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Monday, January 7, 2013

Author of the Week, Chris Karlsen, Interview & #Giveaway!



I was born and raised in Chicago. My father was a history professor and my mother was, and is, a voracious reader. I grew up with a love of history and books.

My parents also love traveling, a passion they passed onto me. I wanted to see the places I read about, see the land and monuments from the time periods that fascinated me. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. 

I am a retired police detective. I spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. My desire to write came in my early teens. After I retired, I decided to pursue that dream.

I currently live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse.  

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Interview with Chris Karlsen


Holly: Hi Chris!  Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Chris Karlsen: I’m a retired police detective. I spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. My father was a history professor and my mom an avid reader. I grew up with a love of history and reading. Both my parents loved to travel and that love was also instilled in me. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to travel extensively to the places I read about and that fascinated me.

When I retired from law enforcement, I was able to pursue my secret dream of writing. I love being able to use places I love as settings.

I currently live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, four rescue dogs and one rescue horse.




Holly: Your life is an action/suspense novel; your stuck on a ship and it’s about to blow. If it was just you, you would jump overboard and get away fast, but there are a few people that were being held captive on the ship too. What do you do?

Chris Karlsen: Well, after all those years as a cop, I hope I’d always find the courage to do what I can to help. I have to try and figure the fastest way to get to them and save as many as possible in spite of the risk. 

Holly: When did you realize that you would like to write and publish a book?

Chris Karlsen: In my early teens, I knew I’d love to write. But by the time I went to college, I was too afraid to pursue writing. I worried I couldn’t make a living at it and got a business degree instead. 

Holly: Can you tell us a little bit about your book Golden Chariot?

Chris Karlsen: Charlotte Dashiell is a nautical archaeologist with a controversial theory she is desperate to prove regarding the Trojan War. Several sinister events occur which make the Turkish government (the shipwreck recovery project she’s working on is off the coast of Turkey) suspicious of her. Atakan Vadim is the agent sent to investigate her and in the process discovers an artifact smuggling ring involved in the events. The murderous ring eventually presents a serious threat against Charlotte’s life. 

Holly: Which came first for you, the characters or the plot?

Chris Karlsen: The plot first, Charlotte and Atakan quickly followed though.

Holly: You’re out demon hunting (because you’re that kind of awesome) and you come across one about to kill a young couple. He has not seen you yet; what is your first course of action?

Chris Karlsen: I assume since I’m hunting I have a weapon. If he’s in range, then eliminate the threat before he kills one of the couple. If I’m out of range, then
distract him from the couple, have him pursue me. With my head start, I’ll take cover as quick as possible and lie in wait for him until he’s within range of my weapon.

Holly: Where can we purchase Golden Chariot?

Chris Karlsen: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, and from my publisher: booktogonow.com.

Holly: Can we expect more novels from you in 2012/2013?

Chris Karlsen: I’ve finished the sequel to Golden Chariot. It’s titled Byzantine Gold. Both those books are romantic thrillers and part of my Dangerous Waters series. 

Holly: Are you working on anything at the moment?

Chris Karlsen: Yes, book 3 in my Knights in Time series. This book is titled, Knight Blindness. It’s a time-travel and I bring back many of the characters from my first two in the series, Heroes Live Forever and Journey in Time.

Holly: Are you reading anything interesting at the moment? If so, what is it?

Chris Karlsen: I am usually reading something for research. My reading for pleasure books at the moment are, Death of Kings, by Bernard Cornwell and part of his Saxon Tales series. The second book I’m reading is Harbor Nocturne by Joseph Wambaugh and part of his Hollywood Station series.

Holly: Can you tell us a little about your first publishing experience?

Chris Karlsen: The publishing part was easy. I am with a small, indie publisher who allowed me to help choosing the cover and the trailer. My publisher always answered my questions and told me step by step where the book was in the process. The difficult part for me was getting reviews from various romance sites. A friend is a reviewer for a big site and she tells me they are swamped with requests. As a new author at the time, getting “noticed” was hard work. Since then, I’ve gotten a bit more savvy about promotion and how to narrow my search for review requests.

Holly: How much of you or people you know do you think make it into the characters in your novel(s)?

Chris Karlsen: There’s a lot of me in the characters including the antagonists, I have to admit. I wrote them so they must be lurking within my psyche somewhere.  Whenever I have placed a character in a desperate or dangerous situation, I go deep within myself and ask, “what would I do here?”

Holly: What was your inspiration for this novel, or the series in general?

Chris Karlsen: Visiting the ruins of Troy gave me the idea for the story. The first time I went there, I stood on the wall and stared out at the Dardanelle Strait and tried to imagine how it looked filled with sails of enemy ships. I was thinking of the Trojan War as it was portrayed in Homer’s Iliad.
The second time I went a tour guide speaking to his group pointed to a nearby knoll and told his people that they called it “Hector’s grave mound.” That gave me the controversial theory for my protagonist, Charlotte.

Holly: Do you think you will have a follow up book to this novel or is it just a stand-alone novel?

