Interview with Author Kellie Doherty
The Geek Post is thrilled to present an exclusive interview with the acclaimed author, Kellie Doherty. Kellie has captivated readers worldwide with her thought-provoking and imaginative world and character development. With an impressive repertoire of works that include the riveting books of the “Broken Chronicles,” as well as the enthralling “Cicatrix” duology. Kellie has demonstrated her prowess as a master storyteller. In today’s conversation, we delve into her literary journey, learn more about her life, and the inspiration behind some of her most beloved books.
GeekPost: What kind of approach do you use when you’re writing a new story?
Kellie: Character creation is one of my favorite aspects of the writing process, so I always start with the main character—figure out what their wound or ghost is, or a defining moment in their backstory—and build out from there. After I have a few characters created—usually the main character and the ones who closely revolve around them—I work on figuring out the world of the story. If it’s a brand-new world, this process also takes a long time, but it also depends on if the story is going to be a novel, or something shorter like a short story or flash fiction piece. Quite frankly, the world of a short story doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a novel’s world. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to build the world for shorter works but just from the nature of the limited word count, the world won’t be as explored as one in a novel-length work. After I figure out the characters and the world, I start plotting it out. I’m a “wayfarer plotter,” meaning I create a chapter-by-chapter overview of the whole book but then when I start writing the story, if something feels better that isn’t in my overview, I still explore it just in case. More often than not, I include those exploration snippets and they end up being scenes that resonate with my readers!
GeekPost: Your novels often feature strong LGBTQ+ themes and strong female characters. What inspired you to explore these topics in your writing? How do you go about developing these characters?
Kellie: My books have been described as “chaotically queer” by some readers and honestly, I love that. Being part of the queer community—bi lady here—and knowing how important queer representation is, I had to write queer characters. There were never enough queer stories growing up or even into my early 20s, especially in the male dominated science fiction and fantasy sphere, so I made it my mission to add some more rainbow representation. And knowing how so many “classic” tropes put females in a victim’s light (i.e., a damsel in distress) I couldn’t stop myself from painting a better picture of women as well. Plus, it helps that I, too, am female, so I relate to and can write female characters easier than male characters. (Not to say I don’t have male characters in my stories, I do, and I love them, it’s just easier for me to write from the female point of view.)
As for developing queer female characters who also happen to be pretty damn strong (strong willed, strong bodied, strong knowledge base, strong in knowing their weaknesses, etc.), it’s pretty easy for me, especially within the science fiction and fantasy worlds I create. In my worlds, being queer is an accepted thing in the general society; there are some smaller factions who don’t like homosexuality, but those people are seen as the odd ones out. So, creating queer female characters is simple in that regard; I didn’t need to worry about adding in discrimination or hate-speech or a fight for our rights kind of storybeat because I honestly just wanted my books to be an escape from all that. I might tackle those issues in a later story but for now, I wanted my books to be less serious concerning those (super yet intense important) issues. Basically, I wanted my characters to have adventures and be their badass selves. They’re queer, and they’re awesome. That said, I’m exploring gender dysphoria and gender fluidity in my current WIP, book four of my series, and I plan on getting some specific sensitivity readers to ensure I did it correctly since I don’t experience that myself.
GeekPost: Can you share some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced as a writer and how you overcame them?
Kellie: One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a writer is finding and building my community. There are so many amazing writers and readers out there, but finding them, connecting with them, and nurturing those relationships takes a lot of work, especially for a more introverted person like me. I’ve been overcoming that (and challenging my introverted nature) by being more intentional with my social media and starting/continuing conversations with people I want to connect with. I’ve even started doing more collaborative events as well, with four TikTok Lives lined up for April and May. (Providing TikTok is still a thing moving forward. If not on TikTok, then it’ll be on Instagram!) Overwriting is also a huge issue, but my critique group nips that one right in the bud.
GeekPost: Who or what has had the biggest influence on your writing? Any books or authors come to mind?
Kellie: Always and forever Becky Chambers. Her work in the queer sci-fi realm is legendary and amazing, as are her character-driven stories. I love how quietly queer and accepting of homosexuality her stories are, too, because it showed me that not all queer stories had to make a huge statement about being queer or coming out, that the characters can be themselves and be celebrated for it. I also really appreciate V.E. Schwab’s writing; her fantasy series Darker Shades trilogy really scratched a writing itch back in the day. And, in the non-author realm, I’d have to point to one more source of inspiration: Critical Role. I say it influences my writing because the world-building is so crisp, the stories they’re building together are outstanding, and the characters the players created are fun and broken and relatable, and quite a few of them are queer. I turned to Critical Role during a downward spiral time in my life and that, plus writing my first fantasy book Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties, really helped me. I think that’s always why I want my stories to be an escape, because they helped me escape as well.
GeekPost: Do you consider yourself a geek? What does that mean to you?
Kellie: I 100% consider myself a geek, and I have my dad to lovingly blame for that. My dad was always into sci-fi/fantasy; he introduced me to so many amazing speculative fiction worlds—from Star Trek and Stargate to Lord of the Rings and Legend of Zelda—and I am forever grateful for that. My whole family was the geeky sort when I was a kid; we played board games and video games together, had sci-fi/fantasy movie nights, and even read fantasy stories to each other while camping. (And don’t even get me started on how many Star Trek books my sister has.) Being a geek is a core facet of my personality; it means I can gush about movies, TV shows, and video games I love. I can watch D&D on the weekdays and play D&D on the weekends. And you better believe I’m going to buy the new Legend of Zelda game as soon as it comes out. But honestly, all being a geek means is that you obsessively love something—I believe that there can be travel geeks, math geeks, marketing geeks, swimming geeks…anything that you’re passionate about, you can be a geek for. For me, it just happens to be science fiction and fantasy realms.
