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Interview with Katharine E. Wibell

Her lifelong interest in mythology includes epic poetry like the Odyssey, Ramayana, Beowulf, and the Nibelungenlied. In addition, she is interested in all things animal whether training dogs, apprenticing at a children’s zoo, or caring for injured animals as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. 

After receiving degrees from Mercer University in both art and psychology with an emphasis in animal behavior, Wibell moved to New Orleans and kickstarted her career as an artist and a writer. She currently lives in Roswell, Georgia, with her dog, Alli. Her first literary works blend her knowledge of the animal world with the world of high fantasy.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I used to be a competitive archer and even tried out for the Olympics in 2007.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
I am always working on new projects. Currently, I am finishing the initial draft for the fourth book of The Djed Chronicles, my young adult, adventure fantasy series. The fifth novella of my adult, Viking series, The Guardian’s Speaker, was released in February 2022, while my beta readers are working on the sixth volume in that series.

Q.3 What inspired you to write The Djed Chronicles?
It was inspired by the characters, worlds, plots, and backstories that were developed by my sister and me during our childhood play. My desire to share these stories with others was the reason I wanted to become a writer. 

Having completed my debut series, The Incarn Saga, I was ready to tackle The Djed Chronicles and have actually released the first two volumes. 

Here is another fun fact: the main character in this series uses a variety of special items throughout her adventures including a bow and arrows. This character was my alter-ego when I was younger, and she influenced me to pursue archery.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
My books are told through my heroines’ point of view. Still, I have numerous male characters. I have not really had difficulty in writing about the opposite sex. The trick for me is to try and be true to each individual character’s flaws and strengths. Each needs to be unique and dimensional.

Q.5 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
Here’s the way my mind works: a story, along with most of the main characters, will suddenly reveal itself. Almost instantaneously, I know the main plot and a lot about the world/universe in which it is set. As a result, I do not use formulas. I will, however, allow my characters to take some control and “write” the story themselves. My method is hard to explain in a way that makes sense, but it works for me.

Q.6 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
I do believe in writer’s block, but I am grateful that I have yet to deal with it. My problem is that I have too many stories flooding my brain all at once and not enough time to get them on paper. However, I set a daily page count and stick to it. I think this helps me prevent writer’s block.

Q.7 What was the hardest part of writing this series?
This series is tricky for me as it is set in a twelve-world multiverse with multiple dimensions. With so many environments, societies, and entities, it can get confusing. I have to keep my style sheet updated in order to keep track of everything and everyone. Many of my realms are influenced by different mythologies, so I am always jotting down important facts and ideas that I don’t want to forget on post-it notes and sticking them on the wall in front of my desk.

Q.8 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
That’s easy since I am also a reverse glass painter. If I was ever prevented from working in one profession, I would focus on whichever was left. I especially love painting pet portraits and wild animals. By the way, I have an entire website dedicated to my art.

Q.9 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
I think that choosing a favorite book is like a parent admitting that they have a favorite child. To date, I have published six full-length books and four novellas. I plan to release another four novellas and a full-length book this year. 

As for my favorite one, it would depend on my mood. Each series is high fantasy although they differ not only in themes and settings but also in age brackets. I write for young adults, new adults, and adult readers.

Q.10 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
I know the best marketing strategies target your ideal audience. For marketing and advertising, I am constantly trying to better myself. I am on a variety of social media platforms; TikTok is the latest. I try to regularly partake in cross-promotions with other authors in the form of Facebook Hops and takeovers as well as newsletter swaps. Newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your readers. 

I will also run occasional promotions and advertise them on various book-related websites. And I am working to improve my Facebook ads. Eventually, I will return to Amazon advertising, but I need to keep within a certain budget for now.

Q.11 If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why?
I am a sucker for dragons. The variations between old mythologies and modern-day stories are amazing. However, I am not really into the dragon-shifter as I prefer more of the wise dragon-like Draco from Dragonheart!

Q.12 What is one stereotype about fantasy writers is absolutely wrong? What one stereotype is dead on?
I am not exactly sure how to answer this. I know that I have weird research binges whether unusual weaponry in ancient India to the symptoms of gangrene or hypothermia. But I am not exactly sure what sort of stereotypes there are about fantasy writers. Perhaps I am too focused on my own work to notice!

Q.13 If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start working on building your platform immediately. Do not wait. If I had begun promoting myself on social media and developing a newsletter right away, I would be far better off than I am today. Plus, if you start early, you already have readers eagerly waiting for your first release.

Q.14 Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?
I research anything and everything. It’s less for plotting and more for details and ideas for entities. I have several bookshelves dedicated to ancient epic poetry and prose as well as encyclopedias and anthologies of world mythology. Another shelf is dedicated to books about the Viking era-both myths and history-specifically for my novella series, The Guardian’s Speaker.

Q.15 Who designed your book cover? How do you select him/her?
I currently use two cover designers. One I found through Fiverr: OliviaProDesigns. She worked on The Incarn Saga as well as The Guardian’s Speaker series. 

For the Djed Chronicles covers, I did my own research using Google and several cover design groups on Facebook. The designer I chose is Adriatica Creations Digital Art.

Using that research on competitive books in my genre, I was able to compare and chose cover designers based on their capabilities, styles, and price points.

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
That has varied over the years based on the series. I often draw from mythology although that is not always the case. However, the main character for The Djed Chronicles is named Katie since she was my alter-ego growing up.

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
I do. It used to sting when I discovered a negative review but now, instead of letting it bother me, I use them to better myself. When looking at both the good and bad reviews, try to find trends. If a lot of people say the same thing, then maybe that point has worth it. 

In the case of negative remarks, when a writer discovers a trend, that might need to be dealt with. In other words, if you receive a lot of comments about slow pacing, then you might challenge yourself to speed up the pace in your next book. If a character was too flat, you might focus on developing more dimensional characters in the future.

Now sometimes negative remarks are one-offs. An individual might not like the book for any number of reasons beyond your control. He/she/they could have thought it was a different genre and were disappointed. Or maybe, after a bad day, their mood was affected. Who knows? Trends are important; individual criticism less so.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I would like to meet Pharaoh Hatshepsut for she was the only female pharaoh in history. She was a patron of the arts and often wore male garb including a false beard. I think she is fascinating!

Q.19 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
I typically read ancient epic poetry and prose although I know it’s not typically what the modern reader would enjoy. Because of this, I will select Out of Africa. I know it is very different from what I write, but I have always been drawn to the main character, Karen Blixen, and her life’s story.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
I am a person who was always concocting stories growing up, so the transition to becoming a writer was not that difficult. What was a challenge was to navigate the world of publishing and then afterward to run my literary business as an indie author. 

I constantly try to better myself by taking classes, listening to lectures, partaking in webinars and seminars. Indie publishing is an ever-growing and ever-evolving creature. It might be overwhelming to those just starting out, but the writing community is very quick to help others and give advice. 

I wish I had known some of this sooner and had been brave enough to ask for help from the beginning. This occupation has many challenges, but it is also rewarding. I love to create my stories and share them with others.

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