Interview: Karen Chance

Today, I am excited to welcome Karen Chance, author of the Cassandra Palmer and Dorina Basarab novels.

First off, I would like to thank Karen for taking the time from writing the new Cassie novel to talk with Literary Escapism. Make sure you stick around for the end of the interview as there is a contest …. So make sure you stay tuned.

Now, on with the questions…

For those of my readers who have been living under a rock lately, can you give us a brief look into your new series featuring the dhampire Dorina Basarab and what they can look forward to seeing?

I think the best answer to that is the back cover copy for the book. I didn’t write it, but I think it summed it up nicely:

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir—half-human, half-vampire. Subject to uncontrollable rages, most dhampirs live very short, very violent lives. So far, Dory has managed to maintain her sanity by unleashing her anger on those demons and vampires who deserve killing.

Now Dory’s vampire father has come back into her life. Her uncle Dracula (yes, the Dracula) infamous even among vampires for his cruelty and murderous ways, has escaped his prison. And her father wants Dory to work with the gorgeous master vampire Louis-Cesare to put him back there.

Vampires and dhampirs are mortal enemies, and Dory prefers to work alone. But Dracula is the only thing on earth that truly scares her, and when Dory has to go up against him, she’ll take all the help she can get…

The Dorina Basarab series is set in the same world as the Cassie Palmer novels, what is it about the world you have created that made you want to write another series in it?

The Cassandra Palmer novels view their world from one perspective, that of the major players: the Vampire Senate, the Council of Mages, etc. Cassie deals in high politics, deception and intrigue, while Dory gives more of a street view. She interacts with regular people as often as the movers and shakers, going places and seeing things that Cassie never would. In a war analogy, Cassie would be in central intelligence, while Dory would be on the front lines. I think the two series complement each other well, and together flesh out the universe in a way that neither could do alone.

I have to ask this question, will Cassie and Dorina ever meet? Will we ever see a situation where the two will have to work together to resolve some situation?

Yes to the first question—considering who Dory’s father is, that’s pretty much a given! As to the other, I’m going to be difficult and say that you’ll have to wait and see.

Dhampires haven’t played much of a role in vampire fiction lately; what made you feature this aspect of the vampire culture? What inspired you to give the dhampire a volatile temperament?

Actually, there are a lot of dhampirs around, just not in paranormal romance. But in fantasy, where my books are usually categorized, you find quote a few: Barb and J.C. Hendee’s long running series on the Noble Dead, Nancy Collins’s Stillborn, Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls, etc. But I believe my take on the subject is very different from anything else out there.

As for the second part of the question, I have to point out that “volatile temperament” doesn’t really sum it up. Dory is insane, at least part of the time. As for why she has these psychotic episodes, it grew out of trying to imagine what the result would be of a human body paired with the vampire killing instinct. I also thought that the challenge of writing someone like Dory would be interesting—and it was.

A lot of your vampires are recognizable characters from history (Kit Marlowe, the Tepes brothers), why did you include some of these figures in the Vampire Senate and will we meet any others? Do their histories (both in your novels and in reality) have a special meaning to you?

I included them because I’ve never been able to understand why books that feature vampires, especially older ones who have lived hundreds of years, don’t do more with their history. I love imagining where they’ve been, who they’ve met, what they’ve done—it just makes the character so much easier to write when you know the experiences that shaped them. And taking larger-than-life figures for some of the leading vampires gave them a fascinating back story with a lot of potential. So yes, I think it’s safe to say that you’ll meet more historical characters, both vampire and not, in upcoming novels. As far as choosing the characters, I tend to go more by the needs of the story line than by personal preference.

When you built the world Cassie and Dorina live in, where did it come from? Are there elements in your own environment that influenced how your characters reacted with the world? Are there any elements that we haven’t seen yet but are still floating around in your head?

World building is one of my favorite things to do, so it’s safe to say that there are a lot of elements still to come in the universe. As far as my own environment, I don’t see a lot of parallels, thankfully! However, I have travelled a bit and still do so whenever I get a chance, and I tend to use places I’ve been that have made an impact on me for settings. It makes it easier to get the details right when you have walked through the areas your characters are inhabiting.

Which scene in Midnight’s Daughter was the most fun to write? Which scene gave you the most trouble?

The dinner scene. I love the cows. The cows crack me up. As far as the scenes that gave me trouble, I suppose I would have to say anything with Louis-Cesare in it. Not that trouble is exactly the right word, it is simply that he has a lot of back story that hasn’t come out yet, and I have to keep it in mind when I’m writing him so that his character is consistent.

Do you have a favorite quote or scene from any of your books?

