Thursday, April 18, 2013

Guest Blogging with Romance Author Chris Karlsen

Today, I want to welcome Chris Karlsen to my blog.

So, Chris, time to get your shine on. Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Chicago. My father was a history professor and my mom was, and is, an avid reader. I get my love or history and books from them. My love of travel also came from them. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many parts of the world, including Europe, North Africa, the Caribbean, Australia, and the Near East.

I am a retired police detective. I spent 25 years in law enforcement. I currently live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, 5 rescue dogs (I am a huge animal lover), and one rescue horse.

Do you really write every day?
I definitely try to. I am not a morning person so I run my errands and schedule appointments for early in the day. I sit down to write a little after lunch and stop around 4 or 5. I usually work 6 days a week at least. Like anything else, some days I can crank out several pages and some days I’m lucky to get a few decent lines on the page.

What about writer’s block?
In almost every book, I’ve hit a spot that I just couldn’t seem to get the scene right or achieve what I wanted for the characters. It took a couple of years before I learned to stop thinking I have writer’s block, when I hit those difficult scenes. For me, if I dwell on that thought, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can let myself fuss over a problem scene for a couple of days then I force myself to just write the scene, write something, put words on the page. I can edit and delete later. I do what I have to do to move on.

How much does reader reaction mean to you as an author?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to all my author friends. Each book is a writer’s baby. We put our hearts and souls into the stories. We release them hoping readers will love them. I know I am thrilled when a reader puts in a review or an email to me that they’d love to see one of my books as a movie or television show. I enjoy hearing which character they connected with and why.

Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
For me, it depends on the book. With Heroes Live Forever, it was the story. I had the idea in my head for many years. When I retired, I finally had the chance to sit and write it.
With Journey in Time, it was the characters. They were the friends of the hero and heroine from Heroes Live Forever. It was just a matter of thinking up what terrible thing(s) I wanted them to suffer throughJ
In Golden Chariot, it was the setting. I’ve been to Turkey a number of times and always knew I wanted to set at least one book there. Visiting the ruins of Troy, in Turkey, gave me the characters. I knew my hero and heroine would be archaeologists and she’d be American and he’d be Turkish. Once I had their profession and the ancient setting for them to work, the plot idea came.
For Byzantine Gold, the characters from Golden Chariot return so I had them first. Next came the plot as I knew I wanted to have one of the villains from Golden Chariot back also. I already had a terrorist threat woven into the story. An idea I got from reading Turkish papers on one of my trips. The setting was last. I needed a locale where Atakan, my hero, still has jurisdiction as he’s a trained archaeologist but he works for the Turkish government. Since Golden Chariot was set in Turkey, I decided to use TRNC (the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) for Byzantine Gold.

Do you have a favorite character?
That’s the Sophie’s Choice of questions for an author, I think. As much as I love most of my characters, I’d have to choose Charlotte, my heroine in Golden Chariot and Byzantine Gold. I love history and if I could go back to my college days, I’d go after a degree in archaeology. Since I can’t go back, (nor would I really want to anymore), I can live the profession through Charlotte. She works in a part of the world I like and has many interesting friends and associates.

Do you have any unfinished projects sitting around?
I do. A number of years ago I started a Victorian/Gothic horror story but I wanted a romantic element in it. At the same time, I was researching Golden Chariot. I very much wanted to write Golden Chariot so I set the horror story aside. I hope someday to return to it. In the meantime, I have a few irons in the fire I’ll work on first.

What is the big project you’re working on now?
I just finished the draft of Knight Blindness, book 3 in my Knights in Time series. That is a paranormal romance series. Golden Chariot and Byzantine Gold are from my Dangerous Waters series and they are romantic thrillers.
In another week, I will start the new edits and rewrites of Knight Blindness. After I am done with that, I’ll start the outline of book 4 in the series.

You are told you have to meet one paranormal creature, no safeguards, what do you choose? What do you bring with you?
I’d want to meet a ghost. I’d like to sit and talk. I want to know how they came to be a ghost. What kind of life did they have and where are they from? How long have they been dead? Are they happy or unhappy? What sort of powers, if any, do they possess? Are there more ghosts? Are any famous? I have a ton of questions I’d like them to answer.
I wouldn’t bring anything other than a pen and paper to write down what they said. There’s no reason for a ghost to want to hurt me so I doubt I’d consider any sort of weapon. Besides, I wouldn’t know what kind of weapon would stop a ghost. I’d just take my chances.

You have to ask a fictional character out on a date. Who would you ask and what would you do together?
Easy one, I’d ask out Virgil Flowers. He’s a John Sandford character and the protagonist in six books. He wears his hair too long for a cop, kind of looks like a surfer to the people he meets. He’s a sergeant who works for the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) in Minnesota. Virgil’s been married three times, has a great sense of humor, is a chick magnet, and spends his off time writing for outdoors magazines.
When he goes to country and western bars with friends, he likes to dance with the ladies. I’ve never been to a country and western bar and in real life I am a terrible dancer. As this is my fantasy date, I’m going to pretend I dance well. I’d like us to go to a nice place for dinner, not too fancy, but just enough that I could wear a little black dress for him. Afterward, if he knew of a place, I’d like to go dancing. Once we stopped dancing for the night...well...J

How did you choose the genre you write in?
I like to write what I read a lot of, and that’s historical and paranormal romance, thrillers, and historical fiction. My one series is a paranormal romance and the other is a romantic thriller series.
My favorite authors are: Romance-Julia Quinn, Julie Anne Long, Deanna Raybourn, Lynn Kurland. Thrillers-John Sandford, Mike Connelly, Stephen Coonts and Joe Wambaugh (I wouldn’t really term Wambaugh a thriller writer but close enough and he’s a fave of mine), Historical Fiction-Bernard Cornwell, and Steven Pressfield.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Study the craft. Take classes if you can. Attend workshops at writer’s conferences. If that is not practical, then buy books on writing from the experts. I’d suggest Don Maass’s books: Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction. Maass tours the country giving week long writing seminars and some shorter ones. Another good book to read is: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. There are quite a few good sources and easily found online.
Join a critique group. Fresh eyes need to see your work and it needs to be seen by people who will be honest with their comments. Friends and family love you and won’t always tell you the truth if they think you’ll get hurt feelings.
Read. Read. Read. When you find a scene in a book that resonates with you, dissect it. Try to see what about the scene and how the author developed it that worked so well. Especially read in the genre you want to write in. It’s important to see and understand how those types of stories are crafted and the characters developed.

Tell us the name of your book(s)
From my Knights in Time series:
Heroes Live Forever (book 1)
Journey in Time (book 2)
*I am currently doing the edits for Knight Blindness, which will be book 3 and out later this year.

From my Dangerous Waters series:
Golden Chariot (book 1)
Byzantine Gold (book 2)

Tell us where we can find you on the internet
Thank you so much for joining me here today, Chris.