By way of introduction, here is Karen’s bio:
Karen Eisenbrey lives in Seattle, WA, where she leads a quiet, orderly life and invents stories to make up for it. Although she intended to be a writer from an early age, until her mid-30s she had nothing to say.
A little bit of free time and a vivid dream about a wizard changed all that. Karen writes fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as short fiction in a variety of genres and the occasional poem if it insists.
She also sings in a church choir, plays drums in a garage band, and was surprised to find herself writing songs for her debut YA novel The Gospel According to St. Rage , a finalist for the 2016 Wishing Shelf Book Awards.
A YA wizard fantasy, Daughter of Magic, was released by Not a Pipe Publishing in 2018 as part of The Year of Publishing Women and was also a Wishing Shelf finalist. Wizard Girl, the sequel to Daughter of Magic, was released in July 2019.
Gospel was re-released in a 2nd edition from Not A Pipe in August 2019 and will be followed by a sequel, Barbara and the Rage Brigade, in November 2019. Karen shares her life with her husband, two young adult sons, and two mature adult cats.
Now that you’ve been introduced to Karen, let’s get to know her a little better.
Hello, Karen, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview
Thank you for having me.
How did the writing bug ensnare you?
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved stories. So it was exciting to discover that learning to read and write included learning to write stories!
It was always my favorite homework—getting to make up whatever I wanted, being allowed to lie, on purpose, for schoolwork! Or finding a way to make the assigned parameters work for what I wanted to say.
Is writing your full-time profession?
For 2 years in a row, I have earned in the low three figures, so … no. It is a full-time obsession, though. It’s rare that I’m not thinking about a story at some level.
How long have you been writing?
Since elementary school! But seriously, with intent to publish, about 20 years.
Have you won any literary awards?
One short story won 2nd place in a small local contest and 5th place in big national contest. Two of my novels have been finalists for the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards.
How many published books have you written?
Four, not counting anthologies: The Gospel According to St. Rage (2016, re-released 2019); Daughter of Magic (2018); Wizard Girl (2019); Barbara and the Rage Brigade (2019).
Which genres do you write?
I write fantasy and science fiction for teens and adults. The published books are all YA; two are high(ish) wizard fantasy, two are contemporary superhero fantasy.
What do you find most challenging writing for these genres?
Coming up with an original take on these very popular genres. I decided at the outset with my wizard fantasy that there would be magic but no kings, no battles, no monsters, no magical creatures, and very few magical objects.
And then to try to make it interesting enough to hold a reader who may have come for the dragons and unicorns. Same with the superhero series: I didn’t want my supers wrecking up the city fighting supervillains, so what do they do for truth and justice?
What are you working on now?
I’m coming off a hiatus while beta readers take a look at the draft of the third book in my wizard series. The working title is Death’s Midwife, and I’m looking forward to digging back into the story and turning it into a book.
I’m also in the early stages of a collaboration with LeeAnn McLennan, who also writes about teen supers in the Pacific Northwest. We’re going to write a crossover story where our characters meet and interact.
Where do you find inspiration for your characters?
Everywhere! My own personality and experience, everyone I’ve ever known, people I observe or overhear out in the world… A couple of my characters started out based on specific people, but most are a mishmash from the start.
What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?
I’m going to give you two because they’re neck and neck. 1) interacting with readers who have enjoyed one or more of the books; 2) interacting with the other authors at Not A Pipe Publishing.
We do events together, go to each other’s solo events, promote each other’s work, plot world domination, and generally have a great time.
What advice would you give to authors just starting out?
Write the book! Write something you’d want to read or that past you couldn’t find. Somebody else out there is just waiting for whatever it is you’ve dreamed up.
If you don’t have a big idea, use whatever little ideas you do have. Get it down however you can, then spend the time to make it good. Find someone you trust to read it and give honest feedback to make it better.
Learn from other writers but don’t compare yourself and your work to them.
Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?
I’m also a musician! I’ve always sung, and I started drumming in elementary school. In our 50s, my brother and I started playing together as a band called Your Mother Should Know.
This directly affected my writing because Barbara, the main character of my St. Rage books, is a songwriter and leader of a garage band. Someone had to write her songs, and to my surprise, that turned out to be me!
