Raven Oak, 2013
December 21, 1977 |
Riverside, California, U.S.
|Education||B.S., 2001; M.S., 2005|
|Alma mater||University of North Texas|
|Genre||Fantasy, science fiction, dark fantasy|
|Spouse||Erik Carson (1996–present)|
Raven Oak (born December 21, 1977 in Riverside, California) is an American author, whose written works range from science fiction & fantasy to cross-genre. She is most known for her bestselling epic fantasy, Amaskan's Blood, and her space operas, Class-M Exile and The Eldest Silence. She wrote her first novel, a 320-page fantasy work at age twelve. She is also a pianist and songwriter, whose musical works deal with the survival side of life. Currently residing in Seattle, WA, Raven Oak is currently focusing on writing novels full-time.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Writing career
- 3 Bibliography
- 4 Music career
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Oak grew up in many places around the U.S. including California, Michigan, Oklahoma, Florida, and Texas, where she eventually attended Richland College and later the University of North Texas as a music major. A military child, her family moved frequently until they settled in Texas in 1989. Her maternal grandmother was a public school teacher in California and under her tutelage, Raven Oak was reading and writing at age three.
After high school, the rest of the family moved out of state, but Raven Oak remained in North Texas to attend college and received both her Bachelor of Science Degree and Master of Science Degree in CECS from UNT.
Raven Oak has written stories for as long as she can remember, and before that, she was telling them. She wrote her first novel, "The Cry of the Dragon" at age twelve. The novel was heavily influenced by Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels. Before that, she wrote a children's novel titled "The Fish and the Lion," which was published as part of a case study on childhood literacy for the University of Florida.
She spent middle and high school "devouring all the science fiction and fantasy novels" she could find, and her writing shifted towards the authors who influenced her most: Neil Gaiman and Connie Willis. Raven Oak was the vice president of her high school's "Writer's Guild," a club for aspiring writers. Its faculty adviser was author Linda L. Donahue (writer of The Four Redheads of the Apocalypse), who mentored Oak on writing and invited her to join a local writers' critique group. While Raven Oak learned how to critique, she struggled with finding her own voice. It wasn't until her late-twenties that she felt her craft up to par.
In the winter of 2012, Raven Oak retired from teaching computers and moved to Seattle, WA to pursue her full-time writing career. She's a member of several local writing organizations such as the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Magnolia Chapter One, Cascade Writers, and the Northwest Science Fiction Society. As part of Magnolia Chapter One, she has authored several articles on the craft of writing and writing life.
Her first fantasy novel, Amaskan's Blood, was published in January 2015 by small publisher, Grey Sun Press, and will be followed up by its sequel, Amaskan's War in 2017. Oak also hinted in a recent interview at a standalone novel featuring the character Ida Warhammer from Amaskan's Blood. Class-M Exile, a science fiction novella, was released in June 2015. Two stories, "The Ringers" and "Ol' St. Nick", were released in a mystery/speculative fiction collection with bestselling mystery author, Maia Chance, award-winning science fiction author Janine Southard, and fantasy author Gayle Clemans. The collection, entitled Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays was accompanied by a book tour with the four authors. The Eldest Silence, which takes place in the same universe as Class-M Exile, will also be released in 2017. Her short story "Q-Be" will be published on October 1, 2016 in Untethered: A Magic iPhone Anthology by Cantina Publishing. The anthology is based on the book Cracked: A Magic iPhone Story which is set in Seattle, WA and features gamers who find a magic iPhone. Her short story "Mirror Me" will be published on October 15, 2016 in Magic Unveiled: An Anthology by Creative Alchemy, Inc.
Her "Flashback Friday," column focuses on science-fiction or fantasy novels that influenced writers, and have featured authors J. L. Forrest, Django Wexler, and best-selling author, Veronica Scott. An avid gamer since the days of the NES and GEnie, she reviews various tabletop games in her weekly column, "Monday Night Gaming."
