Thrillers & Lovable Assassins


Today I’m so excited to bring another interview to the blog. Last year while researching publishing companies, I stumbled across a new small press publisher, Crosshair Press. I flipped through the website and stumbled across some short stories for one of their books, Kenan The Katiller Book 1, featuring a pyromaniac assassin of the same name. Naturally I loved it and as soon as the book became available, snatched it up and devoured it in one late night. I adore this book and have since become a Twitter stalker follower of one of the authors who tolerates my obsession with their characters. 🙂

These authors are Karis Waters (Katie Morford) and Carrie Lemke and I have convinced them to answer a few questions about their co-authoring process, the series, and writing in general.

You two are co-authors of the series. How does that process typically work?

Carrie Lemke: It requires a lot of coordination and communication! What works best is when we can match our schedules and have a dedicated day/time set aside just for writing. Almost every scene is co-written, and we both work on the setting. I tend to be heavy on research, and Katie is excellent at cleaning up the scenes and making them pretty, so things tend to work well.
Karis Waters: We’ve actually written together for several years now, so the process is fairly organic. We each have our own characters and work together to plan interactions, setting detail, and plot. We wrote Kenan almost entirely via Skype and Google docs while I was living in England!

Wow! Coordinating schedules of writer friends overseas for occasional meetings is difficult enough, can’t imagine writing an entire book that way! How do you think co-authoring has helped you grow as a writer?

KW: Carrie and her sister invited me to write stories with them, and my own writing career has grown out of that experience. I don’t think I would have had the courage or perseverance to start on my own. Co-authoring helps me push through writer’s block (there’s always someone to bounce ideas off or look at a scene from a new angle) and has taught me my strengths and weaknesses as a writer and how to leverage them to create a better story and creative process.
CL: Co-authoring is what got me started writing in the first place. Today, it helps me think through the story more than I would on my own. When we develop a plot twist, or someone does somethin unexpected, we take time to discuss the “why’s” behind it all. Sometimes it works, and sometimes we come up with something better, but it really helps me think decisions through and we end up with a much better plot.

Love how it brought you both into writing! If I didn’t hoard my story ideas so carefully I might try co-authoring. 😉 As evidenced by my fangirl sessions on Twitter, I really love this book. So what inspired The Katiller series?

KW + CL: We’re so glad you love our characters as much as we do! 😉 Originally the Katiller was a fan fiction series we wrote for the Star Wars universe. We actually wrote those stories for several years before venturing out in our own world. After writing four fanfiction books, we realized we had something special and decided to rework the universe and the characters’ backstory. So a lot of work and research later, and the Katiller was created. The characters in this version are a bit different due to a completely different history and plot line for the book, but we love the end result!

Love that it was inspired by Star Wars! You use quite a few Turkish phrases in this book. What did the research look like as far as creating the members of this Turkish hit squad and making them authentic?

KW: Great question! We researched different cultures and regions online. Also, through my work with an international charity I had a few friends who live in Istanbul confirm colloquial usage of common phrases. Because I visited Istanbul a couple years ago, I also had that experience to draw on for authenticity. But, of course, since their upbringing has been a bit unusual, to say the least, the Katiller have a rather mixed cultural identity that isn’t strictly Turkish.
CL: I did a lot of reading on fight techniques and gun types, stared at maps of the Swiss and Italian countryside for hours plotting possible routes, watched military training and squad maneuvers, and put my medical knowledge as a nurse to work for possible injuries and treatments. But a lot of the authenticity comes from setting up the character’s backstory, then letting them have their voice and speak for themselves.

Sounds like it was a good thing there was two of you tag-teaming the research! But you each got to bring something unique to the table. Do you have a secret “recipe” for creating a fast-paced thriller?

KW: Always be aware of the ticking clock! There should always be tension of various kinds, whether that’s an immediate threat to life and limb, internal tension between characters and worldviews, or, ideally, a messy combination of both. There should be a time limit for the character to accomplish their goal, and that time limit should be continually shrinking.
CL: There wasn’t any specific formula used, unless you count the Oreo’s and baby carrots we snacked on! Mostly it was all about timing. We tried to be careful to intersperse some fun scenes in between all the intense action to give the readers a break and slow things down a bit so it didn’t feel rushed. To keep the tension going, we used time and date stamps to help readers keep up and not get too confused with the constant action, as well as give a more realistic sense of time.

Oreooos!! You managed the timing well. I was either laughing or biting my nails. 😉 Outside of this series, what can we expect from you in the future?

