Interview / Novels

Creating The Twelve Tasks: an interview with Katharine E. Wibell

Katharine Wibell’s 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 with her dog, Alli, to kick start her career as an artist and a writer. Her literary works blend her knowledge of the animal world with the world of high fantasy.

The precarious balance between two opposing forces has begun to shift and threatens the very existence of life throughout the universe. Only the Djed—the prophesied savior—has a chance of thwarting a catastrophe that could destroy the cosmos. And the next Djed is predicted to be a child of Earth.
Katie awakens on a world far from her own, a world bound in magic, one of twelve that hosts entities of vast power and might. She is suspected to be that savior. However, to be acclaimed Djed, difficult and dangerous tasks, one on each of the magicked worlds, must be completed. Katie and a menagerie of misfit companions—a precocious witch, a half-blood elf, and a humanoid pup—work together to discover her fate. If proven true, a terrible burden will be placed upon her, one that will link her destiny with war, a war led by a thirteen-year-old girl.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Lots of fantasy books have a unique world for the protagonist to explore, but your book has a dozen of them! How did you go about creating them and making them unique?

KATHARINE E. WIBELL: Ha ha! This is a great question. To answer it, I need to give you a little bit of background. The Djed Chronicles is a young adult series which is heavily influenced from my childhood imaginary play between my sister and myself. Over a number of years, we envisioned countless characters, backstories and plots. Because I wished to share this universe and all its fantastical mysteries with others, I realized that I wanted to one day become an author.

When I started writing, I worked on a different series which helped me find my voice and hone my craft. Only afterward did I feel confident to tackle The Djed Chronicles, a much more complex series. There had always been twelve worlds, but their exact names and ecosystems had not been defined. Over most of a summer while editing my prior series, I began fleshing out each world.  A wall of sticky notes in a myriad of colors helping me do this. What sort of imagery would captivate a young readership? What landscapes worked best with the entities that I already developed? 

During this long matchmaking and ever adjusting process, these magicked planets gradually took shape. A world almost entirely of water? Why not! A planet with grass as tall as trees. Of course. There is something thrilling about exploring worlds other than our own, and through Katie’s eyes, the readers can do just that.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: How long did The Twelve Tasks take you to write?

KATHARINE E. WIBELL: There is not a straightforward answer for this since I work on more than one book at a time, alternating between rounds of edits while writing new manuscripts. If you eliminate the blocks of time when I was immersed in other projects and don’t include the character development process in my childhood, The Twelve Tasks took about 18 months from typing the first sentence to publication. I do want to note that by working on multiple projects simultaneously, I will be able to release several works a year if I choose.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Did you have to do a lot of revisions? What was that process like?

KATHARINE E. WIBELL: I do multiple rounds of editing. I probably go through each manuscript three times before it ever sees a Beta reader. Then I will go through several more rounds before sending it to my editor. When I receive the marked-up manuscript, I will go through it another time or two before moving onto formatting. It is exhausting and time consuming, but I really try to have my book perfected. 

When an error slips through or occurs during the formatting stage, I will go back and correct them post-publication. Mistakes happen, but I try to keep them to a minimum.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Which of the worlds in the book would you most want to visit if you could?

KATHARINE E. WIBELL: Both readers and the main character will become most familiar with the planet Wect. This planet has a special spot in my heart. It not only serves as a home base but is also the real home of the Ntr, the native species which I would have loved to befriend, especially the trio of rulers known collectively as the Triumvirate.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: What did you most want to do when you were thirteen?

KATHARINE E. WIBELL: Not to grow up. I think I had a bit of a Peter Pan complex. The more everyone kept reminding me that I was now a teenager, the more I refused to let go of all my prior fantasies. I do think that helped me a bit now that I am in my 30s. If I had let go of all my imaginary creations, these books would not have come into existence.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Sounds like you were a smart kid! I remember at that age, I was getting obsessed Greek mythology. When I first read the title of your book, it made me think of the myth of Heracles and his twelve tasks. Are there other myths that the story draws on?

KATHARINE E. WIBELL: In many myths and even current religions, twelve is a powerful number. Having read a wide range of world myths, epics and fables, I am well aware of repetitive numbers and make reference to them throughout these books. There are some parallels between Heracles and Katie as both must accomplish twelve tasks. Readers versed in ancient myths, and even some who are not, may recognize connections between tales of old heroes, monsters, and lore in these books. And yes, this is on purpose although the purpose will not be revealed for several volumes.

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Interesting. Okay, one last question. What is your favorite quote about writing?

KATHARINE E. WIBELL: “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” – Barbara Kingsolver

Urban Fantasy Magazine: Nice. That’s actually a timely quote for me as a writer now. Thanks for sharing it, and thanks for the interview!

Readers, you can find more info on Katharine E. Wibell and her book below:

Author Website

And, of course, there’s an awesome giveaway you can enter, too!

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