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. Let’s give her a warm welcome!
Hi, Chris. Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Silk. Why don’t you start by telling us when you started writing and what got you into suspense?
I started writing twelve years ago. I had a story in my head and when I retired I decided to sit down and write it. I also started learning the craft. It took many workshops and courses and drafts before I felt I was ready to take the manuscript to the next step.
Silk is my sixth book but the first suspense I’ve ever written. As a retired detective, I enjoy reading a good cop story but never wanted to write a contemporary police setting. I love history and was drawn to writing a suspense along the lines of a classic British mystery. I have written historical romances with medieval settings, but I wanted this story to be in a different time. I think Victorian London is a rich atmosphere for mystery/suspense and set my story there.
Give us a little taste of Silk.
It’s the story of a intelligent, powerful, and wealthy man, William Everhard. There’s very little out of reach for a man of his station in 19th Century England. The one thing he cannot buy is youth. His pursuit to resist aging becomes an obsession that grows to madness.
When several women are murdered on the grounds of the British Museum, Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone is assigned the investigation. The evidence leads him to Everhard, and into a battle of wits with a case that’s simultaneously hampered by politics and few clues.
I had the good fortune to meet Jill Barnett early on, while I was writing my first book. She was an immense help and source of great advice at a time when I knew very little about the business.
Did you have struggles or difficulties when you started writing?
Yes. I was totally lost when I started in that I had no writer friends, no idea where to study the craft other than a local college, no idea what to do to get a book published, and no idea where to find out about any of this. I really didn’t want to take a college class. I wasn’t comfortable exposing my first attempt at writing to an entire class. One day I bought a romance writer’s magazine and saw a conference advertised. I went and that was the first place I started to learn the basics about how to find workshops and seminars and online courses.
Did your book require a lot of research?
All my books require quite a bit of research. I looked into a number of online articles regarding Victorian England, but I also bought several books covering various aspects of the time. I knew I’d need the information for future stories so owning the books was a good investment. I also had the opportunity to go to London on vacation. I have been many times and knew of different sources there like the Victoria and Albert Museum.
What was your inspiration for Silk?
I was between stories. One night I started watching Phantom of the Opera with Gerard Butler for the tenth time. I love the movie and admired how Andrew Lloyd Webber managed to give him such a tragic quality, even without the music. I got the basic idea for a killer I’d like to write from that story. When I began fleshing out my villain, I found I couldn’t make him tragic. I spent too many years dealing with criminals to do that. But, I could delve into his mind. After outlining him, I set about creating a protagonist worthy of a cunning killer. My hero detective was such fun to write and I knew from the beginning I’d want to give him more books.
What do you do when your muse refuses to collaborate?
I can’t let that control me for too long. There are times I think I have writer’s block. My personality is such that I have to resist the negative thought process or it becomes worse and worse for me. I force myself to just keep writing, no matter what. I know that if it’s awful I can delete the scene in editing.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
I do try to write at least six days a week. Sometimes it’s only five but I strive for six. I am not a morning person and don’t even attempt to put anything on paper until after noon. Mornings I could only manage jibberish. I write from noon to 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon. I quit then and spend the rest of the evening with my husband relaxing.
As for discipline—I try hard to be, but I could be far better at it. I’m a slow writer. I wish I was faster but I’m not. I try not to fret over how long I take. I don’t want to lose my joy for writing because I’ve made myself a nervous wreck.
How do you celebrate the completion of a book?
First I have champagne with my husband, who is so supportive and proud of what I’ve written. Then, I bring champagne to my critique group and we celebrate too.
What do you love most about a writer’s life?
I love that after many, many years, I accomplished a dream I had since my teens. I read a lot and wrote stories in my head and new endings for books I liked. I put off trying to actually write until I retired. Now, I am thrilled to complete each story that comes to me. I also love hearing from readers. I thrive on hearing what they liked about a book and which ones they liked best. It’s such a pleasure to have pleased them.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?
My website has my blurbs, trailers, excerpts, tour stops, and some fun interest pages. I include a page of history factoids and include info on my research sources.
I also have fun on Pinterest. I created book boards for all my novels and use my “dream” casts for the different characters.
I am on Facebook with book news and activities.
What is your advice for aspiring authors?
Write what you enjoying reading. Don’t write to the market because you think you’ll sell more books. If you like reading cop stories, like Joe Wambaugh’s or Mike Connelly, or John Sandford, then that’s a good genre for you. Don’t read those authors and then decide to write a vampire romance story. If you write what’s not in your heart, it shows on the page.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
The wonderful thing about writing is you see the world in a whole bigger way than before. Bits and pieces of amusing or interesting conversations you overhear, suddenly are more than just that. They are little sound bites that get locked into your psyche, little idiosyncrasies that become part of a character down the road. The same with people you see as you move through the day. It’s quite fun to use different inspirations.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00QSTM578]