CL: I don’t think we’ll ever be truly done with this series—we love the characters far too much. Even now, as we’re working on the next book, we’re constantly jotting down ideas for short stories that just won’t fit into the main plot. And of course, there’s still three more books in the series!
KW: We are hard at work writing book 2 in the Katiller series, “Savas,” which hopefully will release in 2017. We’ve also had requests for a Katiller prequel book or a character short anthology, so those are always possibilities. Personally, I’m working on my space opera novel and a YA urban fantasy novel (think Harry Potter meets X-Men in 1940s England), aside from my editing projects with Crosshair Press.

Yeah, I may or may not have also requested that prequel book… What do you love most about your characters?

KW: I love Kris’s drive and passion for her work. Jena’s hidden spunkiness and true compassion. Stef’s craziness and how she brings out the crazy in everyone else. Kenan holds a special place in my heart for being the most lovable pyro assassin ever. I love Savas’s dry sense of humor and rare soft streak, and Bener is the epitome of how a tough, strong leader can also be gentle. Eser is a punk, but fine, I love him too.
CL: Do I have to pick just one thing? I love Kenan for his sense of humor and his optimism, not to mention his pyromaniac ways. Savas’s blunt manner and dry sense of humor that covers his softer nature. Eser’s snark is the best, along with how he and Stef interact so well. I also love Stef for her unflappable good spirits. And I love Bener, for his complex nature, his big heart and protective streak for those he sees as part of his family.

Yes to all of these things! I love those boys. And lastly, because I like to include random questions in all my interviews, if you knew you were going to leave an unfinished manuscript behind, what would you do?

KW: You mean, if I died? *laughs* I’d probably leave it to Carrie with detailed instructions! That’s the great thing about writing with a co-author. We know each other’s characters so well we can write scenes with them on our own. I also have a very good author friend, A.C. Williams, who I would trust to complete any manuscripts I might leave hanging.
CL: As tempting as it would be to leave it as the ultimate cliffhanger, I happen to blessed with several friends, as well as a sister, who are all excellent writers. Katie would be the obvious choice, as she knows the world and my characters best. If Katie was unavailable, I would probably leave the manuscript with either my sister, Amy, or with A.C. Williams, another good author friend, with the hope that they would see it through to the end.
[Note: We did not coordinate our answers! Lol]

Nice to know that you’d be leaving your stories in trusted hands. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, ladies! I’m still fangirling about this opportunity. 😉

About the Authors

Carrie Lemke is a registered nurse by trade, and a founding member of Crosshair Press. She lives in Wichita, Kansas, along with her cat, Miss Muzzy. In addition to writing, she also enjoys reading sci–fi and fantasy, costuming, and drawing.

She and Karis Waters have been writing together for over a decade.

Karis Waters is an international script-writer and producer and a founding member of Crosshair Press. She earned her B.A. in journalism and worked for a newspaper before moving into communications for a world-wide non-profit.

When not globe-trotting she enjoys reading, photography, and long naps with her two Shelties on the couch. Karis lived in northern England for three years (despite disliking copious rain and milk in her tea) before returning to live in her home state of Kansas.

She blogs her travel photography and ministry stories at 

The book in all its gloriousness

Assassinations rarely follow the plan, even when you’re the demolitions expert for the Ghazi’s top hit squad, the Katiller. Kenan gets caught in the crossfire when their latest hit goes south. Bleeding out on the cobblestones of Milan, the one person who can help him is the last person he expects.

Just off her shift at a nearby hospital, American surgeon Kris Marshall thought she was done saving lives for the day—until Kenan falls at her feet half dead. She doesn’t realize saving him will put herself and her friends in the sights of the world’s deadliest terror organization.

Honor demands the Katiller protect Kris and her friends, since she saved one of their own, but the Ghazi call for her elimination. On the run across the lush Italian countryside and the icy beauty of the Swiss Alps, Kenan discovers that there is always a choice between life and death. A choice that might cost him everything.

This book is awesome. You can read my review for it HERE. And check out the first of the character shorts HERE

5 thoughts on “Thrillers & Lovable Assassins

  1. I loved this interview! *flails around* It was awesomeness. Thanks for sharing, Claire, and thanks to both authors! 🙂 I’m always fascinated to hear about co-authoring, and this book… UGH Claire you’re making me want to read it even more now. XD If I hadn’t already added it to my TBR from your previous recommendation, I’d be off to do it now… 😉 Sounds like an awesome book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yess! Come to the dark side! It’s an amazing book. Clearly I’m obsessed with it. 😛
      Co-authoring is really interesting. Though I think group projects have made me wary of trying it myself. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome interview! Love having both authors offering their opinions and POVs on each question. I’ve been curious how co-authors manage to do what they do. I’m not sure if co-authoring is something I’d ever do, but I like learning how others manage it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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