Thursday, April 23, 2015

Straight from the Mouth of 'Silk' Chris Karlsen

Chris is a Chicago native. Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was in her late teens where she later studied at UCLA. She graduated with a Business Degree. Her father was a history professor and her mother a voracious reader. She grew up with a love of history and books.

Her parents were also passionate about traveling and passed their passion onto Chris. Once bitten with the travel bug, Chris spent most of her adult life visiting the places she'd read about and that fascinated her. Her travels have taken her Europe, the Near East, and North Africa, in addition to most of the United States. She most frequently visited England and France, where several of her books are set.

After college, Chris spent the next twenty-five years in law enforcement with two agencies. Harboring a strong desire to write since her teens, upon retiring from police work, Chris decided to pursue her writing career. She writes three different series. Her historical romance series is called, Knights in Time. Her romantic thriller series is Dangerous Waters.

Her latest book, Silk, is book one in her mystery/suspense series, The Bloodstone series. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five wild and crazy rescue dogs. 

Purchase on Amazon 


Thanks for letting us interrogate you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

I've always been an avid reader and being an only child developed a vivid imagination. From the time I was a teen, I would rewrite scenes and book endings in my head. I wanted to be a writer but didn't have the courage when I was younger. I went for a more practical profession in law enforcement. Once I retired, I decided to try to fulfill that secret desire to write. I sat down and wrote a story I had in my head for decades. At the same time I began taking courses to learn the craft.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

The perks are bringing different characters to life. World  building for them. Fleshing out the people in the story in such a way the reader feels what they feel. Creating a setting that makes the reader feel like they are walking the same path with the characters.

The demands are: sitting you tush in a chair and writing, committing to dedicating the time it takes to craft a good tale.  Also, developing a tough skin. Unless the book is a rare exception it's bound to get rejected by many agents and editors. The majority of well known, successful writers can tell stories about all the rejects they had when they started. Once it is published, accept there will be some negative reviews. Not everyone will love your story. A writer has to be tough enough to move on and continue writing.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like? Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

I tried for almost five years to get noticed by the New York Publishers and agents. The process was demoralizing and frustrating. After all the disappointment, a dear friend who has a small indie publishing company that represented short stories at the time took me to lunch. She asked if I'd be willing to give her company a shot at publishing my full length novel. I decided it was time to stop beating my head against the NY wall and gave my manuscript over to her. I've been with Books to Go Now, her company, ever since.

I know a number of writers published by the traditional NY houses. Many have no say in their covers and release dates. I personally work with the cover designer of my books and I choose the date for the release and base my promotion accordingly. I still give my cover choice and my trailers to my editor for final approval but she lets me have almost full rein on my work.

I am a slow writer. I don't want the stress of having an NY editor or agent looming and troubling me over deadlines in addition to not having artistic control.

My husband is very good about supporting my work. He has taken upon himself to cook most nights so I can stay writing. He is also a Beta reader for me. I give him my final draft before I send it in. That said, he does feel neglected some days and lets me know. I remind how important my writing is to me. He's a baseball agent and I compare my dedication to his for his job. Generally that works to help keep the problem from getting out of hand.

Do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?

I have five wild and incorrigible rescue dogs. They know when it's dinner time and they gather at my desk. A couple just stare and one they designated will start bumping my elbow. I don't get to write too much more once that starts.

Are your plants actually still alive?

I have a few plants. They are still alive but they are not fussed over. We live on a large property and I have several flower beds. I am a terrible gardener. Every spring I buy several lovely flower containers and plant them in the beds. The majority die then I buy more.

In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?

I am lucky. I am retired so I don't have a boss at my throat. My step children are grown and live out of state. And as I mentioned, my husband has started cooking more and more. When the phone rings, I'll take the call but unless it's a good friend, I cut the conversation short. I have the dogs running in and out all day as they have a dog door to the yard. I no longer hear it. The times my husband is on the phone talking loudly in the other room or the dogs are barking and playing, I put on a playlist and just keep typing.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

Several years ago I had a Russian lady email me. She told me how much she liked my first book, Heroes Live Forever. She had the English translation, which she hoped was close to the original as her translation was from the Russian edition.  The thing is-there is no Russian edition, not then, not now. She had a pirated copy of course. I never told her that. Instead, I sent her a print copy of the book and the sequel as she could read and write decent English. She loved having signed copies. I thought at least she has the correct versions if she wants to read them.

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

I am probably one of the worst people to ask that. I am what my husband calls a cybersaurus. I am terrible with cyber anything so I don't use all the networks available. I do not Tweet. I don't know all the weird little symbols or abbreviations and although I have a Twitter account, I don't do anything with it. I also don't blog. Honestly, I feel to do a blog right, I'd have to spend more time than I'm willing, time that takes away from my writing. I use Facebook and Pinterest, and I've just signed onto Tsu. I also have a lot on my website. I have a PA that tweets for me on her network and she updates my web page and I handle my FB page and author central at Amazon. I might be part of a newsletter that will come out quarterly with three other authors. We are in discussions about that right now.

I avoid chat rooms on some of the large romance sites. They're very time consuming as well and all too often I am one of a dozen authors and it's hard to get noticed.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

Sales can be very weird. I will hit a period where a backlist book that hasn't moved in a year will suddenly take off. For me the summer is always slow. Everyone is on vacation and outside doing sports or BBQs rather than inside reading, and sales reflect that, at least mine do.

I do a lot of tours. I buy a fair amount of ad space on Kindle oriented sites mainly. I do different types of tours. I will sign on for Blitz, blog, Review, and trailer tours, sometimes cover reveals. I've only done two FB parties with mixed results. I don't know yet whether I'll do another.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

The difficulty in writing in different genres, especially for female authors. I have three series. The first two are romances or have a romantic subplot. My Knights in Time series books are historical romances. My Dangerous Waters series books are romantic thrillers. My latest book Silk is not a romance by any means. It is a suspense/thriller set in Victorian London. 

When I told my writer friends I wanted to do this thriller set in 1888 England with a detective inspector as the protagonist, some warned that I had to use a different pen name.  I shouldn't write in any other genre but romance under the name Chris Karlsen as no one expects anything but that from me. I decided against that advice. I felt and still feel readers are perfectly capable of reading different style stories from the same author.  After all, Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and the late David Gemmell write different genres and readers are fine with that. Why not me? I know it's a risk, but I had a character I wanted to write into a story I wanted to tell. I am terribly fond of Det. Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone and plan to bring him back.

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

I love getting lost in a book, a story that takes to someplace else entirely. I have characters that creep into my consciousness or story ideas that beg to be brought to life. I want to share the story and bring the characters to the page to show them off. I can't imagine what I would do if I had to stop. My dream is to have a television series or movie of the week done around a book of mine or a series. If I keep writing, maybe one of the books will find its way to a Hollywood producer's desk:) Fingers crossed.


chris karlsen said...

Good Morning,
I want to thank Straight From the Mouth for the fun interview and this opportunity to showcase Silk.
Chris Karlsen

chris karlsen said...

I want to thank Straight From the Author's Mouth for this fun interview and allowing me showcase Silk. It's much appreciated.
Chris Karlsen