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Pursuing Ancient Prophecies

Katharine E. Wibell Author Interview

Katharine E. Wibell Author Interview

Ullr’s Fangs is a dark fantasy following the experiences of Lluava as she faces some massive responsibilities. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

The initial inspiration for Ullr’s Fangs, as well as the two succeeding other books in the series, stems from the backstory of Lluava’s family. Her true origin if you will. As a writer, I need to know not only the personality and characteristics of the main characters but also the secondary characters as well. I challenged myself to understand Lluava’s father who had died before the first book begins. In understanding his story, I discovered where Lluava’s would lead.

Ullr’s Fangs is full of characters that are trying to serve their own interests by manipulating governing officials or pursuing ancient prophecies. My protagonist, Lluava Kargen, must discover whom to trust while struggling to forge her own path against formidable enemies and daunting situations.

Another important concept involves the Berserker. I love ancient Nordic myth and history. In reading and researching countless sagas and historical novels, I was drawn to the mighty and almost supernatural warrior known as the Berserker. This was the inspiration for a new threat to the Kingdom of Elysia that is introduced in this second novel of The Incarn Saga.

I was impressed with the way in which you dealt with the mental decline of King Thor. What were the ideas you wanted to explore with his character?

I grew up with a grandfather who dealt with Alzheimer’s. Though my earliest memories were positive, the majority of my dealings with him were watching a man, who was the patriarchal figure of my mother’s family, slowly deteriorate and lose most of himself to that disease. Thor was, in part, inspired by those experiences and the heartbreaking moments when old memories blended with the present or were irretrievably lost. I hope readers will relate to the bond his grandson shares with Thor as well as the desire to protect this man who is not only his grandfather but also his king.

The second reason for developing Thor in this manner involves plot. As Thor’s dementia increases, he becomes a puppet king easily manipulated by other members of the government who crave control. A power struggle ensues between the heir to the throne and those that have determined policy, made laws, and insured their own interests for years. I also wanted to express that even at the highest levels of power, corruption exists.

The Theriomorphs are exceptionally intriguing. Where did this idea come from and how did it develop while writing?

I have always had a passion for both animals and myth. Growing up, I read anything I could about either topic. Yet it was not until I had a dream where shape-shifting people were training in a military camp that Theriomorphs were essentially born. After that night, I explored shape-shifter and skinwalker stories.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of theriomorphic means “having animal form”. I used that terminology when I started developing my own race of animal shapeshifters. I wanted both human and animal forms to have shared characteristics and personality traits. For example, the main character, Lluava, has platinum blonde hair, jet black eyebrows and olive-hued skin. She has an athletic form and a personality that is fierce, assertive, and sometimes hotheaded. Her animal form, which is referred to as a dual form, is a white tigress.

Theriomorphs cannot choose their animal form; it is something they are born with and it is linked to hormones. For this reason, most males (testosterone) have larger and more volatile dual forms like tigers, bears, and stags. Females (estrogen) typically have smaller and meeker forms like house cats, ducks, and backyard birds. Lluava’s dual form of a white tigress emphasizes the fact that she is atypical even among her own race.

As a society, I wanted the Theriomorph race to encompass the idea of a native culture that has been conquered and forced to incorporate the social traits of those who have taken over their lands. Like many native tribes, their religion is based on a complex system of polytheistic beliefs, one that is very much in tune with nature. In Ullr’s Fangs, it was fun to slowly reveal more details of the original Theriomorph society and their beliefs so that readers could continue to immerse themselves in the kingdom of Elysia.

This is book two in the The Incarn Saga. Where does book three, Crocotta’s Hackles, take the story?

Each book in The Incarn Saga reveals more of the darker realities of the Theriomorph world. It is not until the end of Ullr’s Fangs that the reader begins to learn what the Incarn are. In the third book, Crocotta’s Hackles, Lluava’s personal mission is to discover the truth about the Incarn and what that means for her own future. I also delve into what the original Theriomorph culture was like before humans reached the shores of Elysia.

Crocotta’s Hackles is full of sudden twists and new realizations that will distinctly alter what both Lluava and the readers believe. I truly hope fans of the first two books will fall in love with the third as much as I did when writing it.

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Ullr's Fangs (The Incarn Saga Book 2) by [Wibell, Katharine]

“According to legend, when the world was young, two gods of war — one male, one female — were destined for each other. Yet Ullr, forever unfaithful, lost the love of Issaura, his true match, and was forsworn. His violent anger and bitter rage grew and intensified, poisoning all creation and humanity.

Now that the Raiders’ long ships have faded from sight, the kingdom of Elysia is beginning to recover from the summer’s war with the brutal invaders from across the sea. Yet darker forces have taken root, forces that can alter the future of the land and its people in unthinkable ways. Seventeen-year-old Lluava must discover the means to prevent her world from collapsing. But in doing so, will she succumb to that darkness?”

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A Curiosity for the Unknown

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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