Authors

Kingdom Cold Blog Tour: Author Interview, Excerpt, and Review!

Hello my lovely readers, welcome to a stop on the Kingdom Cold Blog tour. I’m excited to share this with you! I hope all this information may pique your interest!

Author Interview

Q: What inspired you to write Kingdom Cold?

A: It started as a Wattpad story I was messing around with. I wanted to do an arranged marriage princess book and the story got really popular, so I decided to take it off of Wattpad, edit, and publish it.

Q: Did you do any research before or during writing Kingdom Cold?

A: I researched King Arthur a lot and details from the time period. About halfway through each book, I go brain dead and I find myself looking up basic words like “chair” or “map”.

Q: Currently, #ownvoices is an important movement in the book community, did you use    any of your own personal experience(s) to shape Charlotte or any other characters in your book?

A: I put a lot of my own experiences into Kingdom Cold, specifically the subtly of certain racially charged situations. Being an African American girl living in South Korea, I found myself trying to include as much of the cultural confusion as I could slip in, because that’s what I experience day to day.

Q: Kingdom Cold is a book containing diverse, multicultural characters. As an author, how important is diverse representation in books to you?

A: I think it’s essential. There are heroes from every culture, customs worth exploring, and battles worth facing–ones that have yet to see the light of day. At times, the world feels so divided and unfair but fiction can be whatever we want it to be. Why not diverse?

Q: If there was one thing you wanted readers to know about Kingdom Cold, what would it be?

A: Kingdom Cold has no heroes and no villains.


