We are so excited to welcome a guest to our blog today! The amazing K. A. Doore very kindly agreed to talk with us about her books and writing and lots of other gay things! To say me and Anna are thrilled about this would be an understatement of the year. We have literally been in a constant state of euphoria in the weeks since we first came up with this idea and a bunch of authors agreed to participate.
We initially thought this would be just a cool little Pride Month project. But so many wonderful authors were interested in getting involved that we can confidently say: interviews are going to become a more permanent blog fixture. We’re not telling you yet who else we had a pleasure of chatting with, though! Gotta have that element of surprise.
Well then, without further ado, let’s go!
First of all, thank you for agreeing to talk with us!
And thank you for the chat! As well as all the work you guys do ❤
Also I feel like I should come clean and say that I actually still haven’t read The Perfect Assassin which tbh I don’t know how Charlotte is still friends with me, given how much she’s been raving about it. In my defense, I’m a weird contemporary-books-only phase.
That’s okay! I have so many books I’m super hype for and haven’t read yet. There’s just not enough time.
I know that feeling all too well, yeah. Okay! So let’s start at the beginning. How did you first get into writing?
Oh goodness. I started with fanfiction. The first novel I tried to write (over and over again) was really just poorly disguised Animorphs fanfiction. So I got into writing through reading and just being so excited about the characters and worlds I was reading about.
I feel like fanfiction is where a lot of authors started? Which is amazing to be honest, I always found it gives people an edge, sort of? Like, fics are just a bit differently written than published book, so people who do both have both the skillsets. You can usually almost tell that someone writes fics when reading their novel?
I definitely think there’s a whole generation that grew up writing fanfiction and have transitioned to published fiction. Although whether or not that is just because it’s less stigmatized now to talk about our fanfic roots than it was 10 years ago, I don’t know. At this point, I almost just assume an author’s written fanfic at some point in their lives if they’re under a certain age. But it’s such a great way to start out, too! There’s so much less pressure and you have a ready-built fandom to read and encourage and support you.
It’s less daunting to write fics, since you have the whole world and the characters ready. So, you can just focus on really doing a story and the emotions justice! And, oh yeah, the audience that’s already there is definitely a help as well.
Yes. And there’s that instant gratification part, too. It’s been a while since I’ve really been in the fic community, but when I was starting out, posting your fic chapter by chapter as you wrote it was pretty normal. So you basically got instant feedback, which was usually positive. And that, for me at least, was so integral in encouraging me to keep writing. We ultimately write for ourselves, but if even one person is waiting for that next chapter, it’s such a kick to keep going.
Exactly!! Just knowing you made someone happy with your work!
And especially when I was just starting out writing, I needed to just write a lot. Because that was the only way I was going to learn how to get better. Unfortunately, fanfic never taught me how to finish a story, but it got me started.
I think a lot of people don’t realise this at first. That you gotta keep practicing, like with anything else. Just writing a lot. And that the first draft is not even supposed to be Great.
Yeah. I see that a lot. I was lucky that I started writing when I was like, 10. So I had a lot of time to practice before I even learned that publishing was a Thing. It’s hard! I have a fanfic that only needs one chapter to be complete, but that will never happen.
Well endings are hard to read so it only makes sense they are also incredibly hard to write. Okay so I’m pretty sure the answer is going to be fantasy, at least partly, but what are your favourite genres to read and write?
Ahaha. For writing, fantasy. I have tried to write other genres, I have even labeled my word docs “Not Fantasy” and yet… somehow… there’s always some form of magic. Reading, I’m pretty much all over. I will read any genre, and I have a soft spot for crossover genres like horror/sci-fi or literary/fantasy. But my heart will always be in fantasy. I think secretly I still wish to find my magical portal.
Finding out there is magic in the world would be like…. the dream come true.
And yet sometimes it can feel like there’s magic in the world yet. I think that’s why I can’t write without it. Writing some sort of magic into the world feels more true than writing it without.
On the other hand, are there any genres or tropes you wouldn’t write?
Western. Which I say so quickly because I went through a reading challenge once where I read a few books from every genre I could find and Western was definitely not my favorite. Tropes though… I don’t want to say never on any. 😉
I’m sure there are some harmful ones I can’t think of right now off the top of my head, but otherwise.
It really just depends on the characters, doesn’t it?
And how it’s handled, yeah. I have been proven wrong enough times on tropes I didn’t think I liked to know better.
Honestly, the right author can make anything happen and work. Speaking of making things work, how do you get inspiration for your books?
Music. I mean, life experiences and things that make me excited and other books and people and random ideas, but really: music. A really good song can end up giving me an ending or a character arc or any number of Cool Plot Things.
That’s so cool??
When I’m starting a new WIP, I sift through all my music and throw together a playlist and go for a run. Namie Amuro’s Hide & Seek kickstarted the plot for The Perfect Assassin. I have had whole characters come into being from listening to a single song.
This is honestly amazing to me, not gonna lie. And my next question was going to be whether you have a writing playlist but…
Hahah, yes. I have a playlist for each book and a separate ones for characters and one just for the world.
So do you focus more on the lyrics or the vibes when you’re choosing songs?
Both? Both. The lyrics can really shape the story if I’m not careful. It can be almost too perfect. But on the other side, if the lyrics don’t really fit I end up taking that song off the playlist. So it can take me a while to make the perfect playlist, but it also develops over time much like my WIP does.