Chris Karlsen: Yes, Byzantine Gold. Charlotte and Atakan, the heroine and hero from Golden Chariot are the main characters again. I’ve also brought back several other popular support characters. It involves a shipwreck off the coast of Northern Cyprus. Atakan’s life comes under serious threat in this book. 

Holly: Why this genre(s)?

Chris Karlsen: I read across the board genres—romance, thrillers, suspense. I enjoy writing the historical romances but had this story in my head and wanted to give thriller writing a whirl. It was fun to give a large roll to the villain(s) and flesh them out, which you can’t do too much of in a romance.

Holly: What is the hardest part of writing in your opinion?

Chris Karlsen: Working through the times that you know where the story should go but the words escape you. There are days getting a paragraph right seems impossible.

Holly: Where do you see yourself at in five years—writing wise?

Chris Karlsen: Still writing I hope, still seeing stories in my head that compel me to put them on paper.

Holly: What is the easiest part of writing in your opinion?

Chris Karlsen: I don’t think there’s anything truly easy in the writing itself.

Holly: Can you tell us a few do’s and don’ts for aspiring authors?

Chris Karlsen: Do learn the craft. Go to workshops and if you can afford it, writer’s conferences. The conferences all offer different panels and classes usually given by well known authors. If you can’t afford workshops or conferences, then invest in books that offer suggestions for writers. My two favorite books, ones I read and look through on a regular basis are: Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction. Both are written by Don Maass, a New York literary agent. He travels the country giving seminars on writing. His books and seminars are excellent. Another very good book, one that I own is: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Deb Dixon.

A question I’m asked a lot about by new writers pertains to confusion about POV. Don’t head hop with multiple POV switches in a scene. Anytime you go into a character’s head for thoughts and emotions, you’re going into their POV. A second POV isn’t needed in most scenes. Stay with the character with the most to gain or lose in the scene.

Also, avoid weak words that don’t add anything to dialogue or to the action and in fact, dilute the action or emotion. Words like: very, just, so, seemed.

Do join a critique group with other writers. Fresh eyes need to see your work, people other than your family or friends.

Holly: If you could live in one of your books or series’ which would you choose and why?

Chris Karlsen: I’d choose Golden Chariot/Dangerous Waters series. I love history and think being a nautical archaeologist would be so fascinating and fun. I also love that part of the world (the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas).
That said, I’d also love to part of my Knights in Time series that’s set in England and the characters in that series have interesting lives (IMO).

Holly: What is your favorite part of writing?

Chris Karlsen: The moment when a powerful scene you’ve been working on and working on suddenly comes together, you feel it in your whole body when it’s right.

Holly: What is your take on editing your work (pre-edits I suppose before it gets passed to an editor)—do you hate it? Is it a strong point for you?

Chris Karlsen: It is important. I don’t hate it but am sometimes frustrated by the process when I struggle to find the right phrasing and/or flow. I go through multiple drafts and edits. I think an author needs to accept the fact this is a necessary part of giving the reader the best story you can.

Holly: Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?

Chris Karlsen: Don’t be afraid to dream. Even if you don’t fulfill your dream, enjoy the journey, and don’t be afraid to take a chance. Like my granny always said, “Take a chance, Columbus did.”

Holly: Have you ever read a book that made you so mad, sad, happy, and excited and so many other emotions that even though you loved it your might not ever read it again? If so, what book?

Chris Karlsen: If a book makes me mad, I usually don’t finish and will not buy another from that author. I don’t read many sad books. If it’s a story with an animal that is going to die, I can’t bear to read those. Many of the books I’ve loved I keep and reread. I’d be hard pressed to think of one that I wouldn’t read again.

Random Quickies!


Holly: Favorite color?

Chris Karlsen: Candy Apple red

Holly: Favorite book?

Chris Karlsen: The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

Holly: Favorite genre to read?

Chris Karlsen: Romance

Holly: Favorite movie?

Chris Karlsen: Phantom of the Opera with Gerard Butler

Holly: Favorite book to movie?

Chris Karlsen: Timeline by Michael Crichton

Holly: Cats or dogs?

Chris Karlsen: Dogs (got 4 rescues)

Holly: Night or day?

Chris Karlsen: Night

Holly: TV Shows or Movies?

Chris Karlsen: TV:The Big Bang Theory, Castle, NCIS, Bones, Two and Half Men, Mike and Molly, Spartagus (the Starz channel series), Master Chef, Top Chef,

Movies: Casablanca, Timeline, Phantom of the Opera, King Arthur with Clive Owen, Jurassic Park, Zulu, Godfather 1 &2, Ronin, Tootsie.

Holly: Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate?

Chris Karlsen: Dark




Books by Chris Karlsen



Knights in Time Series


#1: Heroes Live Forever (Paranormal romance stand alone novel)
#2: Journey in Time (Time travel romance sequel to Heroes Live Forever, and is a stand alone novel)

Dangerous Waters Series


#1: Golden Chariot (romantic thriller set in Turkey and is a stand alone novel)
#2: Byzantine Gold 



Leave a comment below for a chance to win a eBook copy of Golden Chariot or a print or eBook set of Heroes Live Forever and Journey in Time!

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