Karen Azinger is a debut fantasy author, whose first fantasy book (The Steel Queen) was published in May 2011.

Here's information about The Steel Queen:

Azinger's series is fast-paced action-packed fantasy. In a medieval world of forgotten magic, mortals are lured to the chessboard of the gods where an epic struggle of lives, loves and crowns hang in the balance, yet few understand the rules. In this game of power, the pawns of light and darkness will make the difference in the battle for the kingdoms of Erdhe: Katherine, "The Imp": a young princess with the stout heart of a warrior will challenge the minions of a thousand-year-old evil. Liandra: The Spider Queen; who uses her beauty to beguile, her spies to foresee, and her gold to control, will need all of her skill and strength to fight a rebellion with her own blood at it's heart. Steffan, the puppeteer, will corrupt the innocent and unwary with greed and desire, as he sets an entire kingdom ablaze.

Click here to read Risingshadow's review of The Steel Queen.

Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Karen Azinger. You can read the interview here:

AN INTERVIEW WITH KAREN AZINGER

Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?

Part of me is an engineer and a business strategist, and part of me is an amateur artist and a day dreamer, and somehow that combines to make an epic fantasy author!

Have you always liked fantasy books?

I first fell in love with books when I read Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea on a dare when I was in third grade. It took me over a month to read it, but when I finished, I was totally smitten with reading, especially science fiction. I devoured everything in the library, using books as a magic carpet to adventure and wonder. Somewhere along the way, I discovered Tolkien and never wanted to leave Middle Earth. Fantasy has been my favorite read ever since.

What are you favourite fantasy authors and books?

Tolkien’s LOTR, of course! I know this not a very original answer, but reading Tolkien is what hooked me on fantasy, and in many ways, LOTR remains peerless. I also love George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire and Frank Herbert’s Dune. I’ve read these books so many times that my copies are tattered and worn, a true sign of a beloved book.

Have any of these authors and books influenced your writing style?

Everything I’ve read influences me. There is much to be learned from both the good and the bad and I hope I never stop learning. But the authors that have influenced my writing the most are my three favorites, Tolkien, GRRM, and Frank Herbert (after all you might as well learn from the best!). From Tolkien I take lessons in how to create a complex, believable world with magical, mystical settings, creating a place that readers want to return to again and again. From reading GRRM, I grew fascinated with the idea of using many POV characters to create complex, twisting plots told from deep inside the characters. From Frank Herbert I’ve studied how to thread multiple themes through my saga to give my story depth and meaning. To me, theme is the secret weapon of authors. Readers might not be consciously aware of a book’s theme, yet theme is what elevates a good read to a great read, making us think about the story long after we’ve set the book aside.

Do you consider writing a full-time job or a hobby?

Writing is a full time job for me. I’ve written the first four books of The Silk & Steel Saga and I’ve got about a third of the fifth and final book written.

Before you became a writer you were a business strategist. Has this influenced your writing style? (Have you been able to take advantage of your work experience?)

Being a strategist plays a major role in my writing because it plays a major role in how I think. When I first started writing The Steel Queen, I was surprised to discover that I am an organic writer, but the strategist in me is constantly plotting the moves of my characters. It is like playing a huge three-dimensional chess game where I am constantly changing sides, trying to help each character win their heart’s desire.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block?

Not really. If a chapter is not flowing it usually means I have a better idea percolating in the back of my mind. So I work on a different character, or a different story line, and give the idea time to rise to the surface of my mind. One advantage of telling a story from multiple POVs is that there is always another storyline to work on.

What inspired you to write The Silk & Steel Saga? How did you come up with idea of writing about a fictional fantasy world, which is threatened by forces of darkness?

Like most writers, I write what I love. And I love epic medieval fantasy sagas above all others, so that is what I write. The Silk & Steel Saga contains many embedded themes. One of the main themes is to explore the mechanisms of evil. I wanted to show evil as much more complicated and much more scheming than just a horde of ugly orcs. The avatars of Good must recognize Evil and foil its methods if Good is to triumph.

Are any of the events in The Steel Queen inspired by historical events?

I am an avid student of history and I love dipping into the treasure trove of history for ideas in my saga. For example, Liandra, the Queen of Lanverness, is my version of Queen Elizabeth I, a brilliant strategist and a beguiling beauty who ruled in a time when women had little power. Another example is the Mordant’s comet. In 1066 a fiery comet marred the skies of northern Europe. Some took it as a mark of doom, but William the Conqueror convinced his soldiers it was a sign of triumph. History is a treasure trove of ideas for any writer.

How much research did you have to do before you began to write The Steel Queen?

Fantasy readers are sophisticated and they expect their authors to get the details right, so I did some research on weapons, armor, castles and poison. I also re-read my books on Queen Elizabeth I for more inspiration regarding Liandra.

The Steel Queen has several different kind of characters. Which of them is your favourite character?

I have four characters that I really love to write: Kath because she embodies my love of adventure and the sword: Liandra because she is a brilliant strategist and has the gift of multiplying golds: Steffan because he is so dark and so devious: and the Priestess because her unrestrained sexuality makes her wicked fun.

What inspired you to write about strong female characters?

Having spent a career working in the petroleum and mining industries, I could write nothing else!

Is there anything you'd like to add?

I can’t think of anything else right now.

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