Interview: Kellie Doherty

Today we well welcome Kellie Doherty, Alaska-based author of Curling Vines & Crimson Trades. Welcome to the blog, Kellie! What made you decide to rock up today?

Kellie Doherty, with wonderful orange and red hair!

Thank you for having me for this interview! Today, I’m celebrating my new release, adult fantasy Curling Vines & Crimson Trades. The novel centers on a rare goods trader named Orenda. Her wife gets kidnapped and Orenda has to do these nearly impossible tasks and trades just to get her wife back. Then the unthinkable happens, her best friend Jax tries to kill her. She has a task list too and her final one is to kill Orenda. In a race against the coming dawns and battling at every turn, Orenda has to try to save them all before the sun rises on her wife’s final day. Curling Vines came out on November 30, 2020, from Desert Palm Press, and I’ve been shouting about the new release pretty hard since then. However, I really love interviews, so I’m also here for fun!

What started you writing?

Fanfiction! I loved watching Digimon and Pokemon when I was younger and I wanted to be in their worlds longer, to have more adventures with the characters I loved so much. I turned to writing fanfiction to fulfil that need, and it really sparked my writing career. Fanfiction holds such a dear place in my heart that I still write it to this day! It’s fluffy and fun. Something I can dip into when I need a break from my original stories for a little while. After I felt comfortable in the already created worlds of others and crafting original characters to play in those worlds, I branched into original fiction and created worlds all my own. That was a thrilling transition. Do you know how equally time-consuming and awesome worldbuilding can be? It’s intense! I also started writing stories because I didn’t see many queer female characters in science fiction and fantasy so I wanted to add my own positive representation of my LGBTQIA community into the genres I adored. That’s why all of my main characters are queer ladies!

What’s your writing space like?

I write at home curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and my cats purring beside me. Sometimes they push my computer out of the way so they can sit on my lap and snooze while I awkwardly hold my computer against my knees to write. I let them, of course, because I’m a pushover when my cats are involved. Technically I can write almost anywhere—airports, coffee shops, libraries—but I’m most comfortable at home. I also scribble notes on characters, plotpoints, and worldbuilding during breaks at work and in the middle of the night. (Though in the middle of the night my handwriting is nearly unintelligible.)

What do you like to read in your non-writing time?

Science fiction and fantasy! I am a huge geek for dragons and magic, spaceships and tech. The escape it gives me is honestly priceless. I like high adventure stories with big (and small) stakes, but I also enjoy character-driven stories as well. It just depends on my mood at the time. 

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

Mm, my first pick would be Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon since it’s such an epic story with so many varied characters and points of view. It’s also a thick book, which means it would take me a while to read if I got stranded there. Second I’d bring Becky Chambers’ novella To Be Taught, if Fortunate because her prose is beautiful and her characters try to see the good in each situation they’re put in, even when—and especially when—it gets tough. I feel like that kind of story would be super helpful in a desert situation. And finally, I’d probably bring a tropical island food book of some sort so I’d know what’s edible! Knowing me I’d probably snack on a poisonous plant…

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I belong to a local writing organization called the Alaska Writers Guild, and I really appreciate the smaller events they host throughout the year as well as the larger annual writing conference. As you know COVID-19 made the in-person events grind to a halt, but the Alaska Writers Guild swung to virtual pretty smoothly. I also have a weekly writing group that meets over Skype! It’s lovely to have a two-hour chunk of time where we can critique our work together, and I honestly believe we’ve all become better writers because of it.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Oh boy, I lead a rather busy life outside of my writing career. I have my own freelance editing business—Edit. Revise. Perfect.—that keeps my editing eye sharp! I have a lot of different clients and some ongoing contract work too, with both fiction and nonfiction work. I feel really fortunate to have one foot in the business side of publishing like that, even while I have a full time job in a different field. I have two fabulous black cats—Raven and Cinder—who like to dash around at midnight, pounce on hair ties, and curl up on me while I’m writing. As for exercising, I do get at least 7,000 steps per day and I do Zumba every now and then, but I miss swimming. I used to do water aerobics, pre-COVID, and it was just so much fun! Hopefully once the virus settle down a bit, I’ll be able to get back into the water again. Hmmm, what else. Well, I probably watch too much YouTube—Critical Role is an obsession of mine—and I play video games like Minecraft and Zelda. I’ve also been playing the same Dungeons & Dragons campaign with a group of friends for nearly four years, which is pretty fabulous.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