The Boahim Series
In Amaskan's Blood, Book I of the Boahim Series, the heroine of the novel is an Amaskan, one of Boahim's assassins tasked with ensuring justice across the Little Dozen Kingdoms. In the land of Boahim, Amaskan's are holy assassins and feel they work for the greater good. When asked about this in a recent interview, Oak said, "They truly believe they are serving justice and the greater good. They feel certain people should die because they are...murderers or rapists...Adelei learns the hard way that it's not always that simple."
Over the course of the novel, she discovers that her past is a lie. She can trust no-one, not even her family. Despite her training and struggles, she fights to see justice through to the end. It's been called her most personal novel to date as it was heavily influenced by her own reconnection with her estranged mother. "It has a coming-of-age arc of typical epic fantasy, with the seedy underbelly of what makes a family family and what makes us believe as we do."
Amaskan's Blood was a 2016 EPIC Award Finalist and became an Amazon bestselling fantasy on February 19, 2015, a little over a month after its release. Book Digits called Amaskan's Blood "an epic fantasy filled with intrigue and layers upon layers of well crafted secrets and lies" and gave it a grade A. Bestselling author, Maia Chance, described it as a book "with a ferocious-yet-fragile heroine, resonant themes, and a sweepingly gorgeous backdrop."
Class-M Exile is a space opera novella, also through Grey Sun Press. The novella focuses on society's fear of the unknown, and the prejudices societies carry. In a discussion on the Hugo nominated Skiffy & Fanty Show, Oak said, "Some of the same diversity issues we're dealing with now across the United States are themes in this novella."
The story began during a Locus Writers' Workshop when Oak was asked to think of an event that impacted her emotionally as a child. Oak picked a memory of when a new student arrived at her small Texas town middle school. In a recent interview at the Seattle Comedy Group after-party, Oak said, "She was everything not Texas...and everyone was trying to stampede away from [her] like she had the plague. It bothered me that no one wanted to know her, so of course I made her my best friend."
The main character—a four-eyed, three legged alien with a fake Texas drawl—has spent his life researching humans. "[Eerl's] never seen one, never met one, because they don't really exist anymore. And then he meets one." The story follows Eerl in his quest to find out what a fish is while defending Mel (a human) from the prejudice of the universe.
Class-M Exile was a Top 100 Hot New Release on Amazon UK and ranked as an Amazon US bestseller in space opera on June 24, 2015. In an interview with the author, members of the podcast SciFi Diner said, "[Class-M Exile] really does do what [Star] Trek does, in that it functions well in social commentary. If you like science fiction that really deals with social commentary...you need to check this book out! You need to put this author on your radar."
Joy to the Worlds
Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays was recently named a Foreword Review Book of the Year Award finalist and was listed in the Seattle Times as a #1 Bestselling paperback locally. The book was also a #1 Hot New Release in Amazon Sci-Fi Anthologies and a Top 100 Bestseller in Amazon Holiday Stories.
In August 2016, Class-M Exile made it to the stage as part of the Seattle Literary Festival Bibliophilia. This three day festival, run by improv-actor, writer, and editor, Jekeva Phillips, "combines...theater and literature into a cross-disciplinary storytelling celebration."  Oak began the festival by reading chapter one from Class-M Exile on opening night. The reading was followed by a re-enactment of the story by local improv troupe, CSz Seattle.
