We’re talking today to Chris Karslen, author of the romantic thriller, Byzantine Gold. A native of Chicago, former police detective and now romantic suspense author Chris Karslen grew up with a love of history and books. Her parents loved traveling, a passion they passed on to her. She’s had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.
Though her desire to write began in her teens, Chris spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies before she decided to pursue her dreams. Chris is the author of the romantic thrillers Golden Chariot, Byzantine Gold and numerous other romance novels.
Now a fulltime writer, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse.
Thank you for this interview, Chris. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I’ve been writing for 10 years, this year. I had my first book published two years ago. I wanted to be a writer since I was a teenager but when the time came to go to college, I feared I’d never make a living at it. I went with the safer major and got a Business Degree rather than one in Fine Arts. Once I retired, I decided to fulfill my longtime dream of writing and telling stories that rattled around in my head for years.
I started taking classes trying to learn the craft. It had been many years since I took any kind of classes. I was determined to stick with it. The first book I wrote was the story that sat in the back of my mind forever. After I finished, I immediately began the sequel. Those two are paranormal romances. I had written the draft of the sequel when an agent signed me. She insisted I write a cop story based on my past profession. I discovered that as much as I like to read good cop stories, I don’t care to write them. I put that book in a box and stored it away, never to see the light of day. The agent and I parted ways. It was a friendly end. Once on my own again, I wrote a book I was desperate to write, a romantic thriller set in Turkey, called Golden Chariot. I just had the sequel to it released. It’s called Byzantine Gold and set mostly in Cyprus
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
Charlotte and Atakan, the hero and heroine from Golden Chariot are archaeologists who are assigned to work the recovery of a Byzantine shipwreck off the coast of Cyprus. Atakan is an agent with the Turkish Ministry of Culture, the investigation of artifact smuggling is one of his duties.
Prior to leaving for Cyprus with Charlotte, Atakan is seriously wounded by an old enemy he had imprisoned and is now bent on revenge. Atakan is still to be present on the wreck site but Charlotte will have to partner with another diver.
The unusual hoard of gold the wreck carried as cargo has brought a lot of publicity. It has also caught the attention of a militant cell of the PKK, a terrorist organization operating near the southeastern border of Turkey. The leader of the cell has managed to infiltrate the recovery team. His group plan on attacking the team’s campsite and stealing the valuable relics to sell on the black market. Monies from the smuggling operation will buy more weapons for the cell. The terrorist becomes Charlotte’s dive partner.
Charlotte and Atakan know the old enemy of his will strike at him again. While watching and waiting for the next attempt, the infiltration of the terrorist is discovered. Atakan and a fellow agent of the Ministry must race the clock to prevent the attack on the camp.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I read different genres but my favorites are romance and thrillers. I wanted to try my hand at combining the two.
Where do you write? Do you have a favorite place?
I have my desk and computer in a corner niche between my living room and den. I’m fine with writing there. I don’t know that I’d call it a favorite place. It serves my purpose. I don’t like to write in noisy cafes. I find that too distracting. I don’t own a laptop but just got a tablet. I plan on trying to write on it when I go on vacation and will have a few afternoons poolside. (I’m traveling in the off season so the pool area won’t be crowded with tourists)
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
The PKK has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the CIA. The PKK is politically based, not religious and the members are Kurds. I wanted to make sure that it was clear that the terrorists are not representative of the Kurdish people as a whole. They are not. This is an extreme wing. It was important to me that the majority of the people weren’t painted with the same brush.
Are you a disciplined writer?
I try to be but like many of my friends, I have days where any shiny thing can distract me. Many afternoons (which is when I write) I turn off Facebook. I leave my email on but minimized.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
I am with a small, indie publisher: Books to Go Now.
Was it the right choice for you?
Yes. I queried several houses after I wrote Golden Chariot and it seemed they always wanted a thriller of a different sort, pandemics or dirty bombs etc. I thought this could go on for years and I just wanted to get my stories out there. An opportunity came up with this indie publisher and I went for it and haven’t looked back.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
I’m doing a couple of blitz tours where my media package goes out to a large group of blogs. I have a trailer tour beginning in Feb. with my book trailer going out to blogs. I’m also doing two review tours to start and may do more. I am a featured author at several romance sites and will be doing release parties. I also have signed up for several interviews on different blogs. Whatever the promo is or wherever I am, I do giveaways. With this book, I’m giving away an e-copy of Golden Chariot, and in a few places, I’m also doing swag bags.
I have book trailers on my website and YouTube and made book boards, which are on my Pinterest page.
How is that going for you?
I’ve just started so it’s too early to tell. I’ve done review tours and blog tours in the past and have had good results. I make it a point to speak to every commenter individually. I think it’s important to have that personal connection.
Do you have another job besides writing?
No, I’m lucky and retired now.
Have you ever gotten an inspirational book-related moment at work and had to go run and write and it down?
Well, not at work. I’ve had ideas spark when doing other things and I do try to write them down or I’ll for sure forget them.
Do your co-workers know they have a star among them? What has their reactions been?
A star! You’re too kind. I don’t have co-workers but my family is very proud. My husband talks about his wife’s books to clients who ask and my mother has sent copies of all my books to her friends.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Do something visual, like a trailer or book board. I think people in general enjoy seeing your vision of a story. With trailers, you can use stock images to tell your story in two minutes or less. I really like adding a musical soundtrack to the trailers. There are free music sites.
The book boards are the same only without the music. I pin images that I couldn’t use in a trailer due to time constraints. But I use them to help define the characters and their lives even more for the reader. I can show the car they drive, the apartment or cottage where they live, the way they like to dress, that sort of thing.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on book 3 for my Knights in Time series, which is my paranormal romance series. The new book is called, Knight Blindness and like Journey in Time, it’s a time travel. I hope to have it released by late spring.
After that, I’ll try to tackle book 3 of my Dangerous Waters series, which is the series Golden Chariot and Byzantine Gold are from.
Thank you for this interview, Chris. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?