It’s about a middle-aged woman named Kristen who is sentenced to seventeen years in prison for committing white collar crime. Her immediate family abandons her and she is left alone. Her only contact is with her sister-in-law Olivia, who writes to her through the years. Kristen spends her time adjusting to the shock of prison life, developing friendships and enemies of other inmates, and ultimately coming to terms with who she is a person.
It brings the TV show Orange is the New Black to mind. The tone here is very different, right?
There are similarities since both are based in a women’s prison, but On The Inside goes deeper into the emotional world of the characters than Orange is the New Black. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve watched the Netflix episodes. I found them entertaining, but more light-hearted and funny than my story. That said, I’m looking forward to season two.
We want to ask about Kristen, but first we must ask about the family she leaves behind. How does her incarceration affect them?
She leaves behind a husband of twenty years and two sons. They suffer emotionally and financially, lose everything and have to start over. The husband is filled with anger because he didn’t know his wife was stealing. He has the hardest time of them all. The two sons handle the situation by simultaneously ignoring their mother’s letters and worrying about her safety because they love her.
Tell us about Kristen – what kind of person is she and how does prison change her?
Kristen is an incredibly strong, but damaged person. She is the child of emotionally distant parents, and an alcoholic mother. As an adult she follows in her mother’s footsteps, and does reckless things which lead to her demise. In prison she discovers the real her that’s always been hiding inside.
In our pre-interview chat you mentioned that Kristen is based on a real person. We find that amazing.
Yes. Kristen is based on my real life sister-in-law. She has been in prison for four and a half years of the seventeen for committing white collar crime. I write her twice per month to keep her abreast of what’s going on in the outside world. She’s got at least another decade left. She has to serve at least 85% of her sentence.
Wow. Give her our very best: it must be a struggle to stay positive.
But back to On The Inside, who are the characters Kristen meets in prison?
There’s Lakeisha, the mail scanner; Megan, the prison psychologist; and Warden Laura. Inmates include Lupe, a flashy drug dealer, Debbie, an older woman that killed her spouse in self-defence. Jess, her antagonist. The lifer Abigail, and, Tanya, a psychotic woman that cooked her own baby and fed it to her unknowing spouse.
Ewww. How does Kristen survive living amongst such a motley crew?
Through the years her relationships with all of them affect her life and she changes because of it.
It’ll be interesting to read how.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m the author of two women’s fiction novels, A Widow Redefined, which tells the story of a young women’s journey through grief, and On The Inside, a novel about a middle-aged woman sentenced to prison for white collar crime. I’m also an animal activist and have written a short story collection called For Animal Lovers. They’re for middle grade kids but adults love them too. 10% of the sale price of that book is donated to the ASPCA to help homeless pets.
Do you have a website?
Yep. Find me at www.kimcano.com
What about social media?
On Twitter: @KimCano2
Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kim-Cano/401511463198088
What’s next for you?
I began writing another women’s fiction novel, but then set it aside because a romance idea came to me. Since I don’t want to confuse my readers I’m writing that one under a pen name. Afterward I will go back and finish the women’s fiction novel. They say variety’s the spice of life!