Jen: Today we welcome Chris Karlsen back to Romancing the Book and she celebrates a new release. Chris, please share a short bio with us.
Chris: I was born and raised in Chicago. My father was a history professor and my mother was, and is, a voracious reader. I grew up with a love of history and books.
My parents also love traveling, a passion they passed onto me. I wanted to see the places I read about, see the land and monuments from the time periods that fascinated me. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.
I am a retired police detective. I spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. My desire to write came in my early teens. After I retired, I decided to pursue that dream. I write two different series. My paranormal romance series is called, Knights in Time. My romantic thriller series is, Dangerous Waters.
I currently live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Chris: My latest release is Byzantine Gold. I’ve visited Turkey a number of times and love the country. I’ve also been fortunate enough to travel around the islands in the Aegean and Mediterranean, which is a beautiful region. I knew the first time I visited Turkey I’d set a book there. Walking the ruins of the Kingdom of Troy gave me the idea for Golden Chariot‘s plot. My heroine, Charlotte Dashiell, is an American nautical archaeologist on a shipwreck recovery team working off the coast of Turkey. My hero, Atakan Vadim, is a Turkish government agent, also on the team. I enjoyed bringing them together as a couple. For the sequel I wanted to show how the relationship has grown over the course of a year. In Byzantine Gold, the two are working a wreck off the coast of Northern Cyprus. I had the idea to make this assignment extremely dangerous for both of them and the team in general. I used a cache of gold lying in the wreckage to attract the attention of a terrorist cell, which presents a major threat to the entire team. I added that danger to a personal threat to Atakan and Charlotte from an old enemy bent on revenge. I especially had fun with the old enemy. He has a fair amount of page time and a POV. I also enjoyed bringing back some of the other popular characters from Golden Chariot, including Charlotte’s handsome brother, Nick, and Atakan’s co-worker and lady’s man, Iskender.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Chris: I’d done a ton of research on working a recovery team whose specialty is shipwrecks, how the divers and archaeologists set up the operation. Much of this was done for Golden Chariot so was able to reuse a lot. For Byzantine Gold, I studied what type of ships were from the Byzantine Period, what they looked like, how many crew members were needed. I read about jewelry, coins, and religious artifacts from the time that might be found in the cargo. The ship in the story is actually a Dromon warship, carrying an unusual cargo of gold. I looked at descriptions of the weaponry a Dromon had. I wanted to give the reader a feel for the area and researched the landscape and environment for visual purposes. I looked into restaurants to describe the type of food the team ate. I also did a great deal of reading on the PKK terrorist organization. I read various newspaper stories, magazine articles, journals by various “think tanks” groups that specialize in security assessments as they relate to the various terrorist threats.
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Chris: I’d love, love, love to have this made into a movie. I think Stana Katic is perfect for Charlotte, Oded Fehr as Atakan, Chris Hemsworth as Nick (I know I’m dreaming BIG with that one!), Oscar Isaac as Iskender, and Mads Mikkelsen as Tischenko.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Chris: I read a variety of genres. In romance I favor, Julia Quinn, Julie Anne Long, Deanna Raybourn, and Lynn Kurland. For thrillers I like, John Sandford, Mike Connelly, and Stephen Coonts. Although I wouldn’t term him a thriller writer and I am not sure what genre I label his work but I’m a big fan of Joseph Wambaugh. In historical fiction, my favorite author is by far Bernard Cornwell. I am currently reading Cornwell’s latest book: 1356.
Jen: How do you come up with character names?
Chris: I have writer friends who have a lot of angst naming characters. I don’t. I try to have fun with it. For the Americans, I pick names I like. I always thought Charlotte sounded pretty. As a teen I read several Dashiell Hammett stories. I thought Dashiell was a cool name and knew if I ever wrote a book, I’d use it. Charlotte got that as her last name. With Atakan, I researched Turkish names. I had a clear visual of this man who was a consummate professional. He plays things close to the vest. His father was a career military man. There’s a great deal of family pride. In my research I found the name Atakan meant “blood of his ancestors.” I knew that was my hero’s name. With my books set in England (from a different series) I choose names that I both like the sound of but look for surnames that are more common in Britain than here.
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Chris: That is such a tough question. It’s kind of a “Sophie’s Choice” type of question for an author. That aside, I think I identify the most with Charlotte. I love she’s a nautical archaeologist. I have often thought that were I to go back in time to my early college days, I would change my direction from one of a business degree to archaeology. Since I can’t change the past, I live that life through her. I share her excitement for history and her determination for uncovering information about ancient civilizations. I like that she has fun doing what she does and enjoy the experiences.