Jun 16, 2009

Karen Chance - Interview and Contest

The contest portion is now closed. Many thanks to all who visited and/or commented!
A warm welcome to Karen Chance author of the popular, and vampire friendly, Cassandra Palmer series. In April book four, Curse the Dawn, made the New York Times bestseller list, and deservedly so.

Many thanks for taking the time for this interview!

PVN: Thousands of books are published each year. What sets the Cassandra Palmer Series apart from those other books?

Karen: A number of things. First it’s structured differently. Most urban fantasies tend to lean either toward the mystery genre, where the lead is a supernatural detective, or to the romance genre, where the story centers around the growing relationship between two otherworldly lovers. The Cassie Palmer series has elements of both mystery and romance, but it’s more of a fantasy thriller than anything else. It also has a somewhat unusual plotline, in which each book has its own plot that’s wrapped up at the end, but there’s also an ongoing meta-plot that continues through all of the books.

And then there’s the lead character. I wanted to do something a little different, and no one had a clairvoyant as their lead, much less one brought up by the vampire mafia! I also wanted to do time-travel in the books, because I’m a historian by profession. Cassie, my lead character, became the pythia. It's the title of the world’s chief clairvoyant (based on the ancient Greek oracle at Delphi), who can not only see the past, but travel into it.

Finally, it must be said that in a sea of kick-butt heroines, Cassie is, uh, different. A recent review characterized her as “a smarter Inspector Clouseau” which made me laugh because it’s so true. A bunch of power was dumped in her lap, but the training to manage it didn’t come as part of the deal and she didn’t exactly take that in stride. I always thought it was a little too convenient when characters in novels or comic books had a life altering event which they just seemed to blow off. If I was suddenly able to fly or punch down buildings--or time travel like Cassie--I don’t think I’d take it so well, and neither did she. Of course, there’s a learning curve happening, and she is slowly becoming more capable. But seeing her flail around like any normal person would has been a lot of fun.

PVN: Which book in the Cassandra Palmer series is your favorite?

Curse the Dawn, probably. It was not the most fun to write, mind you—I tore my hair out over that book! But it’s the one I most proud of, maybe for that same reason. It also has several scenes I’d wanted to do for some time, but couldn’t because the foundation wasn’t there. So it was nice to finally get to that point in the plotline.

PVN: Who is your favorite character in this series?

Karen: I don’t really have a favorite. I like them all, even the villains! However, Billy Joe (Cassie’s ghost companion), Mircea (her vampire lover) and Pritkin (her war mage bodyguard) are the easiest to write. Cassie can sometimes be more difficult, because I have to constantly keep in mind what she knows and what she can do at this point in the story. The other characters develop emotionally as the story progresses, but she is not only growing up, she’s also growing into her power. I have to pull myself back sometimes and say, no, she wouldn’t be able to do that yet.

PVN: Like many I find the war mage Pritkin especially fascinating. What can you say about him without spoilers, of course?

Karen: John Pritkin is part of the war mage corps, the body charged with maintaining the peace in the supernatural world. Most of the time, the corps acts like a police force, running down those who break magical laws and bringing them for trial. But the recent war in the supernatural community has forced them to also act as an army, and Pritkin is at the forefront of the fight. He has the unenviable task of trying to keep Cassandra Palmer, the chief seer of the supernatural world, alive when the list people who want her dead seems to grow every day.

Protecting Cassie causes Pritkin frequent nightmares, but the most dangerous aspect of their relationship may be the growing attraction between them. Cassie is claimed by a powerful master vampire, Mircea, who can be utterly ruthless when protecting what he views as his. Pritkin also has compelling reasons of his own for avoiding intimacy. Yet temptation can be so hard to resist…

PVN: Would you mind talking about the body switching between Pritkin and Cassie. It was so cleverly written. How was it for you to write it?

Karen: I really enjoyed that one! All books have certain elements that have to be present in order for the plot to come together; the trick is to also make them enjoyable to read. I think in this case, plot exposition also ended up being very funny!

PVN: Please describe Dante's?

Karen: It’s a casino in Las Vegas that features prominently in the books as a sort of base of operations for Cassie. Her vampire protector, Mircea, owns it, so it’s as safe as anywhere for her. A lot of the comedy of the books comes out of Dante’s, which was designed with the idea of concealing any slip ups of the paranormal kind. It’s sort of a demented haunted house, with shops, restaurants and bars themed to almost any kind of supernatural motif imaginable.

PVN: Cassie is a pythia. What is a pythia and why does Cassie have so much trouble doing her job?

