Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Kellie Doherty.

Kellie Doherty is an author from Eagle River, Alaska, who writes science fiction and fantasy. Living in Alaska gave her an appreciation for nature, a hankering for a good cup of tea, and a passion for all things below zero. During those dark winter nights, she kept herself busy by writing stories and creating characters. When she noticed a lack of queer characters in science fiction and fantasy stories, she decided to create her own. Her first sci-fi book "Finding Hekate" was published by Desert Palm Press in April 2016, and the sequel "Losing Hold" was published in April 2017. She's currently working on a five-book fantasy series, and the first book "Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties" will be out in March 2019.

Click here to visit her official website.

AN INTERVIEW WITH KELLIE DOHERTY

- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?

Of course! My name is Kellie Doherty, I’m a queer science fiction and fantasy author, and I live in Eagle River, Alaska. Yes, you read that correctly. Alaska, land of the midnight sun! I’m also a proud Ravenclaw, a Critical Role #Critter through and through, and a lover of words and worlds.

- For how long have you been writing speculative fiction? What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve been writing speculative fiction since I was a teenager. I started writing Digimon and Pokemon fanfiction since I really loved those shows growing up and wanted to play in those worlds. Fanfiction was a great place to hone my skills, to figure out what works and what doesn’t. The worldbuilding and the characters were already created, so I could focus on plot and story structure. Plus it allowed me to be a Super Nerd and craft stories around characters I loved. Eventually I wanted to create my own worlds and characters and so moved on from fanfiction into original fiction. (Though I do still write fanfiction from time to time.) I credit Harry Potter as the spark that started that original fiction flame and especially the speculative fiction fire.

- You've written two science fiction novels (The Cicatrix Duology: Finding Hekate and Losing Hold) and your adult fantasy novel, Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties, will be published by Desert Palm Press in March 2019. What inspired you to change genre and write fantasy instead of science fiction?

Oo, good question. My first love was always fantasy. I grew up with Harry Potter, devoured any fantasy book I could get ahold of ( Hunger Games , Name of the Wind , etc.), and even took a Tolkien class in college (which was super fun, by the way). Because of that, I’ve actually had the idea of the Broken Chronicles in my head for a long while. The Cicatrix Duology grew out of a short story I had written in undergrad, one that had sparked my interest, and I wanted to get that one done first. I’m not a writer who can work on multiple stories at once. (The writers who can are pure magic!) Once the Cicatrix Duology was done, I could finally focus on my fantasy series, shift my attention back to my first love of fantasy, and boy, I am thrilled I did! Give me all the magic and wyverns!

- Could you tell us something about Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties? What kind of a novel is it? Is it epic fantasy or something else?

Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties is an adult fantasy novel, classified as epic fantasy (sometimes called high fantasy), that focuses on a Moon Knight named Misti who gets this strange Blood pendant attached to her neck during a fight and she has to deal with the deadly consequences. It has themes like forgiveness, the bond between siblings, and persevering when all else falls through. It can also be sub-classified as a queer romance, since there is a romantic subplot between Misti and another female character.

- Is there anything you could tell us about the characters in Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties?

Oh my goodness, I could go on and on about my characters! Misti, the main character, is a Vagari—a race whose crafting (magic) is linked to the animals. She can use her crafting to heal the beasts, to take strength from them, and bend their will to hers. It also means she has an adorable companion animal, a vulnix named Zora, who she shares her bloodline with. (For example, since Zora has dual colored eyes, so does Misti.) Dylori, another character, is also a Vagari though her bloodline is neades, so her companion animal is a bovine-like beast—huge, furry, and really strong. They’re both Moon Knights, cut from the same cloth but just different colors. Where Dylori is confident in herself, Misti is shy and a bit awkward. While Misti likes to think things through, Dylori rushes headlong into everything. It was a fun dynamic to play off of, especially when the new girl Arias comes into play, adding a third edge to their clashing swords.

- Is Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties in any way different from other new fantasy novels?

Yes, it is different! (Wouldn’t be a very good book if it weren’t, right?) The magic system is unique to my world, there are new kinds of fantasy creatures I’ve created myself, and the plotline twists in an unexpected way. I also think my novel is unique in that for most of the story, the main antagonist isn’t a person, it’s an object—a Blood pendant that Misti gets stuck to her skin.

- What was the most challenging part of writing this novel? And what was the most rewarding part?

One challenging part of writing Sunkissed Feathers would be describing the fantastical animals I created as part of this world. I knew what they looked like in my head, but translating that to the page was a clunky, time-consuming experience. I hope the creatures come through clearly, especially the companion animals. On the flip side, the most rewarding part was going back through the novel during the editing phases and finding scenes or chapters that I still really loved. Don’t get me wrong—I love my work and the world I’ve created! I’m super proud of what I’ve done, but fellow writers can attest to the rollercoaster that is the editing phase. How one moment you think you’re the best and the next you hate everything you’ve ever written. So finding elements and chapters that still made me giddy even after all the run-throughs only proves that I’ve gotten better as writer.

- Did you have to do any research during the writing process?

Of course! Any writer worth their salt has to do research at one time or another. I researched things like various mythological creatures, how to wield a sword vs. a dagger, and different fighting techniques. By far, my favorite thing to research was whether or not birds with oily wings would take dust baths. Zora takes one in the story, and a beta reader of mine flagged it! Turns out, birds with oily wings do take dust baths, so I got to keep that element in. I’m glad for it, too, because I got the original inspiration for that scene after a squirrel spun around in some ashes while my family was having a barbeque. It was super cute and funny so I wanted to incorporate it into my novel.

- How would you advertise Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties with a few words to potential readers?

Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties is an adult fantasy centered on a woman named Misti who gets this mysterious Blood pendant attached to her skin and she has to deal with the deadly consequences. It has themes like the importance of friendship and the healing powers of animals, as well as darker ones like betrayal and getting over one’s guilt. The novel comes out on March 27, and you can read a sneak peek on my website http://kelliedoherty.com/.

- Is there anything you'd like to add?

If you’re interested in other amazing queer work, check out Desert Palm Press (https://desertpalmpress.com/). And if you’d like to get in touch with me, connect with me on Twitter: @Kellie_Doherty, follow me on Facebook: @KellieDoherty89, or visit my website: http://kelliedoherty.com/. I also have a newsletter that goes out twice per month, with book news, fantasy recommendations, and other fun things: http://kelliedoherty.com/subscribe.

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