Today, I am speaking to a wonderful author, Chris Karlsen, who is here to tell us a bit about herself as well as her latest book, ‘Golden Chariot’. Please, Chris, enjoy our fresh baked goodies and slip your feet into our fuzzy slippers while we begin our interview. There is also a selection of teas or flavored coffees.
Good morning, Chris, and thank you for sharing this time with us today. The readers would love to know how the day begins for Chris.
I need coffee. I have at least two cups while I go through emails. If I am a guest on a blog or my book has been reviewed, I make certain to stop and thank the host and/or reviewer. After I jump in the shower, go about my errands and sit down to write by midday, generally.
I believe, Golden Chariot, is a romantic thriller. The audience is eager to hear about this story. Would you enlighten the readers about this thrilling story?
The heroine, Charlotte Dashiell, is an American nautical archaeologist who is working on her doctorate. She is trying to prove a very controversial theory she has about the Trojan War.
She’s been accepted to be part of the recovery team working a shipwreck sunk at the time of the war and off the coast of Turkey (where Troy is located).
She falls under suspicion when a Turkish government agent assigned to the recovery team is murdered and she is present at the time of the crime. This combined with her loose connection to a private collector of black market relics, triggers an investigation. Atakan Vadim is the agent sent to discover the truth, while he partners with her on the team.
When a smuggling operation is uncovered and it is learned that Charlotte’s life is at stake, Atakan must protect both Charlotte and the site, while trying to trap the smugglers. Charlotte has to put her trust in him or leave the project, which would result in failing to prove her theory.
Where did you get the idea to compose, Golden Chariot?
I love Turkey and history. The first time I visited I knew I’d set a story there. When I went to visit the ruins of the Kingdom of Troy, I found myself standing on the ancient walls and staring out at the Dardanelle Strait. I tried to envision how it must’ve looked to a citizen of Troy to see nothing but the sails of enemy ships as far as the eye could see. I knew then I wanted to build a story around Homer’s great accounting of the war in the Iliad. The idea for the strange theory just sort of popped into my head and I gave that theory to Charlotte.
Was it hard developing the characters to be the exact way you wanted them?
Yes and no. At first I had trouble finding a happy medium with Charlotte. She’s a scientist, logical, and not overly emotional. I worked with her first to keep her highly intelligent yet witty and warm with a romantic side she isn’t willing to let show very often. After I had her where I wanted, it was fun to give her quirks.
Then, I worked with Atakan. He too is an archaeologist who works as an agent for the government. I needed him to be more reserved than her. He’s not gregarious and outgoing unless he knows someone well. I worked hard to flesh his personality out and weave in his subtle sense of humor and warmer side. I enjoyed giving Charlotte the opportunity to tease him and both moments of playfulness.
Once I got a handle on them as I gave them page time together, it was much easier. As to the other characters, I had very little trouble. I knew from the start how they’d act and what they’d think.
Which is easiest for you to choose, the title, the name of the characters or the setting of the story?
The setting is first. The character names take a bit longer, especially in my Dangerous Waters series, which Golden Chariot is book one. I researched Turkish names along with the names of characters from other countries. The title is last but not too difficult.
With the ending of this year, and a beginning of another, what would you say the future holds for Chris?
I’m about to release the sequel to Golden Chariot (my publisher is looking at the end of December.) It’s called, Byzantine Gold. Much of the book is set in Cyprus but takes the reader to Paris and Istanbul too. Charlotte and Atakan return along with several other characters from Golden Chariot.
I’m also working on book 3 in my Knights in Time series. Those books are set in England and are time-travel romances. I hope to have it finished by spring. The first one is that series is called, Heroes Live Forever. The second is, Journey in Time and the one I’m writing is, Knight Blindness.
When is the best time of the day for you to compose your stories?
Definitely the afternoon. I am not fully functional mentally, as in having my writer’s mindset working, until late in the morning. I’ve occasionally written late at night.
Do you have any challenges as a writer?
Oh yes. I have a tendency to hold back on a character’s emotional response to some situations. In my head, what action I give them is sufficient. Fortunately, I have great critique partners who always point out places I need to have the character react more.
Are there times that you experience the writer’s block?
Yes. With every book I’ve had days where I couldn’t find the right words or wasn’t able to put a scene together the way I wanted. I dislike the term “writer’s block.” For me, and this is just me, if I let that term creep into my head for any length of time, it starts to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So when I get into those difficult days now, I force myself to write something. I can delete later but I keep writing.
Can you describe your workstation for us?
Rather small. It’s more a niche between the living room, dining room and den. I have a large built-in cabinet with book shelves above my faux antique, curved desk. I keep my research material in the cabinet or on the shelves. I have writing necessities, like scissors and post it notes and ink etc on the shelves. All across the bottom are post it notes reminding me of guest appearances and giveaways etc.
My desktop is pretty much covered with my monitor, speakers, and printer. I use a desktop computer so this is where I write almost always. I just got a tablet so I can now write when I’m away from home on vacation.
In the cubbies of above my desk, I also keep knick-knacks like a miniature jeweled camel I got in Turkey, a jeweled small dragon my husband gave me, the Chicago skyline in a square of glass, that sort of thing.
In your opinion, what are the three most essential ingredients of an excellent novel?
Characterization is a must. They have to be three dimensional. They can’t be all good or all bad or they’re too flat. Have them surprise the reader once in awhile, do something unexpected. That goes for both the protagonists and the antagonists.
Pacing makes or breaks a book for many readers I know and for myself. Something has to happen in every scene to move the story. It doesn’t always have to be a big thing but there needs to be a reason for the scene to exist.
Back story needs to be sprinkled in as the story goes along and not the focal point of the first 10, 20 or more pages.
Do you go with the flow or form an outline when you write?
Both. I do an outline first to sort of give myself parameters and to document scene ideas. Then once the story starts, I go with the flow.
Is there a household chore that you really hate doing?
I hate taking everything out of my curio cabinets, dusting them off and cleaning the glass shelves. On the same topic, I hate dusting all the collectibles I have on open shelves. It seems to take forever.
If you were given a choice to spend a day at the spa, or have a maid for a day, which would you choose?
Easy one: I will take the maid every time.
You have led a very interesting life in all your travels. Is there a particular place that you would love to visit?
I assume you mean a place I haven’t gone. If so, then I’d like to see India. Of the places I’ve been, I will always want to return to Turkey, England, Malta, and France.
If you were to compose a bucket list, what would be the first thing on your list to do?
I just scratched my number one off this past November. I wanted to see Pompeii and did. Now, I’d like to ride an elephant up the hill to Jaipur, India also known as the “pink city.”
Chris, thanks so much for taking the time to spend with us today. We look forward to reading all your stories, and wish you the best. Be sure to take a to go box of some of the goodies, and enjoy. The slippers are yours to take home, too.
Thank you for inviting me today. I enjoyed the interview very much. For interested readers, I have book boards on Pinterest and trailers on my website.