Karen: The pythia was the ancient Greek name for a seer, with the most famous of all being the oracle at Delphi. The Cassandra Palmer series is set in a world where the pythia still exists and is an important force in the supernatural hierarchy. As to why Cassie has problems with her job, that’s easy: no one ever taught her how to do it. Her clairvoyance is natural, but the rest of the job (and there is a lot more to it) is not. As she was never considered for the role, she was never given the proper training. She is figuring things out, but it takes time. Maybe more than she has.

PVN: Curse the Dawn debuted at #7 on the April 26, 2009 New York Times Bestseller list! - How did it feel making the NYT bestseller list?

Karen: Embrace the Night, the previous Cassandra Palmer novel, debuted at #6, so this wasn’t the first time the series showed up in the top ten. That being said, it was wonderful to make the list again. It’s great when fans of the series enjoy it enough to rush out and get the book when it is first available, because making the list helps to spread word about the series.

PVN: Dorina Basarab is the dhampir (half-human, half-vampire) heroine in her own series. Would you describe Dory's character and what some of her challenges are?
[Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab, Dhampir, Book 1)]

Karen: Dory is pretty much persona non grata in the supernatural world. She is hated and feared by vampires as a creature who traditionally has preyed on their kind. But she isn’t liked much better by humans, because dhampirs in my world are prone to rage-fueled black outs that are as frightening as they are dangerous. This has left her in limbo for much of her life, with seriously strained family relationships and few friends. That is starting to change, however, as Dory finds a niche for herself in the most unlikely of places: the middle of a war in the supernatural community. Suddenly, her special skills are needed and valued, even if she herself is not.

Dracula has a role in Dorina's life. How much of Bram Stoker's Dracula is like the vampire you write about?

Karen: They were both based on legends about Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes, a fifteenth century ruler of Wallachia) and they’re both vampires, but that’s about it. My Dracula was a psychopathic killer with a serious grudge against his elder brother, Mircea, who had helped to imprison him.

PVN: What attracts you to the paranormal?

Karen: I like the scope it provides for imagination and inventiveness. There are things you can do in fantasy that you simply can’t get away with in any other genre (except for maybe science fiction) and that presents a chance to do something new.

PVN: Are there particular books or authors that inspired you to be a writer?

Karen: That list would be very, very long!. I have always read eclectically, and have enjoyed works in many genres. I suppose that is why I write books that blend fantasy with mystery, comedy, thrillers and romance—because I’ve enjoyed books in all of those genres. I also read in science fiction, horror, and historical fiction.

PVN: Do you have any favorite paranormal TV programs or movies?

Karen: I like True Blood. Charlaine Harris’s books are always fun, and the producers managed to bring them to life without butchering them (a rare feat). I liked the Dresden Files, too, and was sorry it didn’t stay around longer. And, of course, I liked Buffy. Everyone liked Buffy. It was the single most influential fantasy TV show in recent memory.

PVN: Describe your writing environment and your writing day.

Karen: My writing “day” is usually at night, because I just seem to think better then. As for my environment…

You know, I was asked a while ago to take a photo of my office for a web page. I felt a little intimidated, because most of the other offices they had displayed were well-appointed, uber-organized and sparklingly clean spaces, like something off a film set. Whereas mine…well, I’ll just say that, at the moment, my office/storeroom/exercise room contains mainly chewed up doggie toys, piles of books I haven’t gotten around to reading yet, notes I left myself that I no longer understand, old sneakers and various scattered CDs. There’s a computer wedged in there, too, which I use when I can find it.

PVN: What do you do for relaxation?

Karen: Not a lot these days! I always find it funny when people tell me, “Oh, you’re an author? You must have tons of free time!” Not so much. I actually spend way more time at my job now than I ever did at any nine-to-five occupation. Putting out two books a year, plus novellas and short stories, plus the editing and promotional duties that come with the job, keeps me very busy! When I do get a chance to relax, I like to travel, read, cook, and just hang out with friends.

PVN: How can readers find you on the web?

Karen: My website is www.KarenChance.com. News about the series, contests and sample chapters can be found there.

Cassandra Palmer series:

Touch the Dark (Cassandra Palmer, Book 1)

Claimed by Shadow (Cassandra Palmer, Book 2)

Embrace the Night (Cassandra Palmer Series, Book 3)

Curse the Dawn (Cassandra Palmer, Book 4)

Dorina Basarab series:

Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab, Dhampir, Book 1)

Death's Mistress (Dorina Basarab, Book 2)
[pub date is January 5, 2010]

Contest information:

One lucky commenter will each win signed copies of Embrace the Night (Cassandra Palmer Series, Book 3) and Curse the Dawn (Cassandra Palmer, Book 4).

