In case anyone isn’t noticing, young adult (YA) literature is hot right now, especially fantasy. Following this trend, any number of writers who published adult fiction now write for the YA market. Of late I’ve learned of several children’s book writers who are making the switch too. They may be well-known in one arena, but when they write for a new audience, they, too need an introduction. Such is the case with today’s author — Karyn Henley.
If her name sounds familiar, it isn’t surprising. Karyn is the author of the original The Beginner’s Bible which sold over five million copies during the fifteen years it was in print. She’s also an accomplished and award-winning song writer and has some 100 books to her credit — picture books, easy readers, curriculum, and parenting books. Throw in the numerous articles she’s written and the CDs she’s made, and it almost seems like Karyn’s should be a household name!
Karyn is a native Texan, though she now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Growing up in Abilene, she was a great reader, even reading as she walked to her grandmother’s house from school. Her love of books carried into adulthood. After graduating from Abilene Christian University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, she became a preschool teacher, and her favorite time of the day was story time when she read aloud to her children.
Her migration to YA fiction came as a direct result of her continuing education. She received her Masters of Fine Arts Degree from Vermont College in 2004. One of her advisers, Kathi Appelt, became a great supporter and encouraged Karyn to grow as a writer. She accepted the challenge and began to write a novel. It soon became apparent from the language and the issues the protagonist faced, that the story was most suited for young adults.
Writing fantasy seems to be a natural fit, too. Karyn’s early reading included a generous dose of myth and fairy tales. She also appreciates specific aspects of writers such as Ursula LeGuin and Orson Scott Card. Consequently when she started writing, she naturally gravitated toward fantasy.
Some may think of her work as paranormal romance, but Karyn differentiates because her series, The Angelaeon Circle (Waterbrook Multnomah), takes place in an ancient time where an acceptance of the supernatural was … well, more natural. Consequently, she considers her work to be high fantasy.
I like ancient and medieval settings for fantasy, because the worlds are slower and very different, and I don’t have to know the latest technology. Besides, when I go into the world of a book, I like to be transported far away. Working within an ancient world allows me to explore very different ways of life and places where the rules are different. For me, characters in ancient settings can be closer to the earth, rawer in their emotions, more deeply connected to the big struggles of survival that fantasy addresses so well. (excerpt from “Blog Tour Interview: Author Karyn Henley“)
Karyn was literally transported far away this summer when she traveled to Norway to attend her son’s wedding. She planned to do a little research for the third of her series.
Besides writing, Karyn lists reading as one of her hobbies. She also bakes bread, gardens (though she doesn’t have a green thumb), and bird-watches. She loves chocolate, prefers spring and fall to either winter or summer, and finds inspiration for her writing in Greek and Roman mythology.