal part in ESOTERICA...until all of a sudden they appeared.

That is how the kind of writing I most enjoy goes for me though...

I'll know the subject matter and main plot points when I sit down to begin birthing a novel, but then (unless I am under deadline) I just let the story take us where it wants and needs to go.

Which means, just like for readers, there can be surprises for me too along the way!



How do readers respond to your somewhat unconventional work?


I'm delighted that reviews and mail I've received over the years are generally characterized by comments like: "(this book) became my favourite book for about 2 years and I read it 3 times after that - I loved it every time. It's such a truthful and organic story and it's what first introduced me to the brutality and reality of the world - gay and everythang! *warning - very emotional ending* but I think it's something everyone should read at least once in their life perhaps best in the teenage years but great either way."

I used to often feel ahead of the curve, with things like civil rights for all, and the fact that no parent or family member should ever be raping their young relatives — which seemed blatantly obvious to me! — still considered cutting edge or controversial by society at large.

It was mighty frustrating sometimes, when agents and publishers wanted me to tone down the parts of my work that felt viscerally important to the stories I was trying to tell!

But these days — as each new generation arrives on Planet Earth and sets a new tone regarding what's important to them — it seems as if more and more people, especially young people, are interested in things like tolerance and change and creating a more peaceful, fair sense of community, locally and worldwide, for everyone.

I guess I was just a millennial ahead of my time...! ;)



ESOTERICA ends with a new set of adventures Amelia could choose between. Will there be a sequel to this sequel?!



Believe it or not, when I began writing the "end" to this character's first (LIVING IN SECRET) story, after having gotten requests to know "what happened?!" for years, I was thinking in terms of perhaps just offering an epilogue to the original story.

After all, by 2015 gay people were legally able to marry, which meant that aspect of custody battles was no longer as fraught with drama as it had once been...so perhaps I would just give the characters the happy ending they all so richly deserved?

On the other hand, right from the first draft of Amelia's initial tale, I was aware of other paths the realities of parental kidnapping and custody issues go down...so I knew a whole second book about all that was possible.

And when I sat down to write, that is what poured out.

Not an epilogue.

A full second book.

A sequel.

And in the midst of writing that, the inklings of yet a third novel — i.e. what happens after where ESOTERICA leaves off?! — started coming through.

So yes, the sequel to the sequel — tentatively entitled PARADISE FOUND — is on its way from my pen now...!

(And readers who enjoyed seeing what became of characters from the San Francisco-New Mexico novel THE SKIN OF WATER: Defending The Dreamcatchers will be happy to hear some special individuals from that novel apparently are meant to show up in this newest novel as well!)


So stay tuned! :)



Excerpt from LIVING IN SECRET sequel, ESOTERICA:




I had the camera the whole time, from start to finish that last time, and I took it with me when I left.



The great thing about being plugged into the way things are is: you have money.


Because I lived with my dad who had a regular job and gave me allowance, and grandparents who sent holiday gift cards with checks, and an ex-step-mom who paid me to babysit my half sister when she was at night school, I had money.


Enough to pay a 17-year-old to drive me to California with his learner's permit and his dad's car. Enough to treat us to fast food burgers, Symphony milk chocolate bars with toffee chips, economy-sized bags of cheese puffs, and a 24-pack of Dr. Pepper along the way. Enough for gas and oil as we drove straight through from the east coast to west.


In other words, I ran away in style.


Except that I wasn't really running away.


Or maybe, it'd be more accurate to say, I wasn't only running away. I was really running to. Running to the last place I'd been happy in a healthy way. Back to San Francisco, where my mom lived with her girlfriend in a funky old Victorian I used to call the Sunshine House, back when I was a kid.


That's where I had Anthony, Jessica's brother, drop me off.


Escaping in the middle of the night, and winding up in sunny, foggy California in front of a crooked yellow house was as familiar as a reoccurring dream.


My mom and Janey weren't home when I jammed the door buzzer with my thumb, and Anthony couldn't wait. He was supposed to be camping with friends on Long Island, not 3000 miles away, and had to get his dad's car back before anyone realized different...which meant turning around and getting home in as few days as possible. Lucky for us, his father's old beater had a broken mileage counter.


The day he told me and Jessica how he sometimes drove into the city when their parents thought he was just hanging with friends a few miles away was the day my Great Escape Plan was born.


We left in November, as soon as I took care of some things.


That meant leaving before my half sister's first birthday, and my own, but I had to.


In between New York and California it snows. We had to get me here and make sure Anthony made it back before fall turned into winter.


I kept one can of Dr. Pepper to sit on the front stoop with when we landed; everything else, including the NoDoze I'd bought for both of us for the drive, Anthony took back with him...along with $500 of my cash stash, which he'd get to keep...as long as he didn't wind up getting stopped and handed a ticket for driving without someone over 21 in the car.


