Author Interview – Karin Gastreich

If you enjoy epic fantasy, you might enjoy reading this author’s books. [Scroll to the bottom for a sample of the audio book AND a Rafflecopter giveaway.]

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Karin Rita GastreichWhat genre(s) do your write? I write epic fantasy, in the tradition of J.R.R Tolkien, centered on complex and realistic women characters.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I grew up near Kansas City. Both my parents have a strong German heritage. One of my favorite memories from my childhood are the trips we took to visit family in Germany. That’s where I fell in love with castles and medieval-style towns.

In college, I studied ecology and went on to get a PhD in this field. As a graduate student, I did my research in the tropical forests of Costa Rica, where I eventually met my husband. Right now, I am an associate professor of biology at Avila University in my home town of Kansas City. I live between two countries, the United States and Costa Rica.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? I have been writing ever since I can remember. The first story I wrote was based on a dream I had when I was a little girl. It was a sort of dark fairy tale, with knights and ladies and much danger, all set in a medieval town. My mother woke me up for breakfast before I finished the dream, so I decided to write the ending. I’ve been making up stories ever since.

What is the last book you read? The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson. It is an extraordinary novel based on a Japanese legend about a fox who falls in love with a man.

Which writers inspire you? It’d be impossible to list them all. J.R.R. Tolkien andEolyn_Audio Cover compressed T.H. White provided the seeds of inspiration for my own journey in fantasy. I’m also a great admirer of Gioconda Belli and other Latin American authors, such as Mario Benedetti, Isabel Allende, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. There are many authors of history and historical fiction on my list of favorites, including Elaine Pagels, Richard Holmes, Philippa Gregory, and C.W. Gortner.

Where did you get the idea from for your novel, “Eolyn”? Many people, places, and events inspired Eolyn, but I think at the heart what most motivated me was a desire to write epic fantasy in which women played meaningful roles without having to wield a sword. (That’s not to say women don’t wield swords in this world; it’s just that they don’t always need to in order to play hardball with the guys.)

Can you tell us something about the story? Sole heiress to a forbidden craft, Eolyn lives in a world where women of her kind are tortured and burned. When she meets the mysterious boy Akmael, destined to assume the throne of this violent realm, she embarks on a path of friendship, love, betrayal, and war. Bound by magic, driven apart by destiny, Eolyn and the Mage King confront each other in an epic struggle that will determine the fate of a millennial tradition of magic.

Eolyn is a stand-alone novel, and the first of three companion books. The second novel, High Maga, was released this past spring in print and ebook format. High Maga will also be available as an audiobook this fall. The third and final novel of the series, Daughter of Aithne, is in progress, with a release scheduled in 2015.

Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it? Anyone who enjoys Tolkien or George R.R. Martin will like Eolyn. It will also appeal to readers of T.H. White and Patricia McKillip, and to all fans of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Although Eolyn is a fantasy, it reads like a historical fiction novel, so followers of that genre will probably also enjoy the book.

While Eolyn shares elements in common with these works and authors, I am really hard pressed to identify a novel that is “similar”. Eolyn’s journey is unique. Her story stands apart from much of the fantasy I have read, in that it is woman-centered and features a large cadre of women characters, without sacrificing the complexity and humanity of its men.

Think in the tradition of historical fiction author Philippa Gregory, who has made an effort to paint history from the perspective of women. This is what I am trying to do with respect to the genre of fantasy. Eolyn is a woman navigating a medieval-style world that is largely ruled by men. She confronts extraordinary challenges in this context, and she puts her unique talents to work in order to make a positive difference in the history of her people.

Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? I am currently hard at work on the third and final novel of this series, entitled Daughter of Aithne. If everything goes well, we will be releasing this novel toward the end of next year.

Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available? Eolyn and its companion novel High Maga are both available from Hadley Rille Books, [hrbpress.com]. They can be purchased in Kindle, Nook, or epub format, and are also available in paperback editions. The audio edition of Eolyn can be purchased through Amazon or itunes. We are in production for the audio edition of High Maga, and are looking forward to its release this fall.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Enjoy the journey. Be authentic. Take care of yourself and live life to the fullest. Write from the heart and your stories will always be unique.

Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? All reviews are good reviews, whether the reader had a positive or negative experience. I appreciate every single review I get, because that says someone has read and thought about my books.

I wish more readers were aware that the number one way to support an author is by writing a review, either on Amazon, Goodreads, or through some other venue. Having a variety of reviews helps prospective readers find the novels that are right for them. With a range of reviews, we are better able to sell books to precisely the people who will most enjoy them. This creates a ripple effect as new (and happy) readers share their discovery with friends and fellow book enthusiasts.

If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? First of all, I do not review books I don’t enjoy because I rarely finish them. Life is too short to read a bad book.

On the flip side, I always review books I read and enjoy, for the same reason I mentioned before: it’s the number one way to support an author.

I try to be honest and complete in my reviews, but also brief. I identify elements of the book that I really enjoyed, and also details that didn’t quite work for me. At the end of my reviews, I try to identify exactly what kind of reader(s) would enjoy this particular novel.

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9 thoughts on “Author Interview – Karin Gastreich

  1. Another great interview, Susan. I like Karin’s advice to be authentic — even when writing fiction. Plus, I love audio books. Eolyn looks very interesting. I’ve entered the rafflecopter and will keep my fingers crossed. Thanks for sharing.

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