Please welcome Kellie Doherty to The Clog Blog! Kellie, please tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Of course! First I’d like to thank you for having me today; I really appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed on your blog. To start off, my name is Kellie Doherty. I’m a queer author writing science fiction and fantasy novels, short stories, and flash fiction pieces. (And some poetry, but only once in a strawberry moon.) I graduated with a master’s degree in book publishing back in 2016 and while I didn’t land a full-time job in publishing (yet), it was a very valuable experience and has helped tremendously when marketing my books. I’ve three books out thus far—a sci-fi duology Finding Hekate and Losing Hold and book one of my adult fantasy series The Broken Chronicles titled Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties. All three of my novels were published by Desert Palm Press, a fabulous indie publisher of queer works that have hints (or wallops) of romance. I’ve also had my short stories and flash fiction pieces get picked up by journals, anthologies, and magazines like Image OutWrite, Astral Waters Review, and Other Worlds, Inc, among others. Along with being an author, currently, I work as an office assistant and a freelance editor! I like to keep myself busy.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
I used to like seeing where an idea took me, but with my novels, I really do have to outline it, especially with the fantasy series that I’m working on right now. I call it “wayfarer-style outlining.” I know how important it is to plot things out, both the bigger incidents and the smaller chapter-by-chapter points, but I also need the flexibility to roam in my writing. So if I’m writing a chapter and the idea I had for it doesn’t feel right, I allow myself to explore new ideas. Sometimes the new thought is brilliant; other times it’s an exercise in patience as my meandering writing gets back to the original point of the chapter and I can’t use any of it. For flash fiction pieces and short stories, I tend to just see where the character takes me.
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Yes! I think all writers get blocked every now and then. It usually occurs when I’m not motivated to write or I simply don’t like the scene I’m working on. I tend to really love emotionally charged scenes or high-tension scenes so writing the middling events can sometimes be challenging for me. But writing is a job and you just have to go to work. Generally, I take a walk or watch something funny on YouTube…then I get back and figure out why I wasn’t motivated to write the particular scene. I recently watched a panel with VE Schwab and Neil Gaiman where they talked about writer’s block and Schwab had mentioned that when she gets writer’s block it simply means that somewhere earlier in the story she went off track. When that happens, she’ll basically backtrack and read through what she already wrote to see where that divergence happened. It’s an interesting concept and one I’ll use the next time I get stuck!
What are your current projects?
Currently, I’m working on Curling Vines & Crimson Trades, book two of my adult fantasy series. It’s a story centered on a woman named Orenda whose wife gets kidnapped and she has to do this long list of tasks for the kidnappers in order to get her wife back. The problem is, her best friend has a task list, too, and the final job on her list is to kill Orenda. The series will be five books long with the first four books being stand-alone and in one main character’s point of view and the fifth book will bring them all together to complete their journey. Aside from that book, I’ve been writing some flash fiction pieces and poetry, but nothing major. I can’t really work on multiple things at once—too many competing voices and worlds and storylines for me to keep up.
What genre are your books and what draws you to this genre?
I write adult science fiction and fantasy with a dash of romance and queer characters. I write this genre for multiple reasons, the number one being I am a queer nerd who grew up on science fiction and fantasy stories. I love the possibilities of new worlds, life-altering technology, magic beyond our wildest imaginations, and how all of that reacts and sits with the everyday issues that people need to deal with. I love the escape science fiction and fantasy provide—you can be transported to a whole new galaxy or come face-to-face with a wyvern or go on a grand adventure through space find a long-lost treasure that also happens to be a badass magical bow. It’s fun and it’s different, but there are always tethers to the real world, whether it’s simply characters who are relatable in a land not like our own or actual Earth cities as the setting. Plus, when writing Sci-Fi and fantasy that I do (aka: not urban or set on Earth), I get to make everything up—the foods, the communities, the settings—and that freedom is amazing!
How did you deal with Rejection Letters if you received any?
Oh man, before Desert Palm Press picked me up I had plenty of rejections. Some were form letters (which I completely understand considering how many manuscripts agents and editors get) and others seemed like they had a more sincere tone to them. I got good comments back, but each one was a definite blow. I kept a spreadsheet and color-coded it, but eventually, the red “rejected” color block got so distracting I had to hide that column. It didn’t really get me down for long, though, as I’ve always known that the rejection isn’t personal. It just meant my story didn’t fit with their company and that’s okay. I kept at it and eventually found a place for my novels: Desert Palm Press.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Interesting question! I’d say publishing my first book ramped up the “realness” of being a writer. Before, I was just writing for myself and my friends and my critique group. It wasn’t a big thing but when I got published it was suddenly a Big Thing. All these questions swirled in my mind: What if people didn’t like my characters? What if people couldn’t connect with the story? What if they thought it was boring? What if I never sell any copies at all? So it made the process more intense, but I just had to learn to quell those questions. I realized that building a readership takes time—many years and many books. As for changing my process for writing specifically, being published did make me want to work harder, to write better.
I love your cover for “Sunkissed Feathers and Severed Ties”, who designed the cover?
Rachel George of Rachel George Illustrations! She’s amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better cover designer; her colors pop, the illustrations are always dynamic, and her talent is inspiring. She’s planning on being the illustrator for my series so the covers will have coherency in style, even though the first four books are stand-alone! It’s so cool. I really do love working with her.
Visit her website to learn more about her work: https://www.rachelgeorgeillustration.com/
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t rush your craft, no matter your age. Enjoy each phase of writing: drafting, writing, querying, marketing, etc. and try not to compare yourselves with other writers. (It’s so hard, I know. Be inspired by them instead.) Read as much as you can and sink deep into your chosen genre. Read all kinds of authors from all walks of life—debut authors and established ones. And get a critique group! Once you find a group that you connect with and who aren’t afraid to both praise and punch, they’ll be your go-to source for writing.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
You can find me in all kinds of places:
Desert Palm Press website: https://desertpalmpress.com/
Author Website: http://kelliedoherty.com/
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Yes! Here’s a snippet from Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties, my newest release.
Pale white blood dripped down Misti Eildelmann’s curved short sword as she readied herself to meet her next attacker. Ignoring the shouts of the battle around her and her own frantically beating heart, Misti eyed the banished one. The overly bright pale blue eyes. The slight smirk on the woman’s face. The confidence in her expression frightened Misti, and she hesitated, the upward slash with her sword halting for a moment. The banished crafter snarled and leapt, knocking Misti’s blade aside with her staff and sending an aching jolt through Misti’s arm. The banished one reached out to grab her neck, eyes glowing white as her fingers dug into Misti’s skin.
In the span of a heartbeat, many thoughts tumbled through Misti’s mind. Blood crafting. Moon above, not now. Not yet. Her eyes. Her veins! Misti swept her gaze down the woman’s arm, and sure enough, the banished ones’ veins had brightened to white, same as her glowing eyes, the color tracing the banished one’s blood and heading right for Misti. The sight of this woman’s crafting sent a spike of fear down Misti’s spine. Blood crafting was meant for healing of the body and the mind and the soul, but it could also be used to suck life-energy from a person. Suck the life-energy from me. Especially in this banished one’s hands. She latched onto the woman’s arm to try to wrench her away from her neck. It didn’t work.