Like I said earlier, I’m celebrating the release of my new adult fantasy novel, Curling Vines & Crimson Trades! I got the idea for this five-book fantasy series when I was a teenager, but I didn’t feel comfortable writing it until a few years ago. The idea—having four main characters each with their own standalone books with their own stories and challenges, triumphs and failures, only to bring them all together in the final fifth book—seemed too big for me. And it was back then. It might still be too much for me now, honestly, but I wanted to challenge myself and I knew that if I didn’t start it soon, it would haunt me for the rest of my writing career. And I also wanted to pivot into writing fantasy since I’m such a huge nerd for it. Anyway, for Curling Vines, the story is focused on Orenda Silverstone and for her story, I really wanted to do a deep dive into what a person would do to save their loved one and discover how someone who believes they’re broken moves past that feeling. Curling Vines took me about six months to write but then I submitted it to my writing group to critique so the second draft took a little bit longer to hash out. For the enjoyment factor, I loved writing the interactions between the characters, especially Orenda and Lyra. They clash so often! It was fun for me. For the hate factor…hmmm, that one’s a bit harder to pin down. I don’t really hate anything about writing. One thing I can get lost in is the research aspect. For example, for this story, one of the characters Jax fights with a staff and since I had never written about staff fighting before I had to research. And I say, “had to” loosely there; I actually liked researching staff fights! The problem? I remember one night I literally spent my whole writing time—like three hours—researching…I didn’t write a single word. Research is important, don’t get me wrong, but I need a timer or something so I don’t deep dive like that again and forget to actually write the story!

Curling Vine & Crimson Trades

Book cover: Curing Vines and Crimson Trades by Kellie Doherty

Rare goods trader, Orenda Silverstone leads a happy life with her wife and friends. She’s an Elu—a race whose crafting is centered on protection—but her power is broken. Now, her sword is her strength. When her wife gets kidnapped and Orenda has to use her trading skills to complete some nearly impossible tasks to get her back, a good sword arm won’t be enough. Orenda’s time is rapidly coming to a close. She needs help. But she’s been forced into silence. Two sun goddess worshippers, twins Lan and Lyra, decide to join Orenda’s quest in order to guard one of the rarer items to its destination. Orenda’s not sure she can turn her back on either one, but with no other options, she competes against the sunrises to complete her tasks before her wife is killed.  Then, the unthinkable happens. Orenda’s best friend, Jax, tries to kill her. Between racing against the coming dawns and battles at every turn, Orenda’s list now seems insurmountable. No longer certain of who is friend or foe, she must come up with a plan to save them all before the sun rises on her wife’s final day.

Meet Kellie!

Kellie Doherty is a queer science fiction and fantasy author who lives in Eagle River, Alaska. When she noticed that there wasn’t much positive queer representation in the science fiction and fantasy realms, she decided to create her own! Kellie’s work has been published in Image OutWrite 2019, Astral Waters Review, Life (as it) Happens, and Impact, among others. She’s currently working on a five-book adult fantasy series. The first book Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties (Desert Palm Press, March 2019) won a 2019 Rainbow Award. The second book Curling Vines & Crimson Trades launched on November 30, 2020, and an excerpt from Curling Vines won first place in an Alaska Writers Guild Fiction contest in 2020. 

Website : Email : Goodreads: Twitter : Facebook : Instagram

Coming 30th December 2020!

The Hunted and the Hind, coming 30th December 2020

Finally, I hear you say! On December 30th, the third and final book in the Lost in Time 1920s series will be published!

