Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Virtual Book Tour & #Giveaway for Sword of Shadows by Karin Rita Gastreich

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Book Tour, presented by Godddess Fish Promotions, for Sword of Shadows by Karin Rita Gastreich.  Please leave a comment or question for Karin to let her know you stopped by.  You may enter her tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  You may also follow all of the stops on the tour by clicking on the banner above.  Good Luck!

Interview with Author Karin Rita Gastreich

Me:  How difficult was it for you to get back into the fantasy world you created when you first published Eolyn in 2011 to write Sword of Shadows this year?

Karin: Actually, it wasn’t difficult at all, because the truth is, I never really left Eolyn’s world.

Sword of Shadows was originally published two years ago, in 2014, under the title High Maga. I started on High Maga almost immediately after signing my first contract for Eolyn with Hadley Rille Books. At the time, I did not envision these books as a complete trilogy. I wrote them one at a time, as stand-alone novels.

By the time High Maga was released in 2014, the third book of the series, Daughter of Aithne, was well underway. I finished Daughter of Aithne in the spring of 2015. Ironically, it wasn’t until I finished the third book that I realized Eolyn was always meant to be embedded in a three-part series. All the conflicts laid out in the first book were finally brought full circle in the third.

This realization brought on what you might call a soul-searching moment on my part. From a marketing perspective, I realized we’d done a disservice to this saga. Eolyn and High Maga were out there floating on their own, with little besides my name to connect the two stories. They did not have a cohesive look; there wasn’t even a proper title for a series. So I decided the best thing to do would be to pull the first two titles off the market and then reboot the whole series as a proper trilogy.

That was one of the best writing decisions I’ve ever made. As part of the process, Eolyn and High Maga underwent extensive revision. I had the opportunity to tighten the prose and make sure all the details of plot and world building were consistent between the three books. I also developed a new title for the second book, now called Sword of Shadows.This is a much better title on so many levels, not the least of which is that it does a better job of capturing the mood and theme of the story.

The trilogy as a whole was also given a proper title: The Silver Web. The Silver Web refers to an object – a medallion – that binds our star-crossed lovers, Eolyn and Akmael, from the very first pages of the first book. But in a broader sense, the title also encompasses the threads of fate that connect all the characters in the story.

Last but not least, I hired Thomas Vandenberg, who did the cover art for High Maga, to work with me on creating a consistent look for the trilogy. Tom has been great to work with. He’s a brilliant artist and a big fan of Eolyn. He did the cover art and design for the first two books of the trilogy, Eolyn and Sword of Shadows. Right now, he’s working on the cover art for the third and final book, Daughter of Aithne, which will be released next spring.

Me:  How has your career and years spent in the field as a tropical field ecologist helped you in your writing?

Karin:  Great question! Thanks for asking. Wilderness, I think, is a natural source of inspiration for stories. So much of science fiction and fantasy, in particular, has a wilderness aspect to it. Think of the forest in Patricia McKillip’s Winter Rose, or the desert in Frank Herbert’s Dune. Think of most any fantasy novel you’ve read recently, and I bet you can identify some aspect of wilderness that plays a part in the saga.

Many aspects of The Silver Web trilogy were inspired by my experiences as an ecologist. The South Woods, where Eolyn grows up, was modeled after the highland oak forests in the Talamanca mountain range of Costa Rica. The forests of East Selen, home to Mage Corey and his Clan, resemble the old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. Medicinal plants and animal imagery run rampant through all three books; and the magical system itself is built on knowledge of the natural world.

Me:  How has living in the Midwest contributed or hindered your fantasy writing?  Has any of the local lore or wildlife made it into your stories?

Those who haven’t been here might not believe it, but Kansas City is a great place for the creative mind. There are cityscapes, woodlands, and prairies within minutes of where I live. There’s also a very active community of writers and artists. It wasn’t until I moved from Costa Rica to Kansas City that I found the critique groups who would help me hammer my first shitty drafts into something actually worth sharing with the world at large.

For me personally, being back in Kansas City brings me a kind of internal peace. My family is still here, and despite all the years I was away, I have an organic connection to the land and the sky that has held strong. I don’t know how else to explain it, but as much as I enjoyed living in Texas and Costa Rica, as much as I love to explore the world, my whole body breathes a sigh of relief when I come home to the Midwest.

I’ve also been able to put together some innovative writing-related projects here. For example, at Avila University, I co-teach an interdisciplinary course called Ecology Through the Writers Lens. My colleague and I take students to nearby Konza Prairie, where we explore the ecosystem from both scientific and literary/creative perspectives. The creative projects the students produce from this experience are, in a word, awe-inspiring. Again, something about the confrontation with wilderness just gets their creative minds buzzing.

