Carolyn V. Hamilton’s Dare To Survive Honored as a Finalist in International Book Awards Contest

DARE TO SURVIVE, Based on a true story of a woman conned and imprisoned in South America for drug trafficking recognized for its outstanding writing, design and overall market appeal out of thousands of books submitted into the Book Excellence Awards.

Carolyn V. Hamilton is a multiple award-winning author, artist, workshop leader & success coach for memoir writers.

As the author of over 20 books, Carolyn’s writing spans multiple genres including thriller, true crime, writing, editing, art, and more. For her literary prowess, she has been recognized with numerous international literary awards including two Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and a Book Excellence Award.

A multi-faceted talent, Carolyn spent 30+ years in the real world of “Mad Men” as a graphic designer, copywriter and marketing executive. A graduate of Antioch University in Seattle, Carolyn has won numerous creative awards including the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Community Achievement Award in Communications, and has been listed in Who’s Who in Southern Nevada.An avid traveler, Carolyn has visited over 60 countries and is proud to have served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Suriname, South America.  

With a passion to help aspiring memoir writers live with a purpose and leave a legacy, Carolyn currently offers a private coaching program, Memoir to Legacy!, and manages the popular Facebook group, Aspiring Memoir Writers, with over 4,000 active members.

Today, Carolyn makes her home in the Andean World Heritage City of Cuenca, Ecuador. Besides writing and mentoring, she loves Border Collies, chocolate-covered raisins, art journaling and painting in watercolor.

This one-on-one interview shares Carolyn’s background and experience writing DARE TO SURVIVE.

Tell us about DARE TO SURVIVE.

Two friends. One amazing vacation. A deadly betrayal.

San Francisco businesswoman Cathryn Prentis’ dream of visiting Peru’s Machu Picchu turns into a living nightmare on October 21, 2003 when she is arrested in the Lima airport and charged with transporting cocaine. Advised by DEA agents, Peruvian lawyers, family and friends to plead guilty and do anything she can—legally or illegally—to escape Peru, Cathryn must choose: plead guilty or maintain her innocence and risk a deadly prison sentence. Can she overcome a foreign culture she can’t trust, a language she doesn’t speak, corrupt political systems, and politicians with their own agendas?

Based on an unbelievable true story, DARE TO SURVIVE shares how Cathryn struggles to get legally exonerated, learn Spanish, create an import business, fall in love, and set two foreign legal precedents: the first American to be released from a foreign prison on her own recognizance and the first American allowed to return to the U.S. before her trial.

It’s a riveting story of an innocent woman caught in a dangerous set of circumstances.

What inspired you to write DARE TO SURVIVE?

DARE TO SURVIVE was a chilling book for me to write.

It began as one woman’s memoir, but was changed to a fictionalized account at the last minute because Cathryn (not her real name) chose to remain anonymous out of fear of a revengeful attack. Today, “Cathryn Prentis” continues to live off the grid, with no utilities or ownership in her name, and no internet presence.

With that in mind, I am very grateful that Cathryn allowed me to share her story.

As an avid traveler who has visited Peru and Machu Picchu, I wanted to help Cathryn bring her story to light. I felt she deserved to be heard, and for her experience to be shared.

Through her story, readers will gain insight into the legal process overseas, be inspired by her determination to defy the path of least resistance, and bear witness to her abominable spirit in being able to handle misfortune and unfairness with persistence and tenacity.

How did you feel when you found out you received a Book Excellence Award?

Receiving a Book Excellence Award for DARE TO SURVIVE has been deeply satisfying. It is validation that Cathryn’s story of survival in a Peruvian prison can be a tremendous learning experience for any traveler. In addition, to be recognized and acknowledged as a writer is a wonderful honor.

How did your background and experience influence your writing?

My professional experience in marketing and public relations, decades of living in Las Vegas, and two years in the Peace Corps exposed me to fascinating—mysterious—stories. I didn’t begin to seriously write fiction until I was almost sixty years old. It felt like there were compelling stories everywhere! And I’ve always loved a good mystery.In my life, I have to acknowledge four people who greatly influenced my writing: High school Creative Writing instructor Virginia Dearborn, award-winning advertising copywriter Paul Keye, Buddhist Monk Lobsang Samten, and comedian Cork Proctor. 

What is one message you would like readers to remember?

Stories of great adversity and courage have always been with us. Yet there is always something new to be discovered. My hope is that through Cathryn’s story, readers are reminded of the many things we take for granted, namely friendship, trust and freedom.

Purchasing the Book

DARE TO SURVIVE has received positive reviews from well-known literary organizations, authors, and reviewers around the world. The International Review of Books writes, “Realistic and riveting… I was hooked from the first page.” In addition, Midwest Book Review writes, “A compelling tale that is hard to put down and unpredictably satisfying.”

The book is available for sale on Amazon. Readers are encouraged to purchase their copy today:

To connect with Carolyn, learn more about her memoir writing, and receive updates on new book releases, visit: You can also join her active Facebook group, Aspiring Memoir Writers, and find her personally on social media through Facebook and Twitter.

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