Born in New Orleans and raised in Houston, Kris Kramer has been a native of Dallas, TX since 1987 and graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in Computer Science. Starting off his professional life as a software developer, Kris spent his free time writing stories and screenplays for all the crazy ideas he had in that hyper-imaginative brain. After letting the I.T. industry suck his soul away for over a decade, he decided to make a go of his new passion for storytelling, and has been writing frantically ever since.Senior Editor and Publisher of The4thRealm.com
Having recently finished his first full-length novel, Sanctuary, Kris is now working on his 2014 slate of books, which includes the sequel to Sanctuary, a new science fiction novel called Olympia, and the follow-ups to Tales of the Lore Valley, The Organization, and his collaboration with fellow authors Alistair McIntyre and Patrick Underhill, The Rise of Cithria. In his spare time, he chauffeurs his daughter around, watches movies, and tries to catch some basketball on TV.
Says Kris: “Who wants to read about me? I write because my characters are FAR more interesting than I’ve ever been.”
Tales of the Lore Valley – The Wind Riders – amazon
Tales of the Lore Valley – The Montsernan Agreement – amazon
Tales of the Lore Valley – Betrayal of the Order – amazon
Tales of the Lore Valley – House Corovin – amazon
Tales of the Lore Valley – Eye of the Storm – Coming Soon
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TITLE: Sanctuary (Book 1 of Dominion)
AUTHOR: Kris Kramer
DATE OF PUBLICATION: Jan 01, 2013
RETAIL PRICE: $3.99 US (Paperback)
BISAC: Fiction / Fantasy / Historical
Sanctuary is the story of Daniel, a young, inexperienced priest in 9th century Britain where the mythology of the time is alive and well. Druids haunt dark forests, dwarves hide away in caves, demons rule the night, and Daniel must face all of them in his quest for purpose in a world ravaged by cruel and heartless men.
Sanctuary is a mix of historical fiction and dark fantasy, and it’s inspired by actual events from a dark time period. In the 9th century, Vikings invaded Britain, sending the island into turmoil. For decades, armies fought under the banners of Christianity, Celtic myths, or the Norse gods, eventually leading to the creation of England itself, under the pious King Alfred the Great. Men and women won those battles, but what if the gods themselves had played a role? What if powerful deities had fought over the island, with failure leading to their ultimate demise? Sanctuary, the first book in the Dominion series, tells that story.
“Sanctuary was a difficult book to write. Not only was it the book I considered to be my first ‘real’ novel, but I had to go to some dark places to really capture the mood of this terrible, chaotic time.”
Sanctuary is available through amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and smashwords.com.
What is the book about?
Well, the blurb would say that the book is about a priest in 9th century Britain named Daniel, who’s looking for his way in a cruel and unforgiving world. And when he sees a single warrior drive off a horde of raiders attacking his village, he thinks he’s found just that. But this story is bigger than just Daniel’s journey. It’s actually an examination of the religious and mythological forces at play in that location during that time, when Christianity was pushing up from the south like a juggernaut, the old gods and the Druids were fighting to keep what little hold they still had over the land and the people, and the Vikings and their norse gods suddenly arrived to cause even more chaos. I really wanted to dive into that unique mixture of people and beliefs, and by making it a fantasy series instead of historical fiction, that allowed me to play even more with the mythologies.
When did you start writing the book?
I think I wrote the first chapter in the summer of 2011, as part of an exercise. I decided that a weak point of most writers is that first chapter, in getting readers engaged right off the bat. So I wrote the first chapter for a number of different stories, to see which ones earned the right to have a chapter 2. Once I wrote the first chapter, I let the idea of it simmer in my mind for a good six months or so before deciding that I could make it into a whole story. Actually an entire series.
How long did it take you to write it?
About a year and a half, with a few 2-3 month gaps in between.
Where did you get the idea from?
I’d read some historical fiction about this particular time period, and as noted above, the concept of these three ideologies, Christian, Norse, and Celtic, all coming into conflict, really seemed appealing to me. So I took the concept and turned it into a fantasy story, which allowed me to show things like angels and demons, norse gods, druid magic, and Celtic legends.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
Most of it, to be honest. I had a pretty solid, detailed outline for this book, but of course once I started writing, things got messy.
What came easily?
The first chapter. I managed to knock that out pretty easily. Also, the last 25% or so of the book happened pretty organically. All the rest of it took some work, though.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
All of the main characters, and almost all of the secondary characters are entirely fictitious. However, since this story is based on a real time period, I’ve used certain key people from history to help set the stage. As for borrowing from people I know, I do that for almost every character I write, but I don’t have one particular character that’s heavily based on anyone in my life. At least not in this story.
With Sanctuary, Kramer has crafted a fantastically engaging story full of interesting, multifaceted characters who are never depicted as solely good or bad. There is ambiguity in everyone, including the narrator. While Daniel is clearly trying to do the right thing, he often makes mistakes, and this makes him refreshingly human. The tale is also full of vivid descriptions that make the ordinary life of ninth century Britons come alive just as much as the intense battles with dark powers. The story’s pacing is also perfect. Kramer interlaces urgent, heart-pounding scenes with quieter moments, keeping the reader interested and allowing the story to breathe. This is the first book in a series, and the ending is perfect. The plot strings are tied up enough to leave the reader feeling satisfied, but enough things are left unresolved that I am eager for the next book.