Lost in Time was my debut novel. Initially I self-published it, without professional edits, and the faults got deservedly called out in reviews. I had no idea what I was doing and was learning as I went along.

After a few months, Mr AL suggested I withdraw it and submit it to publishers for consideration. I was lucky enough for JMS Books to pick it up despite it’s previous release, and it came out with them in January 2018. I’ve always felt that it had a satisfactory ending–a happy-for-now, which is about the best one can hope for in a historical set in London in the early 1920s with the second world war looming.

But…I ended up writing a sequel, Shadows on the Border, which I think brought more resolution? However, it also introduced a new character, who then ended up with a love-interest of their own.

The Hunted and the Hind finally ties up all the loose ends and resolves Fenn and Sergeant Will Grant’s story. It’s had two rewrites, I’ve gone through months of loathing it; but I’ve now got to a place where it all feels right. I have honestly never felt so relieved to type THE END in my entire life.

For this weekend, Lost in Time is $1.99 (or your equivalent currency) across all the major ebook platforms: you can find it here!

Come and chat to me!

As I may have mentioned in passing (SNORT), Taking Stock is out tomorrow. I am dropping in to chat to a few places over the next day or two, so please do come along and say hello!

8.20 to 8.40pm BST (15.20 EST): Bryce Winters’s Wildflowers. Bryce also has a release, today! So I’m popping in there for a bit to chat.

9 to 10pm BST (4pm EST) I’m at the Talking RoMMance with a British Accent group! I’m considering doing a reading. Maybe. If the kids have gone to bed. Perhaps.

Tomorrow the 19th, I’m at QueerRomanceInk from 9pm BST (4pm EST) for an hour for a chat. Sarcasm and prizes!

Plus, I have five copies of Inheritance of Shadows to give away to celebrate! Join up here!

Anne Barwell: Family & Reflection

Today I’d like to showcase Anne Barwell’s re-release, Family and Reflection! It’s a 76k word story, part of The Sleepless City, a shared world with Elizabeth Noble.

When a rebel werewolf and a vampire thief fall in love, only one thing is certain—trouble.

For as long as Lucas Coate can remember, werewolves have been taught to mistrust vampires. Lucas is an exception—he has close friends who are vampires. The werewolf pack in Boggslake—and their leader, Jacob Coate—have made it clear that Lucas’s association with vampires is barely tolerated, and another transgression will be his last. When Lucas finds out about the plague of werewolf deaths in the area, he wants to help even though his own life may already be in danger.

Declan has been away from Boggslake for ten years, but he isn’t surprised to learn that the internal politics of the Supernatural Council haven’t changed for the better. When a series of burglaries hit close to home soon after he arrives, Declan—a vampire and professional thief—is their prime suspect, although for once, he isn’t responsible. With the council keeping secrets, no one is safe. Time is running out, and for Lucas and Declan, everything is about to change.

Authors Note: This story was originally released in 2015 by another publisher. This edition has been re-edited.


Excerpt:

“If someone had told me twenty years ago I’d be having a conversation about something like this with a vampire, I’d have told them they were crazy.”

“You’re having this conversation with a friend,” Declan corrected him. “It doesn’t matter what we are, but who we are.”

“Do you really believe that?”

“I want to.” Declan thought for a moment, wanting the right words. Why was this so difficult? He’d given advice to Jonas and Simon many times without any trouble.

“We’re both as bad as each other, yeah?” Lucas seemed sad.

“Why do you say that, and about what?” Declan let go of Lucas.

“I’m a werewolf, and you’re a vampire—”

“You’ve only noticed that now?” Declan interrupted dryly. He walked back to his chair, adjusting it so he was opposite Lucas and could see his face.

Lucas laughed, but this time it sounded natural, not forced. “I’ve gotten used to living at the castle. I love it here, and the guys are my friends. Most of the time I forget we’re different. They’re family. I don’t care what they are. It’s like you said. The important thing is who they are.” He sobered. “Then crap like this goes down… Why do I suddenly feel as though I’m a part of the pack again and need to follow their stupid rules?”

