I’m thrilled to have Karen Duvall on the blog today! Karen is the author of Knight’s Curse, and the followup, Darkest Knight, which just came out! Karen was kind enough to answer a few of my questions and we’ve also got a copy of Darkest Knight up for grabs, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!
Please welcome Karen to the blog!
Karen, it says in your bio that you’ve had a love of storytelling from age 3. What inspired you to finally decide to take the plunge and write your first novel?
I’ve always enjoyed writing stories and have been writing short ones since I was in grade school. The idea of writing a full novel intimidated me, but it also intrigued me. However, for years I was too chicken to give it a try. Haha! Finally, in 1991 or 1992, I wrote my first novel-length manuscript. It was semi-autobiographical and a mystery. Sort of. It turned out okay and got me my first agent, but it wasn’t good enough to be published. I still had a lot to learn back then.
How did you celebrate when you found out you’d be published?
I didn’t do much, actually. Now that I’ve moved away from Colorado where all my writer friends are, the only way to celebrate with them was through email, which I did with gusto! But that’s really it. My husband and I didn’t have the money to go out to dinner, but I think we ordered a pizza a couple of weeks later.
When you began writing Knight’s Curse, did you know you wanted it to be a series, or did you just plan to see where Chalice took you?
I knew I wanted it to be a series from the start. In fact, my first attempt at the first book had to be rewritten after I was halfway through because it stalled out. I had too many plot threads going on. I knew at that point there were plenty of stories yet to be told about Chalice and the Hatchet Knights.
Your newest book in the series, Darkest Knight, just came out! Can you tell us a bit about it?
Of course! At the end of the last book, Chalice finally ends the curse that bonded her to the gargoyle Shui, but it cost Aydin, the man she loves, his humanity. In Darkest Knight, Chalice is determined to make Aydin human again and she’s eager to join her sister knights in the Order of the Hatchet. But she soon learns that someone has killed almost all the knights and only a handful remain. It’s up to Chalice to track down the killer, and Aydin, who’s a gargoyle now, joins in the quest.
I love the rich and unique world you’ve created with Knight’s Curse and Darkest Knight. What are some of your biggest literary influences?
There are quite a few that have inspired me. I’m a huge fan of Clive Barker, who’s not only an incredible storyteller, but his writing is so lyrical it makes you want to cry. He’s written horror, but he’s also written what he calls “fantastica.” Neil Gaiman is another one. His NEVERWHERE was so totally original I couldn’t get enough. That’s what I really like in the fiction I read, originality. I want the author to take me places I’ve never been to before. Oh, and one more: Liz Williams, whose Inspector Chen series was published by Nightshade Books. The Chen books are some of the most imaginative stories I’ve ever read. The author is sheer genius.
What is your favorite part of writing fantasy?
I like to push boundaries, go places where no man, woman or child has gone before. (queue Startrek theme song) I enjoy putting ordinary people in bizarre and surrealistic situations, or vice versa, and then watch how they react. I’d like to say the characters write themselves, but that’s nowhere near the truth. They just produce the sparks that give them life, then I take it from there. Supernatural characters aren’t easily understood, and that’s a challenge. But I love it!
What are you reading now?
Right now I’m rereading some old favorites. I read across all genres to experience the flavor of a variety of styles and themes. I like mysteries and romance in addition to fantasy, and right now I’m indulging myself with an older Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel. Her skill at writing engaging characters is amazing. I don’t read as much as I used to, though. I’m too busy writing.
If you could have drinks with anyone from the literary world (living or dead), who would you choose?
Oh, that’s hard. I think I’d love to have a sit-down with Stephen King. I admire the heck out of him, and he understands writers. I feel like he could divulge a few secrets he hasn’t revealed yet and I want to be the first to know what they are.
When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I’m a graphic designer so I work a lot. And it’s work I enjoy doing. It’s a blessing to have the freedom to be creative in two divergent jobs. Now that self-publishing is on the rise, I’m seeing more demand for custom covers, and I really like designing book covers for authors.
Is there any news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
As a matter of fact I’m deep into a novella I’m writing for Harlequin’s End Of the World Anthology. It’s a slight departure for me because it’s more dystopian than urban fantasy, but still has fantasy elements. My story is about the aftermath of the biggest solar storm to hit the planet in 2012. My heroine is a storm chaser who can predict storms. The anthology will include the novellas of two other Harlequin authors and is scheduled for publication in 2013.
Also, I’ll be on the faculty for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in Colorado Springs next month, where I’ll be teaching two workshops and speaking on a panel.
About Darkest Knight:
“Betray your sisters or your lover. You choose.”
After the warrior she loves saved her from a murderous gargoyle, Chalice watched helplessly as Aydin turned into a gargoyle himself. Now, free from the curse that enslaved her, Chalice pledges to join her sister knights in The Order of the Hatchet—and do whatever it takes to regain Aydin’s humanity and his love. What she encounters within their hallowed sanctuary is pure intrigue.
Someone—or something—is murdering her sisters in their sleep, provoking fear and suspicion among the order. Meanwhile, Aydin, unable to stay away, starts haunting Chalice’s dreams, urging her onward. Ultimately, Chalice will be faced with an agonizing choice—one that will tear away at her newfound identity and force her to choose between duty and desire .
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