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.
Read my review of Byzantine Gold here.
Her mission as an author…
I want to entertain the reader with my stories. I want to share my love of certain things, like places, history, and time travel. It’s my way of saying, this is why I love England or Turkey or history etc. I like using the characters to present a “what if” question and have the reader join me in asking it to.
Her inspiration for Byzantine Gold…
Charlotte and Atakan from Golden Chariot—I like them and wanted to show how their relationship progressed. I also liked many of the support characters. I wanted to bring them back. The best way is another shipwreck. I liked using Turkey, as I did in Golden Chariot but also liked the idea of keeping the setting in that region but not necessarily Turkish waters, but someplace a bit different. I needed it to be a place that Atakan still had authority. I set it in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The setting is beautiful and it still, for Americans, has an unusual flavour.
The next thing was what to do with Atakan and Charlotte. I had to resolve the issue of Tischenko and I welcomed the idea of fleshing him out more. I knew I’d set him on a path of revenge but I needed something more for the plot. Terrorism is a global problem. Artifact smuggling is one source of funding for terrorist organizations. I did not want to do the usual Al-Qaeda situation. I chose a terrorist organization that originated in Turkey and is in Iraq and Iran now too, the PKK. The extreme militant wing of the PKK presents an on-going problem in Turkey.
I picked a Byzantine ship because I love some of the art and jewellery from the period.
Her hero and heroine…
Atakan Vadim is an agent for the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. He has his PHD in archaeology. Fact: The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism has a representative present at all legitimate archaeological sites in the country. Their job is to oversee the safe handling of recovered artifacts along with site safety and preservation.
He is from a middle class family and grew up near the town of Milas in the Mugla Province. His father was a career military man and his mother oversaw the family orchards in his father’s absence. Atakan has a married sister. He’s close to his family but can’t see them often due to distance. Istanbul is over 400 kilometres from Milas.
Atakan is a consummate professional. He is a reserved man unless he knows you well, then he shows his dry sense of humour and with Charlotte his very sensual side. He has a strong sense of honour and ethical code. He’s not a man driven to “obtain or possess” things. His apartment is functional although he has an interesting display of collectibles which are family heirlooms. His apartment has a beautiful view of the Bosphorus Strait and that is more important to him than high end furniture. Nice suits are his one very expensive taste. He likes to dress well on the job.
Charlotte Dashiell is an American nautical archaeologist who just received her PHD. She’s outspoken and extremely determined in her pursuits, which sometimes disturbs, sometimes worries and sometimes amuses Atakan.
She’s the daughter of a Chicago policeman and a homemaker. Her parents divorced when she was a teen and her father remarried to a Chicago policewoman and her mother is remarried to a wealthy businessman. Charlotte also has an older brother who’s a member of the Chicago Police Department SWAT team She too is close to her family and tries to visit once a year.
Like Atakan, she is the consummate professional when working a shipwreck recovery team. She’s not overtly vain as her job requires her to keep her hair simple, she’s diving most days and not concerned with makeup. Conservation work on the relics is hard on a manicure. That said, she has a jealous streak when it comes to Atakan. She’s not above passing an acerbic comment or two when she’s introduced to a former girlfriend of his. When she has the opportunity, she does take pride in her appearance and dresses nicely.
Her guilty pleasure is belly dancing for Atakan. She takes lessons in Istanbul, where they live. Atakan is a big fan.
The overall concept was mine. Although most of the story takes place in Cyprus, Istanbul has such distinctive architecture and buildings I wanted something of it on the cover so a reader knows the story has a different setting. I wanted the shipwreck and divers because of the nature of the story. This is what draws the characters to this place. I worked closely with the designer. I asked her to look at my previous cover, and the trailer for Byzantine Gold, which I was very happy with, and to look at my book boards for both this and Golden Chariot on my Pinterest page. She had the idea for the bullets and crosshairs in the lettering. She put all my wishes together and came up with a cover I love.
Her advice to aspiring authors…
Do join a critique group. You need other eyes to read your work. Your family and friends will avoid hurting your feelings and as a result are often not as honest as you need them to be.
Take classes or if you can afford it, go to conferences and seminars to learn the craft. If you can’t afford workshops, then buy books from the experts. Three I like and keep in my desk and reference are: Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction by Don Maass, and Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Deb Dixon.
Develop a tough skin and accept the fact that your early drafts (and that’s what they are, drafts) are not ready to send to an editor or agent or to self-publish. Every new writer believes what they’ve written is perfect. Perhaps there’s someone out there this is true for but I can’t think of any. Hemingway said, “There’s no such thing as writing, only rewriting.” Stephen King in his book, “On Writing,” said, he never lets anyone see his first draft.
Read books in the genre you want to write in. This is important. You need to have an idea of how stories in that genre flow, how tension and action and characterization is handled. Literary fiction is generally not the same style as a thriller. The readership of different genres have different expectations.
When you read a scene that is especially moving or well done, or one that stands out to you, then dissect it. See what it is that “makes” the scene work so well for you and try to do the same but with your own spin.
A sunken warship from the Byzantine Era carrying an unusual cargo of gold has been found off the coast of Northern Cyprus. News of the valuable cache has attracted the attention of a terrorist cell. They plan to attack the recovery team’s campsite and steal the artifacts. On the Black Market, the sale of the relics will buy them additional weapons.
Charlotte Dashiell, an American archaeologist, and her lover, Atakan Vadim, a Turkish government agent, are scheduled to be part of the recovery team that brings up the artifacts. While en route to Cyprus, they find themselves caught in the crosshairs of Maksym Tischenko, a Ukrainian contract killer bent on revenge. Charlotte, Atakan and Tischenko share a grim history. As a result, Tischenko is a man who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal—seeing them both dead.