This Indie Sunday features an interview with author Kellie Doherty. Her third novel, “Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties” is due to hit the proverbial shelves on the 27th of March 2019.
Questions for Author – Kellie Doherty
Q1. I see you are a fellow Ravenclaw. Did books like the Harry Potter series help shape you as an author and your book “Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties?”
Ravenclaw for life! Yes, the Harry Potter series was the first spark of inspiration to move from the fanfiction I had originally been writing into original fiction. After reading the first couple of Harry Potter books, I realized I wanted to create my own worlds and characters and stories. It gave me the push I needed. I was especially hooked on magic and really wanted to craft my own set of magical rules and abilities. One of my first original fiction short stories had teenagers transforming into dragons! Looking back the story was…bad (ha!), but it fueled my creative fire and eventually led me to writing Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties! Books were, and still are, the greatest sources of inspiration for me as an author, seeing how other authors introduced their characters and deepened them, how they spun their tales and twisted plots, how they used setting to portray the characters in certain lights. It’s amazing what writers can achieve, and I hope to be an inspiration to someone else someday.
Q2. Many writers have been creating forever. What is your first memory of spinning a yarn?
My first memory of writing is being in Florida on vacation back in 2001 and scribbling ideas in a notebook while watching the latest episode of Digimon Tamers. I really loved Renamon, the fox Digimon, and wanted to create a story in which my character was her tamer. I wrote the first chapter while on vacation and finished the story when I got home. I don’t remember much of the plotline or even the character I created, but I do remember how I wanted to separate my Renamon from the Digimon Tamer’s original Digimon, so my Renamon was bright blue instead of the usual yellow. I distinctly remember being super proud of myself for coming up with a color distinction like that. (Way to go, twelve-year-old me!)
Q3. “Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties,” will be your third novel. You also have a productive career as a poet and flash fiction author. What are your overall goals for writing?
Wow, good question! My goal as a writer has always been to get my stories out there in the world and hopefully be an inspiration for new writers, like how I was inspired by others. I also hope to bring more positive representation for female main characters and for queer characters, since there hasn’t been much of it. (Though it is getting better.) And one of my current goals for writing is to finish my five-book fantasy series—book one Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties comes out on March 27, 2019 from Desert Palm Press and I’m currently working on book two!
Q4. Your work has been included in some queer compilations. Do you feel the representation of the LQBTQ+ community within the medium of books is becoming more inclusive?
Yes, I do feel like the publishing perspective of the overall LGBTQ+ representation is trying to be better and more positive, but I also feel like we have a long way to go. #WeNeedDiverseBooks is a great organization striving to get more diversity in children’s books, and not just queer folk but people of color and varying disabilities as well. We need more diversity in adult books, too! There’s more conversation around #ownvoices, and adequately and respectfully representing diversity, but there is still a massive lack in publishing professionals and authors. Just like we need more POC and disabled folk in publishing, we need also more queer authors and publishing professionals to share their stories! So yes, I am happy with the push for diverse voices in the current publishing landscape, but we have a long way to go for equality.
Q5. Who are your favourite authors to read, and do you have a favourite book?
There are too many books and authors to chose from! I have a lot of favorite authors—V.E. Schwab, Becky Chambers, Tomi Adeyemi, Patrick Ruthfoss, John Green—and I’ll pretty much pick up every story they write, but my current favorite has to land squarely on Hank Green’s new YA book An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It’s his debut science fiction novel, and it’s quite intriguing. I love how conversational and snarky his protagonist, April May, is!
Q6. Your upcoming novel, “Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties,” is of the fantasy genre, as are your previously published books. Where do you get ideas for these kinds of stories?
Actually, my previously published books—Finding Hekate and Losing Hold—have been in the science fiction realm! Like most writers, I get the ideas for my stories from a lot of different places. Sometimes the characters hit me on a random Saturday afternoon while taking a walk outside, sometimes a spark of a plot will tug on my mind while watching a show, and sometimes I’ll just ask myself “what if” and the story will unfold from there. Most of the time a story idea will hit while I’m working on my current work in progress! I can’t work on two stories at once, so while my mind is firmly set on fantasy for the time being, I have random notes for other genres and characters.
Q7. What can you tell us about “Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties,” that surprised even you?
Oo, there are a couple! Arias Silverstone, who is an Elu dabbler, was a shock to me in that she decided to go with Misti and Dylori on their quest. I had originally made her to be a one-and-done character, like a tertiary character who helped Misti along, but then I really loved their interactions and she just…decided to help. Her backstory was also a surprise, but I won’t spoil it here. Plus, there is a particular scene in the middle of the book where Misti has a romantic revelation and accompanying outburst that I didn’t plan for.
Q8. I seen on your website that your main character Misti from “Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties,” has a cute animal companion Zora. How important are animals in a story, especially stories within the fantasy genre?
In general, I think beasts are super important to help flesh out fantasy worldbuilding. Where else can you find such cool mythological creatures like dragons and basilisks, griffins and phoenixes? They’re fun to play with in a fantasy world, too, whether the beast is chasing down the hero or providing aid. In Sunkissed Feathers animals are super important, mainly because Misti is a Vagari, who’s crafting (magic) is tethered to the animals of the world. The Vagari have varying creature bloodlines, and they get their crafting abilities from that bloodline. So a dragon bloodline would be able to throw fire, a pyrewolf bloodline would extend fingers into claws, that kind of thing. Like I said, it’s fun to play with those fantastical beasts and explore how they would (or wouldn’t) interact with the magical aspects of the world.
Q9. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received from one of your readers?
Ahh, my readers are so sweet, and I love their comments! I’d have to say the best compliment I’ve gotten thus far was when a non-science fiction reader told me they loved Finding Hekate.
Q10. What, in your opinion, makes a story good, what makes it publish-worthy?
Interesting narration, compelling characters that readers can relate to and have agency in the story, three-dimensional villains with good backstories, and unique settings are all so important for creating a good story. I love it when there’s a twist in the plot that I didn’t see coming but is actually sprinkled throughout the narration and readers can catch them on a second read. Give me all the magic and dragons, tech and spaceships, queer characters and diverse stories!
Q11. What is your strangest writing quirk?
Hmm, well for Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties, I made it a habit to listen to the same Lord of the Rings soundtrack mix the entire time I wrote the novel. It’s a thirteen-minute mix so I’d listen to it on repeat to help me focus and set the mood. No matter where I wrote the story—on a plane, in a coffee shop, at home, at work—I’d listen to this one mix. Even during the editing phase! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chLZQtCold8 if you want to link it)
Q12. Finally, what would you say to any young writer starting out on their journey, who might have a fantasy story to tell like “Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties,” and who may be afraid their story will get lost?
Your story is important, so keep writing it. Don’t be afraid to take risks in the magical sense! I know fantasy worldbuilding can be overwhelming, so if you’re worried about the story getting lost under the fantasy elements, start small. Add just one magic-user to the mix and see how it feels. Incorporate some mythological beasts and see where it takes you. You can even start small in the sense of having all of your main characters in one tiny village and growing the world out from there; you don’t need to know the whole world and all the magic-related rules to start writing fantasy. If you’re worried about your novel getting lost among all the other books out there, don’t let that stop you from writing. Each story is unique in their own right and yours will be, too! So keep writing, keep creating, and the rest will fall into place. If and when your story is published you’ll find a way to get it out there in the world. And, if all else fails, add a dragon if you get stuck!
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