Exclusive Interview with
K. M. Doherty
When did you start writing?
I began my writing career fulltime in January of 2012.
What makes writing your passion?
I get so wrapped up in my character, I not only lose track of time (it feels like an hour has past but I've been writing for 8 hours straight.) But also, I'm so absorbed in my characters, I get teary eyed when I write certain scenes. My wife rolls her eyes and says "It's just a book!" But to me, they're more like my kids! (Off trying to save the world in a parallel universe against impossible odds, of course.)
How long have you been writing?
Other than taking a creative writing class in college, I've been writing for 8 years.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Wow! Before I couldn't even spell author...and now I R one;-)
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
I was an engineer in my "previous life" before becoming a writer. So naturally, I applied my engineering skills. I analyzed the top twenty best selling novels of all time. I looked at the characteristics that the main characters (and their side-kicks) had. The traits that bonded readers to those characters so strongly. Then I chose my characters and sprinkled those traits across both the primary and secondary characters. I then wrote down a detailed backstory for each character, going over their goals and motivations, like a good actor does to learn a part.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
The lack of support from society. Artists are among the lowest paid of professions. I believe it was Plato who said 'You can judge the health and maturity of a society by how well paid and respected the artists are.'
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
If I'm stuck on a scene, I work on a different scene. Sometimes I write a 'blooper'. A scene where for instance, the two wizards are battling and the good wizards staff twitches, begins to slide, launches into the air, strikes the good wizard in the head knocking him out cold. "Cut!" cries the writer (me.) The evil wizard just rolls his eyes...
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
When I wrote my first book in the trilogy, I thought to myself, "Self?" "Yeah?" "Are you gonna write more books?" "That depends." "On what?" "Well, if sales take off I'll finish the series. They it flops, I'm done."
But then I was at a book signing event and a young kid came up to me and said, "You're my favorite author. When's your next book coming out?"
Gulp! Now I had to finish the series, even if it was never profitable. I realized, just like the Little Prince when he tamed the fox, I'm responsible for all the kids that love my books. I have to finish the series and I have to give it everything I've got.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Invest in Microsoft, Google, and Apple.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
I did at first, but the first time I read a bad one, it hurt. From the comments, It wasn't even sure the person read the book. After that I stopped reading reviews. I only read comments from kids and parents and teachers/librarians that write me personally. Those kid reviews are darling. I get choked up sometimes.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
Makes me smile. Makes me think 'maybe I wasn't crazy after all, believing I could become a writer'...then I come to my senses.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Of course. I believe all writers, whether consciously or not, incorporate their life experiences/emotions into their stories. Example: I have a scene in my first book, where an elven grandmother is tucking in her grandson in his bed. She notices the boys is flanked by stuffed animals. A dragon and a gremlin. She asks, "What's the dragon for?" and her grandson answers, "Protection." She smiles. "And the gremlin?" "Backup," he responds. She cracks up.
That happened with me and my grandson only it was a bear and a pig...
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
My favorite character is a 13 year old elven girl named Avani. But I guess I based the protagonist, Tom, losely on me. He's wimpy/nerdy. A science geek. He was/is bullied in school. That was me. (Though he's probably smarter and more level headed than I.)
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
The cover is critical! My cover artist, Daniel Johnson, is incredible. His depiction of dragons/trolls/ogres and monsters, let alone my characters (you can almost sense their thoughts and emotions from his art) draw the kids to the books like bees to honey. So many covers from the Big Five publishers these days, are flat, drab and boring.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
Yes. At author signing events I never cut off kids with questions. I also give school visits, or did, before the pandemic. For some kids, it's magical meeting a real live author! I give them all the time the need.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
Mixed. Though my first two books each won an award, when I learned I'd won the award, I was shocked. I know I could do better. I think I've done at least six revisions of my first book since it was published. And three of my second book.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
David Brin. He writes hard core sci-fi. Startide Rising is a masterpiece. He's also a physicist. Not only is the physics correct (as was known at the time) but the story is an amazing space opera with twists and turns. And the characters! You believe you're hearing the thoughts of sentient creatures as well as understanding their race and customs/motivation as if they really existed!
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
J. K. Rowling and J. R. Tolkien are out of reach. Hmmm? Maybe Jonathan Stroud or Neil Gaiman? Or if I could create a whole counter culture like Douglas Adams, now that would really be something!
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
As I mentioned, I've done several revisions of my first two books, since they were published. When I started working on the audio-book version of book one, I made notes, changing things and then rolled them into a final edition. I've already found things in my new release. But all these changes are just to improve readability. To smooth out the prose. The plot and scenes always remain intact.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
Douglas Adams. Now that would have been a fun life!
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
Trolls are sick people. But to be fair, the anonymity of social media and the internet in general, allows the worst in people and in society to flourish. A tough issue.
What would you say to your readers?
Read everything you can. Exercise your imagination muscles. Your imagination can take you anywhere!
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I'm married. No kids of my own. But grandkids, via my wife, that I've known most of their lives.
What is your day job if you have one?
My day job is a writer. Was, actually. Now that the third book in the trilogy is published, I'm a fulltime marketer. (Learning how to market my books in a new and challenging time.)
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
Skiing, hiking, kayaking, sailing, bike riding, motorcycling, going to plays, playing a little guitar. Hope to act in theater again someday.
Did you have a happy childhood?
Yes, somewhat. My younger sister died when I was eight. As you can imagine, that shook the family. My parents withdrew inward. I took refuge inside my imagination. Wizards/space ships/aliens/adventures happened daily in my head.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
My grandkids asked me to read their favorite books. At the time, my grandson was into the Fablehaven series. As a good grandfather, I dutifully read the first three in the series. I thought they were entertaining, but I thought I could write something better...it was a lot harder than I expected!
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
No. All my books are published. I just published the third book in the trilogy, and recently I added a short story Prequel to the series. It's a perma-free eBook that gives a little history and legend of Elfhaven and has Avani's origin story (as they say in the comics.) Avani is one of the three main heroes of the trilogy and this is her wounding event that shaped her as well as provides her "shard of glass" that she must deal with throughout the series.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
Need much more time and tools to expand kids natural imagination. Kids learn by playing. Plus more encouragement for their efforts, especially in art, music and science. Too much screen time destroys creativity, in my opinion.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
A beautiful new 40 foot sailboat.
A limitless library.
For my books to touch the hearts of tens of thousands more kids than I've been able to reach so far.
What is your favorite music?
Old school: rock 'n roll, folk, etc...
Share a secret with us 🙂
Shush. Avani doesn't die when she falls off the floating boulder.