I am a writer and avid reader of romances particularly historical romances. Please join me on my journey through time
Please welcome Karin Rita Gastreich author of Swords of Shadows.
Karin will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Sword of Shadows
by Karin Rita Gastreich
GENRE: Dark Fantasy
What or who inspired you to start writing?
I’m been making up stories ever since I can remember. I wrote my first story when I was a little girl, and it was based on a dream I had then. Dreams continue to be an important inspiration for my writing today.
How did you come up with ideas for your books? What expertise did you bring to your writing?
Everything can be an idea for a book! My first novel, Eolyn, had many different sources of inspiration, but at the heart, I was most motivated by a desire to write a fantasy where women played central and complex roles. The second book in the series, Sword of Shadows, was inspired in part by stories I heard from my family about World War II when I was growing up.
I am an ecologist by training, and I think this has also inspired my writing in many ways. For example, the system of magic in Eolyn’s world is based on an intimate understanding of nature. Also, Eolyn’s desire to practice magic in a realm where magic is forbidden to women echoes the historic struggle of women to break into the various fields of science. The obstacles Eolyn faces in her life reflect subtle and overt patterns of sexism that I have observed or experienced.
I’m not sure if this counts as “expertise”, but I am also a hopeless romantic, and this shows in my writing.
As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?
Daughter of Aithne, the third book of The Silver Web, is set to be released in spring of 2017. The manuscript is finished, and right now I’m working on the cover art and design with Thomas Vandenberg, who did the covers for the first two books of the series.
I am also finishing up the first book of a new collection of stories. Entitled The Hunting Grounds, the novel is a paranormal romance/thriller set in my home town of Kansas City, Missouri. I hope to land an agent for this novel (and its companions), and I am currently in the process of querying.
If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?
That’s a tough question. I make my characters suffer quite a lot, so I’m not sure I’d actually want to be any of them!
If I’m to be completely honest, though, I think I’d like to be Helen in my latest work-in-progress, The Hunting Grounds, because she has the perfect boyfriend. Well, he’s almost perfect. There’s a catch, of course. There always is.
Do you belong to a critique group? If so how does this help or hinder your writing?
Oh, yes! I swear by critique groups and the first piece of advice I give any aspiring author is to join a critique group. I would be lost without my fellow writers. They have really helped me polish my craft, and have also given me a lot of support and encouragement through the years.
What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)
Best advice: Trust the fate of your novel. This is especially important if you plan on publishing. You can put everything you have into selling a book, but sometimes it just won’t take. And that’s okay. There are many reasons to write that have nothing to do with making money or garnering readers. Every time I start to get anxious because sales have slowed down or I just got another rejection, I remember this advice. If you trust in the fate of your novel, you have a much better chance of enjoying the writer’s journey.
Worst advice: Since I entered the world of self-publishing, I’ve been told that you have to publish at least four books a year to make a business out of writing. That may be the case, but if it is, I’m not in this for the business. I obsess over perfection in my writing, and I work a full-time job as a college professor. Between these two factors, it would be impossible for me to turn out four books in a year. Heck, it took me ten years to write my first four novels! Putting myself under pressure to churn out four plus novels in a year would destroy my enjoyment of the process. It’d probably also take a significant toll on the quality of my stories. So while it may mean giving up any chance of commercial success, I prefer to continue writing in my own way and at my own pace.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Both. I always have an idea as to where a novel is going when I start writing, but I also allow for changes as I write, depending on what happens with the characters and the choices they make.
Do you have any hobbies and does the knowledge you’ve gained from these carry over into your characters or the plot of your books?
I have danced all my life and currently study flamenco. I love the world of dance, and dance has played an important role in many of my stories. In The Silver Web, dance is considered an important form of magic. In The Hunting Grounds, dance and related art forms allow characters to communicate with supernatural beings.
Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?
The most difficult part of writing Sword of Shadows was developing the relationship (if you can call it that) between the musician Adiana and Prince Mechnes, a ruthless general of the invading army. Early in the book, Adiana is taken prisoner and turned over to Mechnes. He takes a special interest in her, and as you can imagine, there’s nowhere that can go except down a very dark path.
