Psychic order

Sometimes I’m asked in what order someone should read my books. I guess this is because some of the same characters appear in the three which are published. First, I think it doesn’t matter. Read whichever one comes your way, and go from there. Each book is written to stand alone: a full-fledged story with beginning, middle, end. But as the one who writes them, it is very interesting to me the way they have unfolded in my imagination. The first one was written to heal over a great hurt. The second one was written because the publisher made an offer I couldn’t refuse. The third one was written because that’s what was there for me to do when I left a regular job. The fourth one is being written now because it’s the one I’ve been trying to write since the second.  A piece of it tumbled out in the third. That was when I realized how large this particular story (Louis XIV) was, and that my mistake had been to try to fit that story into one book. So now I write another piece of that story. And when it is finished, I will take one thread and unfurl it forward into the time period of Dark Angels, and those characters, Richard and Alice, will come back on stage. But then the book after, six, if I’m counting correctly, will again look backward to Alice’s girlhood. And then, and only then, will I be ready to go forward to the early 18th century in which Barbara, the character of the first and second novels, lives. Somehow, there’s a psychic order. I must finish with Louis XIV and Alice before I can begin again with Barbara. It’s as if I threw a rock in a pond, and the rock was the first book, and these which come after are the ripples in my imagination. Those basic themes of what is love, what is forgiveness, what is redemption just keep widening.


11 responses to “Psychic order

  1. You are my favourite author and I am so happy that you continue writing. “Through a Glass, Darkly” is a story that so deeply touched me. Barbara’s relationship with her grandmother mirrored my own with my Grams. Thank you so much for the wonderful books you write.

  2. I tried emailing you through Random House today…that didn’t work. So, I’ll post the letter here….

    Subject: Love it! As always…

    Dear Miss Koen,

    I can only apologize for failing to read Dark Angels sooner. I don’t read as many books as I used to…I suppose that happens when you start to write them 😉 Through a Glass Darkly has been one of my faves for years, decades if the truth be known. And I suspect Dark Angels will earn its place next to that dog eared volume shortly. I will continue to yearn for more. I can’t get enough of the intrigue, desperation and nastiness that inhabits all your characters, making them live vibrantly in my heart. Perhaps Barbara Alderly and Alice Verney reflect parts of me as a woman, things that change over the years. How we see things differently.

    I first read Through a Glass when I was about 20. It joined the other books in my library. I wasn’t a total romance convert at that point…more of a fantasy girl. But I went back to wallow in the fabrics, gossip and heartbreak periodically. I wanted more. When I had my wedding gown designed some eight years later, I begged for greens, reds and roses…no silver. And when I revisited Barbara’s wedding a year or two later, there it was. My gown. One of those subconscious, didn’t know it had sunk that deeply into my brain things.

    My husband? A blue eyed prince named Richard…who handled my desire to see him in period clothing at the ceremony with a decent amount of aplomb. The Great Wedding Boot search encompassed the entire east coast, including 5th Ave.

    Anyway, kudos for your execution of Alice. To see her, all of her, as a young woman, was enthralling. Her cut-throat, devious and whole-hearted approach to everything brought back loving memories of her future self (I really don’t want to think on that sentence….paradoxes drive me insane). Just as before, I’d love to see exactly what happened next…but perhaps my imagination will have to do. I’ve managed two 80k novels, I can only imagine the amount of time and dedication required to weave your tales.

    Applause! And thank you for bringing us another tale. I will wait patiently for the next–well, not too patiently.



    S.D. Grady
    Be my friend!

  3. Im delighted to hear there are plans for an eventual further book about Barbara. I read Through A Glass Darkly in 1991 when I was 21 and it was momentous. It was the first historical novel I’d ever read, and the first ‘romance’.
    It sparked an interest in history that school did not manage and which has not left me, and I became besotted with Barbara. And her dangerous husband. And her scheming passionate grandmother. And her desperate mother. And her lost brother. The list goes on. Thankyou for the story, and I will snap up any and all of your future publications.

