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Interview and Giveaway: author Kitty Pilgrim

Submitted by on July 5, 2011 – 4:00 am20 Comments

Today the Dolls are honored to welcome Kitty Pilgrim – who is making her literary debut with The Explorer’s Code – out today (July 5).

Kitty has been a broadcast journalist for 24 years as a correspondent and anchor for CNN news. She rose through the ranks from production assistant to become an anchor in 1996.

She specializes in international affairs, reporting regularly on political and security developments in Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and North Korea, as well as domestic affairs.

Pilgrim anchored her own morning show, “Early Edition” in 1998-1999 and was back-up anchor for prime time broadcast of “Lou Dobbs Tonight” 2001-2010. Pilgrim is the recipient of an Overseas Press Club Award, a Peabody Award, New York Society of Black Journalists Award, and is a full member of the historic Explorer’s Club. She is a single mother of two sons and lives in New York City and Rhinecliff, New York.

PBD: Welcome Kitty! As a veteran CNN reporter, what made you decide to make the move to writing?

KP: I used to read thrillers on the way to assignments. I would pick them up in the airports. I always knew I could write one, but as a single mom with two children and a demanding career, I never had the time. When the boys went off to college, I took a crack at it.

PBD: Have you written anything before The Explorer’s Code?

KP: This is my first full length novel. I had written quite a few short stores for my own amusement over the years. When my sons were little I would write poems for special occasions and I have an entire book of childrens’ poems from those years. (never published).

PBD: How did those years as a news correspondent help (if at all) in writing this book?

KP: As a correspondent there was a lot of “on the ground reporting”. I would go into a situation, find out the facts and spin it into a story, albeit a true story. Now I do the same thing in my fiction writing. I go somewhere, like the Ephesus, or the arctic, find out the facts and then spin it into a story – an imagined one. It is basically the same skill set with a different end product. My news career also helps with deadlines. I turned in a report every night at 5pm, no matter what. So now I find I can sit down and write without too much procrastination.

PBD: What was it that led you to choose this specific genre?

KP: I adore exciting, international intrigues. Also mysteries. I am a big fan of complicated plots, and was reading Sherlock Holmes avidly in the third grade. Agatha Christie addict in my teen years. During my news career, I read a lot of fast paced thrillers and it was really is the only thing I wanted to write. The only thing missing was romance. So I decided to do a hybrid romantic-thriller.

PBD: The Explorer’s Code takes the readers to many glamorous (and less glamorous destinations) around the globe – Was there a lot of travelling involved in researching The Explorer’s Code?

KP: I basically traveled to all the places in the book, Monaco, London, Paris, Ephesus, the English country estate, the Queen Victoria, and Svalbard. All that was done over the last few years. I travel constantly. Now I call it research. But who am I kidding, I would be traveling anyway.

PBD: Do the locations mentioned have any special meaning for you?

KP: Ephesus is magical. When you walk through the ruins, you are back in Roman times. The entire city was abandoned and buried. They are digging up the streets, and reconstructing them exactly as they were. I adore the Queen Victoria ocean liner and wrote a lot of the book on ocean liners. It is a relaxing place to write, and the view over the ocean is beyond compare.Also Paris. I went to school there when I was 16 years old. The romance of that city always stays in my heart.

PBD: Is there somewhere you have always dreamed of going?

KP: I have a very long list of places I want to go and it revolves around my moods. Sometime I want luxury, other times mystery, sometimes nature, or adventure. So I go where the heart prompts. Next on my list is the Amazon jungle in Brazil, possibly Ecuador, most likely Botswana.

PBD: Archeology, marine research, ecology, botany – where did the idea for such a versatile suspense novel come from?

KP: Part of the variety of subjects comes from my reporting days. I did a lot of reporting on scientific developments, articularly infectious diseases. I like using science as a theme in the novel. Most thrillers use some kind of plot device to propel the action. I wanted to use scientific fact to keep the plot moving. Using the natural sciences in the books also gives me an excuse to research obscure things. For example, I recently took a graduate level botany course at the NY Botanical Garden. What other excuse would I have for doing something that random, if it weren’t to write a book?

PBD: There is so much going on in The Explorer’s Code – plots, characters…as a writer do you find that you’re more of a “plotter” or a “by the seat of your pants” – “pantser” writer?

KP: The Explorer’s Code was plotted in detail before I even sat down at the computer. There is no way anyone could randomly write a complicated plot like that without thinking it through initially. Once the bones of the plot are in place, then I embellish with more color and details.

PBD: Do you believe a “Happily Ever After” is essential in a book?

KP: Not always. Life is not always like that. But I am by nature an optimist. I think that shows in the way I approach the interpersonal relationships in the plot. Good people may have flaws, but in the end they always tend to behave well. (Except the bad guys of course. )

PBD: Reading the Explorer’s Code there are one or two characters I’m dying to know more about…could it be there is a sequel, or a book focusing on some of the supporting characters?

