It’s my pleasure to have former-detective-turned-author Chris Karlsen here today, as I have been a fan of her books for some time now. Chris is better know for her historical time-travel romance and romantic suspense series, but this her latest novel, Silk, set in Victorian London, introduces her to the world of mystery and suspense. Silk is also the first book in her new Detective Inspector Bloodstone series.
Welcome, Chris! Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
My father taught history and my mother was and is an avid reader. I grew up with a love of history and books. I was very young when my father went to college on the GI Bill. One of my earliest memories is of going to the Field Museum in Chicago with him where he had to do research.
Both my parents love to travel and passed that passion onto me. I first went out of the country immediately after graduating high school. I began a summer school program in Paris at the Sorbonne University. From that summer on, I’ve visited as many of the places that fascinated me as possible.
After college, I became a police officer. I spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies and retired as a detective.
I waited until I retired to try my secret desire, which was to write. That was 13 years ago.
I currently live with my husband and five wild and crazy rescue dogs in the Pacific Northwest.
When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
I wanted to write since I was in my early teens. I just never had the courage. When I retired from police work, I decided it was time to learn the craft and try to write the story I had in my head for many years.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?
Yes. My mother was a big reader and she’d pass many of the books onto me that she enjoyed. I liked grand books with sweeping settings. One of the earliest I recall loving was Anya Seton’s Katherine and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.
I love to include different time periods or historical events in my books. I also enjoy a good cop story. My favorite authors are Wambaugh and Connelly and Sandford. Much as I enjoy their stories I never desired to write a contemporary cop story. I didn’t want to relive my career in my books but the idea of a classic mystery/suspense intrigued me. I felt Victorian London was the perfect setting. The protagonist, Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone occurred to me while I was writing my previous book. He was such a complete character in my mind, I was compelled to give him a story. The next step once I had him settled was to give him a worthy advisory. William Everhard took a bit longer but once I fleshed him out mentally, the story flowed.
Did your book require a lot of research?
Yes. All my books require a lot of research because I do include some time of history in them. Either the characters are in the medieval world for some portion of the books that are my historical romances. In the thrillers, my hero and heroine are archaeologists. My current book, Silk, is set in London 1888. I had to do quite a bit of reading on the culture, the economics, the class structure, the geography of the city at the time. I also am careful with the language the characters use so they don’t include modern slang or terms.
What was your goal when writing this book?
My primary goal with this story is the same with all my books: to entertain, to draw the reader into world the characters live and work in. I strive to bring the setting alive, especially the non contemporary locales.
My secondary goal was for this story to be accepted by the readers who are familiar with my other books. This was a departure from my romances. There’s very little romance in Silk. I wanted to write my Victorian detective and keep the story in the suspense realm. I also hope to make this a series. I enjoyed writing Det. Insp. Bloodstone and want to give him more stories.
What type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?
Well, I’m Hemingway-esque. I have three time travel books and haven’t experienced that but I write settings I am experienced with visiting and had the opportunity to see and walk around what survives from a particular time period. I like to write about places and events that interest me. I got the idea for Golden Chariot, my first thriller, from walking the walls of ancient Troy. I spent a great deal of time in England and France and used them for three of my books.
What types of scenes give you the most trouble to write?
I have two other series I write, a historical romance series and romantic thrillers. Feel free to laugh but those books have romantic scenes and I have a devil of a time trying to create a sensual atmosphere. I don’t write or read erotica and don’t care to use nitty-gritty language when writing those scenes so I fuss over language and the choreography. There are a couple of romance authors who are favorites of mine and who write beautiful love scenes. I dissect what it is about the scenes that I especially like and then see if I can recreate that feeling.
Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
I edit as I go along. I am terribly anal and can’t resist writing a couple of chapters and then going back over them again and again. When I finish the first draft, I put the manuscript away for a few weeks and then start all over with edits.
They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?
One of the most difficult things is moving beyond a bad review. You can get a dozen good reviews and one bad. It’s what eats at you the entire rest of the day. It is so hard to move on from them but you have or give up. I know several writers who refuse to read their reviews. I can’t help myself.
As for negative criticism, I am in a critique group with four other ladies. It’s tough some days to hear something you thought fine is a fail. But having other eyes see your work is necessary. They’ll catch the places you didn’t elicit the emotions you’ve strived for and need to redo or delete.
What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?
I think they are absolutely necessary as I mentioned above. You need to know what’s working and what isn’t. Nobody writes a perfect first or second draft. It is equally important to have the right people in the group you go with. The wrong group can crush someone new. The group should be open to the genre you write. They don’t have to write in it themselves but appreciate the work. I’ve run into people who disparage certain genres and they can be mean spirited in their criticism rather than constructive.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
I have a website and a Face Book page and a Pinterest one. Trailers and excerpts and tour announcements are posted on them.
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
I’m currently writing the first draft of book 4 in my Knights in Time series, which has a time travel element. I hope to have it ready for release in late fall. After that I plan to start book 2 of the Bloodstone series to follow up on Silk.
As an author, what is your greatest reward?
When a reader contacts me and tells me how much they loved a story and which book is their favorite. I Love to hear what they liked the most. I also enjoy hearing their thoughts on what and/or who they’d like to see again. It makes my day to read a review or email where the person says the setting came alive for them. That they felt they were walking with the characters.
Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your work?
Only that I appreciate the opportunity to discuss my books and writing. I hope that no matter what book you read of mine, you are drawn into the character’s world.
Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!