- 2016 Ozma Fantasy Award Winner for Amaskan's Blood
- 2016 EPIC eBook Awards Finalist for Amaskan's Blood
- 2015 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalist for Joy to the Worlds
- Fading (January 2001, Out of Print, ISBN 0-9712833-0-3), S.T. Publications
- Amaskan's Blood (January 2015, ISBN 978-0-9908157-0-9)
- Class-M Exile by Grey Sun Press (June 2015, ISBN 978-0-9908157-4-7)
- Joy to the Worlds by Grey Sun Press (Dec 2015, ISBN 978-0-9908157-6-1)
- "Q-Be" in Untethered: A Magic iPhone Anthology (October 2016, ISBN 978-1-6332702-2-0)
- "Mirror Me" in Magic Unveiled: An Anthology (October 2016, ISBN 978-13706424-7-2)
While Oak continued writing novels throughout college, she began her university studies as a music composition and theory major, her primary instrument being the piano. A piano player since the age of five, she was gifted with the ability to play by ear. Her ability to learn instruments quickly gained her the spot of 1st chair in her middle school's top band just two months after joining beginning band. She was also named 1st chair in the All-Region Honor Band.
She found the University of North Texas music program stiffing as she did not fit into its jazz or opera style. In 2001, she changed majors to CECS and released her first CD, "Walls, Boxes, & Jars." The CD's sales donated to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. RAINN, founded by musician Tori Amos, is America's only national hotline for rape and abuse. Through her lengthy support and advocacy of RAINN, Raven Oak is listed as a corporate partner of the non-profit organization.
Of Raven's music, Score! Music says: "Perfectly stunning musical compositions that, though they lack vocals, do not lack in emotional impact; it’s as though one can venture inside Raven’s being through her beautiful piano work. Think Tori Amos unplugged and without lyrics." Splendid Magazine says, "...Oak transcends the damning excesses of the Lilith Fair ghetto...if it's the job of a musician to tell stories through her instruments, Raven Oak does her job exceedingly well."
Her music career is currently on hiatus with an unknown release date for her second album, titled "Fight or Flight."
Shaded Tree Records
- Walls, Boxes, & Jars
- Fight or Flight (unknown release date)
- "Amaskan's Blood". Amazon.com. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- "Class-M Exile". Amazon.com. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- Oak, Raven., Official Website Biography.
- Book Reader Magazine., O'Hare, Vinny, Featured Interview with Raven Oak.
- Magnolia Chapter One., Oak, Raven, "When Words Fail a Writer."
- Oak, Raven., Official Website Blog.
- Donahue, Linda., Official Website.
- Seattle Geekly, Episode #244, Shannon Flowers, Matt Hammond, with guest Raven Oak.
-  Cantina Publishing
-  Creative Alchemy, Inc.
-  The Conspiracy, Number 25
- The Skiffy & Fanty Show, Episode 32, Shaun Duke, with guest Raven Oak.
- Writer 2.0 with A.C. Fuller, Episode 33, A.C. Fuller, with guest Raven Oak.
- Amaskan's Blood, Goodreads.
- "Amaskan's Blood an EPIC Award Finalist". Raven Oak Official Website. 2016.
- Book Digits, Review of Amaskan's Blood.
- The Oak Wheel., Martin, Jeff. Interview with Author Raven Oak.
- Seattle Comedy Group, After Party #23., Interview with Author Raven Oak.
- Class-M Exile., Goodreads.
- SciFi Diner Podcast #255., Interview with Author Raven Oak.
- "Joy to the Worlds is a 2015 Foreword Book of the Year Award finalist". Foreword Book Reviews. 2015. Retrieved 2017-09-27.
- The Promise Leads Hardback Sales, The Seattle Times, Staff.
- Constant, Paul., Seattle Weekly, Aug. 8, 2016.
- "Ozma Award Winner! - Raven Oak". Raven Oak. 2017-04-06. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
- Chanticleer (2017-04-06). "Ozma Awards for Fantasy Fiction FIRST PLACE Category Winners 2016". Chanticleer Book Reviews. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
- Book of the Year Anthology Finalists, Foreword Reviews, Staff.
- Grey Sun Press., Bibliography.
- Walls, Boxes, & Jars, iTunes. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- Galaris, "New CD to Donate to RAINN".
- Information on RAINN., RAINN Official Website.
- Score! Music Magazine., Jeanne. October 2002.
- Splendid E-Zine., Matthew Pollesel. February 22, 2002.