Chris Karlsen - Knights, Time Travel and Romance
When Chris Karlsen explores the world around her, she likes to stop and imagine herself in the same place, but during a different time. Growing up with a history professor as a father, writing against a historical backdrop was a no-brainer to Karlsen. She also mixes in some time travel, romance and action, which is why it is not surprising that her Knights in Time series has become wildly popular. Today, she has the first three books in the series available as a box set and chats with us about what inspired her to write about knights, how she sends her heroines back in time and whether she believes in soul mates.
Please give us a short introduction to your Knights in Time box set
Knights in Time is the story of three medieval knights who are friends. One battle, the Battle of Poitiers connects all the stories but they are romances so I don't linger long on the battle scene. It is there to show the origins of all the knights, how they got where they are in the modern world. The first book is Heroes Live Forever. It is the story of a young English woman who inherits a manor house from her grandmother. The house is haunted by the ghosts of two medieval knights and she falls in love with one of the ghosts. The knights in that book were killed at Poitiers. The challenge for me as the author was to find a way to give my young woman and her knight the romance they deserved to have.
The second book in the series is Journey in Time and the hero in that book is the second ghost knight from Heroes Live Forever. I have found a way to bring him into the modern world and he is smitten with the best friend of the heroine in Heroes Live Forever. They get caught in a tear in time and find themselves transported back to England of 1355. The English army is about to leave for France and to pursue their fight with that king. The problem for my hero and heroine is, he is expected to go with the army, like he did the first time. But he now knows that he is doomed to die on the battlefield. If he goes, my heroine will be left alone in a medieval world that is very alien to her and where she has no protection.
The third book is Knight Blindness. This is the third knight friend who in the midst of the battlefield of Poitiers suffers a severe blow from a French knight. The blow unhorses him and also blinds him. Just as the French knight is about to finish him off, the two are caught in a time warp and transported to the modern world. The story focuses on how the two different knights adjust to a totally alien world. One, my hero who is blind must adjust to a world he has no context for and cannot see. The French knight who was the enemy but not really a villain as he was fighting for his king and country must make his own way with many of the same worries and questions.
How much have your travels around the world influenced your writing?
My travels have influenced me a lot as I spent a great deal of time in England and France. They are where most of my books are set. I've been very fortunate in my life to go to all the places I wanted to see. My parents were big travelers and took me with them everywhere they went. They felt it was important to see the world and other cultures.
Why History? And how much research does it require to ensure you keep your novels historically accurate?
My father was a history professor so history has always been part of my life. My research is an enormous part of my writing. I have so many books and I make up three-ring binders for each book. I'm very old school that way (smile). I have a second series which is a Victorian suspense with romantic elements. My hero is a London detective. With Knights in Time series I do tons of medieval and battle research. With my Bloodstone series, the Victorian one, I do a lot of research on language and slang of the period. It's insane when you start to use a word, look its origin up and realize not only is it 20th century but it's an Americanism. Then I'm scrambling for a cool but period piece word.
What aspect of your research for Knights in Time did you find the most fascinating?
I love recreating the medieval world for my heroine(s). They're all English women and have seen the castles and the Tower etc. but to recreate the world as a place for them to live and function in was an interesting experience for me. I also try to make something new for each woman. That is to say, the worlds I create are not carbon copies of the previous ones from other stories. Some of the settings were the same and I stayed true to what I wrote, of course, but I also made certain to give each woman a new function with new people and other settings. I want the reader to feel like they're walking next to the character wherever I put the hero or heroine. I want the reader to share the same smells, sounds, and sights.
Heroes Live Forever centers around the theme of soul mates. Do you believe soul mates exist in real life? That certain people are destined to be together?
Yes, I believe that we have soul mates. I believe that not everybody finds them but the lucky ones do.
Your descriptions of the locations are very vivid. What is your secret to making your locations come to life in your books?
Many of the places I describe are places I've been in real life. I tend to have a vivid imagination and have had all my life. I'm an only child so I spent a lot of time alone and imagination was a great factor in my life. I'm one of those people when I go somewhere that I feel a sudden strong kinship with I will stop and put myself there but in another time. I'll stand still and try and feel the moment, live it. I use that for my characters. When I'm writing a scene, I'm in the scene with them. I don't often stand back and watch and describe what's happening. On occasion, but generally I'm with them. I think that's what brings a scene to life. Thank you for the kind words about them.
If you could time travel only once - where would you pick to go?
I'm such a coward about time travel. I love to write it but I know my luck is such I'd be the first to get caught and burned at the stake. Ack!! If I could be assured of my safety, I'd go back to medieval England just long enough to meet the Black Prince, Edward of Woodstock. I find him a fascinating character. I make all my English knights friends with the prince. Even my French hero in In Time For You meets him and jousts with the prince. I'd also like to visit Troy when it was in its prime before the Trojan War. I'd like to see it. I've been to the ruins several times. I find it a fascination as well.
In Knight Blindness, instead of sending your heroine back in time, you bring a medieval knight forward to ours. Why did you pick this approach?
I bring the knight(s) forward in Knight Blindness because I thought it a unique approach. I liked the idea of challenging the hero to make his way in a world that not only did he not have any context for but he could not see. In the opening scene when he is discovered bleeding on the field by the modern French couple, an ambulance is called. My hero has never heard a siren. This poor blind knight is lying there hearing this deafening wail coming closer and closer with no idea what it is. That's just the start of his troubles. I wanted the comparison of his way to face the new world to that of the French knight's who had the benefit of vision.
How do you decide on the time frame for your books?
I've always been interested in medieval English history so choosing that time to send my characters to or bring them from was a natural choice. The Bloodstone series with the Victorian setting is another natural choice as I find the atmosphere of Victorian London a wonderful setting for murder.
Tell us a bit about your writing habits. Do you write against deadlines? Plot out your story before you start? Have a favorite spot where you write?
I have a little nook I have my desk at and write at. I don't really keep a deadline. I should but I don't. I am a v.v.v. slow writer. I generally plot but I'm not married to it. I usually veer from it early on. I am currently working a sequel I didn't plot and it's taking me forever. I don't think I will try not plotting again!
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
No skills really, secret or otherwise. I'd love to say skiing or gardening or dressage but I'm pretty useless.
Which book in this set took you the longest to write, and why?
Knight Blindness took the longest. I had a lot of research to do regarding what a blind person could accomplish. I had the help of a wonderful lady from American Foundation for the Blind who is blind herself. I needed my hero to be able to defend himself and to learn to function in a truly alien world. I also had to constantly remind myself when he changed settings that he was blind and I couldn't use that sense when describing places or things. Then, there was the issue of the French knight. I knew I'd use him in the next book. I had to make him a challenge for my English hero but not a bad man necessarily.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I'm working on book 2 in my Bloodstone series. Book 1 is called Silk and the hero is a detective inspector named Rudyard Bloodstone. He is with London Metropolitan Police Service. This book is set in 1889. Silk was set in 1888 but Bloodstone did not work on the Jack the Ripper case. There are so many books on Jack I didn't want to do down that road. As a retired detective myself, I am thoroughly enjoying writing this period piece detective who has no science to help him solve cases. He does it all with plain old-fashioned detective work.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Readers can contact me at: [email protected].
or my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/chriskarlsenwriter
I have a fun Pinterest page where I have book boards with my "dream casts." I can't use the actors or actresses in my trailers but I can put them in my pinterest boards: https://www.pinterest.com/chriskarlsen/
My website is: http://chriskarlsen.com/