All told, this is a fantastic read and one that I fully recommend.
`Sanctuary’ is really a touching story of the human condition and what we are all capable of depending on the circumstances.
Kramer’s prose is simple and elegant, capturing the reader even as he weaves a dark story of war and magic. Daniel is a character of many conflicting thoughts and dynamic weaknesses, an archetype that will resonate with many readers beyond the specifics of the plot.
Sanctuary had my attention from the very beginning.
I must say this is an exceptional debut book. […] we are treated to a wonderful story that I would declare just as interesting and enjoyable as Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth.
Not only could I not put this book down, I want more!
This is a delightful book – dark, mysterious, hopeful, honest, and very, very well written.
TITLE: Olympia (Book 1 of Olympia)
AUTHOR: Kris Kramer
DATE OF PUBLICATION: Nov 01, 2014
RETAIL PRICE: $4.99 US (Paperback)
BISAC: FICTION > Science Fiction > General
In the late 21st century, economic and religious upheavals led to widespread unrest, and then to a devastating world war. As cities began to disappear from the map, salvation came from the most unlikely of sources – the gods of Olympus, Zeus, Athena, Apollo, Ares, all recently returned to earth to save humanity from itself. Stunned nations quickly became ardent supporters, following the Greek gods in their pursuit of a new way of life, a rebuilt society in which old borders and beliefs no longer exist. A society they called Olympia.
Nearly five hundred years later, Anthony Kensom lives in the nation of Athens with his aunt and his domineering grandmother. The early loss of his parents, and his struggles since have made him an outcast, and angry at the gods who have let him suffer. An incident at school leads him into the Athenian Army, where outcasts thrive, and Anthony finds his true calling as a commander and strategist. Thrust through the ranks by skill and by fortune, he leads the soldiers of Athens into the glorified bloodsport they now call war.
But his new glory is short lived. Anti-Olympia rebels known as Faithless seek to undermine him for their own purposes, using his past in an attempt to turn him against the gods. Olympia is a cage, they protest, and the more Anthony fights against their message, the more he begins to see the chains that keep him shackled.
“I really enjoy stories like this because it doesn’t fall into an exact genre. I feel it has picked some of the best of many and joined them into a compelling tale.”
Olympia is available through amazon.com.
TITLE: The Extraction (Book 1 of The Organization)
AUTHOR: Kris Kramer
DATE OF PUBLICATION: Nov 01, 2013
RETAIL PRICE: $2.99 US (Paperback)
BISAC: FICTION > Crime Fiction
What happens when you take a tough guy with a soft heart, an adrenaline junkie Hispanic mechanic, a Communist Party torturer, a sniper with one eye, a socialite heiress con artist, and a hacker who’d rather be playing Call of Duty and put them on a team of criminals run by a bruiser named Big Man? You have one of the Organization’s best tools in their quest to control the world, that’s what.
Who wants to read about good guys? These people are bad and they love it. So check out their adventures as they destroy, betray, steal and assassinate everything in their way, even their own teammates. It’s all just part of a regular day’s work for them.
In Part 1 – The Extraction:
There’s little rest for Big Man as he gets out of jail only to be thrust right back into another mission for The Organization. He gathers his team for a high-stakes extraction in downtown LA, only things don’t go as planned and they find the federal task force known as Scimitar hot on their heels. When the dust settles from this particular job, everyone on the team will find themselves a changed man, and not necessarily for the better.
Author Interviews and Appearances
When and why did you begin writing?
I had an overactive imagination growing up, and because of that, I always had stories rolling around in my head that I wanted to tell. But I never thought of myself as a good writer. Or even an average one. I really wanted to share these stories, though, and any future ones I came up with, too. So one day, I guess I just decided to tackle it, and figure it out. Having ZERO training or experience in writing at all, I went to my software development roots and took some existing books and reverse-engineered them to figure out how they were written. And that process actually kind of worked for me.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Having a kid and getting laid off from my job. Those were two moments that made me think about what I wanted my life to be going forward, and being a writer, despite how tough it can be, was what I wanted.
What books have influenced your life the most?
I’m not sure which ones influenced my life, but I can tell you which ones have influenced my writing. I read a bunch of James Clavell novels when I was younger, starting with Shogun. Those books introduced me to the sprawling, detailed epic that I really enjoyed. Some other books and series that also had an effect were the Death Gate cycle, some early Tom Clancy books, and the Foundation series. More recently, I’ve really enjoyed Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon and King Arthur books, and I recently got into Ender’s Game and the sequels along with Old Man’s War.
Can you please tell our followers what The 4th Realm is?
