IndieView with Katharine E. Wibell, author of Issaura’s Claws

This story was loosely inspired by a dream which involved a military camp; the recruits being trained were animals that could speak: I was a white tiger. Strange but true! 

Katharine E. Wibell – 11 February 2018

The Back Flap

“According to legend, when the world was young, the goddess Issaura appeared among men. Those who treated her with kindness received the gift of the gods—the ability to transform into an animal form. This was a great honor but one that separated this race from other humans. Before Issaura departed the mortal realm, she promised to return if her people were ever at the point of destruction.

“Now a threat is rising from a land across the mists of the ocean, a threat that will push this race to the brink of extinction. Responding to the call to war, seventeen-year-old Lluava heads off to find her destiny, one that will carve her name in history.”

About the book

What is the book about?

Issaura’s Claws is the first of a four-book series entitled the Incarn Saga. This young adult war fantasy takes place in the fictional kingdom of Elysia where there are two races of beings: the ruling humans and the Theriomorphs who can transform into an animal at will. Though the two races distrust each other, they must unite when invaders from across the ocean, known as Raiders, attack the Elysians. The protagonist, Lluava, is a seventeen-year-old Theriomorph who is drafted into the army. Through her eyes, you see how dire the situation really is and experience the many adventures she endures.

When did you start writing the book?

I came up with the concept for this book in 2007.

How long did it take you to write it?

The answer to this is a bit strange. Right before I headed to college, Issaura’s Claws began to manifest itself. Surprisingly, the plot was based on a dream. Although the book was on hold for a four-year hiatus, post-graduation I returned to write it in its entirety. After completion of the first draft, I realized that Issaura’s Claws was just one installment in a series.  So, conception to publication took about ten years. However, my subsequent books take 9 months on average to write and about another year to edit and publish.

Where did you get the idea from?

This story was loosely inspired by a dream which involved a military camp; the recruits being trained were animals that could speak: I was a white tiger. Strange but true! The rest of the story revealed itself to me as soon as I began typing. I drew upon my own knowledge as well as personal experiences for some of the minor details. You have probably heard this before, but write what you know. The details make fantasy seem real and believable.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Although building and fleshing out the backstory is essential, I can get bored. If I don’t force myself to push through, I can stall for long periods of time until I return to a high-action scene.

What came easily?

I love action scenes especially when there are multiple occurrences happening at once. The mythology of the Theriomorphs (the shapeshifters) also seemed to come easily to me when writing.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

Though none of my characters are based on real people, I do pull in personal experiences to interweave amongst them. As for their development, initially, the characters seemed to present themselves to me at once. Yet, as I began to write, others that I had not expected, breathed life into themselves and took the book down some strange and unexpected paths. In this series, the Theriomorphs were a lot of fun to write about as some of the physical characteristics and personality traits of the animals they can change into are replicated in their human form.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

My favorite genre is ancient epics including but not limited to the Odyssey, Ramayana and all of the Nordic Sagas. Many myths and legends derive from these old stories. This is the same for my mythology-based fantasy. More recently, I read A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. I appreciate how this author is able to encompass so many events and characters and is not afraid to kill off a seemingly valuable character.

Do you have a target reader?

My target readers are older teenagers and adults who enjoy battle-heavy fantasy books ranging from The Hunger Games to A Song of Ice and Fire.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

My process may be different than the majority of other authors. I was able to conceive the entire plotlines of my first two series almost instantaneously with very little change during actual writing. I develop a simple outline of the books and then a short description for each chapter. Since I split my work between art and writing, mornings are typically dedicated to writing new material with a few afternoons spent on editing and marketing. When the first draft is completed, three to four rounds of self-editing follow before the manuscript is sent to my professional editor. I must admit that lots of coffee and a square of chocolate always help start my writing off right.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

As I mentioned above, I write out a simple outline of the books and then a short description for each chapter before I tackle it.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I typically wait until my first draft is completed so I can work through the entirety in a fluid fashion.

Did you hire a professional editor?

Spelling is not my strong suit, so I did hire a professional editor.  Spelling and grammar checking programs are helpful, but often miss the mark. I am fortunate to use the same editor for my second book – and hopefully the other two as well – which means there is both familiarity and continuity with both the storyline and my writing style.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I enjoy making playlists that are relevant to my current works but I only listen to them to get in the mood of writing and not while I am actually working. For that, I need complete silence. As I am drafting the first book of my second series, one of my favorite groups to listen to is Epic North. Imagine their music as a movie theme!

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I did mainly to fully understand this process better.

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 loved this first series and felt that regardless of the means, this story deserved to be told. I already knew some Indie fantasy authors so “going Indie” was an easy decision though it came with a huge learning curve.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I had a clear vision for my first series of books and their covers. As a professional artist, I wanted the main focal point to be images that I painted. From there, I worked with a graphic designer to create the actual cover.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

This again speaks to the learning curve for self-publishing. I am continually discovering new and better ways to market by reading, watching, and talking to those who are far more knowledgeable than me in these areas. I know marketing is my weakest link, but I hope that will not be the case much longer.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Take the time to learn about all your options. Make connections with other Indie authors and see what information they are willing to share. The process can be frustrating, but the more prepared you are, the easier it will be.

About You

Where did you grow up?

You could call me a southern girl. I was born in Texas, grew up in Georgia, and live in New Orleans, LA. Most of my childhood was spent in the country where I was blessed with opportunities to work with a wide range of animals as well as encouraged to play “make-believe” with my sister and friends. I know my imaginary childhood adventures helped further my ability to become a fantasy writer. Moreover, my experience with animals greatly influenced my first book series, the Incarn Saga. I am also an artist and specialize in reverse-glass paintings with a New Orleans theme. My dog, Alli, appears in many of these artworks either making gumbo or trying on Mardi Gras masks.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I have always had an eclectic range of interests from competitive archery and wildlife rehabilitation to dog training and step dance competitions. I love trying new things!

What are you working on now?

Currently, I am working on publishing Ullr’s Fangs, book two of the Incarn Saga. Also, as the last two books in that series are already written, I am actively writing the first book of my second series.

End of Interview:

For more from Katharine, visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like her Facebook page.

Get your copy of Issaura’s Claws from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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