An Orillia-area freelance writer, playwright and senior content manager has written her first novel, 20 years after imagining a character she wanted to write and deciding that fiction was the best way to explore the history of the personage.
by Kari Klassen Earth Warrior: The Elemental Guardians was released on April 30 as the first novel in a four-part series, each of which follows a female protagonist connected to one of the four elements – earth, water, wind and fire – as they strive to save the world from an environmental catastrophe.
“The four women involved in each represent one of the elements, and in the first book, that’s the earth,” Klassen said. “(In the first novel), they all went to Saskatchewan, and there was a viral field, and it was their job to save the planet from the encroaching environmental disaster that would have been caused by this scenario.
“Each of them is an environmental quest to save the planet from impending doom, from very real possibilities in the world,” she added.
Klassen, who wrote the novel under the pseudonym Kael O’Phelan, said the series stems “from an appreciation of nature and pagan stories”.
“It involves a nature-based philosophy, which comes naturally to me,” she said. “That’s really where it all started, and that immediately spills over to environmentalism.”
Klassen stressed the importance of including female leads on her series, including two lesbians, in her efforts to give women and members of the LGBTQ community positive representation.
“They say write what you know, and I’m a lesbian. Everybody likes to see themselves portrayed. Lesbians are often very angry that if we have a film about lesbians that character is going to be killed off, or an interest love for this character is going to be killed off, and it happens all the time,” she said.
“It’s really nice for people from the LGBTQ culture to see their people portrayed in a way that shows them as heroic, normal people.”
Although the fantasy and urban fiction series deals with the difficult subject of impending environmental crises, Klassen says readers shouldn’t worry that the story is too dark.
“They win in the end, which I hope makes people want to participate where they can,” she said. “Having lesbians as protagonists in stories about saving the planet was important to me.”
Klassen said the second novel in his series is slated for release on August 19, with plans to release the final two books at two-month intervals beyond that point.
His book can be found on Amazonwhich she chose to publish with after winning a scholarship to attend a conference in Las Vegas with 20 Books to 50k, a group that discusses how to make money as an author, and after discussing the success of a fellow author’s decision to publish with Amazon.
“I thought, ‘This is how I’m going to do it,'” Klassen said. “I had been writing this book for a while, and… with Amazon you get 70% royalties, whereas with a publisher it’s considerably less than that.”
So far, her decision appears to have been the right one, as her book was listed alongside high-profile authors shortly after its release.
“I was between CS Lewis and Paulo Coelho when I was second best seller, and it’s a good place to be,” she said. “It’s cool, you know?”