Hancock, Karen 1953-

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HANCOCK, Karen 1953-

PERSONAL: Born 1953, in Pasadena, CA; married; children: a son. Education: University of Arizona, B.S. (biology and wildlife biology). Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Painting watercolors, tennis, reading.

ADDRESSES: Home—Tucson, AZ. Agent—c/o Bethany House Publishers, 11400 Hampshire Ave., South Minneapolis, MN 55438. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Novelist. Has worked as a manager of stables; Steward Observatory, Tucson, AZ, artist; University of Arizona Biology Department, animal keeper.

WRITINGS:

Arena, Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

The Light of Eidon, (first novel in "Legends of the Guardian King" series), Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

SIDELIGHTS: Although Karen Hancock completed a Western novel while still in high school and worked on a science-fiction tale, she did not have a book published until her son had graduated from high school and was off to college. Her return to writing is linked to an incident that occurred when Hancock herself was still a university student. She attended a meeting in which the Christian creation version of the origin of humans was discussed, as was the theory of evolution. At the time, Hancock supported the evolution theory. By the time the meeting was over, she had a newfound interest in evangelical Christianity. Years later, after complaining to her husband about a popular novel, he suggested she write one herself. In response, Hancock began work on Arena, a science-fiction allegory of Christianity.

According to Hancock, she became interested in writing a science-fiction Christian allegory when she first saw the film Star Wars in the late 1970s. She recognized certain parallels between the film's themes—good versus evil and "the Force," for example—and biblical Christianity. "There is a real strong savior motif," she told Marcia Z. Nelson in an interview for Publishers Weekly. "Science fiction and fantasy are among the best media for conveying spiritual truth. . . . I don't think we have to say 'Christ' and the typical words, but the truth has to be there."

Arena focuses on Callie Hayes, a frustrated artist who works for minimum wage in a research laboratory and is full of fear and disillusionment. After volunteering for a psychology experiment, she finds herself faced with life-and-death adventure in a strange, alien world. Thrown into the "Arena" with only a backpack filled with unfamiliar objects and a manual (which represents the Bible), Callie must find the way home or be trapped there for the rest of her life. Along the way, she falls in love with Pierce Andrews, and the two battle their way through the many obstacles in their path, including mutant "Trogs," disgusting creatures who rape and eat their victims. Integral to the plot are a few cryptic words that are part of the plan the "Benefactor" has established to help guide Callie to her escape.

Arena received praise from critics like Booklist reviewer John Mort, who wrote that Hancock's "landscapes and alien creatues sing themselves to life." Mort also noted that the author's "theological argument, while certainly Christian, is quite subtle." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that Hancock's book "is an excellent—though edgy—contribution" to the Christian science-fiction novel market, in which, unlike many Christian science-fiction books, "characters struggle believably with sexual feelings and passion." In her review for Library Journal, Melanie C. Duncan called Arena a "classic in the making for the modern era."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 2002, John Mort, review of The Arena, p. 1380.

Library Journal, April 1, 2002, Melanie C. Duncan, review of The Arena, p. 86.

Publishers Weekly, April 15, 2002, review of The Arena, p. 46; June 17, 2002, Marcia Z. Nelson, "In Profile: Top Novelists in the Category Talk About Their Worth" (interview), p. S23.

ONLINE

Karen Hancock Home Page,http://www.kmhancock.com (March, 2003).