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Katharine E. Wibell Author Interview

Katharine E. Wibell Author Interview

Issaura’s Claws follows Lluava as she is forced to take action against stereotyping and inequality in a kingdom divided by racism. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?

Growing up in the South, one becomes aware of prejudices around oneself. Personally, I have always had a strong sense of equality whether for race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. As a result, I wanted my debut series to open up a dialogue about prejudice of all sorts. Throughout the Incarn Saga, my four-book series, the main character Lluava is blatantly aware of racial, religious, and gender divisions within her society, and she stands up against them. Yet, even she occasionally comes face to face with the fact that she, too, is influenced by flawed thinking and must overcome those learned behaviors.

Lluava is both strong and intelligent and her character gains depth as the story progresses. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

I love strong women. I do. From historical figures like Pharaoh Hatshepsut to fictional powerhouses including Ripley from the Alien series or Laura Croft from Tomb Raider, I have always gravitated toward strong, self-confident, and empowered females. In my writing, I choose to focus on heroines that have great inner strengths though they may not all view them that way. As for Lluava, I wanted to shine a light on the fact that women can be smart as well as physically strong. I follow fitness competitors and have competed once myself, so more often than not, I find some time each day to work out in the gym. I also wanted my initial heroine to demonstrate that women can encompass intellect, physical prowess, and a curiosity for the unknown. Yet a good heroine is also flawed. I say this because all people are flawed. No one is perfect. Lluava is hotheaded and overly quick to act at times. As book and series progress, she must recognize and overcome her weaknesses and learn to make better choices — a great goal for every person.

The Kingdom of Elysia consists of humans and the shape-shifting Theriomorphs. Were the backstories for these races planned before writing or did they develop organically while writing?

The true beginning of the idea for the series came from a dream about humans transforming into animals. After that occurred, I was fixated on the concept, going over and over it before ever beginning to write it down. Because of this, the initial backstory of the two races from Issaura’s Claws developed rapidly. Only when nearing the end of my first draft did I realize there were three more books to come. With each subsequent book, I added more depth and complexity to the Kingdom of Elysia and the long and volatile history between the races.

This is book one in the Incarn Saga. What can readers expect in book two of the series, Ullr’s Fangs?

As mentioned earlier, the concept for the final three books came after Issaura’s Claws was almost complete. Because of this, the other books do have a darker, grittier feel as the world expands, the war intensifies, and morality is questioned. In Ullr’s Fangs, Lluava heads to the capital and encounters corruption within Elysia. New characters are introduced including a strong foil for Lluava’s military partner. And the enemy that they thought they had begun to understand is nothing like what they expected.

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Issaura's Claws (Incarn Saga Book 1) by [Wibell, Katharine]

“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.”

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Issaura’s Claws

Issaura's Claws (Incarn Saga Book 1) by [Wibell, Katharine]

Issaura’s Claws, written by Katharine Wibell is the first book in the three book Incarn series. The story is set in the kingdom of Elysia, an island inhabited by two races: humans and theriomorphs. The novel focuses on themes of racial divides, trust, friendship and gender stereotyping. Interwoven are legends and traditions, gods, and mythical creatures. All are called to work together when the kingdom comes under threat.

The setting for Issaura’s Claws is the kingdom of Elysia. Although outwardly appearing united, socially, the kingdom is divided invisibly into two groups: humans and theriomorphs. This divide becomes evident to the reader in the opening lines of Chapter One; “Trouble.  In the schoolyard, Lluava spotted a group of boys near a large oak. Definitely humans”. The reader feels Lluava’s pain as she describes these bullies and how they attack an innocent lamb. We then see her surprise and disappointment as she realizes that even her teacher sees theriomorphs as inferior. The author cleverly contrasts the beautiful setting with the social turmoil that exists in the kingdom. It is a clever way to address themes of stereotyping and racial divides.

Lluava is the main character in this story. She is a seventeen year old theriomorph, (a race that appears human but has the ability to change into animal form) and it is evident from the beginning she is headstrong and determined. Unlike her mother and many other theriomorph’s she values the old traditions and has not succumbed to all things human like many others. When an army needs to be raised she volunteers without hesitation. She begins to break down gender stereo types when she is placed in the women’s camp to learn to nurse the sick. She demands to be trained in combat, and is eventually permitted to train at the men’s camp. It is there that she soon proves she is a force to be reckoned with.

Overall the story is interesting an easy to follow. The one aspect of the plot that I felt could be improved was the number of ‘traps’ Lluava and her friends fall into. She and her friends are portrayed as intelligent, so the number of blatant traps they seem to fall into becomes implausible.

Issaura’s Claws is an entertaining fantasy novel. Descriptions of the setting and characters are detailed and rich. The themes of the story parallel with dilemmas that society faces today. I look forward to reading the second book in this fantastic series.

Pages: 362 | ASIN: B01MZZB80P

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