Laurel Osterkamp writes about finding your individual voice while immersed in a group of people.

In the spring of 2012, I was put on a federal jury, and like my main character in The Holdout, I was thrilled.  I realize that to most people “jury duty” is a dirty word, but I had always wanted to be on a jury. Getting to help decide the outcome of a case was a unique experience that I didn’t want to miss out on.  Of course, my first thought as I sat in that box was “how can I use this for my writing?”


Lots of ideas ran through my mind, but I discarded them all fairly quickly.Then, after my third day of jury duty I went home and watched Survivor, which has been one of my favorite shows for years. I don’t remember much about the particular episode, except there was a contestant that all the other contestants seemed to despise, and I couldn’t understand why they didn’t like her. I felt bad for her, and I worried about her feelings once she was home and heard all the terrible things the others were saying about her to the cameras.

The next day, still thinking about Survivor, I found myself networking with my fellow jury members, trying to gain their favor by being interested in what they all had to say. It wasn’t all an act; I did actually find it interesting getting to know this random group of people. But I also thought it would be good to establish my footing early on, because once deliberations began I would want all of them to listen to me.

Then it occurred to me – what if I’m misreading the situation in the same way that poor contestant on Survivor did? What if they all hate me and I don’t realize it?

“That’s it!” I told myself. “My next book will be about someone who goes on Survivor, thinking she’ll do great but she blows it instead. Then she’ll get home, have jury duty, and she’ll make all the same mistakes again!”

Well, my original idea evolved quite a bit. I put in some romance, and there are definitely moments of triumph for Robin, my main character of The Holdout (which is both the name of the survival show she goes on and also what she becomes in the jury).

But at its core, The Holdout is a book about self-discovery, and what happens when you have to find your own, individual voice while you’re immersed in a group of people. I had so much fun writing it; it was even more fun than being on a jury, or watching Survivor!


the holdout coverRobin wanted to win The Holdout, a cut-throat 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.

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 serieswhich, like The Holdout, features the Bricker family. Laurel was recently on a federal jury, and she loves watching Survivor.


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