Kingdom Come Excerpt


The moment I saw Young, all the power I’d felt moments ago melted away. I was a blood-spattered princess standing amidst a murder scene, one I’d starred in. My gaze met his, and I searched for the horror I felt, in his dark eyes, but couldn’t find it. I glanced over the gentle lines of his expression and drank in the easiness of his parted lips. He exhaled relief and I felt the sudden pull of my body towards him as I breathed it in. I couldn’t discern how he could look upon me, with such reprieve, then I took a step forward. And another. He was my cage, my captor, the death of my freedom, but in one kind glance, in my darkest hour, he granted me a modicum of comfort. I ran to him and threw myself into his arms. I didn’t care that he didn’t embrace me. I didn’t care that his body tightened with discomfort. He was alive and, to me, that meant that my father could be too. “Milly’s over here,” I sniffed as I motioned to the door. I felt the pulse of my hand as I released the fire poker from my finger-numbing grip. It fell to the floor with a clang and I stared at my hands as they shook. Blood was everywhere. It dripped from my fingertips and pooled on the stone floor. As
the adrenaline waned, the horror of what I’d just done sunk in. I bit back the urge to scream. I backed away. “Hey,” Young called, dragging my attention back to him. He shook his head. “Look at me.” My heart pounded as my mind slipped back towards the lifeless heaps on the floor, dragging my gaze to them. “Charlotte,” Young called, but he was a distant voice floating negligibly through the back of my mind. Young stepped in front of me, blocking my view of the corpses. He took a firm grip of my wrist as if to hold me to the earth. I felt the warmth of his breath on my forehead, and the steady beat of his heart as his chest pressed against mine. My body numbed. My gaze crept up to his chin and stopped at his lips. My breath synchronized with his. I lifted my chin, my gaze meeting his. His dark eyes peered down at me, black as a moonless night with just as many stars. I searched them for clues, but if he felt something, he showed nothing at all. Feeling rushed back to my body all at once. I reached for my wrist and pried it out of his hand just in time to feel the bile rise from my stomach. I doubled over and vomited an acid more bitter than the emotions that caused it. When I caught my breath, I stood, feeling a sense of frailty in my legs that wasn’t there before. I looked up at Young. “Where’s—” “He’s still out there,” Young replied, his voice so even and smooth it sounded like a lie. A voice shot out from behind Young. “Prince Young, you found the princess.” A brown-haired boy in a soldier’s uniform approached. He couldn’t have been older than me. He had a baby face, softly curved features, and not a bit of hair on his chin. He looked more like a boy in costume than a warrior. “Leon,” Young said as he walked over to shake his hand. “Yeah, thanks to you.”
Young turned to me. “Charlotte, grab Milly. I’m going to… uh,” he tucked his dark hair behind his ear, “clean up.” I nodded and returned to the dining room where I knew Milly was hidden. “Milly, it’s me,” I looked around. “It’s safe.” I said the words, but I wasn’t sure how true they were. Milly crawled out from behind a sofa. Her eyes widened. “You’re covered in blood.” She lifted her arms in front of her body and clutched the hand-carved cross hanging from her neck. “No, it’s okay. I’m fine,” I said, moving toward her. She backed away, terror still in her eyes. “You killed them?” I shook my head. “N-no. I saved us. If I hadn’t done that, they would have—” Blood. So much blood. I shivered. “Passed by,” she whispered. “Milly…” Guilt seared my skin. It was the last emotion in the world I could stomach in this situation. I clenched my jaw with rage. They’d invaded my home, they might have killed my father, they could have killed us. I’d acted in the way that I thought was right, but looking into Milly’s eyes, it was obvious she felt different. Doubt started to creep in. The guilt slithered down my spine as Milly backed away. She thought I was a monster and maybe she was right. The door swung open and Leon and Young hustled in. “Leon has a plan,” Young said. He paused, noticing the tension in the room. His gaze moved from Milly to me. His eyebrow raised and he spoke, “That was a brave thing you did to save your friend, Charlotte.” He turned to Milly, his jaw clenched. “Let’s go.” I felt a warm vibration of gratitude pulse inside me. Before I could give it another thought, Young and Leon ushered Milly and myself out of the room and down the hallway. They carefully checked each corner before moving us along. I stared at Milly’s back and bit down hard on my bottom lip. I wanted to reach out to Milly to tell her it was okay—to let her know we were in this together—but she wouldn’t look at me. I saw the queasy look on her face when she’d seen the bodies of the two Drethen soldiers slumped into the corner in the hallway. It could take a while, but I’d get her back somehow—she was all I had left. We rounded the corner to the staircase in the east tower. The stone platforms wrapped around the tower led up to several bedrooms, one of which I had used to shoot an arrow at the prince when he arrived, and another down to a tunnel below the castle that exited a mile in the opposite direction. If we could make it out, we’d have a decent chance of escaping. I whispered, “I think they’re getting in this way.” Leon nodded and took the lead, followed by Milly, me, and Young just behind me. We descended the stairs into the poorly torch-lit tunnel. We paused at the entrance to listen for the enemy, but all we heard was the occasional drip of something leaking and the distant sounds of battle. We hustled through, still on our guard. The darkness reminded me of the fear I’d felt as a child. My mind always twisted the shadows into monsters. Now, as I trudged along, the monsters took a new form. Did my mother make it out? Was my father really dead? I reached out for Milly’s hair for comfort as it shone in the torchlight as we passed, but I stopped myself as I remembered Young was behind me. We walked single-file in a tense, uninterrupted silence the entire mile, expecting to hear someone shout. As we shuffled through the darkness, I picked at my hands, trying to focus on the faint light at the end as it grew nearer. We stepped out into the sunshine. My eyes locked onto two men in blue standing nearby.


My Review

Overall Enjoyment: 3/5

Worldbuilding: 2/5

Characterization: 4/5

Diversity: 4/5

I was lucky enough to receive this series free of charge as a participant in the Kingdom Cold book tour. Princess Charlotte’s disinterest in marry was the first part of this series that drew me in before I had read anything, but these books are fast-paced with multiple POVs that really draw you in and keep you paying attention.

This book is in fictional, medieval countries that take inspiration from our own countries. It’s not fantasy so there’s not tons of world building in this series, but there are definitely different countries that have their own cultures and norms. It comes through more in the characters we are introduced to then written description.