The 4th Realm is essentially a brand. I started the site with a few writer friends of mine, basically as an attempt to foster collaborative writing projects, of which our Rise of Cithria series is a prime example. But as it grew, it evolved into something else. We only do digital distribution – ebooks – and looking at the existing ebook market, and the ease of publishing it provides, we’re noticing that even though just about everyone can get their books to market pretty quickly, the quality isn’t always what it should be. So at the4threalm.com, we try very hard to hash out our ideas amongst other writers and editors. We pass our manuscripts back and forth for critiques and editing. We share feedback, and provide artist contacts, all in an effort to provide better quality books. I like to think of the4threalm.com as a tiny little Pixar wannabe, where we work with each other very hard to provide quality books and stories that will make people want to come back, not only to see additional books in that series, or by that author, but from other authors at the site as well.
What are the long-term goals for The 4th Realm?
My dream is that readers come to the4threalm.com knowing that they’ll find great books, great stories, wonderful characters and authors who know how to give them that. The ebook industry right now is a little bit of a wild west. We’re looking to tame that, or at least to provide an oasis in that desert.
Is there any additional information related to the site that you’d like our followers to know?
Yes. We not only publish books, we also have an online writer’s group in our Forums. If you’re a writer looking for some feedback, or other authors to chat with or to share ideas, drop on by. Also, we dabble in screenplays, film and comic books as well.
Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning or do you not see the point?
Don’t see the point. Although, having said that, I tend to keep my bed simple, so I can just throw the sheets/comforter back up and have it look presentable. I don’t get the whole ‘lets have eighteen pillows on the bed because its decorative’ thing.
Do you get road rage? What pisses you off the most about other drivers?
I DO get road rage, usually in traffic, or when another driver fails to show proper driving etiquette. =)
You have multiple personalities. Describe some of them.
I’m a little bit obsessive or a control freak about things that are important to me.
I love goofy kid shows and cartoons.
I’m a bit of a romantic.
I’m incredibly absent-minded.
I’m into sports and I’m a serious gamer, with a crazy competitive streak, but I haven’t had any time to play anything at all for the last couple years … which is kinda depressing.
Tell us about a unique or quirky habit of yours.
Instead of drinking coffee in the morning, I drink orange juice … and I feel ‘off’ in the mornings if I don’t have it.
If you dare, tell us one thing nobody else knows about you.
When I play Viva Pinata with my daughter, I secretly enjoy it.
Now that we’re acquainted, can you tell us about your current project(s)?
I’m working on two main series at the moment. The first is Dominion, for which I’ve already published the first book, Sanctuary. Dominion is a fantasy series set in 9th century Britain that dives into the mythology of that tumultuous time period. For those of you who don’t know the history of the late 9th century, Britain was invaded and nearly overrun by Vikings.
Their Norse beliefs, combined with the growing power of Christianity and the fading followers of the old Celtic gods, created what I like to think of as a little bit of a holy war. So I took that concept, and made the mythology of the three belief systems (Christianity, Norse, Celtic) real. The first book, Sanctuary, is about a priest named Daniel, who begins to see the first hints of something greater at work, and we see things from the Christian PoV. The second book, Vengeance, features a Viking main character, while the third will star an Irishwoman who is also a Banshee. After the third, the characters will all be brought together to deal with the long-term plot lines of the series.
My other main project is called Olympia. I’m trying to finish up the first book now, and hopefully it will be out by the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014. Olympia is a science-fiction novel that takes place about 500 years in the future. After humanity spends most of the 21st century devolving into an endless cycle of war, famine, and economic collapse, the Greek gods return to Earth and remake human society into a new pseudo-utopia called Olympia. The first book takes place about 500 years after that event, in the new nation of Athens, where an army soldier named Anthony begins to move up the ranks, and learns that the utopia he’s been born in isn’t what it seems.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
Yes. But not to a lot. Maybe ten or so.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
I’ve wanted to be indie from the start, to be honest. I think I’m just a contrarian in that respect. But I pitched to agents anyway because I wanted to at least prove to myself (and others) that I had the skill to be doing this. One agent read my manuscript, and even though she told me she wasn’t the best person to represent this story, she was complementary of my writing. That was good enough for me.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
Professionally done. I’ve actually built up contacts with several artists lately, and I’ve been happy with the work each of them has done for me.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I released this book as part of a slate of books through the4threalm.com, and myself and the other authors have a marketing plan for the books as a whole, although I can’t vouch for how useful it is at this point. For all I know, we could be winging it. But we have specific sales goals for this first year, and we’re working on marketing the books at some conferences and expos throughout the year. We’re also creating some web ads, and some youtube commercials. Most of the books this year are fantasy and science-fiction, so we’re targeting that specific demographic.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
Ignore all other advice except this – write a good story. Here’s why. Think about the stories you read as a kid, or a young adult, or even last year. All the ones that really stuck with you. Now ask yourself why you remember them? Is it because they were paperback instead of ebooks? Or because they had a good editor? Or the cover art was exceptional? No. I’m betting that 99 times out of 100, it’s because of the story. Something about it touched you. Those are the ones you remember, and those are the ones you recommend. So write a good story. All the rest of the stuff you can worry about later.