No, I pretty much love them all. A current favorite from Midnight’s Daughter is the flashback with Augusta and Mircea in London. It said a lot about Mircea’s character and back story in a small space

There is an unexpected humor in your novels, with both Dorina and Cassie, that always adds something when there is that laugh. Do you incorporate that in all of your writing or is it something unique to the Cassie and Dorina books? Is this type of humor common in your everyday life or was it inspired by something else?

My writing style is just my writing style. I can’t really explain it any better than that. I could tone down the humorous scenes, of course, but I think they help to balance the darker ones, so why bother?

Your short story in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe – Rogue Elements – involves werewolves and is also set in the Cassie/Dorina world, will this short be a part of either series or will it be completely on its own? Will we meet these characters again in future Cassie or Dorina novels? Could these characters lead to their own series in the future?

I’ve actually done two shorts with Lia. Rogue Elements is the first, and Vegas Odds, coming out in the Strange Brew anthology next year, is the second. I don’t currently have plans to do a novel with her, although it would be fun. I think she’s a great character, and as a war mage, she gives an interesting insider’s look into their world. She may show up in either of my two series at some point, but I always write my short stories to stand alone if need be.

According to your website, you’re involved in two upcoming anthologies – Strange Brew and Inked. Is there anything you can tease us with about the stories you’re contributing? Will they be a part of either the Cassie or Dorina series?

The Inked story is a Cassie—my first short for her–while Strange Brew, of course, features Lia

When you’re writing a short story, do you make any changes in your writing routine? Is writing a short story the same as writing a full length novel for you?

Shorts require more work, not less, than an equivalent amount of words in a novel, because all the aspects you want to introduce—world-building, character development, suspense, romance, etc. have to fit in a much smaller format. They can be fun to do, but they can be frustrating as well.

When you’re not slaving away at the computer writing your own novels, who do you enjoy curling up with and why? Do you tend to stick to novels in the urban fantasy / paranormal romance genre or do you venture into other areas? Have you noticed your reading preferences changing as you’ve developed as an author?

I tend to read mysteries, especially historical ones. I love the Lindsey Davis Falco books (about a detective in ancient Rome) and the Cadfael mysteries, just to name a few. My reading preferences have always been eclectic, so no, not much change there.

Writing can be a lot of work, so what do you do when you need to relax or just need to focus on something else? Do these activities imprint themselves in your stories?

I tend to read mysteries, especially historical ones. I love the Lindsey Davis Falco books (about a detective in ancient Rome) and the Cadfael mysteries, just to name a few. My reading preferences have always been eclectic, so no, not much change there.

What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you? Why do you write urban fantasy/paranormal romance?

I don’t write paranormal romance, or so people tell me. My books do contain romances, but they aren’t the main focus. Fantasy attracts me because anything is possible and it allows an author to really use her imagination. And, as I’ve mentioned, I love to world build.

I love to travel, so I’m always interested in hearing other people’s stories when they’ve been abroad. According to your website, you’ve spent some time in Hong Kong, what was it like? Can we expect to see any Chinese or Asian influences in any of your characters?

You’ve already seen some, I hope! Hong Kong was interesting, if a little uncomfortable at times. I was in a suburb where there were few Occidental types, so I attracted a fair amount of attention wherever I went. But other than that, it’s definitely worth seeing. I may set a story there sometime, I don’t know.

Your website also indicates that you have an advance degree in history, if you had Cassie’s powers, where in time would you love to visit? Is there a part of history that you would have loved to witness?

I’d love to see ancient Rome as long as I couldn’t be seen myself. The same holds true for Tudor London and Mughal India. I wouldn’t want to travel there like Cassie does though—scary!

Thank you Karen for spending some time with us.

Contest time: Cassie Palmer can travel back into time, if you had that power, where would you go? What time period fascinates you and makes you want to experience it even if for just a moment?

History is such a fascinating study and there are so many different worlds to visit just by picking up a history book. Where and when would I go, I’m not really sure…there are just so many options. To be able to see a Shakespearean play while Shakespeare himself was in the audience; to witness the glamor of a French court during King Louie’s reign; to see Scottish highlanders in all their warrior kilt-wearing glory…so many options.

Now it’s your turn…in order to enter the contest, you have to answer the question, just commenting “enter me in your contest please” won’t get you anywhere.

For another chance to win, post links to today’s interview on your blog or any other social network and you will be given an additional entry to win. Just make sure you leave a comment with a link to the post so I know you have done it.

One lucky commenter, chosen by the Research Randomizer, will win a copy of Karen’s new novel, Midnight’s Daughter – I’ll preorder a copy for the winner.

The contest will run until midnight on Sept. 14th, so get your entries in.

About Jackie 3274 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.

1 Comment

  1. I’m looking forward to this one! I’d like to go back to prehistoric times, it would be cool seeing the many now extinct animals.

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