It’s time for our latest Writers Around the World Interview…a Q &A with the lovely writer, Kellie Doherty. I had a fantastic time on Sunday, drinking tea, and catching up with her. I think you’ll like reading what Kellie had to say…enjoy!
Hi Kellie! Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by the site. First things first. What name do you like to go by, and do you use a pen name for your writing?
Hello! My name is Kellie Doherty. I don’t use a pen name for my writing.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m originally from Eagle River, Alaska, where I grew up, went to school, and landed my first full-time job. I moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2014 to obtain a master’s degree in book publishing from Portland State University, and I still live in Portland today.
That sounds like an adventure in and of itself! So, how long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a teenager and dabbling in fanfiction. Fanfiction was a great tool to craft my basic writing skills since you’re using already created worlds. Doing so, you can focus more on plot and create original characters. After a few years of writing fanfiction, I decided to create my own worlds and transitioned into fiction writing.
What age group and genre(s) do you write in? The same one all the time or have you written in more than one?
Back in my fanfiction days I wrote for teenagers and young adults, because I was growing up and I wanted to have characters I related to. I generally stayed in the cartoon realms—like Digimon and Pokemon—since I was obsessed with those shows. Nowadays, I write for adults in the science fiction and fantasy genres, usually adding in a romantic twist and staying in the LGBT sphere.
We know how important it is to read widely in the age group/genre you write for. What’s a book you’ve read and loved?
I’ve recently become a hardcore fan of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles. It’s an older adult fantasy series, with the first two books out in 2007 and 2011 respectfully, but I hadn’t really heard of it until last year. The fantasy aspects in it are amazing, I enjoy Rothfuss’ descriptions, and Kvothe is a complex—if a bit too love struck—main character. I’d highly recommend it if you’re into fantasy, though you’ll have to join in on the long wait for the last book in the trilogy.
With so many great books, it’s hard to resist them all! What’s a book out of your genre/age group you’ve read and loved?
I will forever and always say Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. It’s a YA fantasy…have you heard of it? (Joking, who hasn’t?) It defined so much of my teenage and young adult years that I still re-read it, listen to the audiobooks, and watch the movies to this day. Really, it’s the series that transitioned me from writing fanfiction into writing original fiction, stuck with me over the years, and inspired my dream of becoming a published author. If you somehow haven’t read it, you really should.
Writing is the greatest profession there is—obviously! If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be? Don’t hold back. No limits on this one!
I would love to be a full-time editor for genre fiction like scifi/fantasy/romance. I currently work as a freelance editor at my own company Edit Revise Perfect, but it’s certainly not a full-time gig. I just love books, so being an editor would be the dream job for me. Outside of the publishing sphere, I’d want to work in event planning—it’s a passion I discovered at PSU while organizing Ooligan Press’ Write to Publish 2016—or, if I was true to my job-dream of my youth, I’d want to work at the zoo taking care of the fuzzy animals. (I wanted to be a tiger trainer when I was a child.)
All of those professions sound fantastic to me too…well maybe not the tiger training one!
Sure, it’s possible to like both, but which do you like better—drafting or revising?
Drafting for sure. It’s the freedom of it that I enjoy. I can write literally anything I want on the page in that first draft, anything I think would or could work, because I know after that draft is done, I’ll go back and pare it down until it actually works. I enjoy the creation of the drafting stage, too, simply because it’s fun to world-build and create characters and spin plotlines. Revising is key, of course, and I enjoy doing that as well, but drafting is more fun for me.
Do you plan first or write as you go along?
I used to be the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of writer. It’s how I wrote the first draft of Finding Hekate, the first book in the Cicatrix Duology, but I definitely planned out Losing Hold, the second and final book, because I had to make sure all the lose threads of the first book were dealt with. I’m currently working on a new fantasy series, and I’m going to plan the hell out of those books because they’re all intertwined so tightly together that I need a plan of attack or I’ll get overwhelmed by all the details. I do fall back on my non-planning skills when I write short stories, flashes, or poetry, though, since there are less details to keep in place and it’s fun when you don’t actually know where the story is going or how it’ll end.
What’s your favorite day of the week? How come?
Saturday! It’s the best day of the week for two simple reasons. First off, it’s my splurge day, a day off from my super-healthy-eating where I can eat unhealthy things. (I usually go for cookies, pizza, donuts, or ice cream.) Secondly, it’s a relaxing day, where I write, read, take walks on the waterfront, go see a movie, or hang with friends.
Where do you usually write? At a desk? Outside? In the car? Be honest. Where does the magic usually happen?
I usually write in my apartment on my couch, usually under a blanket with my cats sleeping next to me, a mug of tea (or cider or water) within easy reach, and Lord of the Rings fantasy music playing in the background. I’ve written in cafes, but the music and buzz of conversation distracts me too much to be productive.
I have that problem writing in cafés sometimes too. Are you a morning person or late night owl? What time do usually write?
I’m a morning person in the fact that I like to wake up early and start my day, but I usually write at night. In my most dedicated of mindsets, I find it’s easier for me to set aside time in the evening before bed to write than first thing in the morning, though I do carry around a notebook/pen in case inspiration strikes during the day.
What made you write your story in the first place?
I decided to write my science fiction adult novel called Finding Hekate and then the follow-up Losing Hold because I had originally written a short story titled “Silence” that my college writing group fell in love with. My college friends were fascinated with Mia Foley and wanted to know more about her. At that time I had only penned short stories, so making the leap into novels was a huge deal for me, both terrifying and thrilling. I wanted to know what made Mia tick, though, and transforming the short story into a longer duology seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.
What’s your favorite food(s)?
