Karen Wasylowski Questions

Which books/authors inspired your work?
The books in the Vale Investigation series draw a lot from various mythologies. Hostile Takeover features monsters from the Old Norse and Ancient Egypt. Book two draws from the Old Arabian Mythology, while book three features creatures from the Japanese lore.

So I had to get books on each mythology beforehand. It felt like going back to school and having homework to do. But it was a lot of fun too; I love learning about new cultures.

What’s one thing that you learned while writing your book?
One of the first big surprises was discovering just how many different mythologies there are. We’ve all heard about Greek or Egyptian, but there are hundreds of them… and they all have a plethora of monsters and creatures to draw inspiration from. Africa alone has several dozens.

To help spread that knowledge, I decided to try and focus on a new mythology for each book.

After this book, are you writing anything new? Where are you in the process?
Hostile Takeover is the first book in the Vale Investigation series. The second book Evil Embers was published earlier this year. I’m currently editing the third and working on the outline of the fourth.

Describe your writing routine. Do you outline? Edit as you go?
I outline everything ahead in details; it’s an important part of my writing process. For me, it simplifies the writing process. I start editing after the first draft is complete.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I have a day job that keeps me busy a lot. In my spare time, I enjoy watching TV or listening to music while going on a walk.

How do you combat/cure writer’s block?
Outlining really helps fight that. If you carefully plan out your novel before you start writing, then you don’t really get stuck anymore.

What advice would you give an aspiring writer who doesn’t know where to start?
Step one is defining your characters. Figure out who they are, and where you want to take them. For me, a story is a character’s emotional journey. If your character is identical on page 1 and on page 300 than you’ve failed somewhere. Once you have your characters figures out, you can start plotting. Create a detailed outline (which includes the ending) so you know where you’re going and you can start to check the consistency of pacing and look for plot-holes. And then you can start writing.

Do you have a social media presence? Where can people find you online?
There’s the official website: www.cristelle-comby.com and I’m also on Twitter (@Cristelle). All of my books are available on Amazon; additional reviews can be found on Goodreads.

Talk about your main character. What are they like and what inspired their personality?
The hero of the story is PI Bellamy Vale. He struck a bargain with Death herself a few years ago and agreed to become her envoy on Earth in exchange of a favor. He’s a tortured man, seeking redemption for past mistakes. He tries to do the right thing and help people, but Death doesn’t really have the same moral values.

How does your main character change throughout the story?
Being Lady McDeath’s foot soldier does have its perks: near immortality and a few boons which Vale has to learn how to use. At the start of the story, he doesn’t know yet what he’s capable of. He’s also making friends and allies along the way.

What made you choose the time/place in which your book was set?
It’s set in the present times, but in a fictitious American town. The first series of books I worked on, The Neve & Egan Cases, was set in London and I spend an incredible amount of times looking up street names and Underground stations, to make sure that I was accurate. So I decided to make things easier on myself this time… everything’s made up.

What type of person do you think would most enjoy your book?
Well these novels are a good mesh of classic detective noir and urban fantasy. So any fans of Jim Butcher, for example should enjoy the hell out of it.

How do you organize your book collection, if at all?
It’s not organized at all. I have a small shelf and a lot of books, so trying to make everything fit is a bit like a game of Tetris.

If you could invite your favorite fictional hero/heroine over to your house for dinner, who would it be and what would you talk about?
I’d like to invite Dr Who… so long as we can squeeze in a few trips between the main course and the dessert.

What’s the best book, other than yours, that no one has ever heard of?
Something under the radar… hum, I guess one would be Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman. It’s a short novel that is partly a biography of Einstein’s life and partly a poetic study of the structure of time—I really love it. Another one would be The Portrait by Iain Pears—a 200+ pages monologue. From a writer’s point-of-view, what he did is quite the tour-de-force. For casual readers, it may be a little hard to get into it, but once you’ve adjusted to the unusual style you’ll find a really gripping story (try the audiobook, if it’s too hard to get into it).