It was less than a plane ticket would have cost. I'd checked.


Not that I could have flown anyway, unless I'd managed to get hold of my father's credit card.


But do they even let kids on planes without having a parent around to give permission?


Probably not.


And anything that tied the Great Escape to my father would have let him know where to find me, which was exactly not the point.


As it was, Mom, Janey and I would probably have to move soon, because even though I didn't think my father would look for me here right away, eventually, when I didn't turn up at any of my friend's houses, California would occur to him since that is where he found me last time.


The cold cement steps in front of the Sunshine House bit into my legs through my favorite overalls as I sat down to wait, but I wasn't sad to see Anthony drive away. We had hardly stopped on the way...and he didn't actually try anything, but I'd kept myself pressed to the passenger side door with bags of food between us the whole time, thinking he might.


Because he's 17. And a boy. And I don't really know him.

And because I seem to have that effect on guys.

Maybe it's the boobs.


Most of my friends hardly have them, so nobody notices them.

Me, just walking down the street, guys stare. Young guys. Old guys.

One reason I like big baggy T-shirts and old-fashioned farmer's overalls these days.


And it might be more than the boobs...


It's like in the last year, something about me started smelling different, and every dog within ten miles began sniffing the air.


But the most annoying thing Jessica's brother did was rap "going back to Cali, going back to Cali, going back to Cali, I really think so..." for like a million miles.


I knew what he meant, but every time he busted into the refrain, it made me think of my little half-sister Callie, who I was leaving behind.


Other then that, Anthony was a perfect gentleman. He had only one request: that we stop at Serpent Mound in Southwest Ohio along the way.


I'd never heard of it, but apparently there are pyramids and unusual mounds in different shapes all over America made by prehistoric people even before places like Stonehenge in Europe were built. Maybe they are burial mounds. Maybe ancient people made them for astrological reasons or sacred ritual. Nobody really knows.


Serpent Mound in Adams County was on State Route 73, a few hours drive from Cincinnati, and surrounded by gentle hills and farmland.


We got out of the car, walked over some green grass and found what turned out to be a lonnnnnng mound, its back curved against the contours of the land, its snake-like head heading for a cliff above a stream.


It was hard to see the whole thing standing next to it even though Anthony and I walked the whole length, but there were postcards and greeting cards where you could see images from above that somebody took from a plane or helicopter.


The mound had seven serpent coils winding back and forth for like eight hundred feet, ending in a triple-coiled tail on one end, with a big open mouth on the other end that looked like it was about to devour something round.


Some people thought the round thing was supposed to be an egg. Other people thought the serpent was swallowing a sun or moon, like an eclipse. There were lots of theories.


What I noticed was, standing next to Serpent Mound, walking along it on that bright Fall day and reaching down to touch the grass that grew on it, petting its roundness...somehow just made me feel better about the world and my place in it.


It was as if everybody milling around was in the presence of something that had been here long before all these people and their theories...and something that would still be here long after everybody was done checking it out. Like maybe it — and everything else in the world — had some kind of purpose on a scale us little humans scuttling around like ants on the ground couldn't comprehend.


Even looking at the postcards made me feel peaceful.


So I bought a few to show Mom and Janey, and some greeting cards too.


According to the back of one, radiocarbon experts had just revised the date they thought Serpent Mound had been constructed; now they were thinking maybe 321 BCE, one year after Aristotle died in Greece.


When we finally reached San Francisco, I kissed my friend Jessica's brother on his cheek and waved as he drove away, glad to be alone with a warm can of soda in my hand and my tan leather bag by my feet. In it was everything I cared about, and everything I needed. Then I turned to the house that'd been living in my mind for like a year and a half.


It looked almost exactly the same: a big crooked gingerbread house, yellow with faded mauve, red, beige trim, and bright pink bushes — larger than I remembered — next to the front door's metal security gate...which looked smaller and less sturdy than the one that had been living in my mind.


"Psst, Sammy..." I leaned towards the door, calling my cat.


I pictured his ear with its black spot quirking in whatever room he was hanging out in...could almost see him stretching his orange body — probably longer and leaner now that he was no longer a kitten — and practically felt him bounding towards me as I listened for his meow on the other side of the door.


I had fuzzy mouse ball toys with me in my bag which had come all the way from New York for him.


Anthony had sworn he would not tell even his sister where I'd gone, so I was pretty sure things would be okay now.


At least until Mom and I figured out what to do next.


It never occurred to me that my mother might not live here anymore.





Prepayment for personalized copy of LIS/Esoterica COMBO Edition from the author can be purchased from this page at Cristina's e-store...or via support here:



Please make sure to include full mailing address for your Living In Secret/Esoterica care package!


Shipping & Handling in the U.S. is included. :) 


Thanks so much for your interest & support!


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