The characters are what really keep this book moving. They’re all unique with very distinctive voices that definitely give them some depth. I think the alternating POVs is my favorite aspect of this book. You really get a large picture of what is happening and everyone’s motivations. Charlotte’s personality is a bit hot and cold for me at times, but I think that really highlights how young she and sheltered she’s really been. I’m not a huge fan of her and her mom’s dynamic. There’s a bitterness that I just don’t enjoy. I need moms empowering daughters, not dragging them down. Something that did also bother me was the general portrayal of men in these books. Unless there’s a specific reason otherwise all the men in these books are shallow and petty. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a spin-off of Arthurian stories and that was just a general vibe they gave off, but I’m disappointed in the men’s lack of depth. Very one dimensional.

This book is culturally and racially diverse. Charlotte is a character of color as well as Young with both of them being from their own cultures. There are also other characters of color throughout the books. There are also some minor gay characters though nothing really happens with them except period typical homophobia which I wasn’t a huge fan of and some minor mentions of them maybe getting together.

Overall, this series was pretty enjoyable. I think I most enjoyed the first book. The characters have distinctive voices and there’s a bit of internal conflict that made the characters interesting to read. I felt kind meh about the second book in this series. It introduced a lot of new characters and set the scene which was interesting, but it really felt like the book was just to set the stage for the third and final book. The third and final book is where the story starts to really amp up. It’s the climax of the series after all. There are dragons, mages, and the dreaded love triangle. If you like Arthurian spin-offs with a diverse cast then this could be the series for you.


Want to know more?! Check out the other tour stops!

Authors, Friday Feature

Friday Feature: Author Kellie Doherty Interview

Kellie Doherty is a queer science fiction and fantasy author living in Eagle River, Alaska. Her work has been published by Desert Palm Press, Queer Sci Fi, and Pathos Literary Magazine, among others. She currently works full time as an office assistant and part time as a freelance editor. In her (mostly non-existent) spare time, she likes to read, play games, and watch way too much YouTube.


Published Books

Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties– Recently released on March 27th!

Losing Hold (Cicatrix Duology book 2)- Published April 2017

Finding Hekate ( Cicatrix Duology book 1)- April 2016

You can purchase all three books at Desert Palm Press here!


Interview

What inspired you to write Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties?

Well that’s a little bit of a story, actually! I got the idea for my fantasy series back when I was teenager. I thought it would be fun to have four distinct main characters each with their own stories, their own failures and triumphs, and then have them come together at the end. I started with Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties because Misti, my main character, was the first of the four characters to really stand out to me. I knew her the best. I was inspired by the type of magic she wields (though I call it crafting in my world), and she has a really cute companion animal so that helped me, too. So really, I was inspired by my main character to write her story first.

Is there anything you really want readers to know about your recently released novel, Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties?

I’d like readers to know that Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties is the beginning of a new five-book fantasy series, where, while the story is about Misti during her adventures you’ll also get to meet the other three main characters of the upcoming books. The first four books will be standalones, but you’d probably need to read one of the first four before reading the fifth. The character arcs will be intertwined in some way (think: bumping into one of them on the side of the road) but also unique, too.

Your previous two published novels are science fiction and your recently released novel is fantasy. Do you do any research before and/or during your writing process or is it all from your imagination?

Most of it is from my imagination, but for my science fiction work I did research how certain technology would work and what living on a spaceship would be like. (Oh, and if watching Firefly, Star Trek, and Stargate reruns counts as research then I did a lot of that, too!) For my fantasy work I researched sword fighting vs. dagger fighting styles, mythological creatures from various cultures, fun plant-life, things like that. (I watched a bunch of Critical Role while writing my fantasy work, too, which helped!) I also do research on various worldbuilding aspects—unique foods, interesting fashions, cool settings—and sprinkle that into my writing, too.

As a queer author, how important is representation in books to you?