To be eligible do one or more of the following:

* Leave a comment on any topic in the interview
* Ask Karen a question
* Link to this interview to your own site or a social network site, and be sure to let me know the URL
*Leave your email address.

Contest ends June 18 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time


Judi said...

Hi Patricia & Karen! *waves*

I got a kick out of your description of your office because mine looks pretty much the same! LOL I too was asked for a photo of where I blog from, and I never got around to sending that photo for some strange reason.

First commentor never wins, but what the heck, toss my name into the hat please. :)


Jo said...

Hey Karen!

I just love this series! I haven't read the 3rd or 4th yet (Amazon is mean) but I can't wait to!

Karen, you have quite a lot of famous historical figures in your novels. Where did the idea of including these people/characters come from?

I have linked to this on my blog's contest section, right sidebar:

Email: joannestapley[at]googlemail[dot]com

Donna said...

Hi Karen,

Both of your series sound really good. I knew of the Cassandra Palmer series but not the Dorina Basarab series, so I'm really glad for your interview today - learned something good. :)

Out of both of these two series, which one is the easiest for you to write?

Thank you for the interview!

Patricia, I blog about your interview and contest in my post that will be up tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia & Karen!

Loved the interview!I picked up Midnight's Daughter because it looked so interesting, but haven't read it yet. Have to move it to the top of my TBR pile!

How on earth do you keep the two series separate in your head? Do you rely on a ton of notes? Do they get mixed up at all while you're writing? I don't think I could do that, so am very impressed with your juggling skills!

I tweeted about this interview this morning.

Thanks for a great interview! Will stop by again after work. Have a great day!

Lilixtreme said...

Hey P & K,

Karen, what inspired you to create or write of the character Pritkin?

posted on my side-bar: lilibethramos.blogspot.com


Daelith said...

Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to visit with us here. I've read the first 2 books of the CP series and have the third in my tbr pile. Looking forward to it and the new series as well. I really enjoy your mixing of characters and paranormal creatures.

Any chance of some dragon or griffin interaction in future books?


Anonymous said...

Both series sound great. I'll have to look for them the next time at the bookstore.
Thanks for the chance to win.


Lexie said...

Karen--I admit to loving Dorina series a little bit more then the Cassandra series, but I just love me Pritkin...and the covers are so gorgeous...

If you had to choose an actors to portray the cast (or even just models) who would you choose?

Also I posted a contest notify on my sidebar at my blog (http://lastexilewords.blogspot.com)


flip said...

I love both series. Pritkin rocks.

Heather B. said...

What a great interview. I love the Cassandra series but I haven't read the new series yet.

Are there going to be anymore Cassandra books or are you primarily focusing on the new series?

chey said...

Hi Karen,
Great interview. Your office sounds similar to mine right down to the notes!
My tbr list is getting longer!

chey127 at hotmail dot com

Mel said...

Hey Patricia and Karen,

Thanks for the wonderful interview (and the books!). I totally love them (and Pritkin even more!).
I cant wait for Death's Mistress to come out (getting the UK release for sure!) and am even more eager for Cassie Palmer # 5.
I linked this interview to a thread in goodreads.com.
I dont know how to give you my eamil without posting it out on the web, so if io dont wint, thats fine. Just wanted to ket you know I loved your books.

Mel said...

Jeez, sorry for the typos (*embarrased*)

Here it goes again:

Hey Patricia and Karen,

Thanks for the wonderful interview (and the books!). I totally love them (and Pritkin even more!).
I cant wait for Death's Mistress to come out (getting the UK release for sure!) and am even more eager for Cassie Palmer # 5.
I linked this interview to a thread in goodreads.com.
I dont know how to give you my email without posting it out on the web, so if i dont win, thats fine. Just wanted to let you know I loved your books.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen! Thank for stopping by!
I've been wanting to buy your serie for a while just couldn't spare the money =(
Anyway, Did it bother you the way they pictured Jason in True Blood? It kind of annoyed me they turned him into a junky =P

I posted about the interview on my blog (http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=440213834&blogId=495124611)

And I can be reach at tynga85 at hotmail .com

Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia! And hello and thanks to everyone who commented!

Some of you left questions, which I’ve tried to answer below.

Jo—I’m a historian by training, so including people from the past was a natural. It’s nice to have a chance to use some of the info my professors spent all that time pounding into my head!