“You’re a part of whatever family you want to be, Lucas.” Declan knew what he wanted—needed—to say now. “One thing I’ve learned with having a long life is that family is who you choose. I didn’t get on with mine that well. I had a father who had expectations too.” He pulled himself up sharply before he went anywhere near those memories. Very little of what he’d done had pleased his father. “We might be different, you and I, mon ami, but in many ways we’re the same.”

“I kind of get the expectation thing with you guys.” Lucas paused and looked apologetic before continuing. “Simon’s not said much about his past, but I get the impression his father expected him to do stuff he didn’t want to do as well.” He scowled. “Be a good son and carry on the family name and traditions. I’m guessing Forge went through the same thing, but he’s never said anything about it. At least not to me.”

“Why do you get it with us?” Declan figured he already knew the answer but wanted to be certain he and Lucas were talking about the same thing.

“You’re a lot older than I am. I can understand this stuff going on a hundred, or even two—”

“Closer to three hundred,” Declan said.

“Yeah, that. You’re old. No offense.” Lucas waved one hand.

“None taken.” Declan couldn’t help but smile. “I know I’m old. But you know what they say about fine wine?”

“Yeah, and, hey, I’m not complaining.” Lucas took a long drink of coffee. “You interrupted my flow. I was making a point here.”

“Sorry.”

“So you’re old, so I expect that kind of stuff from you guys. It was a long time ago.” Lucas growled low in his throat. “But us… the pack… we… they’re carrying on like we’re still living in that society. I’ve told my father that he needs to move with the times or the pack will be left behind. Sure, they use technology, but for the rest of it, you’d think we’d only just gotten off the Mayflower or something.”

“It takes a long time for some people to accept change.” Declan leaned over and brushed a lock of hair back from Lucas’s forehead. “Some never do.” He’d seen vampires who couldn’t move past what their lives had been like as humans. Most of them hadn’t survived.

“Yeah.” Lucas swallowed. He shook his head when Declan started to move his chair farther back and away from temptation. “I don’t mind you touching me like that,” he said softly.

“I should…” Declan hadn’t thought, just reacted. He’d meant what he’d said about flirting and had no intention of leading Lucas on. “We’re friends,” he said finally.

“I wouldn’t be talking to you about this stuff if we weren’t.” Lucas looked like he was about to say something but cleared his throat instead. “I know you’re kind of touchy-feely and all that. So am I. So—”

A loud knock sounded at the front door.

“Now what?” Lucas muttered.

Boggs materialized in front of them. He looked annoyed. “There are two gentlemen at the door,” he said. “I don’t know who exactly they are, but I heard them talking before they knocked. They’re from the council.”

“I already apologized about that weird stuff in the garbage,” Lucas said.

“Not that council.” Boggs rolled his eyes. “The other one.”

About the Author:

:: Website & Blog—Drops of Ink : Facebook : Facebook Page : Facebook group : Bookbub : Joint Facebook group : Instagram : Twitter : Goodreads : Queeromance Ink Author Page : Sign up for my newsletter ::

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with Kaylee: a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning.

In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes.  She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ.

Taking Stock: sneak preview

Since it’s not yet available on the wizzy Amazon-viewer thing, I thought you might like a sneak preview of the first chapter of Taking Stock!

Chapter 1: Betrayal

September, 1971

“What?” Phil said. “You thought I wouldn’t mind?” He swallowed roughly. “We’ve been together for over a year, Richard. There’s some expectation of loyalty comes with that. I would have thought.” He looked at the younger man stood in the center of his cream living room carpet. “Or perhaps not.”

Richard didn’t even have the grace to look ashamed. “It wasn’t anything, Phil. You’re being stupid. I sucked him off, that was all.” He didn’t even blush. He looked irritated, if anything. “You’re being very unreasonable.”

