Open Book Society recently had the honor of speaking to Karen Dales, author of “The Chosen Chronicles.” She spoke openly about the inspiration for her books, characters and what the future holds.
Read Autumn’s review of Shadow of Death here.
Autumn: What inspired you to write “The Chosen Chronicles”?
Karen Dales: In my early 20’s I was invited to play an online roll playing game (RPG) by a friend. It was played by having many people write their characters actions, etc, within a story framework that was guided by the story master. The game, obviously, was a vampire murder mystery and I jumped on the band wagon. To play the game I created The Angel and Father Paul Notus as well as co-creating Fernando de Sagres which a friend was going to play. We all had a blast but when the game was over I realized that the characters had become real to me and wanted more than just the game.
The Angel and Notus’ origins blossomed into their own story that I had to tell, therefore I wrote “Changeling,” thus giving the back story as to the Angel, how he met Notus and the introduction of The Chosen.
“Angel of Death” fruited from the original RPG. I liked the idea of the murder mystery plot, but I knew there had to be more. I flushed out the concept, filling it in and adding more dynamics between characters and reasons why they would do what they would. It was here I introduced Fernando de Sagres from the original game, but with my own take and flare to him. I was lucky that my friend who had played Fernando helped me out A LOT. He was invaluable and I’ll always appreciate his help. I also added a love interest for the Angel – Jeanie, which added more complications but allowed me to write what I needed to for the story to develop and add a sequel.
“Shadow of Death” was written as the sequel to “Angel of Death.” One thing I wanted to do was to bring the characters to my home – to Toronto. At first I didn’t know how to do that, and then I realized that because the characters are immortal I wasn’t restricted to conventional time lines. I also had to give something back to the readers as I left them dangling with the ending of “Angel of Death.”
I’m currently completing the concluding book “Thanatos”.
Autumn: The Angel, Gwyn, had such a unique physical appearance. Was there anyone in particular that he was modeled after?
Karen Dales: Actually, yes. I have a wonderful piece of art by Heather Brunton, a Canadian fantasy artist that really spoke to me. It is now hanging in my living room so I see it ever day. It was based off this piece of art that really gave birth to the appearance of The Angel.
Autumn: Even though Gwyn was titled “The Angel of Death”, I saw him as more of a melancholy hero. How do you perceive him?
Karen Dales: I perceive him very much the same way and am glad that it comes across in the books. The Angel is very much caught in the fact that he must kill. He does not relish it, but sees the necessity of it at times. It is not necessarily his remorse over what he has to do about it, but rather how the loss will affect those close to the one who does die. I believe this comes from his personal history of the reason why the woman who raised him was murdered and his subsequent feeling of responsibility for it.
The Angel provides the human nature to the Chosen who have relinquished that responsibility so as to revel in their abilities to kill without remorse. This is played out quite a bit between The Angel and Fernando.
Autumn: The books dealt with dark themes of death, loss, betrayal and even bigotry. Was this a conscious choice?
Karen Dales: I don’t believe it was a conscious choice. Death, loss and betrayal are huge fears for so many people. It is through our attachments to people, things and even emotional states that can cause us to suffer when their removal occurs. It is part of the human condition. It is through these themes that we connect with the Angel and realize that despite differences – otherness, if you will – we are all here together experiencing similar things. We see the Angel as human, as part of ourselves, and maybe because of that we can become to accept these aspects and change our perceptions of them.
As for bigotry, I didn’t realize that until a fan pointed it out. I do really make a point of it in “Shadow of Death” because no matter what colour of skin, hair or eyes, no matter of manner of speech, no matter of physical ability, there are always judgments that other people put on us. The beauty industry, the weight loss industry, the entertainment industry, etc, really drive new types of bigotry and that is a shame.
Autumn: There was a bit of a Wiccan influence in series. What kind research did you have to do?
Karen Dales: Funny enough there are two answers to this question. 1) Not a heck of a lot at all, and 2) oh about 25 years of reading, training, etc. I’ve been running the Toronto Pagan Pub Moot for over 16 years now.
Autumn: Did you always plan to end “Shadow of Death” in the way that it did?
Karen Dales: Yes I did. I needed something very traumatic to occur so as to make what will happen in “Thanatos” realistic to the story. I don’t want to give too much away, but will say this, the Angel does not die.
Autumn: Will there be another book in the series? If so, when and what can readers expect?
Karen Dales: There will be another book in the series, “Thanatos” in which I answer many questions. Without giving too much away I will say that readers will be given the satisfaction they have been waiting for.
I’m currently writing it and hope, if all goes well, it will be released sometimes in 2012.
Autumn: Do you have any new projects that your fans can look forward to?
Karen Dales: I am also working on a standalone History Romance novel set in the Edo Period of Japan.
Autumn: What authors inspire you to write and why?
Karen Dales: Oh my goodness. There are so many of them. I look around my bookcase lined office and see so many incredible authors I have read that it is near impossible to say who inspires me the most.
I’m a lover of epics, of the well crafted series. I am also very lucky to have become friends with many of my favourite authors, such as Violette Malan, Nancy Kilpatrick, Tad Williams, Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris and Brandon Sanderson.
There are other favourite authors whom I haven’t met yet such as Diana Gabaldon, C.S. Friedman, Kim Harrison and Ricardo Pinto.
Autumn: What would be the best piece of advice that you would give aspiring authors?
Karen Dales: Never give up. Never surrender. If you have a dream to become an author, then do it with no excuses as to why you can’t. I wrote The Chosen Chronicles while working full time and having a family. I’m lucky now to be able to stay home full time and write. Not all new authors get that luxury, which means if you want it, then you will find the time to write, re-write, revise and edit until you see yourself in print.
Thank you so much for having me here.