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Interview: Chris Karslen, Author of Golden Chariot

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Chris Karslen was born and raised in Chicago. Her father was a history professor and her mother was, and is, a voracious reader. She grew up with a love of history and books. Her parents also loved travelling, a passion they passed onto her. Karslen wanted to see the place she read about, see the land and monuments from the time periods that fascinated her. She’s had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.

She’s now a retired police detective who spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. Her desire to write came in her early teens. After she retired, she decided to pursue that dream. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse.

Thanks for this interview, Chris! When did your passion for thrillers and action/adventure fiction begin?

I don’t know if I could put a specific timeframe to my interest. I can’t remember a time it wasn’t there. As a child, I loved the old horror movies where folks were chasing or running from the Mummy or Dracula etc. and the thrillers like North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Manchurian Candidate. When I got into my teens, James Bond became popular. I loved the movies and devoured Ian Fleming’s books. Along that same vein, I enjoyed The Jackal, and Three Days of the Condor. Who didn’t love Indiana Jones? Now, I can’t wait to see movies like The Avengers, Iron Man, The Bourne Identity and still love the Bond movies.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

I wanted to write since I was a teenager. But by the time I was ready for college I lacked the confidence to try so I went with the “safe” route and became a business major. Once I retired, I was ready to take a risk and live my dream.

Tell us about your latest novel, Golden Chariot.

The heroine, Charlotte Dashiell, is a nautical archaeologist. She’s working on her Doctorate in that field. Her thesis is very controversial and approval by the Doctoral Committee for her thesis is at risk if she doesn’t find evidence to support it. A shipwreck found off the coast of Turkey may hold her proof. She manages to obtain a position on the recovery team. En route, the Turkish government agent assigned to the wreck is murdered, and she is on the scene at the time it occurred. Her close presence at the time of the crime coupled with a loose connection to a private collector of black market artifacts makes her a person of interest to the Turkish authorities. Atakan Vadim, the hero, is the Turkish agent sent to investigate her further. He becomes her dive partner. As the story progresses, he discovers smugglers plan to steal certain high value relics from the wreck and frame Charlotte for the theft. He also learns the thieves plan to murder her in the process. For her own safety, he presses her to leave the recovery team. She refuses. If she leaves, she loses all hope of finding proof of her thesis. Together, he and Charlotte work to find out who is behind the smuggling operation. During the course of the story, the relationship between the two turns from one of wariness and distrust to friendship, trust and love.

What made you decide to set it in Turkey?

I love Turkey. I’ve visited several times. I knew after the first time, I would set a story there. It’s such a fascinating country. In Istanbul, the exotic Ottoman architecture mixed with the modern immediately captures your interest. There’s the hustle and bustle of the bazaars, which I enjoy, especially the Spice Market. It’s a colourful place. You can’t throw a rock in Turkey and not hit something historical. Their history goes back to the Bronze Age. Turkey’s been part of the Hittite Empire, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire and a secular, independent modern nation. The people are nice. The food is excellent. The landscape is remarkable in its variance. There’s the beautiful coastal area along the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean and the starkly different coastline on the Black Sea. The region of Cappadocia with its fairy chimneys and underground cities is other worldly in appearance. To the east are mountains and grassy plains.

About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.