Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Q&A with Karin Rita Gastreich, author of Daughter of Aithne

Now available from Orb Weaver Press is the romantic-fantasy Daughter of Aithne, book three in The Sliver Web series, by Karin Rita Gastreich.

The author has taken a few minutes out of her busy schedule for a Q&A about her newest novel.

When did you become interested in storytelling?

Ever since I can remember, I have loved story telling. I wrote my first story when I was in grade school, based on a dream I had. Although I didn’t get serious about publishing until recently, I have written stories all my life.

What was your first book/story published?

Eolyn, Book One of The Silver Web, was released in its first edition by Hadley Rille Books in the spring of 2011. At the time, it was a stand-alone novel. Later, after crafting the sequels, I re-released the trilogy under the title The Silver Web.

What inspired you to write Daughter of Aithne?

As with all the books of The Silver Web trilogy, Daughter of Aithne was inspired by the amazing women I’ve known and also the women I’ve read about in history; in particular medieval women, and how they managed to wield and manipulate power in a society so steeped in patriarchal values. In writing Daughter of Aithne, I asked myself, “What would happen if barriers to power were removed and women could rule kingdoms and even wage war just like men?”

What character in Daughter of Aithne is the most/least like you, and in what ways?

Once you’ve been through this many novels with the same characters, they become independent entities, and it’s hard to see yourself in any of them. Though we are not really all that much alike, my favorite character to work with in this book was Taesara, the woman who leads the war against Eolyn.

Taesara makes her first appearance in Sword of Shadows, and many of my readers did not like her. This kind of surprised me, because I’ve always sympathized with Taesara. Yes, she can be unpleasant, but only when she has good reasont. As a result of my readers initial reaction to Taesara, I wanted to come back to her in Daughter of Aithne and let her be seen in a more sympathetic light. I think I succeeded in doing that.

What is your favorite part in Daughter of Aithne?

The final showdown between Eolyn and Taesara, which is not only exciting, but breaks some important tropes of the genre. Can’t say anymore because of spoilers!

I also very much like the last scene of the book, which brings karmic justice to Eolyn’s saga; a final healing moment for a conflict that has lasted generations. Again, no more on that because of spoilers!

What was the hardest part to write?

One of the characters who is very dear to me – someone who has been part of the story since the first book – dies in this third novel. I cried buckets when I wrote that scene.

What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?

I’d be a biologist. Oh, wait! I am a biologist! And I love it. My career has taken me through forests and wildlands all over the world. I also very much enjoy teaching as a biology professor. Students and travel keep me fresh, and always inspire more stories. Also, unlike writing, being a biology professor keeps the bread on the table.

Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?

Sometimes. I pay much less attention to reviews now than I used to.

Looking back, what seems to stick with me most is when readers don’t like a character that I sympathize with. I already mentioned the case of Taesara ealier; but something similar happened with another character, Rishona, who plays a very important role in the second book. Readers loved to hate Rishona in High Maga, so when I reworked that novel under the title Sword of Shadows, I decided to add some scenes from her point of view. She still is very much a villainess, but hopefully an inside look at her situation will help readers better understand why.

I seem to have a thing for helping my readers sympathize more with my lady villains!

Another detail that has caught my attention is how readers respond to Sword of Shadows after having read Eolyn. Sword of Shadows is a much darker book. Some readers really like that, while others are put off by it. I’m hoping those who didn’t care much for Sword of Shadows will come back for Daughter of Aithne. It’s important that they see the full cycle of events. Without the dark and terrible events of Sword of Shadows, the triumph my characters achieve in Daughter of Aithne simply would not have the same power.

What well-known writers do you admire most?

I am a great fan of the Nicaraguan poet and author Gioconda Belli. Her memoir of the Sandinista Revolution, The Country Beneath My Skin, inspired many reflections on women, war, and revolution that eventually made their way into The Silver Web trilogy. I also very much like her frank and open approach to women’s sexuality, a theme I try to emphasize in my own work as well.

Another author I keep coming back to is Philippa Gregory, who writes historical fiction. Although I write fantasy, I probably read more historical fiction than fantasy. I especially admire the way authors like Gregory use their craft to reconstruct the lost history of women in medieval and Renaissance times.

I should also mention Guy Gavriel Kay, though I did not start reading his work until after I had written my own fantasies. More than influence my writing, I think his novels reaffirmed my approach to storytelling. I don’t write on the scale of Guy Gavriel Kay, but his philosophy of crafting characters and weaving tales seems very similar to mine.

Do you have any other books/stories in the works?

Yes! I am working on a collection of paranormal thrillers entitled Path of Souls. It is dark and twisted and based in my home town of Kansas City. Look for the first book in the collection, The Hunting Grounds, in 2018.

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About the Author: Karin Rita Gastreich writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary
paths they choose. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands all her life. Her pastimes 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.

Learn more about the author on her website at:

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