Donna—The Dory Basarab series (or, as the publisher insists on calling it, the Midnight’s Daughter series) is the easiest to write. Dory is so much more straightforward than Cassie, and the novels are more linear, which is easier to do. Cassie’s time-travel requires a lot of notes to keep straight!

Alexi561—Both series are in the same universe and have some cross over characters and plot lines. So keeping them separate isn’t as hard as you might think. In fact, I’ve said all along that I don’t really consider them to be two separate series, but one big story with different narrators.

Lilibeth Ramos—Pritkin, like all my characters, is in the story for plot-related reasons. His background had to be what it is for the story arc to work out. And, of course, a person’s past experiences do tend to affect their present and future actions.

I also didn’t want a stereotypical hero. Both Pritkin and Mircea (the two main male leads in the series) are flawed characters. Pritkin is prickly, secretive, sarcastic and generally rough around the edges. Mircea is manipulative, devious, suspicious and can be quite condescending. Yet they both have many good traits, too, which help to balance out the others. The combo makes them more real (at least, that’s the idea).

Daelith—Check out “Buying Trouble,” a novella I did for On the Prowl, if you want dragons. They also are known to show up in the Midnight’s Daughter series, too.

Lexie—I don’t know about actors, but a reader sent me a photo of Andrei Andrei (a Romanian model) recently who she thought would be perfect for Mircea. I thought he was a little young, but otherwise, fairly close.

Heather B—I have outlined nine Cassie books in total. Hopefully, I’ll get book contracts for all of them, but I can guarantee that Cassie #5 will be out next year.

Tynga—I think Jason is fun in both the book and TV version. He’s a flawed character, but an interesting one (and they’re my favorite kind!)

Karen Chance

Patricia Altner said...

Hi Mel

Patricia here. About email. I understand if you don't want to put it with your post.

Some people are more comfortable with gmail or hotmail so that their own computer is never involved.

OR I always post the winning name a few days after the contest. Look along the right sidebar.

If at all possible I do like to email the winner because in the past winners did not realize they had won

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

love karen books! and hlove


Valorie said...

Charlaine Harris' books are amazing. True Blood is one of the most fun shows out there right now.

Question: A historian by profession? Me, too! What is your favorite area of history for study? Where would you set your book?

Blogged: http://www.morbid-romantic.net/2009/06/15/book-giveaways-0615-0621/.

Pam P said...

H Karen. One of the reasons I like the CP series is because of hte clairvoyance and time travel. Have you seen a clairvoyant yourself, or know one personally, for research for the series?

Now I need to get into your other series.

Shared interview at Facebook:

pambook, alternate email pamreads@ mail.com

Anonymous said...

Loved your interview Patricia and Karen!!

Karen love the premise for the series. I was wondering what inspired you to began writing in this genre and if you have another genre you'd like to try your hand at?

Posted to facebook:

Pam S

Llehn said...

Hi Karen,

It's so good of you to stop by and talk to Patricia! I was wondering that as a writer, what bench mark do you use to measure your own success?



LadyVampire2u said...

Great interview. I especially like that Patricia asked about Pritkin because he is one of my favorite characters in your books.
My question is: Cassie jumps around to many different eras and times with her powers. Is it difficult researching the different time periods and getting them to work in the novel?
Also, I did post about your contest on my blog: http://ladyvampire2u.blogspot.com/2009/06/lots-of-contests-in-june.html

LadyVampire2u said...

Errr..forgot my email..sorry

Unknown said...

Hi Patricia and Karen!

Love the interview, one question I always like to ask is what drives you to write, have you always written. I always wonder at what is the author's muse. Thanks for answering some of these thoughts.

These books sounds great, please enter me.

I also posted your contest on my blog at http://myblog2point0.blogspot.com/ in my right sidebar.


Dottie :)


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hey, ladies! No need to enter me (gnashes teeth). I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail, Patricia. I've got this posted at Win a Book -- it took its own sweet time arriving in our inbox.

Donna said...

Here is a direct link to my posting of this contest. And I forgot to leave my email:
fantasydreamersramblings [at] gmail [.] com

Enjoyed the interview and thank you Karen being here, answering all of our questions!

Vickie said...


Hi Karen. I had TOUCH THE DARK on the Wanton Wantin' book list, now it is highlighted for soonest get after reading the interview. Was unaware of your other series and the first in that is on the list and highlighted.
Especially love the premise for Cassandra Palmer, rather reluctant hero.
Patricia: Thanks for interviewing Karen!