So, so, so important. I can’t stress that enough! Diversity is a huge conversation happening in the publishing world right now and I am thrilled that we’re finally talking about it—and doing something about it! We need more diversity of all kinds—queer, POC, disabled folk, etc.—in all areas of publishing, writing, marketing, social media, design, etc. Representation is so important to readers, too, being able to see yourself in the books you read. I didn’t get to see many queer main characters in fantasy and science fiction works when I was growing up and even into the beginnings of adulthood so being able to add positive representation is lovely. It’s one of the reasons I write!

What other authors have inspired you?

Wow, there are so many awesome authors out there—V.E. Schwab, Becky Chambers, Tomi Adeyemi come to mind right now. The other authors at Desert Palm Press are constant sources of inspiration for me, and my friends who are yet-unpublished-but-are-amazing-writers are super motivating, too!


Want to Know More?

You can check out Kellie’s website here. She also has a twitter.

Authors, Friday Feature

Friday Feature: N. K. Jemisin

photo taken by Laura Hanifin, 2015. Permission given under creative commons license

N.K. Jemisin is a multiple award-winning fantasy author. She was born in Iowa, but currently lives in New York working as a full-time writer.

What’s So Great About Her?

She is the first person to win the Hugo Award three years in a row. What an accomplishment! If that isn’t a phenomenal statement of the quality of her work I’m not sure what is.

Jemisin also creates stories with diverse, complex characters that challenge the epic fantasy status quo:


“As a black woman,” Jemisin tells me, “I have no particular interest in maintaining the status quo. Why would I? The status quo is harmful, the status quo is significantly racist and sexist and a whole bunch of other things that I think need to change. With epic fantasy there is a tendency for it to be quintessentially conservative, in that its job is to restore what is perceived to be out of whack.”

Quote taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/27/nk-jemisin-interview-fantasy-science-fiction-writing-racism-sexism

She also discusses writing about characters of color. As writer this is personally a big deal to me. I know a lot of authors are willing to give advice, but she’s very honest and blunt. If you want to write characters of different racial backgrounds she’s providing plenty of examples for you. You can find the beginning of those posts here.

Her Novels:

The Broken Earth Trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Kingdom

The Inheritance Trilogy: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdom, and The Kingdom of the Gods.

Dreamblood Duology: The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun

How Long ’til Black Future Month (short story collection)

Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture (collaboration with other authors)

And numerous other short stories that I’m not adding, but if you’re interested you can see the full list here.


Want more from N.K. Jemisin? Check out her patreon!

Sources: Information came from http://nkjemisin.com/ unless otherwise stated.

Authors, Friday Feature

Friday Feature: Tomi Adeyemi

Picture taken from Instagram with permission of the author.

Tomi Adeyemi, what a lady! She is 25 year old Nigerian American who graduated from Harvard with a degree in English literature. Before writing a bestselling novel Tomi studied West African mythology and culture. Tomi Adeyemi’s first published book was Children of Blood and Bone. She is currently working on the sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, which should be released June 4th of this year.

What’s So Great About Her?

Tomi Adeyemi is a woman on a mission.


I was determined to write an incredible YA story, with adventure and imagination like nothing people had ever experienced. And my protagonist was going to black.
And you know what? It wouldn’t matter.
Because when you have a good story, it doesn’t matter who the story is about. 

Or more specifically,


So that is why I write. The dream is the same, but the purpose is different. It isn’t fame or success; it is a burning passion to tell a story about someone who is different and to force readers to fall in love with what is different from them.


To give you a little bit more background on those statements, Adeyemi was greatly affected by the internet backlash about Rue being cast as a young black girl in the movie version of The Hunger Games . She was particularly upset when people stated they were less affected by Rue’s death specifically because she was black. Now, even I remember hearing about the Rue controversy and being upset that people could be so outraged simply because the casted actress was black. But, Adeyemi didn’t just get upset. She took that hurt and used it to craft a best-selling novel. She wrote to give representation to girls who may not have felt like they had it before. You can’t get motivation better than that. She is everything I want in an author and you should definitely check her out. She even offers free writing advice and courses on her website! You can check it out here.

The quotes came specifically from this blog post. All other information came from Toni Adeyemi’s personal website.