Please help me welcome Karen Duvall, author of Darkest Knight, the newly-released second novel in the Knight’s Curse series published by Harlequin Luna.
I met Karen through the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers organization and her blog – http://www.karenduvall.blogspot.com/
Darkest Knight releases today, and I am both pleased and honored that Karen agreed to share her release day by letting me interview here at Spann of Time!
And now, on with the interview:
1. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Hollywood, California, but I spent my childhood split between Hawaii and Los Angeles. My dad’s job took him to Hawaii several times a year so we had a house there and traveled with him. Then when I was 11 we moved to Hawaii permanently.
2. What inspired you to start writing?
I always loved stories as a child and my mom read to me a lot. I started making up my own stories when I was about three, and since I didn’t yet know how to write, I’d tell them to my mom so she could write them down for me. Then I drew the pictures. I’ve been telling stories ever since.
3. If you could go back in time and share one writing lesson with “new writer you” before starting your first manuscript … what would that be?
Wow, there are so many lessons I wish I knew back then. I’d probably tell myself to focus more on the characters than the plot, and to always remember that it’s the characters’ emotions that drive the story, not the plot.
4. Darkest Knight is the sequel to Knight’s Curse. Did you know, when you started writing Knight’s Curse, that the story would become a series – and if so, how did you choose where to split the tale?
I did know, yes. I had already visualized so many different scenarios for my world, and the more I got to know Chalice, the more I could see where her story would take her. The tale grew from there and while writing the first book I discovered more and more possibilities for her adventures. She’s such a conflicted character with a lot to learn, and the world she lives in is steeped in danger and intrigue. There are many stories yet to tell.
5. How did writing a sequel differ from writing the first novel in the series?
When I wrote the sequel, I already knew the main characters pretty well. However, I still had to write it in a way that would introduce the characters to new readers who may not have read the first story. Having a good feel for all the main players and knowing how they evolved helped me give them more depth. And having my magic system already developed enabled me to add to and hone what was already in place. Writing that second book was an enriching experience.
6. Darkest Knight’s heroine, Chalice, must face and defeat a gargoyle that has taken over the body of the man she loves. Did the fantasy elements of Darkest Knight make it easier or more difficult to make Chalice a convincing heroine?
I think fantasy elements are a wonderful way to explore hidden layers of characters because it confronts them with otherworldly and usually impossible dilemmas. What better way to bring out the best, and the worst, in someone? I think readers can put themselves in Chalice’s shoes and feel what she feels, hurt when she hurts, and experience her utter determination for achieving what’s most important to her. She’s up against impossible odds, and it’s both frightening and exciting.
7. Do you have a favorite author? If so, who and why?
I have a few, actually. Each of them has fulfilled something different in me as a reader and as a writer. I enjoy a variety of genres, so my enjoyment comes mainly from character and voice. I’m enamored by Clive Barker’s exquisite imagination and impeccable style, Armistead Maupin’s amazing talent for portraying characters you want as your best friends, and Stephen King because he’s a master of everything.
8. Please tell us about the last book you read, and what made you choose to read it.
I admittedly don’t read as much as I used to. Actually, I read a lot, but rarely complete novels. The last one I read from start to finish was Michele Hauf’s Ashes of Angels. I read it because I’m interested in writing for Harlequin’s Nocturne line so I’m getting myself familiarized with those books.
9. What did you enjoy most about writing Darkest Knight? What was most challenging?
I loved getting back into Chalice’s world again and inventing new charms and curses. I also loved getting to know her grandmother and the two Hatchet Knights living with her. It enabled me to create some fascinating new relationships and conflicts. I think the greatest challenge was reintroducing some of what happened in the first book in a brief and interesting way.
10. Do you have any upcoming signings or readings?
Today is release day for Darkest Knight and I’m fortunate to have a television appearance here in Bend, Oregon, that will air three times throughout the day. It was taped a couple of weeks ago. Aside from my book signing tomorrow at Barnes & Noble Bookstore, I will be on the faculty of the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in Colorado Springs next month. It’s a big conference featuring all genres and includes screenwriting and nonfiction as well. Several big publishers will be represented, and some big agents will be there, too, like Donald Maass. I’ll be teaching two workshops and sit on a panel to discuss the value of writing contests. I’ll also be in the conference bookstore signing both Knight’s Curse and Darkest Knight.
Readers in Oregon (and elsewhere) can find more details about Karen’s book signing here. http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/3235421#
And now, the speed round:
– Plotter or pantser?
Combo. J I write the synopsis first, then fill in the blanks as I go along.
– Coffee, tea, or bourbon?
Coffee! French roast and black, espresso if I can get it.
– Socks or no socks?
Socks when it’s cold, but never socks in bed.
– Cats, dogs, or reptiles?
Cats and dogs. I’ve never had a reptile as a pet, but I wouldn’t be opposed to one.
– For dinner: Italian, Mexican, Burgers or Thai?
I’m conflicted between Mexican and Thai. I like variety.
The official (Amazon and B&N) summary:
“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.
Thank you, Karen, for sharing your big day and for telling us a little more about yourself and your newest novel. I truly appreciate you being here, and look forward to reading Darkest Knight!
And, just in case you missed it earlier: CLICK HERE to get a free sneak preview of Chapter 1 of Darkest Knight!