My brother helped me come up with music for the first batch of songs; then I did both words and music for a couple of the newest ones. We have recorded all 11 songs and happily perform them live, too.
What message are you sharing in your books?
After writing them, I discovered my books fit into a subgenre called “hopepunk.” Everything I do tries to be uplifting and encouraging while also being subversive and countercultural toward authority and domination.
I especially want to encourage people who are something other than cis-het-white-male to unapologetically claim their power and live their own truth.
What are your favorite books?
I have been a big fan of Ursula K. LeGuin since my pre-teens. I’m probably a fantasy writer because of her Earthsea series, and I consider The Left Hand of Darkness to be my favorite book.
I also love Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books, which are just extremely funny and smart. A recent favorite is The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. It is exactly the kind of warm-hearted, low-stakes sci-fi that I want to write.
If you could create an author’s group with writers from any time period, who would you invite?
Well, Ursula LeGuin, for sure. Kurt Vonnegut. Charlotte Bronte. Virginia Woolf. Walt Kelly would be fun! And Stan Lee. I should probably stop or we’ll need a bigger table.
Who has influenced your writing the most?
Ursula LeGuin set the example of character-driven genre fiction with excellent writing. I absorbed a lot about voice and dialogue from Walt Kelly’s Pogo comic strip.
And I have to thank the friends and family who read my early efforts and didn’t cringe but encouraged me that it was good enough to spend more time on.
When you’re not writing where can we find you?
I’m always writing, from a certain point of view. But when I’m not actively at my computer, I might be found in the kitchen, baking cookies or bread.
Four mornings a week, I’m at my day job, managing the office of a small Seattle church. Sunday mornings, I’ll be singing in the choir at a different church. And I spend far too much time on Facebook.
A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie, and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?
I could easily see myself as the main character’s mom in a movie of Barbara and the Rage Brigade, or grandmother in Wizard Girl. But those are large enough roles that they probably wouldn’t cast me.
For an actual cameo, I’d love to be part of a band playing in the background of a scene. I actually wrote our band into a scene in The Gospel According to St. Rage.
An elf named 12-25 approaches you. He’s sneezing, wheezing, coughing and there’s a strange tattoo of a snoring dog on his cheek. What do you do?
Offer a tissue and ask if he’s OK. Try to get him indoors, if possible; it’s winter here and no one wants to be outside when they have a cold.
Once we have our hot tea, I’d want to hear his story. I’m not that familiar with elves, so I’m not sure how common tattoos are in their culture. If he doesn’t bring it up, I’d probably ask.
What are your most effective marketing strategies?
I’m not sure I can call them strategies, but I try to do a variety of things. I post in promotional groups, do online author events, post in my own social media, blurb other people’s books, and do live events with other authors and on my own.
It’s really hard to tell whether anything is working in the moment. I seem to do best face-to-face, even though I’m not much of a people person. If I can talk with a potential reader about my books, I will generally make a sale.
Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/KarenEisenbreyWriter/
Where can we find your books?
If you don’t find them on the shelf, any independent bookstore can order them from IngramSpark. They are also available online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Thank you, Karen, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!
While an epidemic rages and a strangler stalks the streets of the city, Luskell trains and works as a healer, but she aspires to greater power.
Though everyone knows girls can’t become wizards, she persuades Wizard Bardin to make her his apprentice. Luskell leaves the city on a quest for new magic and to explore mysteries that have more to do with love and desire.
But the strangler follows her. She must gain the trust of old friends and an unexpected ally if she’s going to stop the murderer before he strikes again.
Barbara’s starting over.
She’s happy to leave high school behind, but doesn’t know how she’ll make new friends when her bandmates leave town for college. She has no plans for the future beyond driving school, a part-time summer job, and community college in the fall.
OK, and getting control of her rage-fueled superpowers without her parents finding out. It would be so much easier if an experienced superteam would take her on.
Just when an invitation for another band’s record release explodes into the gig of a lifetime, Barbara starts noticing weird circumstances around a cult-like church.
Other superpowered kids are showing up left and right, looking to her for guidance. Guess Barbara has to make her own superteam! She’ll need all the help she can get to battle dangerous, cult-like megachurch.
Look out, world — here comes the Rage Brigade.