Oh goodness, my favorite foods? I love food! If I had to narrow it down (without narrowing it at all, ha!), I’d say Japanese, Italian, Chinese, and my family’s cooking. Like, I love sushi and katsudon and udon soup, but I also love pasta and wine and garlic bread, but I also love broccoli stir-fry and pork buns and mu shu, but I’ll always love my mom’s chicken and my dad’s stir-fry and my sister’s s’more bars. So I have a lot of favorite foods! Oh! And I must have cookies, hence the splurge day.
What’s your favorite drink to drink while writing?
I’ll always gravitate to black tea with a splash of milk and honey, but once that mug is done, I’ll just have water.
How about hobbies? Do you have any besides writing?
I have a few hobbies like reading everything I can get my hands onto, playing tabletop and role-playing games (like D&D), and walking.
Do you have a job other than writing?
I work as a freelance editor for Edit Revise Perfect and I’m the Assistant to the Editors for Cirque Literary Journal, but those are very part-time jobs. I’m currently looking for a full-time job with a bit more stability.
Tell us about your family…
My parents and older sister currently live in Eagle River, Alaska. My parents are retired so they get to do all sorts of fun things like volunteering, engaging in a variety of hobbies, and taking lots of vacations. My sister works for the state and is getting her master’s degree in public heath.
Who’s usually your first reader(s)?
For Finding Hekate and Losing Hold my first readers were my college writing group and my café writing group. Since both groups are located in Alaska, I’m working on finding some new readers for my upcoming fantasy, though the first book is still in it’s first draft stage so I won’t be needing them for a little bit.
What has been your biggest writing accomplishment so far?
My biggest accomplishment thus far has to be having my first novel published. Finding Hekate came out in April of last year (2016) from Desert Palm Press. While getting your writing published isn’t necessary to be called a writer, it was a dream of mine since I was little, and I’m so happy my work is out there in the world. It’s one of my proudest achievements.
Congratulations! I’ll have to add Finding Hekate to my TBR pile. 🙂 So we know getting published isn’t easy. Why do you keep trying, even after you’ve already achieved that goal?
I keep trying to get published—by submitting to various journals and zines and contests and such—because I love my work! Like any writer, I put my heart and soul into what I do, and I want to see it out in the world. I want to know what others think of it! Plus, I include LGBT+ main characters (where the queerness isn’t the only thing about them) and I feel like it’s important to show this diversity in the literary world.
Absolutely. What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to writing?
Sitting down to actually write is my biggest struggle. I don’t know why, and it’s super frustrating. I know once I start writing I’ll enjoy it, and I also know once I finish for the day, I’ll be pleased with myself. I know I’ll have fun! I lose myself in it for hours at a time once I actually start writing. But the actual sitting down and opening the Word document is hard for me because I get distracted by other things—YouTube, TV, games, etc. I’m trying to overcome this by setting a specific time to write, but even then I find reasons not to do it. Honestly, I just need to shore up my resolve, turn off all the other distractions, and give it a permanent place on my daily To-Do!
I can totally relate to that. What’s your next step? Revising? Writing a new book? A sequel?
I’m currently in the process of proofreading Losing Hold. We’re nearly done, and I’m super excited for the pub date in April. I’m currently working on my next series, a five-book fantasy, and I’m actually on the last few chapters of my first draft. The first four books will introduce a main character and the fifth book will have them all come together. It’s something that’s been germinating in my mind for a few years now, so working on it has been rewarding. (Once I actually sit down and do it.) It’s been a fun adventure, though, diverging from science fiction to fantasy, shifting gears from tech to dragons, and I’m enjoying every step of it. I can’t wait to go back to the beginning to revise it. Once I let it breath on it’s own for a little while first, of course.
Wow! That sounds amazing! Do you have any advice for writers still in the query or sub trenches?
Keep at it. Love your work enough to keep going. Build a support system around you of other writers. (If you’re on Twitter check out the #amwriting hashtag; there are so many lovely writers out there to build an online community with and will keep cheering you on.) Remember, Harry Potter was turned down twelve times (and I bet those agents and publishers are kicking themselves) but Rowling kept at it and so should you! Also, remember to take time for yourself: take a walk, read a book, spend time with your family. Self-care is vastly important for overall health. It’s hard to be in the trenches, but keep going. Your characters, your plotline, and your story is worth the struggle.
That’s great advice for all of us. What will you do when you reach your writing goal? Who will you tell first?
Currently my writing goal is to finish the first draft of this fantasy novel and when I do finally write “The End” I’ll treat it as a splurge day: get some wine, make a fancy meal, and eat some cookies. Probably take a nice walk on the waterfront, too, since the flowers should be blooming soon. The first people I’d tell would be my mom, my dad, and my sister…followed up by EVERYONE ELSE on social media.
If you could travel to any place in the world, and experience any culture (for inspiration of course!), where would that be?
Hmm, I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many different places already—Ireland, England, France, the British Virgin Islands—but if I could go to anywhere and experience any culture, I’d probably pick Japan. I went there in 2014 with my family and the experience was absolutely amazing. The food, the people, the sights…it was all eye opening, and I’d love to go back. Plus, now that I’m working on a fantasy series that has quite a lot of unique magical creatures, it would be wonderful to go back and learn about the different creature myths of the Japanese culture and pull inspiration from them.
Japan would be amazing. I hope you make it back there one day. Congratulations on your soon to be released novel, Losing Hold as well…another one to add to our TBR piles!
Thanks, Kellie, for taking the time to share your writing life with us. We wish you the best on all your writing adventures!
And so you we can say hello to Kellie if we run into her in person one day, here’s a pic…
To connect with Kellie or to learn more about her books, you can find her at the following places:
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Kellie_Doherty
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KellieDoherty89/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/kellie_201/
Thanks for reading, guys! Have an amazing day!