Now that I’ve finished The Silver Web Trilogy, I’m working on a new set of contemporary fantasies that are set in Kansas City, under the working title Path of Souls. I’m really excited about this project. Through this series, I hope I’ll be able to share some of the magic of my home town with a broader readership.

Me:  When can readers expect the final story in the Silver Web Trilogy?  What do you hope they take away from the trilogy as a whole?

Spring 2017!

The manuscript is done and ready to go – has been for almost a year and a half now. All we’re waiting for at this point is for Tom to finish his sure-to-be brilliant rendition of the cover art. By rebooting Eolyn and Sword of Shadows this year, we’ve essentially been rolling out the red carpet for Daughter of Aithne.

Daughter of Aithne is my favorite book in the series, in part because after a very long struggle through books one and two, the women of Eolyn’s world finally get their hands on the reins of power. The result is transformative, for them as characters and for the people that they rule. In many ways, this is the book I have always wanted to write. But I couldn’t write it until I’d laid the foundation with Eolyn and Sword of Shadows.

I hope that each of my reader’s experience with the trilogy will be personal enough that they take home whatever message is most important for them. But as the author, I think a primary theme of the book is that lasting social change does not happen overnight. It takes time, sacrifice, and great effort from many people, sometimes over generations.

Another fundamental message is that all women are sisters, and that even when we disagree with each other, our combined effort and cooperation can change society and even the face of history in very positive ways.

The most important message of the book is an age-old saying that we forget all too often: Love conquers all.

Quick Questions: 

1.  What is your favorite color? All colors. What would one color be without the others?

2.  Coffee, iced tea or soda? Coffee.

3.  Favorite summer food?  Salad, salad, and more salad! I love the variety of salad greens and fixings that are available during the summer months. Also, the fresh fruits. Especially Missouri peaches.

4.  Now that school is back in session - when do you find the time to write?  What is a typical day like for you?

Once my course schedule is set, I designate half a day a week for writing. In practical terms, that usually turns out to be about two hours. Doesn’t sound like much, but since I spend a lot of “down time” (i.e., time while driving, etc.) mulling over my stories, I can make very efficient use of the two hours I have in front of the computer.
This fall, I am also going to try my hand at NanoWrimo. NanoWrimo nearly did me in when I signed up for the first time last year, but what can I say? It worked. The novel I’m sending out queries for right now – the first in the Path of Souls collection – is a Nano novel.
Sword of Shadows
By Karin Rita Gastreich
The Silver Web, Book 2
Publisher:  Orb Weaver Press
Release Date: July 19, 2016
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Length: 358 Pages
ISBN: 978-0997232011

About the book:

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.


As Joturi-Nur’s breath slowed, Rishona wrapped her fingers around the jeweled hilt of his broad sword. She adjusted her balance and tilted the blade, trying to see Abartamor’s oversized figure at her back.

When at last the San’iloman laid still, the priest nodded to the princes. Abartamor’s heavy step sounded behind Rishona, along with the slow unsheathing of his sword. 

“I, the eldest son of Joturi-Nur, challenge your claim,” he said. “Face me, so that I may send you with my father to the Afterlife.”

Rishona spun, hands wrapped around the hilt of the scimitar, and cut deep into Abartamor’s protruding belly. The prince cried out as metal parted flesh. Blood sprayed across Rishona’s shimmering gown. Abartamor dropped his weapon and staggered backwards, eyes wide and lips quivering in protest.

“What have you done?” he stammered. “My niece? A woman? It’s not possible…not permitted…”

He sat hard on the floor and stared dumbfounded at the entrails spilling from his belly.

Rishona strode forward and drove the scimitar into his thick neck. With a few vicious hacks, she cleaved Abartamor’s head from his torso. Tearing off her veil, she leveled the sword at his brothers and demanded, “Who else would challenge me?”

For several moments there was no sound but the gurgle of Arbartamor’s blood, pooling around Rishona’s satin slippers.

Then Paolus-Nur drew his weapon.

 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.

Twitter: @EolynChronicles

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  1. congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

    1. There are days when everything can be an inspiration for a story. I'm inspired by books I read, places I go, and people I meet. I especially find a lot of creative energy in natural environments, so I take a lot of walks and hikes to think about my stories.

  3. Maria, thanks so much for hosting my tour! I really enjoyed this interview, and it's always great to come back to your blog. Hugs & blessings.

  4. Really great post, thanks for sharing the excerpt!

  5. Ooh love the cover.

    1. Thanks, Becky! The cover artist is Thomas Vandenberg. Tom also did the cover for the first book in the series, EOLYN, and is working on the third book in the series, DAUGHTER OF AITHNE.