“You’ve been living here for nearly twelve months. You didn’t think that the assumption would be of monogamy?”

Richard made a dismissive huffing noise and shrugged. “That’s not how it’s done, Phil my dear. Not these days. You’re delightfully old fashioned in some ways, but you’re being very stick in the mud about this.”

Phil shut his eyes for a moment. “It’s not the first time then?”

Richard waved his hand in a dramatic gesture, the tight sleeve of his orange and brown striped shirt flexing along with it. “Leave it, won’t you. It’s not important.”

“Not important to you? Or not important to me? Because I assure you I think it’s important. It’s very important. Richard.” He swallowed. “I… I’ve come to care for you.”

Richard raised an eyebrow. “My dear Phil. Is this a declaration? How thrilling! Do go on.”

Phil said nothing. Clearly he had been barking up the wrong tree. He shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his trousers and turned away to look out of the inverted arched window at the lake. There were some ducks shagging enthusiastically on the edge of his view. More than what’s going on in here, he thought, dismally. No more shagging for me.

Richard had joined the firm eighteen months ago as a junior in Phil’s department and had quickly made his interest in Phil clear. Oh, he was discreet at work…the rough and tumble of the trading floor wasn’t tolerant of anyone who didn’t follow the public-school rugger-bugger stereotype. He’d made it clear that he was interested in Phil though. Phil’s friend Peter had pointed it out to him first. Phil was usually a bit slow on the uptake.

“You want to watch that one,” he’d said one evening as they were sat, backs to the bar, watching the younger traders horse around at a table on the other side of the room. “He’s trouble. And he likes you.”

Phil looked at him. “He likes me? What do you mean?”

Peter glanced at him. “You know what I mean. He likes you. Didn’t you notice him flirting when he came up to get his round in? You could take him home tonight if you wanted to.” He took a swig of his beer. “Bet he sucks cock like a Hoover,” he said wistfully.

You take him home if you feel like that about him,” Phil said, slightly acerbically. He could never tell when someone was coming on to him.

“Nah mate, I’ve got enough on my hands already.” He nodded toward one of the other young men at the same table. “Hips like a snake. And he knows how to use ‘em.”

Phil blushed. Peter was a lot more open about his partners than he was and always had been, even before the change in the law. Phil was never going to out himself to anyone other than his closest friends.

The next time Richard came up to the bar, Phil returned his smile. “Let me buy you a drink?” he asked.

“Sure,” the younger man replied.

And that was that. A few weeks later he had moved into Phil’s spacious flat in the middle of the city and he’d been here ever since. Apparently using it as a base to bring blokes to suck off on his days off while Phil was at work.

Not good.

“I’d like you to leave,” Phil said, turning back toward him. “Pack a suitcase. You can come back for the rest of your things another day.”

“What?! Are you serious!” Richard’s voice rose in both pitch and volume. “Phil, darling, it really didn’t mean anything! It’s you I want to be with!”

“But I don’t want to be with you. You’ve been lying to me and you’ve been bringing people I don’t know here for sex behind my back. I can’t live like that.”

“I’ll stop! I promise!” Richard’s voice was tearful.

“Rich. Please. Don’t…make this any harder than it is.” Phil turned away again. The ducks were still shagging. It looked like the lady duck was drowning. “Please just go. And leave me your key. You can stay with Peter or someone tonight; you’ve got lots of friends. I just…can’t.” His heart hurt. Richard’s sobbing cut him to the quick.

“You bastard!” Richard spat out. “I didn’t have to move in here with you, you know! It was you who asked me!”

“And now I’m asking you to move out.” Phil folded his arms. He was having trouble holding on to his composure. “I’ll ring Peter now and ask him if you can stay there tonight. He’s got a spare room.”

He moved out to the hallway and picked up the telephone. “You can pack some clothes while I do it.”

And that was that. Just over a year of unwedded bliss destroyed by another man’s underpants left in the bathroom.