Karen Hancock is the author of
the Christy award-winning novel Arena.
Here she discusses her new fantasy novel, The
Light of Eidon. (Bethany
EBG: For those who
haven’t read it, what are some of the central themes
of The Light of Eidon?
KH: Eidon’s grand
theme is similar to Arena’s: an illustration of
aspects of the unseen Angelic Conflict raging around us,
with emphasis this time on how it works through national
and religious institutions. On a more personal level,
the story also shows how God pursues us even when we reject
Him, how He answers prayer in ways we’d never guess,
and how He uses suffering to bless us.
EBG: How is The Light
of Eidon different from your first work, Arena?
KH: Arena is an alternate
world story, whereas The
Light of Eidon is pure fantasy,
set in a world completely apart from our own. Eidon
has a male protagonist, a hero I hope women will love
and men will admire and relate to. It has a bigger scope
and is also, I think, a deeper, more complex story.
EBG: Fantasy and science
fiction are often overlooked by readers of Christian fiction.
How did you get started writing in this challenging genre?
KH: I’ve read extensively
in both genres since childhood and have always loved them.
Though my first novel was a western, my second was SF,
both begun in high school. When I became a Christian I
went back to the western, thinking I’d rewrite it
with Christian themes. Then Star Wars opened my eyes to
the allegorical possibilities in SF and F and I immediately
dumped the western and started in on a science fiction
whose hero was named Abramm Kalladorne. A few months after
that, the SF morphed into a fantasy. Twenty-six years
and three starting-from-scratch rewrites later, The
Light of Eidon has arrived.
Throughout that time, during which I also wrote Arena,
a handful of short stories and planned several more novels,
I’ve never had a desire to write in any genre but
speculative fiction. Fantasy in particular I view as a
prime medium for conveying spiritual truth, particularly
those truths related to the Angelic Conflict, one of the
most important doctrines in the Christian life. Since
secrecy and deception are cardinal principles of warfare,
it is no surprise that this doctrine—which answers
so many profound questions about life—is generally
obscured and overlooked today, and that the genre that
most clearly embodies it has been relegated by many to
the status of escapist, juvenile fiction, irrelevant to
the adult spiritual life, or worse, outright evil. I have
hope, however, that this view is starting to change.
EBG: What do you see
as the direction for the future of Christian science fiction
KH: I am encouraged by the
increasing number of publishers willing to take a chance
on it and the rising quality of the works themselves.
I believe it will continue as talented writers continue
to emerge and word gets out to those who would most benefit
from reading in this genre. I think fans of Christian
SF/F have been chased away by less than satisfying reads
in the past, as well as by the scarcity of new (or any)
titles on the shelves of Christian bookstores. Once they
realize the genre is here and growing, I think they will
EBG: What response
have you received from those who aren’t traditionally
science fiction/fantasy readers?
KH: I have received quite
a few letters from readers who said they expected to hate
and ended up loving it. By way of example, here are some
“I wasn’t sure at first that I would enjoy
it, as I don’t usually read science fiction and
was pretty certain I would not like it. Like it? I loved
it!” – Tracy
“I was simply blown away by a book I thought I’d
have to force myself through (had not read Sf/F before)
but when I started it, I couldn’t put it down!”
“I just finished reading Arena
and I am still in shock! This is my first Christian science
fiction novel (gasp!) and I can't believe how compelling
it was for me! As a person who normally belittles my husband's
interest in anything science fictional, I found myself
thoroughly impressed by this novel!” – Another
EBG: How do you stay
focused on your calling to write, in the increasing climate
of marketing, big names, promotion etc.? What is the balance
for the writer between art and business?
KH: I believe that it is
vitally important for believers to receive spiritual food
on a daily basis, and I’m privileged to be part
of a ministry that promotes that. My pastor has taught
hour-long messages five and six times a week for years
and has made his sermons available via tape and Internet
so it is possible to get something every day. This has
absolutely been the key to staying focused for me. If
I slip off, I am inevitably reminded in Bible class of
why I am really here (for His glory, not my own; His plan,
not my own) and what my right priorities should be.
As far as the balance between art and business, I believe
it is different for each person and a matter of their
own relationship with God. For myself, it is an area in
which the Lord is still instructing me, but in general
my focus has been on writing the books and letting others
take care of the marketing and promotion. One thing’s
for sure: none of it depends “on the man who wills
or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”
EBG: Did the characters
in The Light of Eidon do anything that surprised you as
you wrote the book? What sort of surprises occurred?
KH: Oh yes, many times.
Sometimes they refused to have conversations I had planned
them to have, or to do things I had planned for them to
do, and other times they said and did things I had no
idea they were going to say and do. Since it is my hope
that many of the things that surprised me will also surprise
the reader, I hesitate to be more specific.
EBG: I understand
that The Light of Eidon is the first in a new series called
Legends of the Guardian-King. When should we look for
the release of the next book and what is the title?
KH: Book Two is called The
Shadow Within and will be
out in the summer of 2004.
EBG: Anything else
you’d like to add for readers at the Edenstar web
KH: I’d just like
to thank them for patronizing Edenstar and to encourage
them to encourage others to do likewise. If SF/F is to
survive as a genre in Christian publishing, publishers
have to see the books as profitable—that there is
a readership for them out there—and readers have
to know the books exist. I think Edenstar is a wonderful
way of bringing the two together.
EBG: Thanks, Karen!
Contact info: Learn
more about Karen Hancock's writing at her web site, www.kmhancock.com.
July 23, 2003