This is also why I never understood those authors who write the ending as the first part. How do you know your story won’t change as you go? That your characters won’t grow in unexpected ways?
Aye I don’t understand plotters. I usually don’t figure out the ending until about halfway. Although the third book in this series was an exception to that rule – I knew exactly what the ending would be before I started. But I suspect part of knowing the ending to that book was because I’d already written two in that world. So there was really only one way it could all go. And I mean, tbf, I did know the biggest plot parts of the ending for TPA when I started. Just… no idea how to get there. Or how anyone would feel about it.
Okay! Easier stuff! Summarise your most recent/next book in up to 5 words AND a meme.
Oh goodness. 😛 Wait, next in the series or what I’m working on or. Okay well I guess The Impossible Contract comes out next (November 12th! ah!). And book 2 is, again, “queer assassins save the day”.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER THAN THAT.
NOTHING. Well maybe necromancy. AND THERE IS SO MUCH NECROMANCY.
^ that. #accurate.
I was going to go with “how do you kill what’s already dead?” but that’s more than 5 words. *whispers* and it’s f/f.
Which three authors would you say influenced your writing the most?
Oh that one’s easier. Anne McCaffrey influenced my tendency to blur the line between fantasy and scifi. I learned to appreciate fast and fun narratives by reading Seanan McGuire. Plus, I aspire to her level of casual inclusion. And Annie Dillard taught me to love lyrical prose and focus on the small details, like texture and smell.
I never heard of Annie Dillard before but you’re describing her style in the way that makes me think I would love her books.
They don’t hold up too well – there’s a lot of misogyny – but they’re still fun and were integral to baby!Kai’s sff education. She’s very very literary, but in such a gorgeous way.
We covered music and books. What about movies? If (when!!) your series was to be made into movies, who would you like to direct them?
Aaaaah. So I really don’t know enough about directors or actors to even begin to guess/hope.
Fair enough. But would you generally like for that to happen or do you think it would lose something when translated onto the screen?
I mean, if someone wanted to throw money at it and I could get some kind of guarantee in the contract that they wouldn’t whitewash it or strip out any of the queer… I think it’s hard not to want to see a world that had only existed in your head come to life though.
That’s really the whole point, isn’t it. Hollywood just isn’t safe with movies about us.
Yeah. I also would worry about whether they could properly handle the ace aspect, either. But, on the other hand, if we could have that ace rep on screen.
And for something that is also very important to us and what we put a lot of emphasis on when blogging. What does ownvoices LGBT representation mean to you?
So much. For me, personally, it meant getting past my own internalized homophobia. It means stories that aren’t just about coming out, but about living. It means stories where the queer MC – so often the single queer side character – gets to save the day. Queer writers have always been here and writing, we just weren’t allowed to tell our own stories. And a lot of us internalized that. I’ve been writing since I was 10, but this series was the first time I wrote a queer MC.
My fav anecdote about that is E. M. Forster who didn’t published a single book once he realised he was gay and all he wanted to write were gay stories, with happy endings, no less. I just wish he could see how much we love Maurice now. And the thing you mentioned about ownvoices books being more than just coming out stories, God, yes.
Yes yes yes. And more than just romances or overt m/m and f/f. I’m trying to yell more about books with bi MCs and pan MCs, regardless of their relationships. There is no single queer experience.
We’re doing better with more rep these days but book with bi/pan mcs who don’t end up in same-sex relationships are still almost nonexistent. No one can fight the stereotypes about us the way we can do it ourselves, especially for the LGBT readers who still struggle with figuring themselves out.
Yes. And the number of times I’ve heard from bi or pan authors that they didn’t think they could claim the ownvoices tag makes me sad. It’s important for everyone to see themselves on the page.
The other day I read a book with a lesbian mc but specifically one who’s Polish and it was the first book like that for me ever and… I honestly didn’t realise just how hard that was gonna hit me. It just makes you feel things to see yourself like that.
It’s so validating. The Tiger’s Daughter was like that for me. I hadn’t really realized the sheer dearth of f/f in adult fantasy until I read that book and just felt so… seen.
Counting this as the first, what are some other LGBT books you can rec us?
Caitlin Starling’s The Luminous Dead is f/f scifi caving horror and I love it because it allows for a really kind of fucked up yet beautiful relationship. Amberlough by Lara Donnelly is a sumptuous yet dark gay cabaret spy thriller and the last book in that trilogy, Amnesty, just came out. The Library of the Unwritten has a bisexual protagonist and will be out on October. It’s all about stories and what they mean to us and what they become on their own and I loved how the queer was just quietly included.
What’s one piece of advice you would like to give your younger self?
Keep going. It’s all going to take a lot longer than you’d think/hope, but it’s also going to be 100% worth it.
If you could have dinner with one member of the LGBT community, dead or alive, who would it be?
Sappho. Hands down. I could just drown in her lyricism.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
K.A. Doore grew up in Florida, but has since lived in lush Washington, arid Arizona, and cherry-infused-everything Michigan. While recovering from climate whiplash, she has raised chickens, learned entirely too much about property assessment, photographed cacti, and now develops online trainings, none of which has anything to do with – or perhaps has everything to do with – her BA in Classics.
She writes fantasy – mostly second world, mostly novels – with a touch of horror and a ton of adventure.
The first book in the Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy – an adventure fantasy about queer assassins who save the day – will be published by Tor in March, 2019.
We hope you enjoyed reading this just as much as we enjoyed doing it! And we hope you’re excited for the other interviews to come.