  4. Quoted by: Misfit
    ‘I have very much enjoyed all of your books and I wish you would consider writing more about Alice and Richard and fill in the blanks of their life together between Dark Angels and Through a Glass Darkly.’

    I second Misfit’s wish as posted in the “I Miss Her Vanity” blog comments.

    Alice is among my alltime favorite characters in historical fiction and I too would love to read more Alice in the future. Perhaps just prior to and during Barbara’s birth and growing up years (before TAGD begins when she’s a young teen).

    Regardless of the time frame, I’ve loved your stories about Alice, Barbara and even Diana.

  5. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Fistulae

  6. I just finished “Dark Angels” and loved it. I love the way you write your novels. They are permanant fixtures in my library. While reading, my imagination just runs away with the story. You explain every detail in the scenes where the reader can put themselves into the period. I recomended “Through A Glass Darkly” to a local book club and they can not thank me enough. They are reading all three books because they fell in love with the characters and their mischief. I am so glad that you had written about Alice in her youth seeing how feisty and taking control of everything character she was. Handsome Richard, need more of him. I would like to see Roger within your next novel in his younger days too. Even with his dark secrets he was a great character. They all are!!!

    Great work!!!

  7. An article in the June 2008 Costco magazine is how I came upon your work. I have not been one for history and it is one of my weaker subjects.

    I have now read all three of your books and look forward to follow-on stories. They have made this summer unforgettable – by introducing Alice, Barbara, Richard, Roger, Slane, and the rest into my life.

    Regarding the order … I read the books in the order they were written and would recommend they be read in that order. Maybe it’s just the anal retentiveness in me!

    Karleen – you are a very gifted writer. The ability to write and have your reader engrossed into the story and ignite feelings is a gift to the reader and a feat accomplished by only a few.

    For days I worried about Hyacinthe and was enraged when Charlotte was hurt. Reading further, I became enraged with O’Dell Smith and then quietly cheered when he broke his leg and died. I was equally happy that Klaus’ future may not be a rosey as he would like. Thank-you for reuniting Hyacinthe with Therese – I look forward to reading how Barbara finds out and what she chooses to do, if anything.

    I was asked recently whether your stories were real or fiction. I actually had to pause before answering. My heart said “real” when my head said “fiction”.

    Your books and the historical content have given me a clearer picture of why some things are the way they are today. As you frequently say – “everything changes and nothing changes”.

    I am very grateful for and appreciate your work. Keep writing!

  8. One day I was walking though the isles of the local Half Price Books as I do occassionally. Sometimes odd things happen as I stroll up and down perusing the literally thousands of books on the shelves. Sometimes I’m compelled to stop and pull one arbitrarily down and buy it without knowing anything about the book or its author; it’s as if the book reaches out and grabs me. This happened to me in July 2009 and the book was Through A Glass Darkly. I love historical fiction, but somehow I was unaware of this book prior to buying it. I read it all the way through the following weekend despite having to take care of two children under the age of six and a husband and I couldn’t put it down! I absolutely LOVED it! Where have I been that I didn’t know about you as an author? Your descriptions of the time period are so sumptious and your characters delightful even when I don’t think they are making the best choices. Since that fateful day I have read Now Face to Face and I’m now in the middle of reading Dark Angels. I can hardly wait for more!

  9. Dearest Karleen,

    I am so excited to hear that you will do another book about young Alice, I look forward to reading it, along with the 4th book you are working on.

    I have always searched for a series that interested me and I finally came across your books! Hope you have a wonderful day…


  10. To my favorite author, Karleen Koen,
    In Through a Glass Darkly, Alice, the Duchess of Tamworth, always referred to Richard regretfully almost. It was almost as if she played a large role in convincing Richard to aid William of Orange to usurp his father-in-law’s throne. She continually reminds the reader that Richard regretted his actions regarding that treasonous transfer of power. Would it be possible for you to write a novel that entails that part of history. I think that in doing so you would add great depth to Alice and Richard and allow the reader to further connect with these two characters. This is just my opinion, and of course you don’t need to act on it. However, I would be ecstatic if you would reply. Thank you!

  11. Pingback: 7×7 | Karleen Koen — writing life

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