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How Writing and Reading Fantasy Got Me Through the Pandemic: a Guest Post by Curling Vines and Crimson Trades Author Kellie Doherty

Today on the site I’m delighted to welcome Kellie Doherty, author of the recently released romantic fantasy Curling Vines and Crimson Trades! She’s here to talk abut the importance of writing (and reading) fantasy during a pandemic! Which, you know, just happens to be what we’ve got going on in the world right now.

Take it away, Kellie!

You know that little meme of the dog drinking tea and sitting in a burning room while saying “everything is fine”—yeah, we’re all that little dog. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on our lives and stress levels through the roof, it really does seem like everything is on fire, and quite frankly, everything hasn’t been fine. Shifting to telework, closing our bubbles, kids homeschooling, isolation, jobs lost, lives lost, constant worry…this year has been hellish, and the whole world will be overjoyed to see 2020 get yeeted on New Year’s Eve. Thankfully a vaccine is finally on the horizon but even then, it’ll take time for things to get back to “normal.” Suffice it to say, it’s been…a year.

But you know what kept me going throughout this historic and horrifying time?

Fantasy.

Yup, that’s right.

When the world was (and in most cases, still is) falling apart at the seams, fantasy was a great escape for me. Writing about glowing eyes and rust-orange swords became the thing I gravitated toward when the COVID cases hit too close to home or when the news shouted about limited hospital beds. Reading about dragons and journeys and the friends found along the way became the blanket I tucked myself under when the world was too scary, too stressful, too…everything this year.

To put it simply, fantasy became my Important Thing. While other people were baking sourdough bread to relieve stress, I was frantically working on my fantasy book Curling Vines & Crimson Trades, joining my character as one single moment changed her whole life and set her on an adventure filled with magic, mayhem, and mythological beasts. A journey that would alter her irrevocably. While my friends were playing games about island adventures with animal villagers or committing spaceship murder rampages (both still speculative escapism, by the way), I dove deep into reading Priory of the Orange and found myself tugged along with the characters and tugged out of the real world for a while.

Because that’s what fantasy does. It helps us escape. That’s why it’s so important. While I’m mostly talking about writing and reading fantasy here, there’s also a whole horde of other fantasy-type “escapes” like television, movies, podcasts, games, and other artistic expressions that falls into this category as well. Fantasy has permeated our society in the best way and for me, it’s become the perfect way to disconnect from the horror of the year. Why? Because it ticks literally all the boxes of what we can’t do right now during the pandemic.

We can’t travel. We can’t see our friends the way we want to. We can’t frequent our usual coffee shop haunts. We can’t live our lives the way we’ve become accustomed to.

But because I read fantasy stories and I write fantasy novels, I can! Kind of, anyway.

I can go on long journeys and see new things—cities, wonders of nature, ancient ruins. I can experience adventure and come across magical creatures, meeting new people and cultures along the way. I can sit in a tavern with some favorite characters. I can create swords infused with moonlight magic or make healers who can cure the sick with a single touch. I can live a normal (to their world) life with the characters of the story. And I really appreciate that.

Fantasy stories also have an “adventure thrust upon the characters” kind of feel where the characters lives are turned upside down, and they must navigate rough waters. The characters are broken and bruised and might’ve even lost friends or family along the way, and they’ve been transformed by their adventures. But they survived. I appreciate that too, now more than ever.

What I really enjoy, is that no matter if the real world is sunshine and daisies or if it’s falling to pieces, no matter where I am in my own headspace, fantasy takes me someplace else every single time. And don’t even get me started on the nostalgia factor of reading childhood favorites! Writing fantasy is also my way of analyzing what’s happening in the real world and pinning down what really matters in the end—family and friends. (Annnnd it’s also a lot of fun for me, too!)

So wherever you are, pick up a fantastical novel you’ve been wanting to read or try your hand at penning that flash fiction piece niggling your mind. Step into another world for a while to decompress from ours. I know you’ll enjoy the adventure!

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About the Book

Rare goods trader Orenda Silverstone leads a happy life with her wife and friends. She’s an Elu—a race whose crafting is centered on protection—but her power is broken. Now, her sword is her strength. When her wife gets kidnapped and Orenda has to use her trading skills to complete some nearly impossible tasks to get her back, a good sword arm won’t be enough. Orenda’s time is rapidly coming to a close. She needs help.

But she’s been forced into silence. Two sun goddess worshippers, twins Lan and Lyra, decide to join Orenda’s quest in order to guard one of the rarer items to its destination. Orenda’s not sure she can turn her back on either one, but with no other options, she competes against the sunrises to complete her tasks before her wife is killed.

Then, the unthinkable happens. Orenda’s best friend, Jax, tries to kill her.

Between racing against the coming dawns and battles at every turn, Orenda’s list now seems insurmountable. No longer certain of who is friend or foe, she must come up with a plan to save them all before the sun rises on her wife’s final day.

Buy Curling Vines & Crimson Trades here!

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Kellie Doherty is a queer science fiction and fantasy author who lives in Eagle River, Alaska. When she noticed that there wasn’t much positive queer representation in the science fiction and fantasy realms, she decided to create her own! Kellie’s work has been published in Image OutWrite 2019, Astral Waters Review, Life (as it) Happens, and Impact, among others. Her adult sci-fi debut novel—Finding Hekate—came out in April 2016 from Desert Palm Press and the sequel—Losing Hold—came out in April 2017. She’s currently working on a five-book adult fantasy series. The first book Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties released in March 2019 from Desert Palm Press and won a 2019 Rainbow Award. The second book Curling Vines & Crimson Trades is launching later this year! An excerpt from Curling Vines won first place in an Alaska Writers Guild Fiction contest in 2020.