Kellie’s new book – Ink Stains & Ill-Fated Lies is a high fantasy novel, the third installment in the intertwined standalone series the Broken Chronicles and it is live today! Enjoy this interview with Kellie for a peek behind the scenes!
No scribe has ever returned from the Sunglade. It’s a continent of burning sunlight and terrifying suncreatures, and the home of the worshippers of Ponuriah, the evil sun goddess. When Adaris Kavari, a disgraced wandering scribe with a lame leg, finds herself following her curiosity too far and gets captured by those worshippers, she’s forced to record their side of history in order to survive. Much to the worshippers’ glee, Adaris is also a Divus—a race whose crafting is used mainly to heal, and sometimes to hurt—and a terrifying young researcher immediately latches onto her because of it.
But Adaris isn’t the only prisoner here. She meets an attractive and snarky painter named Rhonwen with an unfortunate link to Adaris’ past. Wanting to save them both, Adaris conforms to the sun goddess worshippers’ ways while looking for an escape. She knows that once she’s free, she’ll have recorded a keystone story that would help restore her tarnished reputation and might even turn the tide of the upcoming war.
The sun goddess worshippers’ influence is strong, especially with the new elements of crafting Adaris encounters—elements that could turn her pitiful crafting into something new and powerful—and her scribe’s curiosity twists into something even she didn’t anticipate. As a scribe, she’s recorded many heroes’ adventures. Now, it’s her turn to become the hero—by any means necessary.
Here is more from the author!
Why do you write fantasy?
I write fantasy because of the magic and dragon, sword and sorcery of it all. I like the escapism of the genre, too, how you can be transported to a totally new world. In no other realm of writing do you get to play with mythological, magical creatures or deadly, dangerous magical artifacts—and every subgenre of fantasy is fascinating. Want to have some magic in your everyday life living? Urban fantasy or magic realism. Wanna add a splash of technology? Science-fantasy. Need some horror? Dark fantasy. Rather a cup of tea? Cozy fantasy. There’s something for every mood and I adore that flexibility.
What is it like writing an intertwined standalone series?
Writing an intertwined standalone series has been the most rewarding and challenging homework I’ve ever given myself (ha!). In case you’re unfamiliar, an intertwined standalone series is basically a set of books that each have their own storylines and characters but are set in the same world or universe. So, for the Broken Chronicles, the first four books have their own stories and main characters—Sunkissed Feathers is Misti’s story, for example, while Curling Vines is Orenda’s, Ink Stains is Adaris’s, and my current WIP is Zayla’s. Each book tells a different story, with each main character dealing with their own successes and failures. While each book reveals more about the world at large, the idea is that you can pick up any of the first four books and jump right in. I really enjoy this style of writing because I get show the world from different points of view and highlight different cultures, creatures, and regions, while also staying true to the world I’ve build and the magic system I’ve created. Where I deviate, though, is in the fifth and final book. With that book I’m going to have all four prior main characters be present and have their final quest together.
Why do you write queer characters?
Boiled down, I write queer characters because representation matters and I didn’t see enough of it in the science fiction and fantasy realms. I especially didn’t see many bisexual main characters who weren’t reduced to awful stereotypes or terrible villains. I wanted to change this and decided to add some more positive rainbow representation. That’s not to say my queer characters are always perfect or even good. Quite the opposite in fact! My queer characters are broken, they make terrible decisions and have fatal flaws, and some of them are even slightly chaotic. Quite simply, they’re well-rounded people! I also intentionally decided not to write coming out stories, my characters are out and proud and are not shamed for being who they are. Those stories are important, but I wanted to give my characters adventures and just let them be their badass selves. I wanted to showcase that being queer doesn’t have to be all about coming out (though it is a huge continuous deal for some), rather being queer is one facet of their awesome personalities.
Where did you get the inspiration for Ink Stains & Ill-Fated Lies, like the plot, the setting, the characters, etc.?
From so many places!! For the plot I wanted to write a love-letter to curiosity and book-loving but one that goes horribly wrong, exploring what would happen if someone was too curious for their own good. My readers have also expressed interest in knowing what “the other side” was doing (i.e. the sun goddess worshippers), so I wanted to explore that aspect as well, revealing an enemy city and the struggles and accomplishments of daily lives. For the setting, I drew inspiration from a family vacation while I was in Ireland. There are these tall rock columns called the Giant’s Causeway which captivated me, and I really wanted to showcase them in Ink Stains. While I’ve never been to one, I’m also fascinated by black sand beaches so I added them in as well. I wanted the setting to be as uncomfortable as possible for Adaris, my main character, so it’s rather flat and open and rocky…there’s nowhere to hide from the burning sunshine. For my characters I already had a rough idea of Adaris since she shows up briefly in the first two books, but the others—like Rhonwen, Kye, Berhn, Sroc, Tikova, etc.—I pull from a lot of different sources including books and TV shows I’ve loved, music and nature, as well as my own creativity.
What is your writing process like?
I always start with the characters! Then, once I have a firm idea of them in mind, I like plopping them into a situation and asking myself “what if” and then plotting from there. I normally have one or two specific scenes in mind, and I’ve gotten into the habit of plotting out each chapter. I still allow myself to deviate from that but it’s nice to have a rough idea. As for the writing itself, much to the surprise of probably no one who knows me, I like chunking out my time. (I do this at work, too.) I prefer writing for a few hours at a time, usually on my couch with my two cats curled up next me, a cup of tea nearby and fantasy music playing in the background. That’s my ideal. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s what I shoot for if I can.
If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
I think it would be fun to have a cat sith as a pet. Originating from Celtic mythology, a cat sith is basically a large, sleek black cat with a white splotch on its chest. It’s said they haunt the Scottish Highlands, so I feel like they’d be good protectors as well. Plus, I love cats so having a giant black one? Hell yeah!
What was the scariest moment of your life?
Interesting question! A few years back, I lived alone in Portland, OR, in a small one-bedroom apartment. I always wondered how I’d react if something bad happened—a fire or an earthquake, for example—and I actually found out one night. Let me set the scene for you. It’s 3:45 in the morning. The apartment is dark. I’m fast asleep. My cats snooze next to me. The building alarm suddenly BLAIRS, jerking me awake. A high-pitched screaming noise fills the apartment that only seems to get louder with each passing moment. The cats scatter. I’m disoriented, sleepy. Frightened. It’s the fire alarm. There’s a fire somewhere in the building. My heart pounds frantically as I scramble around, chasing the cats, shoving them into their kennels, my only concern is their safety since they’re my responsibility. Once they’re good, I grab my keys, my wallet, my phone and head out to the hallway. People are panicking, leaving the doors open as they run for the stairways, animals in tow. The screaming alarm is even louder out here. I funnel outside with the rest of the apartment dwellers, wondering where the fire is…and it’s then we learn there wasn’t a fire in the first place. Just a drill. But honestly, still so, so scary.
What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
I broke my pelvis when I was twelve! We were on a family vacation and knew a guy with horses that my sister and I had the opportunity to ride. It was stupid hot that day so I took a drink of ice water. The horse bolted, with me still on its back. Unfortunately, there were trees in the area and when the horse went one way, I went the other—smack dab into a tree. (Thankfully I don’t remember much.) I ended up on crutches for the rest of the vacation but it was still a fun story to tell. And yes, I did get back on the horse…for a while anyway.
Thank you Kellie!