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Author Interviews

Karen Hancock
Karen Hancock is the author of the Christy award-winning novel Arena. Here she discusses her new fantasy novel, The Light of Eidon. (Bethany House, 2003)

EBG: For those who haven’t read it, what are some of the central themes of The Light of Eidon?

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 than Arena, 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?

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 and fantasy?

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 respond.

EBG: What response have you received from those who aren’t traditionally science fiction/fantasy readers?

I have received quite a few letters from readers who said they expected to hate Arena and ended up loving it. By way of example, here are some quotes:

“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!” –Eva

“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 Tracy

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?

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?

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?

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 site?

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

Titles from Karen Hancock
The Light of Eidon, by Karen Hancock
The Light of Eidon
Arena, by Karen Hancock
More author interviews

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