My name is Kara R. Newcastle. I was born in Worcester in 1983 and grew up in Central Massachusetts. I graduated from Regis College with a B.S. in Women’s Studies. I started writing stories when I was thirteen years old (see below for full story), and by the time I was fifteen became very interested in women’s history and women’s rights. I have always had a love of mythology, fairy tales and the like, so I often incorporate those elements as well as social issues and little known historical periods into my fiction. I have had several stories and articles published in 21st Century Magazine, Worcester Magazine, Hemetera (Regis College’s literary magazine), and Playgirl (talk about a variety of places!), and I won the Mary C. Bryant Scholarship Prize in 2007 for my story Two Wolves, about the Trail of Tears.
When I’m not writing, reading or researching, I am at my dojo, Ethereal Arts Self Defense Studios in Stow, MA (etherealarts-sd.com), working on achieving my black belt in Griffin Ryu Kenpo Karate, or I’m playing with kitties or wrangling with thieving sugar gliders.
THE NIKE STORY (OR, HOW I DISCOVERED WHAT I WANTED TO DO WITH MY LIFE)
I never planned to be a writer. I liked to come up with stories when I was little, devising complex scenarios and settings when playing with my toys. I loved a good story, something I could become completely not just lost in but become a part of. Fairy tales, Star Wars, novels, Disney movies, whatever, I loved a good story.
But writing one? Nah. Never crossed my mind.
Until that one day in sixth grade. Yeah, way back in 1996--that's 21 years ago. I was thirteen. We were beginning to learn Latin, and when I paged through the syllabus, I saw that at some point that semester we were going to be making reports about the Greco-Roman gods. As was my habit then, after class I went to my local library, figuring I'd take a look at the mythology books there, and maybe get a head start on the project. In the children's section I found a few kids' books, and I was just starting to head over to the tables when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was a kid's magazine, Kid's Discovery, and it had a picture of the Parthenon in Athens silhouetted against a setting sun. Something on the cover grabbed my attention.
Surprised, I picked up the magazine and reread the article title. I knew about Nike sneakers, but had never thought about them beyond that. Well, now I needed to know, and after a bit of hunting, I found the answer: the Nike shoes were named after Nike, the winged goddess of victory, patron of warriors and athletes.
I was thrilled. How cool was this? A winged warrior goddess of victory! I made up my mind right then: I was going to do my report on Nike.
So I sat down with the books and looked for myths about her.
And looked ...
And looked ...
And looked ...
I was dumbfounded. There wasn't anything written about Nike in those books, nothing at all! Thinking that maybe the adult section would have more information, I hauled down every one of those huge mythology books and looked. Most stated that Nike was the goddess of victory, and that was that. A few offered a tiny bit more, but nothing in the way of actual stories. Some didn’t mention her at all.
However, one of those old books remarked that Nike was considered important by the Greeks, and even more so by the Romans, who renamed her Victoria. This only exasperated me more; if she was so important, why weren’t there any stories about her?
I was a voracious reader even back then, and around this time I was beginning to feel frustrated that suddenly, there were no more books featuring girls or women in adventurous roles. This was way before books like The Hunger Games, when really, all I had to pick was Babysitters’ Club books or Nancy Drew novels (have you ever noticed how many times she gets clubbed in the head?). All the books I wanted to read had boys in them—they were good books, don’t get me wrong, but I couldn’t really connect with the characters. And as for TV, shows like She-Ra and Wonder Woman were no longer on the air.
Ah, and that’s when Xena, Warrior Princess premiered.
I was stoked, thrilled, ecstatic; finally! This is what I had been waiting for! I remember rushing down to the TV after dinner to watch the very first episode …
And I hated it.
I can’t really say what it was that turned me off. There was just something about it that didn’t click with me. Xena was cool but …
As the credits rolled, I thought, ‘I could make a better story than that.’ Determined, I went over to my father’s ancient Mac computer and typed my first Nike story. Granted, it was a rip-off of the Xena episode, but it had Nike in it as the main character. And I had so much fun writing it that I wrote another story. Then another and another, each becoming more original, until suddenly, I had a book.
And now I had a love for writing.
Flash forward 21 YEARS (!!!!) and dozens of rewrites later, my novel is finished. Well, Part 1 at least—the story has expanded in ways that I never could have imagined at thirteen years old—and I am pleased, proud and relieved to finally be able to show the world what I’ve created. I hope you enjoy it.