Some of the scenes I wrote between Adiana and Mechnes made me sick to my stomach. But I kept going because I felt it was important to tell Adiana’s story, which I think is the silent tragedy of many women caught inside the horror of war. I grew to admire Adiana deeply, because she manages to hold onto a thread of inner dignity despite her apparent helplessness and the terrible events that engulf her.
Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to write a series.
Well, it was quite unexpected, believe it or not! I originally wrote Eolyn, as a stand-alone novel. I didn’t have any plans for a sequel until after I signed my first contract with Hadley Rille Books. Then, ideas started coming together for Sword of Shadows, which Hadley Rille published in 2014, as an earlier edition, under the title High Maga.
By the time I finished Sword of Shadows, I knew there was a third book in the making. Daughter of Aithne was completed early last year. When I wrote it, I saw for the first time that Eolyn was always meant to be part of a trilogy, because her story – and everyone else’s story – was not complete until I wrote the last chapter of the third book.
That’s when I decided to reboot the entire series as a single work. Eolyn and Sword of Shadows underwent extensive revisions to smooth out connections between the three novels. I also asked Thomas Vandenberg, who did the cover art for Sword of Shadows, to assist me in developing a cohesive look for the trilogy as a whole.
And of course, I came up with a name for the trilogy, The Silver Web. The silver web is a magical amulet that brings Eolyn and Akmael together at the beginning of book one, and binds their hearts through separation, tragedy, and war. In a much broader sense, the title also refers to the threads of love, vengeance, and destiny that bind all the characters across generations of conflict and reconciliation.
Anything else you might want to add?
To all your readers: Buy my books! You won’t regret it.
Thank you very much for having me on your blog today.
Sisters in magic, Eolyn and Adiana seek to revive a millennial tradition once forbidden to women. When war strikes, their fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.
Determined to defend her people, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. Trapped by the invading army, Adiana is taken prisoner and placed at the mercy of the ruthless Prince Mechnes.
Even as their world is torn asunder, Eolyn and Adiana cling to a common dream. Courage and perseverance guide them toward a future where the Daughters of Aithne will flourish in a world set free from the violence of men.
“War propels the story forward, and the characters are at their best when circumstances are at their worst.” -Publishers Weekly
This is the second book in THE SILVER WEB trilogy. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, or as the sequel to the first book, EOLYN.
A hush of wings on the windowsill interrupted Eolyn’s thoughts. She looked up to see a Great River Owl, its proud silhouette outlined by moonlight.
Eolyn rose to her feet in surprise, keenly aware of its penetrating gaze, though she could not see its round eyes in the dark. A breeze ruffled its feathers. Its aura was impossibly familiar: intense shades of gold, burgundy, and forest green, shot through with streaks of deepest indigo.
She held her breath and let it go in a whisper. “Akmael?”
More than a question, it was a hope, a fear, an invocation.
A shimmer passed through the owl, followed by a flash of white light. Suddenly Akmael was with her, the heat of his hand upon her throat, the strength of his fingers intertwining in her hair, the demand of his lips upon hers, warm and full of passion. The magic of the South Woods blew through the window in a humid gust, swirling about them, begging Eolyn to remember who she was and what she once meant to him.
Akmael kissed Eolyn until she had no more breath to give. Then he paused and held her close, their foreheads touching as her fingers traced the familiar prominence of his cheekbone, the line of his jaw, the curve of his full lips.
All she could hear was his desire, carried on the rhythm of his heart. She dared not speak, for if she did, she might stumble upon words of caution or prudence or common sense, and none of that had any place here. Not when he was so near, nearer than he had been in such a painfully long time, closer than he might ever be again.
This is a gift from the Gods, Akmael had once said. To deny it would be an insult to them.
She hushed him with a kiss.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Karin Rita Gastreich writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she is part of the biology faculty at Avila University. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands for over twenty years. Her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. In addition to THE SILVER WEB trilogy, Karin has published short stories in World Jumping, Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.
Purchase link for SWORD OF SHADOWS, Book Two of THE SILVER WEB: https://www.amazon.com/Sword-Shadows-Silver-Web-Book-ebook/dp/B01G5L1GEG/
Purchase link for EOLYN, Book One of THE SILVER WEB: http://www.amazon.com/Eolyn-Silver-Web-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01B8F4G50/
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Karin will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.