A local freelance reporter, playwright, and senior content manager has penned her first novel, 20 years after dreaming up a character she wished to write and deciding fiction was the best way to explore the character’s story.
Kari Klassen’s 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 four elements — earth, water, wind, and fire — in their efforts to save the world from environmental disaster.
“The four women involved in each represent one of the elements, and in the first book it’s earth,” Klassen said. “(In the first novel) they all went out 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 that 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 for nature and pagan stories.
“This involves a nature-based philosophy, which comes naturally to me,” she said. “That was really where it started, and that just flows to environmentalism immediately.”
Klassen highlighted the importance of including female leads in her series, two of whom are lesbians, in her efforts to give women and members of the LGBTQ community positive representation.
“They say to write what you know, and I am a lesbian. Everybody likes to see themselves represented. Lesbians are often quite angry that if we have a movie on about lesbians, that character is going to get killed off, or some love interest to that character is going to get killed off, and that happens all the time,” she said.
“It’s really nice for people in LGBTQ culture to see their people represented in a way that shows them as heroic and normal people.”
Although the fantasy and urban fiction series deals with the difficult topic of impending environmental crises, Klassen said readers shouldn’t fear the story is too bleak.
“They win at the end, which I hope induces a desire for people to pitch in where they can,” she said. “To have lesbians as leads in stories that are about saving the planet mattered to me.”
Klassen said the second novel in her series is slated for release Aug. 19, with plans to release the final two books in two-month intervals beyond that point.
Her book may be found on Amazon, which 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 the way I’m going to do it,’” Klassen said. “I’d been writing this book for a while, and … with Amazon you get 70 per cent of the royalties, whereas with a publishing house, it’s considerably less than that.”
So far, her decision appears to have been a good one, as her book was listed alongside big-name authors shortly after its release.
“I was bookended between C.S. Lewis and Paulo Coelho when I was in second place for best seller, and this is a good place to be,” she said. “This is cool, you know?”