Interview with Chris Karlsen

Interview with Chris Karlsen

What genre do you write and why?
Interview with Chris Karlsen
I write in two different genres, historical romance with a time travel element. Those books are my Knights in Time series. My other genre is historical suspense with a romantic element. Those are the Bloodstone series. My latest book, Snifter of Death, is the second in that series.
I enjoy reading books with a contemporary setting but my favorite stories have historical settings. My father was a history professor so that was a major part of my life growing up. I especially like English history, which is why I use England during the Medieval and Victorian time periods in my stories.
The settings become another character, often a dangerous one for the hero or heroine. I like recreating those worlds as I picture the people and events. For the Bloodstone series, I love using Victorian London as a setting. It is so rich in atmosphere. There’s the class structure, the elegance vs. the poverty, the politics of the time, and the colorful nature of everyday life.
Who are your favourite authors?
I think Bernard Cornwell is the best historical fiction writer hands down. His Saxon Tales series is brilliant. It’s told in the first person and a remarkable reflection of the brutality of the times. His battle scenes are both difficult at times to read but always compelling. But it is his protagonist, Uhtred, who has a great sense of humor while being an astute observer of the political dangers in the fight for England between the Danes and Saxons.
In the romance area, my two favorite authors are Julie Anne Long and Julia Quinn. Long writes excellent love scenes that are hot without being raw to the point of losing the romance. Quinn always includes a lot of humor in her stories and I love to laugh along with a character.
As for suspense, my favorite is Michael Connolly. As a retired detective, I appreciate his Harry Bosch character and Mickey Haller. I think Connolly portrays the detective mindset the best of all the authors I’ve read in the genre. Joe Wambaugh, absolutely.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Find a good critique group to join. You need someone other than family and friends to read your work. Your family and friends won’t be as honest as others. Fresh eyes are a must. If you can’t find a local group, then pick up a writer’s magazine and often in the back there will be online groups advertised. Make sure it is a group that is giving you constructive criticism and not just being cruel.
Develop a thick skin if you’re submitting to any of the NY publishers or agents. There’s a very strong likelihood you will be rejected and rejected a lot. Stephen King said in his book “On Writing,” that Carrie was rejected so much he threw the manuscript in the trash. His wife retrieved it and made him continue to submit.
If you choose to self-publish, you should have the manuscript professionally edited first. Clean grammar and proper formatting is important. Spend the extra money for that and for a good cover design. Your cover is what draws the reader to your book to begin with. If it is cartoonish or amateurish, the reader won’t bother to look further.
Who is your favourite character and why?
That’s an easy question: Rudyard (Ruddy) Bloodstone. As a retired detective, I suppose on some level he’s my alter ego. I like that Ruddy has a sometimes healthy, sometimes problematic disregard for both influential politicians and administrators. I like that he’s not perfect the way Sherlock Holmes was. He’s astute and clever and not much gets past him but Ruddy follows the wrong leads at times.
What was especially interesting and fun for me is the fact he is working during a time when there was no science to help him. The first book is set in 1888 and Snifter of Death is set in 1889. This is before even the use of fingerprints comes into practice. I did give him the use of a police photographer, which allowed me to bring in a young constable who admires Ruddy. The lack of science means that Ruddy must glean evidence the old fashioned way. He must go through a crime scene and gather information by what he sees, hears, feels, etc., plus what witnesses say. I had to walk those crime scenes with him and it do the work the same way.
I also thoroughly enjoy creating a world of colorful support characters for him. For me, building his world and in turn being able to flush out his personality by having him respond to those people and events makes him my favorite. *Although, I do love many of my other story charactersJ
Who designed the cover?
JA Miller of Romance Novel Covers Now:
I work closely with JA. She knows my concept and I submit sample photos from stock image sites to give her ideas of what I like. She has a wonderful design eye.
Where can a reader purchase your book?
How do you research your books?
If the topic is one I will return to several times, like knights and their armor or the music halls of Victorian London or maps of medieval London and/or Victorian London, then I purchase reference books that contain that information. I have a decent library at home to rely on for much of what I need.
My Knights in Time series I require a goodly amount of medieval information on everything from armor, to jousting rules, to information on the Battle of Poitiers, the City of London, foods and spices, and the parts of a castle. For the Bloodstone books, I need the rank structure for the British Army (Rudyard was in the 24th Regiment of the South Wales Borderers), the rank structure of the London Metropolitan Police Service, he likes music halls and has relationship with an actress so I need that information within easy reach.
I don’t rely on Wikipedia as I understand it can be tampered with. I use articles that it refers to in their copy. I buy DVD’s on specific topics, again, if I am going to use the information more than a few times. I buy archived material from magazines or use the library. I also utilize any experts in a particular field that I know. One of my personal doctors helped me with an injury I had a knight suffer in Knight Blindness. He recently gave me advice on battlefield triage for my wip.
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
I’m working on book 5 in my Knights in Time series. As I mentioned, that is a historical romance series with a time travel element. My heroine is a modern English doctor. A group of scientists where she lives are engaged on a time travel project. When she is accidentally swept into one of their experiments, she is caught in a time tear and sent back to medieval England.
While the scientists continue to try to find a way to bring her home, she begins to fall in love with a medieval knight. As she and the knight are working out if they have a future, the scientists are able to utilize their system again to bring her home. However, there’s a glitch. She and the knight don’t make it to modern England but find themselves in 1815 and surrounded by the French and English armies at Waterloo.
The hero and heroine have to escape before they’re killed by one or the other of the battling armies. Then they have to figure out how to get back to England and send word to the scientists who now have no idea where they are in time.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
My mother was a voracious reader and started me reading at an early age. By the time I was twelve and thirteen I’d read books like Jamaica Inn, Anya Seton’s Katherine, and Les Miserables. The way those authors and others brought different worlds to life enchanted me. I am an only child and like many only children, I had a vivid imagination anyway.
It was the movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir that really stoked the fire under me to write. I was broken hearted for them that they never had a “life” together. I always swore if I had the chance, I’d write my version of a ghostly love story with a happy ending.
After I retired, I didn’t know what to do with myself. My husband said, you have talked about writing-well start the book you always wanted to write. I began my ghost love story. That book is Heroes Live Forever, book 1 in my Knights in Time series. At the same time, I started attending conferences, and workshops, and taking seminars from well-known instructors to learn the craft. I’ve been writing ever since.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading Sharpe’s Rifles by Bernard Cornwell as my current wip has a section that is set in the Peninsula War. I wanted to get a feel for the war. Behind it, I have The Crossing by Michael Connolly. It has my previously mentioned favorite characters Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller. After that, I have a Julia Quinn book, The Girl with the Make Believe Husband,” in the queue.
Interview with Chris Karlsen


  1. This was such a great interview! I would think, with so many books that are available, it must be so disappointing to an author when one's book is not picked up by a publisher. I can only imagine how thick skinned one must be.

  2. Fun interview! I recently read Snifter of Death and really enjoyed it. I'm always in awe when an author can so perfectly transport me to another era. I know getting all the details right requires meticulous research, and I have much respect for the work Chris Karlsen puts into this aspect of her writing.

  3. First, let me thank Writers and Authors for the fun interview and the opportunity to showcase Snifter of Death. I appreciate the chance to connect with their followers.

    Second: Thank you, Darcia for the lovely commentary on Snifter. I love that I was able to recreate the period so well for you.


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