Featured Friday! Katharine Wibell
From a very young age, stories and storytelling pursued me like a child’s imaginary friend. I created make-believe characters for every toy that my sister and I owned. Each had an individual personality, back-story, hopes, dreams, and reason for being. The villains were even more intriguing than the heroes and heroines. Why were they so evil? Had something horrible happened to them in their past? How were they connected to their victims? But enough of teddy bears and beanie babies!
Like many children, I was drawn to animals. After my first puppy, I never looked back. My family lived in a rural area and frequently fostered abandoned dogs and orphaned kittens. In time, I learned to care for, show, and judge dairy heifers; raised exotic breeds of chickens; judged poultry; and nurtured injured and abandoned wild animals.
My menagerie of critters grew along with my fascination with all beasts—mythical as well as real. Even now, if you ask which my favorite is, the answer remains a dragon. I read every story and collected every book I could find about them including encyclopedias of mythical beasts and beings. That opened the door to legends, folklore, and world mythologies filled with magic, mystery, and fantasy.
While most of my friends left the world of make-believe behind, I resolutely continued on my path of tom-boyishness and refused to stop believing in the unseen. I imagined worlds intertwined in an immense universe filled with talking animals, unending adventures, and enchanted weapons. My favorite character had twelve special possessions that helped her on her quests. I can still name them all, but that’s for another time. What is important is that I fully embraced her spirit and wanted to do everything that she could do. That included archery. So for six years, I competed in recurve archery tournaments. In 2007, I was honored to represent Georgia at a national tournament in Rapid City, SD. Our team – the only all-female team – placed third, and I was the highest scoring female competitor. The dynamics of competition would give rise to similar situations in Issaura’s Claws.
One other passion came into play. I wanted other people to see what I imagined. Fortunately, I loved to draw. Now, it was time to take my interest in art seriously.
During my college years at Mercer University, these different threads were woven together. I majored in fine art, which gave me the opportunity to hone raw skill and develop my own personal style. However, I also double majored in psychology with an emphasis in animal behavior. My curiosity about animals challenged me to learn how they thought and thus behaved. One result was that I became a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in the state of Georgia. My summers were filled with caring for and raising numerous wild mammals and domestic birds for release into the wild. Finally, I began to work on the characters, ideas, and plots that would become the Incarn Saga.
Shortly after graduation another special animal entered my life: Alli, a rescued American bulldog/pit mix. I had the opportunity to train and work with the sweetest dog ever. In the meantime, I provided marketing services for the Steffen Thomas Museum of Art located in Buckhead, Georgia. When the Ogden Museum in New Orleans had a show of Thomas’s work, I attended the opening reception. I was hooked. Here was a city that had the same eclectic flavor and lust for life as I had. I accepted an internship at the Audubon Zoo and Alli and I relocated to the “Big Easy”.
I am now a full-time writer and artist. Staying true to who I am, my reverse-glass paintings, especially those using recycled windows from Hurricane Katrina, feature an array of domestic and wild animals often with a New Orleans theme. Envision squirrels playing with Mardi Gras beads flung into a tree, or my dog, Alli, with a chef’s hat quizzically studying the fixin’s for a crayfish boil. Commissions include everything from pet portraits to swamp gators! Better yet, check out my website at katharinewibell.wixsite.com/kwibellart or visit Zele on Magazine Street if you visit the Crescent City.
Most importantly, I have focused my time on getting The Incarn Saga published. You can purchase Issaura’s Claws, Ullr’s Fangs and Crocotta’s Hackles now. The final book, Giahem’s Talons, will be published in 2019. The Incarn Saga is a young adult fantasy series inspired by ancient myths, filled with fast-paced action and adventure, and enriched by an understanding of animal behavior that defines the shape-shifting Theriomorphs. I hope you enjoy it!
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
I enjoy that I can control my own hours as well as work/write wherever I want be it my home, a coffee shop, a local park or while traveling. This freedom is wonderful as long as you maintain some sort of structure and keep yourself on a schedule, even if it is your own.
What made you start writing?
