Our third 2014 CSA judge is multi-published, multi-award-winning Karen Hancock.
I first learned of Karen and her work in 2004 at a small American Christian Writers Conference in Anaheim, CA. One of the other conferees was reading a Christian fantasy, The Light of Eidon, if I remember correctly. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This was my genre, my type of book.
I soon discovered that Karen’s first book, Arena, a science-fantasy allegory, had won the 2003 Chrisy Award in its category. The Light of Eidon won in 2004 as well as did the next two in the Guardian-King series—The Shadow Within (2005) and Shadow Over Kiriath (2006). As I recall, the final book of the tetralogy, Return of the Guardian-King, came out the year the Christy Awards did not have a category for speculative fiction—which, in fact, was the impetus behind starting the Clive Staples Award.
Last year, no longer eligible to be nominated because of her four previous awards, Karen received the new Christy Life-time Achievement Award (pictured above).
My first interaction with Karen was as a member of a speculative community called Christian Fandom. We had the privilege of participating in an online interview which took place over a week, as I recall. I was a little star struck, to be honest, and very nervous about asking “somebody famous” questions. What I discovered was that Karen is a godly, intelligent, humble writer who likes a lot of the same things I like.
She was born in Pasadena, California, grew up in Tucson, Arizona and Danville, California, and presently reside in Tucson. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Wildlife Biology, is married to an engineer, and has one grown and married son whom she homeschooled for eight years.
As an avid defender of evolution at the time, Karen came to Christ after a discussion with a Christian apologist who answered her questions about the Bible and creation. Her life and views quickly took a 180° turn.Besides being a wife and a mother, she is a keeper of hounds and a watercolor artist. She raised chickens, turkeys and goats, made apple cider, hiked the Grand Canyon in a day, snowshoed three times into the Sierra Nevada’s Desolation Wilderness (encountering blizzards two times), managed a stable of sixty horses, worked at Steward Observatory as an artist and in the Biology Department at the University of Arizona as a keeper of rats, mice and frogs for experiments.
She plays tennis, walks, journals, and sketches. She loves to read, and she watches a lot of movies, analyzing and discussing both to the consternation of her friends and family.
Of course all that reading and analyzing make her the perfect judge for the Clive Staples Award. We’re privileged to have her round out our panel of three.