Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Interview and Giveaway: Eolyn by Karin Rita Gastreich

What inspired you to become an author?

I’ve been making up stories ever since I can remember.  There was a period in high school when I wanted to become an author, but I decided instead to pursue a career in science.  Still, I never stopped writing creatively as a way to escape and pass the time.  It was the novel Eolyn that eventually took me down the path to publishing.  I very much wanted to share her story, and as I did, I discovered people really enjoyed the book.  So I joined some writers groups, started refining the manuscript, and began knocking on the doors of editors and agents.

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

The name Eolyn is derived from Eowyn, a shieldmaiden of Rohan in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series.  In my first novel, Eolyn is quite a different character from Eowyn – for one thing, Eolyn abhors warfare and is not particularly good with the sword.  She also has no royal blood.  But I have always liked the name Eowyn, as well as the character created by Tolkien.  In a small way, I think the choice of the name Eolyn is an effort to pay tribute to both.

What books/authors have influenced your life?

There have been so many, it would be impossible to list them all here.  I’ve already mentioned J.R.R. Tolkien, of course. I am also very fond of the work of the Nicaraguan author Gioconda Belli, particularly The Country Beneath my Skin¸ her memoir of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. 

I read a lot of historical fiction, and have come across many memorable works, including Halide’s Gift by Frances Kazan and The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.  I also love reading history, particularly women’s history.  Two books that have stuck with me from this genre are Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starky and Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline P. Murphy.

In the genre of fantasy, I’m a big fan of A Game of Thrones (the novel, not so much the HBO series) by George R.R. Martin.  I also really like Patricia McKillip, especially her novel Winter Rose. My list of favorite novels would not be complete without mentioning T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, from which I drew much inspiration when I was writing about  Eolyn’s and Akmael’s childhood.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

I am putting the finishing touches a companion novel to Eolyn, called High Maga.  This is a darker tale, more entrenched in the terrible realities of war and the malevolent use of magic. 

The story picks up a few years after the end of the first book.  Eolyn, the last of the High Magas, founds a new coven in the isolated province of Moehn. The young girls she trains will, she hopes, revive a millennial tradition of women's magic.

Akmael, the new Mage King of Moisehén and Eolyn's erstwhile love, must defend his land against invasion by the Syrnte, whose witch-queen has summoned long-banished creatures of the netherworld to aid her conquest.

When the Syrnte army descends upon Moehn, Eolyn's school is burned and her students killed, captured or scattered. Aided by Borten, a loyal knight of the king to whom she is increasingly drawn, and the devious and untrustworthy Mage Corey, Eolyn must escape the occupied province and deliver to Akmael the weapon that might secure his victory. 

Their collective journey will test the limits of love and endurance, until Eolyn comes to understand -- perhaps too late -- that she also carries the shadow that could unleash Akmael’s doom.

High Maga is scheduled for release in early 2014. 

Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?

I have had the good fortune of traveling all my life, and the places I’ve traveled have invariably inspired the stories I’ve written.  So, while I don’t conscientiously travel to do research, I always end up doing research while I’m travelling.

As a result, Eolyn’s world – the Kingdom of Moisehén – is a strange amalgamation of different cultures and time periods.  At its roots is an imaginary Germanic medieval culture inspired by childhood trips to Germany with my family.  The province of  Moehn, where Eolyn was born, has elements of the Central Valley of Costa Rica during the colonial period.  Eolyn’s home with the witch Ghemena in the South Woods was inspired by the oak forests of the Talamanca Mountain Range of Central America.  Add to all this a bit of spice from Pre-Colombian Peru, as well as a dash of contemporary feminist sentiment, and you have quite a volatile mix!

Who designed the cover of your latest book?

I was very fortunate to work with an excellent small press, Hadley Rille Books.  My editor, Eric T. Reynolds, allowed me to participate in all the aspects of cover design, so I was able to have a lot of input in terms of the concept.  But the real artwork was done by Jessie Smolover, who also did the cover art for Finder and A Time Never Lived by Terri-Lynne DeFino.  Melissa J. Lytton, who has worked with Hadley Rille Books on several titles, including Transcendence by Christopher McKitterick, designed the cover itself.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Enjoy the journey of writing.  That’s what it’s all about. 

If you have the opportunity to publish or be published, be prepared to work hard at marketing, but don’t let it take over your life.  The priority should always be you: your health, your wellbeing, your family and friends, and all the little details – including writing -- that bring joy to your days. 

Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?

When I started writing Eolyn, I discovered The Open Door by Evanescence (which, coincidentally, was released just two months before I began writing my first chapter). 

Several songs from that CD inspired me, including:

Sweet Sacrifice

Bring Me to Life


Snow White Queen

Each of these captures the mood of certain moments in the novel.  I also thought My Immortal would be a great love song for Eolyn and Akmael.

Other songs I’d add to the play list are:

Alegria by Cirque du Soleil

The Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis (from the soundtrack for 1492)

Desert Rose by Sting

Una Gota de Agua by Malpais, a Costa Rican group, and
Lobster Band by the Calypso Jazz Band, also from Costa Rica. 

Although Lobster Band is a contemporary calypso song, it seemed like the kind of light hearted tune that would be played whenever Corey’s Circle got into a more festive mood. 

Karin Rita Gastreich

Genre:  Fantasy

Publisher:  Hadley Rille Books
ISBN:  978-0-9829467-4-9

Number of pages:  325
Word Count:  approximately 118,000

Book Description:

In a land ravaged by civil war, the Mage King Kedehen initiates a brutal purge of the Magas.

Fleeing his wrath, Eolyn, daughter of the last of the Magas and sole heiress to their forbidden tradition, seeks refuge in the South Woods.  There she meets the mysterious boy Akmael, and forms a friendship that thrives on shared magic.  Destiny leads them down a tortuous path of love, betrayal and war, until one day the Maga Eolyn takes up arms against the new Mage King.

Must Eolyn slay the man she loves in order to free herself and her people? 

The answer lies in the extraordinary magic she commands, and in the hidden power of a Maga’s heart. 

“Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes. . . with a romantic thread." – Publishers Weekly

About the Author

KARIN RITA GASTREICH was born near Kansas City, Missouri. After living and working for ten years as a tropical ecologist in Costa Rica, she recently returned to her home town and is now a Professor of Biology at Avila University. Her past times include camping, hiking, music and flamenco dance.  Karin's fantasy novel EOLYN was released by Hadley Rille Books in May, 2011.  The companion novel, HIGH MAGA, is scheduled for release in 2013. Karin’s short stories have appeared in Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and A Visitor to Sandahl.   She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.

Visit her at the blog for Eolyn, http://eolynchronicles.blogspot.com  and at Heroines of Fantasy, co-authored with Terri-Lynne DeFino and Kim 

Blog Heroines of Fantasy:  http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com

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Karin Rita Gastreich said...

Thank you, Roxanne, for hosting me on your blog today!

Laura S Reading said...

The cover is the first thing to draw me in but the concept of the book keeps me interested.

Karin Gastreich said...

Thank you! Jesse Smolover and Melissa J. Lytton really did a great job with the cover.

Chmst said...

I have read a teaser of this book on the Heroines of Fantasy blog.This just makes me want to read it even more.

Karin Rita Gastreich said...

Thank you, Chmst. I know you'll enjoy it; and I'm thrilled to learn that you've also visited Heroines of Fantasy! :)

Debby said...

What an interesting concept.
debby236 at gmail dot com