I have always told tales and made up characters and their backstories. I even created a version of myself that lives and interacts in all the worlds I devised. As I headed towards high school, I considered collecting these stories and writing a series based upon them. Realizing that I was not ready to produce a work that meant so much to me personally, I decided to hold off on that project. Soon afterward, I conceived of what turned into The Incarn Saga series.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
When I was younger, J. K Rowling was greatly influential since she often incorporated old and almost forgotten myths in her modern fantasy writings. Now I also would add J.R.R. Tolkien and G.R.R. Martin since they both fuse old myths in their worldbuilding. I share Tolkien’s enthusiasm for Norse myth and Martin’s brutal and gritty honesty about the darker sides of reality and humanity.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
My tip would be that an aspiring Author needs to understand that writing is only half the battle. There are countless hours spent rewriting and editing content after the original draft is completed. If the author is taking the indie author route, there is also the time and energy spent formatting the book, designing the cover, publishing the work, and then marketing the final product.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
I have always been drawn to the ancient epics and sagas from around the world. I guess you could say that I was that weird kid who read the Odyssey and Iliad for pleasure. Right now, I am very interested in the Nordic Sagas, especially the 40 from Iceland. They serve as a great inspiration for my coming novella series.
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
Well, there is Lluava, the main character in The Incarn Saga series. She is spunky, feisty, athletic, daring, smart, and demands to find out the truth. Yet if I had to choose another, I would select Yena who appears in the third book, Crocotta’s Hackles. I am clearly drawn to strong female personas. These two fit that role perfectly.
Which book do you consider a must-read?
I believe that everyone should read the Iliad at least once in their lives. For me, it encapsulated virtually all literary themes and characters. The readers are thrust into the volatile situation of the Trojan war where characters are neither 100% good or evil. Honour, deception, love, hate, sorrow, despair, and revenge all blend into this sweeping tale. It is a classic in every sense of the word.
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
For me, my hardest edit was actually adding the final section to my latest book, Crocotta’s Hackles. I was advised to lessen the jarring nature in which I originally ended it so not to potentially anger or lose my readership. I rarely like to add or take out sections for the intent to be more reader-friendly. I like to keep true to what my stories have to say and how they end up expressing themselves.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
Can I pick one of mine? One of my upcoming projects is heavily inspired by the dream worlds created in my childhood. That would be my ideal place to live.
Is there any conflict between what you want to write and what you think your readers will like?
A little. As I mentioned earlier, very rarely do I switch up entire sections in my books to make them more reader-friendly. Regardless, I do want my work to be well edited with a steady pace and exciting twists scattered throughout. I do tend to prefer cliffhanger endings that encourage the reader to pick up the next book. Yet I understand this technique is off-putting to some. In the end, I believe I must be predominantly true to myself and my style.
What effect can a review have on you, if you read them at all? Both the good and the bad.
So far, I have been pleased with my reviews. As a newer author, I do not have a ton of books published yet. With that said, the current books are part of my initial series. They all serve as learning instruments to make me a better writer. I feel blessed when my work receives an award or recognition. However, I am not upset if someone’s honest opinion is not favourable. Critical reviews, both positive or negative, allow me to evaluate where I am in my writing.
Furthermore, as an author, I believe that I will always continue to adapt, change, and hopefully improve. Negative reviews can be used as tools to better oneself. I also understand that sometimes a person might dislike a book for reasons other than the writing. It might simply not be their genre, or perhaps they read it during a time when outside circumstances influenced their perception of the book. Every person has their own backstory. Sometimes an author just has to accept this.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
New Orleans author and artist loves to live life fully.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
Currently I have several projects in the works. First, the final book of The Incarn Saga series, Giahem’s Talons, is being edited and should be published later this year. I am also actively working on an adult fantasy novella series inspired by Norse mythology as well as a young adult fantasy series which was the initial reason I started writing.
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
Hmmm. I’m not sure, but I will share this one by William Blake as I have always found it influential:
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour… ”
Thanks Katharine for taking the time to answer our questions, lots of interesting stuff in there!
If you want to find out more about Katharine then check out the links below: