Becoming Reluctant Assassins with K. A. Doore

In this episode, K. A. Doore shares about zombie camels, the underuse of desert environments for fantasy worlds, and the origins of her LGBTQIA+ book recommendation series on Twitter.

Welcome to a new episode of Troped Out Podcast! I am Emma C Wells. With me is my partner in crime—EJ Wenstrom. Today we are chatting with Adult SFF author, K.A. Doore. 

K.A. Doore writes fantasy – mostly second world, mostly novels – with a touch of horror and a ton of adventure. Her books include, THE PERFECT ASSASSIN, THE IMPOSSIBLE CONTRACT, and THE UNCONQUERED CITY.
  • EJ kicks things off by asking K.A. Doore about the beginning of her trilogy. K.A. says the first book in her trilogy uses a reluctant assassin trope. He finds out he doesn’t have to kill anyone—which is great until he starts stumbling over bodies. Now he has to figure out who is killing them (besides his friends and family). It has murder mystery vibes.
  • EJ complements K.A.’s lush world building, and asks how she dives into creating such an interesting and well-thought-out fantasy world.
  • K.A.’s books take place in a fictional desert. She admits that she now lives in Arizona—so she is staring at vibrant desert landscape often. 
  • K.A. explains how monsoon season plays a significant role in the world and stories of her trilogy—she isn’t sure how she managed to make weather an integral part of the plot—but she did!
  • K.A. tells Em and EJ how the Sahara Desert actually has a large aquifer beneath it, which has been depleted over thousands of years, however some countries still use it for a source of water. She tapped into the thread of there is water—though it is limited. 
  • Em geeks out over the geology of the conversation and EJ says they should start a new podcast. Em says yes—one about rocks and rivers! K.A. loves rocks and sand (we knew she was cool!)
  • Em asks K.A. if she had the idea for the world before the characters?
  • K.A. says that she had an idea for the characters—but she did know the story would happen in the desert—so in that regard she had the idea for the world first. 
  • K.A. explains how in her book the cities are actually on platforms to avoid sand dune migration and flash floods and bandits.
  • Em pipes in to explain how platform cities are (for some reason she cannot explain) an insta-buy for her. She mentions a book she read a million years ago about a city that was built on platforms to avoid zombies.
  • EJ says a platform city is a solid idea for dealing with zombies.
  • K.A. Doore says that she just isn’t going to say anything about her second book. Two words: Zombie. Camels.
  • K.A. tells us about her undead camels. 
  • Em asks if the zombie camels are dangerous and K.A. says that no—they are more like, just undead camels.
  • K.A. explains how the zombie (or undead) camels come about—through the great idea of one of the characters. He uses magic to make it happen—this leads to a discussion on the magic system in the book. It involves souls.
  • Em quips that this sounds right up EJ’s ally (it totally is).
  • Em asks K.A., of the three books in the trilogy, if she had one that was the most fun to work on.
  • The second book in the series—which was the first one she wrote—and so she threw everything she liked into it (including undead camels).
  • EJ asks K.A. how she came about writing the second book first.
  • K.A. explains that it was originally a stand-alone. The advice of the time was to write a stand-alone, but when she sold it to Tor, they were interested in a trilogy. At this point she’d already had the pre-history of the book percolating in the back of her mind. 
  • EJ asks if it was extraordinarily difficult.
  • K.A. explains that it was like excavating. She knew how the world currently worked—and it was interesting to explore how it came to be.
  • The hosts ask K.A. if she is up for talking about book recommendations, since it is something she is known for online.
  • Em asks K.A. what she is reading right now.
  • She is reading WILD AND WICKED THINGS by Francesca May. It is a GREAT GATSBY re-telling with witches. It is very good and atmospheric. And gay.
  • EJ mentions she’s heard of a lot of Gatsby retellings in the past year, and K.A. Doore says it’s because Gatsby entered the public domain recently. Em states that she is here for it—we all had to read Gatsby in school and it is so much fun to see where current authors take the story.
  • Em asks EJ what she is reading—which is REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi.
  • K.A. asks how she likes it and EJ says it is a fun ride. She admits she’s never been a real trekki and a lightbulb goes off for Em—THOSE RED SHIRTS!
  • EJ is also reading A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUIN by Rosanne A. Brown (and loving it). 
  • Em just finished reading WE WERE NEVER HERE by Andrea Bartz.
  • She also recently finished NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl.
  • K.A. does such an awesome job of celebrating queer fiction on her twitter account. EJ asks how it came about.
  • K.A. says that it came about through her debut group—she wanted to shout out some of the authors. And then she was at a con (Siren’s) and the topic came up—how do we find queer adult SFF books?
  • K.A. mentions how indie publishers have done a great job in keeping gay books alive. Trad publishers finally caught up and began publishing queer books. But there was trouble getting lists of queer books.
  • This is when K.A. Door got the idea to shout out and make lists of forthcoming books with queer leads. The idea exploded—and now she does it each year.
  • You can follow K.A. Doore on twitter to see these curated lists!
  • Sinister Secret Society at a Boarding School OR A Boarding School Which isn’t Quite What It Seems?
  • Mad Scientist OR Dark Wizard?
  • Doing The Right Thing (for all the wrong reasons) OR Getting It All Wrong (but for the right reasons)?
  • Zombies OR Vampires?
  • Secret Baby OR Secret Celebrity?

Thank you for joining us on TROPED OUT! A BIG BIG thank you to our guest, K.A. Doore! Check her out online:

and on social:

Check out her twitter to see the yearly list of forthcoming queer SFF, as well as regular shout-out to newly released queer fiction! 

Her books are available online everywhere books are sold, including out Troped Out Book Shop

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