KP: I really love my characters. Of course Cordelia and Sinclair will always be in each book. Jim Gardiner and Paul Oakley are in the next book. (Charles Bonnard is going to reappear in the third.) Who can resist that supermodel, Shari. She was fun to write. I’ll probably get her into something in the future. My most favorite secondary character in this book was Thaddeus Frost, who as a botanist has quite a future in my novels. I like his intensity.

PBD: Which leads me to: What’s next from Kitty Pilgrim?

KP: The second of the series is nearly finished. I absolutely won’t tell you anything else about it except the plotline involved ancient Egypt and mummies.

Now a few Paperback Proust questions!

What are you reading at the moment?

KP: I always read several at once. Jeanette Walls “Half Broke Horses.” The new Le Carre novel “Our Kind of Traitor” and Sommerset Maugham’s book – The Moon and Sixpence.

What characters in history do you most dislike?

KP: I couldn’t dislike someone if I never met them. That said, I don’t approve of the actions of a lot of historical figures who oppressed people. But that is obvious.

Who are your heroines in World history?

KP: That is so hard, there are so many fabulous women. Eleanor Roosevelt, Isak Dinesen, Beryl Markham, Amelia Ehrhart, Marie Curie, Elizabeth the first of England….the list is endless.

World history characters you hate the most?

KP: Too hard to say. There are lots of villains in this word. But I think Henry the Eighth was very badly behaved.

What is your motto?

KP: My motto is inscribed on a silver charm bracelet I wear. Sit Amour Dei (Latin for ‘All for the love of God’).

I have a personal motto not put limits on myself. I sign my author newsletter with the words

“Every day is an adventure”

What is your favorite journey?

KP: A transatlantic crossing on an ocean liner. It is so utterly peaceful. The High Arctic in winter. The last mile driving to my house in Rhinecliff.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

KP: Being with the people I love. A quiet dinner at home, on a summer night, with the fireflies just starting to come out. Or sitting around a fireplace in the middle of a snowstorm, drinking hot chocolate and talking.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

KP: Raising my two sons, on my own.

Thank you so much to Kitty Pilgrim for answering all our questions
For more about Kitty Pilgrim visit her Website and follow her on
- And now on to …

For your chance to win a signed copy of The Explorer’s Code
all you need to do is share your own explorer adventure!
Even been to an exotic destination? Had a bit of an adventure?
Or maybe there is just somewhere special you want to visit?
Share in the comments!
The Explorer’s Code is out today!
This contest will end July 16th. Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email
and announced in the Week In Review post Sunday July 17th.

Paperback Dolls is made up of women from different parts of the world, with different backgrounds, different tastes and beliefs that were brought together through a love of reading. We like to think of ourselves as a cyber version of "The View" that focuses on books, authors, and reading. We are proof positive that one common love can unite the most opposite of people and form lasting friendships that introduce other ways of life and perspectives to each other.
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  • The Explorer's Code sounds intriguing.

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  • Tore says:

    I would love to go to Italy and Hawaii. I think they would be very beautiful to see and explore. Please enter me in contest. Your book sounds very interesting.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Anne says:

    I went on a bargain basement Amazon cruise which included a side trip to Macchu Picchu. We drove in a rickety former school bus out to canoes, then had to go by canoe to the boat. We were expecting a small cruise ship, but it was a bucket. We did have a/c (window unit), but the bunks were like coffins and I was so close to the ceiling I had to squirm over the side to get out. The shared showers used river water and there was no separation from the toilets so you had to tuck away the paper to keep it dry (along with your clothes and towel). All the meals were the same. Breakfast was toast, fried eggs, coffee and purified water. Lunch and dinner was fish, white rice, tomato slices, coffee and purified water. Thank the gods for my jar of Skippy since I don't eat eggs or fish. We would take the canoes out for 1 hour walks with a naturalist. Using Peruvian time, we would stumble back 4 hours later, dripping sweat, dehydrated and spent. Saw lots of great stuff though. The side trip was a little more upscale with real hotels with private bathrooms and clean water.

    We had fun and laugh about it now, but both my mother and I were glad we did it when we were both 25 years younger cause it was a killer. The whole thing inc. air was about $1,000 (but it was about 25 years ago.)

    The worst part was sharing a bed that was somewhere between a twin and double with my mother (what a bed hog!!!) I used my spanish at the hotel to make sure there would be DOS CAMAS when we came back after the boat trip. There were dos camas and big smiles when they saw us again.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Denise Z says:

    I have been blessed in my life in being able to see a little bit of other places – I remember in London at Heathrow meeting a wonderful individual that will leave a lasting impression – this man was dressed in full Scottish kilt and was so incredibly kind and joyful – to me it is the people that become so memorable when traveling and are my most cherished memories. I remember walking through the markets of Alexandria and I loved it and cannot wait to return. In Cairo I went through catacombs where some people still live and run their businesses. The hospitality and kindness of so many people is overwhelming. This book sounds very interesting and the interview was great. Thank you for sharing today and for the opportunity to win a copy of this very interesting book.