GeekPost: Was it difficult to write about grief and loss in “Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties”?
Kellie: So, this is an interesting question because looking back, I didn’t have that hard of a time writing about grief and loss in Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties. In the beginning, Misti’s loss was a loss and rejection of familial connection—unable to truly move on from her family ties that tore her to pieces—but at the end her loss was much more profound in that someone close to her scarified themselves for her. (No spoilers!) The thing is, I didn’t really know how that felt, though, because I hadn’t experienced it yet. So instead, I did the “writer thing” when you come across something you’ve never written about before and dove into research. I researched grief and loss, watched YouTube videos of different kinds and how each affected the body and mind, and even talked to some people about it. And I’m proud of how it turned out. I did the best I could with the resources I had. However, my dad recently passed away in January 2022 from a heart attack and now I know how it feels to have someone close to you die. If I had to redo those grief scenes, the ones where Misti is feeling all the losses she’s had to endure, I have a (terrible to say but accurate) better source of inspiration to pull from. Quite frankly, I’d write them differently. Grief and loss are themes I’m planning on tackling in a future WIP, after I’m done with the Broken Chronicles, and I’m honestly looking forward to explore those topics better now that I have a deeper understanding of it.
Kellie: Oof, I love magic and mythology. I’m drawn to them because in both cases, they’re larger-than-life ideas, but ones you can look at from a wide variety of angels. Each person will take different aspects from them to run with; it’s fascinating! And in the case of magic, it’s something that I’d actually want in real life too!
Hecate was a goddess of magic and spellcraft, she stood at doorways and crossroads, and she was capable of both good and evil. How awesome is that? I took some aspects from the goddess mythology to influence my story. I nodded to Hecate in many ways—in the actual title, in Mia’s home spaceship, and in the overall themes. Mia was at a crossroads in her life throughout the whole first book and she did…not so great things to get there but she was also trying to be better than her past self.
As for my magic system in the Broken Chronicles, I just love playing with and layering in different kinds of magic. I adore elemental magic but I didn’t want to be so point-blank, so instead of elemental literally (earth, fire, water, wind) I went elemental figuratively (blood, nature, protection, animal). With the exception of the protection magic (or Moon crafting as I call it), nature, blood, and animal are all key elements to our lives. The magic is layered, complex, lashed to each races’ blood types, and innate to each person but also demands a price. And there’s even an ancient crimson version that’s slowly being revealed throughout the series! It’s really, fun to play with, and my readers enjoy it as well. (So, a double win!)
GeekPost: We love animals. Do you have any?
Kellie: I love animals, too!! My mom is a huge animal-lover. We’ve always had pets in our house—dogs, cats, hamsters, fish, a rabbit—it was chaos but also super fun. Personally, cats are my favorite, so I’ll always have those furry friends in my life. Currently I have amazing shadow cats (technically long-haired black cats) named Raven and Cinder. Raven is the older of the two—I actually got her when I was taking care of other cats in a no-kill shelter. She was just a baby and took a shine to me the moment I walked in the door. I had to stop volunteering at the shelter, but not before claiming Raven as my own! As for Cinder, she was part of a trio of kittens my sister and I adopted together (which was quite the surprise for our parents, who thought we were only bringing home a single kitten for Jess). Both of my cats are amazing, inspirational, hilarious, and make my life quite entertaining. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
GeekPost: How much of an influence has living in Alaska had on your writing? What kinds of outdoor hobbies do you have?
Kellie: Living in Alaska inspired me to create a reverse light/dark, good/bad fantasy world. In a lot of stories, light equals good, and darkness equals bad, a sunny day is favorable over a moonlit night. (A generalization, of course, but you get the idea.) Well, here in Alaska we have long dark winter nights, solid months where I go to work in the dark and come back in the dark. When I worked in an office, I literally didn’t see the sun at all. It’s what I grew up with, and what I live with even now. (Either you love it, or you hate it, ha!) So, I wanted to honor that darkness. Celebrate it. Flip the common idea that a sunny day equals happiness and wonder and darkness should be for sleeping, for dangers, for hiding away. So, in my world, daytime is dangerous—it’s when the sun goddess worshippers (a cult) come out to pillage and when suncreatures (corrupted versions of normal beasts) come out to hunt, and is the domain of the vile, vicious sun goddess Ponuriah herself. It’s feared by most people, so they sleep the daylight away, hidden from those dangers of the sun. Contrast that to the night in my world, that’s when people are awake and going about their business because it’s safer to be outside.
As for outdoor hobbies, I like taking pictures of nature; going on bike rides, walks, and hikes; skiing and sledding every now and then; and looking at the northern lights.
GeekPost: Do you have any advice for new writers who are just starting out on their journey?
Kellie: Form a routine that’ll work for you. The common advice is to “write every day” but that doesn’t work for everyone and don’t feel bad about that. For example, I brainstorm characters, plot points, scenes, etc. on the weekdays but I only sit down to write on the weekends.
GeekPost: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Kellie: Only that I’d love to connect with you! Follow me on social media and subscribe to my newsletter to get behind the scenes details. https://linktr.ee/kelliedoherty
The Geek Post would like to thank Kellie Doherty for taking the time to answer our in-depth interview questions. We are huge fans and hope our readers will be as well. Leave a comment below to support this wonderful author. Keep up with everything Kellie has going on at the social media links below.