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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“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?”