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  • marybelle says:

    Egypt would top my list of destinations. I would love to actually be part of an archaeological dig. I am fascinated by the history.


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  • Na says:

    I would love to read The Explorer's Code, it sounds fascinating.

    Back when I was in around twelve, my school went on a four day-three night camping trip. It was on an island, and during our stay we went on a boating trip to an isolated island within that island. There was only us and seals. It was beautiful and exotic for me :)


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  • So this probably isn't that much of an adventure, but it is the best I have. I went on a two week road trip with my grandparents. We went from KS up to South Dakota and pretty much all the states around and in-between. I saw some pretty cool stuff, like wild horses and Mount Rushmore. It was a blast, although that is a lot of time it be in a car with grandparents!

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

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  • Vivien says:

    Mine has to be when I went to Paris. It was just beautiful. The Louvre, Notre Dame, the FOOD! I could just keep going, but I loved it.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

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  • Day says:

    Thank you so much for the interview!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Julie says:

    I've never been on a read adventure but I have promised myself that I WILL get to Ireland before I die! Talk about history! That place is crawling with it – plus I'm a little less than half Irish so I imagine I will feel a little bit like I am going home:)

    jwitt33 at live dot com

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  • Noa says:

    I probably want to go everywhere in the book plus visit a few others…Traveling the world would be my adventure!

    Thank you so much Ms. Pilgrim for visiting today and answering our questions!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Carol N Wong says:

    Well, I did have a true adventure a few years back but I am saving that for a book. If I never write the book, then it dies with me!

    Second up was a three week tour of China in 1992. When we landed in Japan, we had night lay over so we headed for the Ginza. I saw a Japanese monk for the first time, they look very different from those in Southern California. That was also the group's first introduction to eastern bathrooms. In a fancy store, we were met by a person who kept the bathroom clean and handed out towels to dry our hands one. Here I committed cultural error. I took a picture of the beautifully polished metal hole in the floor. I was warned not to take any pictures in the store but I am a little bit of a dare devil.

    We flew the next day to the Beijing airport which cannot be the same one as before. A big throng of people were holding signs of who they were to meet were just through the gates.

    We spent about four days in Beijing and I broke the rules 00again. At the time, my son was learning Chinese as part of his senior year at Whittier. He introduced me to his girl friend and they invited us to dinner with her folks. I skipped the Beijing dinnert that night and later took some heat from the tour leader. But I enjoyed my visit with her family. We went across town in a taxi and then climbed four long flights of stairs to the family's apartment. It was one bedroom. My son's girl friend and her sister shared a tiny bedroom and her parents had one part of the living room. There was an enormous TV set at the other end. We ate in the kitchen which was the same size as my walk in closet (not big). Her father had prepared a wonderful fish with wine sauce dinner.

    I have more memories of the trip but it would take too much space to write them done. One of the outstanding ones was our group in a train going from Quifu (Confucious birthplace) to Shanghai. We joined each other in the corridor of the soft sleeper train to watch the magnificant Yanftze River between the Gorges. All of the area is flooded over because it was before the construction of the dams. I never saw anything more beautiful in my life.

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  • Aik says:

    I've been on a trip to a dormant volcano called Tangkuban Perahu in Indonesia. It was really an exciting experience.

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

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  • sRy_ says:

    Scotland is the most exotic land that I've visited, with his stories of monsters and fantoms..

    The Explorer's Code sounds fascinating, so please count me in if it's international :)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Jen B. says:

    I visited Switzerland years ago. When I got to the top of the Jungfrau, I was blown away. I had never seen anything so breath taking in my life. A few years later I visited the Grand Canyon. Wow! Awe inspiring. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Reply to this comment »
  • When I was 13 I spent a month in Europe. My sister was living in Germany so we went to Hamburg, Berlin, Paris, Belgium and Luxembourg. It was the most wonderful month of my life.

    I loved Europe for the history. We were just walking down the street in Paris when we turned a corner and there was Marie Curie's house. I love how you can just be going along, not looking for anything, and find places you have only read about.

    The Explorer's Code looks great! Thank you for the chance!


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  • Anne R says:

    I would love to visit Egypt, I think I could find lots of adventure there.
    This book sounds really good. Thanks

    areeths at new(dot)rr(dot)com

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  • Suzie says:

    My husband and I had never been out of the country until we decided to take a 7 year anniversary trip to Jamaica…and I must say the traveling bug hit me hard. I have since traveled within the United States and also took my now 21 year old daughter to Paris, France as a graduation/18th birthday trip. We had a blast. I hope to take my youngest daughter back to Europe…hopefully to Italy for her graduation present next year! :)

    I love exotic places and want to see it all! ;)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Mary Preston says:

    I have never been on a real life adventure. Nothing daring do or brave at all. I’d rather explore from the pages of a book.


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  • says:

    As not a real adventurer myself, I so look forward to books about them.

    Reply to this comment »