Anonymous said...

i love both series! But i love Dorina's adventure the most i think...she's really something and she has so many family issues!
I can't wait for Death's daughter to be released.

I'd like to know if there's a French translation of your books?... because i'm always talking about them to my friends but none read books in english.

I'm gonna post a link to this interview on my blog =)


Anonymous said...

Hi all!

Valerie—My specialty in uni was British India, but setting a book there would be difficult as it isn’t a very well known period for most people. A LOT of explanation would be needed.

Pams00—I’ve done some research for the tarot portion of the books, but no, I haven’t visited a medium. I don’t live too far from Cassadagah, though, so maybe I should!

Llehn—I consider myself successful if I keep getting book contracts!

ladyvampire2u—No, not really. I try to pick eras and places with which most people have some familiarity, so they are not too difficult to research. Plus, in many cases, I’ve already done the lion’s share of the work back in uni (I was pretty eclectic in my course selection!)

Dottie—I’ve always written some, yes. But most of my work was for my classes or history journals. It wasn’t until I graduated that I had time to try fiction.

Pattepoilue—A French translation is on the way, actually. The books should be available in French in the next year or so.

Thanks for commenting, ladies. And I hope you enjoy the series!

Karen Chance

danie88 said...

great interview! I actually tend to think better at night as well...


Chris said...

I think the casino "Dante's" sounds awesome - I would totally visit it if it were real. Haha.


Pissenlit said...

Great interview! I'm a fan of both the Cassandra Palmer series and the newer Dorina Basarab series! Some things that I especially love about Cassie's series is the time travelling, that she was brought up by the vampire mafia, and well, *cough* a certain war mage. ;) My office sounds awfully like yours only minus the doggie toys, sneakers and dvds instead of cds.

un_pissenlit (at) hotmail (dot) com

Marie said...

Great interview!

I love Charlaine Harris's books also, but for some reason have not enjoyed the show as much.

I think it's great that you are a historian, I am also -- maybe there is hope that I will write that book I hope to someday :-)


annalisa said...

Hi Patricia & Karen!

Really enjoyed the interview.

Karen, I love reading your books! How many Dorina Basarab books do you plan to write?


Tash (Golden Devil) said...

Hey Karen,

It was great reading you rinterview. I found your books by accident a few weeks ago and am utterly hooked and can't wait for the next Dory book to come out!!!

Whilst I love both Series' I have to admit to loving Dory just a tad more! I have to say that all your books especially Midnight's Daughter has had me in absolute stitches at times! It's great to have Paranormal novels that have some comedy in them... it doesn't happen very often and I am now trying to find more - though not all that successfully!

Do you plan on the two series' joining togher at any point? Dory and Pritkin would make a hell of a team and would have me rolling on the floor in hysterics aswell!!!

Keep writing and I'll keep reading ;)


L said...

These books sound awesome and I love the covers!


Ronin said...

Love the interview great job Patricia maybe we can use a hand in this area on our blog so i am officially inviting you to become a guest contributor on our site let me know if you are interested.

Have a great weekend Ronin

Jessica @ a GREAT read said...

I really enjoy reading the Dorina series. I've always loved vampires and while I didn't start with Dracula I did read it and enjoy it very much. I like how he pops up in modern day novels now as a vampire who's continually different. I know another author who drew him into the series and he was vastly different from your "Dracula". Kudos.

How far is this series going to go??

Posted about the interview/contest on my blog.


email: jessbess2505[at]yahoo[dot]com

L said...

I like to write at night also. I think I can concentrate more when it's darker out just like you Karen.

I blogged about this interview here:

If you could be any paranormal creature, which one would it be and why?


rubynreba said...

One fact she brought up is interesting and true that writers do not have a lot of time to relax like some people think!

Faye( Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm) said...

YAY love these books

Q: Whose you favorite author?

posted in sidebar


Kytaira said...

I love when a book combines legends, myths and history from ancient cultures such as the Greek pythia. Love it!

I'm another fan of True Blood and Dresden files.

lynda98662 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for all the great comments and questions!

Annalisa and Jessica—I’m really glad that you’re enjoying the Dory books! At the moment, I have five planned out in that series, but haven’t thought beyond that yet.

Alexa—Something that doesn’t drink blood, that’s for sure! I faint at the sight of it!

Fayeflame—My all time favorite would be either Rex Stout (for his characters), Agatha Christie (for her mysteries) or Tolkien (for his world building skills). But my all time favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engel. I will never write, or even imagine, anything that good.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and especially Patricia for hosting. I had a great time!

Karen Chance