Katherine D. Graham - Magical YA Fantasy
Katherine D. Graham is a fantasy author, developmental editor, and Top-10 Reedsy Reviewer. Her debut Epic Fantasy novel, The Vow That Twisted Fate (July 2021), is a 5-star Indie Reader Approved novel, and one of five fantasy finalists in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Katherine is happily married to her high-school sweetheart (her Hero). Together they have two awesome sons and three adorable fur-daughters. Katherine loves reading, writing, swimming, traveling, grilling out, and playing video games. Japan is her happy place. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, The Vow That Twisted Fate.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Vow That Twisted Fate is about.
The Vow That Twisted Fate follows young queen Arlena from a world without evil, like a pentagram to a parallel evil dimension opens in the sky and an ancient sorceress prepares to invade/conquer the good world. Arlena calls a legendary company of Dwarven warriors forward in time to help her defeat their old foe.
What inspired you to write about someone who is used to a world without evil?
The inspiration for the story came from a dream I had. In the dream, a queen from an innocent and pure world finds herself in the midst of the utmost evil in a parallel evil dimension. I had to find out what happened once I woke up, so the story was born from there.
Tell us more about Queen Arlena. What makes her tick?
Arlena is a dutiful, well-intentioned young woman, albeit a little naive. She would give anything for her people and her sister, but isn't the best at reading others' emotions. Arlena must make a huge transition in the book, from a 'selfish naive child' as the Dwarven King Maevric says toward the middle, into a self-sacrificing queen like her ancestor Valera at the end.
Why did you use an ominous pentagram as the catalyst for your story?
In the dream that inspired the story, a pentagram in the sky was the gateway between the evil and good dimensions. I kept that point the same, but (for spoilers-reasons I cannot divulge), the pentagram is also an important plot element for the second half of the story.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I am also a developmental editor and Reedsy reviewer (yes, my life consists of books). But seriously, not related to writing/reading, I'm told I grill a wicked burger, I have played way too many hours of Skyrim and Plants VS Zombies, and I am bilingual (Japanese-English).
Does writing about surreal worlds and enigmatic scenes present any particular problems?
While there are definitely challenges in remembering to explain all aspects so the reader sees them and they're not only in my head (like what kind of clothes they wear, what they eat, when they sleep, etc.), I wouldn't call it a problem, per se. I love writing epic fantasy because it gives me a chance to pour those worlds out into the real world on paper.
Many people dismiss the genre as pure escapism—and nothing more. What would you say is the purpose of fantasy and sci-fi?
Fantasy and Sci-Fi are definitely popular ways to explore other worlds and people, but fantasy, sci-fi, and really any fiction genre in general, are so much more than a personal escape. A well-written piece, the kind that "sticks with you, that means something" (to paraphrase from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings), reveals different aspects of what it means to be human. It unveils worldviews and opportunities for growth within ourselves, challenging us in some unspoken (and often unintended) way, and allows us to see outside of and beyond ourselves, to care about another (even if that person is fictional) for a moment. Hopefully, this serves to make us more empathetic, understanding and gives us clearer glimpses of what our purpose could be on this earth.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be open-minded/teachable (and humble). Writing is an art, life is a journey, and those further down the road (even ones we disagree with) offer valuable insights that can truly be helpful if we'll remove our personal attachment to the work enough to see it.
Interesting cover. Please tell us more about how it came about.
Thank you! My amazing designer, Jesh Art Studio, went above and beyond on the cover. I a not an artistic person, so I told Jesh's team what the book was about and that I'd like to see the two parallel dimensions portrayed on it, and they came back with this stunning piece.
Which character was the most challenging to create?
Maedra, the villain, was the most difficult one the write. Keeping her motivations clear (as opposed to just making her evil for evil's sake) was a challenge, but worked out wonderfully in the end.
Why did you title this book "The Vow That Twisted Fate"?
The title was one of the main things that stuck out to me in the dream I had, so I decided to keep it. It is Dwarven King Maevric's vow to Arlena and hr ancestor Valera that allows his company to travel through time in an attempt to change the fate of their world.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I am a pantser through and through (I don't outline/plot out my stories before writing them, I just let them flow), and that carries over into my everyday writing routine. I actually only write in chunks a few times a year (I don't write every day), although I do edit for work and read every day. I typically write during NaNoWriMo sessions (National Novel Writing Month) like a madwoman, and then spend the rest of the year editing and revising. A writing day for me consists of writing in my recliner or (pre-pestilence) a 24-hour breakfast restaurant with my sister for as long as my brain will permit. Cherry soda or tomato bisque are must-have writing beverages for me on super long days, too.
What are you working on right now?
I have started writing my next novel, Starfire Express: A Flame of Fae and Fang, which is the first of a Duology about a human who stumbles onto a train full of magical creatures and finds herself swept up in a Fae rebellion against Dragon overlords. I'm hoping to release it in March 2022. I also currently have a series of novellas that I release one about every six months for (Down Falls The Queen: A Splitting Worlds Novella being the most recent as a June 2021 release), so I am finishing the December novella for that series, already up on Amazon for pre-order (Down Falls The King).
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Signing up for my e-mail list is the easiest way to receive insider news before it gets announced to my social media networks (website here: https://www.katherinedgraham.com/) I also have an Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/katherine_d_graham/) which is my most active platform, a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/katdgraham), Twitter page (https://twitter.com/KatDGraham ), Bookbub profile (https://www.bookbub.com/profile/katherine-d-graham), and Reedsy Discovery profile (https://reedsy.com/discovery/user/katherinedgraham)