Celebrating POC Authors in Fantasy: Kish Knight
Kish Knight is a paranormal urban fantasy author, with a focus on new adult and young adult novels. Always seeking a story in her surroundings, she has resided in Georgia, Maryland, DC, and the US Virgin Islands. Wherever she goes, though, she is on the lookout for fresh ghosts, ghouls, old-world charm, and city spooks. Her forever goal is to create fun, escapist novels with characters of color or otherwise.
Interview with Kish Knight
What genre(s) do you write in?
Urban fantasy, with a tinge of paranormal romance.
When did you decide that you wanted to write in your Genre?
In 2014. At the time, I had already released two YA contemporary novels (Geeks 1 and 2). However, I couldn’t stop thinking about a paranormal novel that I’d written back in college days, as well as another series that I had plotted at the same time. I had shelved these projects because I thought they wouldn’t be accepted from a woman of color (old school thinking, I know!). But in 2013 – 2014, there seemed to be a boom of POC authors writing just every and any genre they pleased, and it was SO incredible! I knew right then that I needed to become a part of that landscape.
What things in your life do you draw inspiration from?
Many times, I draw inspiration from my own curiosity. There are times in my daily life where I find myself thinking, ‘what would I do in this random situation?’…. The resulting thought might end up being something a character does along the course of my story. Other times, I’m inspired simply by human craftsmanship and the objects we live with day to day. For example, the inspiration for my Immortal Blood series is a bookshelf that I once owned. Somehow, I envisioned it as a doorway between realms that was re-constructed into a simple bookshelf. Inspiration is everywhere.
What is the purpose of your writing? Is there a specific message that you hope to convey?
The purpose behind my writing is simply happiness. I’m happiest when I get to write, and I HOPE that readers find comfort and the same happiness when they read my work.
How much of yourself is reflected in your writing?
Honestly, I feel as if every one of my main characters has at least a small slice of my (odd) personality. Each character definitely has a quirk that I’ve passed on to them, but most specifically, I’ve always given them the emotion of uncertainty. I think that it is a very human emotion (…I certainly experience it…), and I feel that having it makes the characters more human.
What can readers expect to see from you in the next year? Any new releases, features, or celebrations?
A LOT of collaborations, and several sequels of my own! I have one story in a multi-author collaboration releasing in late July, as well as another multi-author collab releasing in April 2021. I am also a part of an anthology series, with my volume releasing in January 2021. I am collaborating on a fun academy novel with another POC author. Last, but not least, I must mention that the sequel to Fury Rising, as well as the next two books in the Immortal Blood series will be released within this time as well.
Fury Rising (Demon Alicha Book One)
Plan A? Free herself from serving her demon, finish college, and then get the hell out of Dodge. You see, it wasn’t Alicha’s fault that her life was on borrowed time, since her mother had saved her life as a child by turning to one of the Dark Princes. So escaping that life was Alicha’s plan until her master sends her out on a Dream-Walk that lands her dead-center in the middle of an immortal show-down. Scratch Plan A, and Plan B too….New plan, C? Gather her team, seize one of the Dark Kingdoms, rise to power in the immortal world and….. and maybe she can be left the hell alone for once. Once she has enough dark power, she can make herself fully human again. Only….She didn’t expect to find Hunters living in her town, Hunters who existed solely to eradicate any and all dark forces, no exceptions made. A cruel twist of fate then, to find herself falling deeply in love with one of these Hunters. Can Alicha rise in the ranks in time to regain her humanity before her lover is forced to slaughter her next?
FROM THE BOOK:
Alicha wasn’t sure that she wanted to be a Dream-Walker anymore.
She’d gotten good, too good, at convincing innocent humans to switch to the dark side.
Working dreams was always exhausting, and last night had been no exception. Today, she was bone tired, so much so that she had overslept this morning, the first day of architectural exams. In a blur, she’d had to race to make it to the college campus and had just barely made into the School of Design building in time for her 1st presentation of the day. On days like this, she wished that she lived in the dorms like everyone else. Because of course, in the process, she had completely forgotten to take the damned demon medicine that kept her alive.
Good thing the meds were always stored in her bag for such reasons. “Good ‘ol Mom,” she murmured sarcastically, “keeping me alive when shit goes wrong.” The thing was, her presentation was about to start in a few minutes. There was no time for her to head back to the workroom where they stored their things so that she could grab the meds. Actually, she didn’t have a problem skipping it, only that her mother tended to flip if she missed even a day of taking the medicine.
‘It’s part of the deal,’ Alicha had been told. ‘Part of what’s keeping you alive, baby girl. If you don’t take it at the same time every day, I could lose you.’ And though Alicha usually sucked her teeth about it, she always took the blasted medicine, a new bottle of which appeared in the cabinet every morning.
Alicha Anthony knew all about it; all about how her mother had traded her only daughter’s service over to a demon in exchange for Alicha’s survival from brain cancer. Then had somehow managed to trade ‘down’ the bargain. So instead of losing her soul, Alicha went to the demon realm for one full 24 hours each month for ‘training’, and at night, sometimes she had to put that training to use by ‘dreamwalking’. The trade had saved her from a painful death as a child and allowed her, so far, to see finals in her third year of college.
And here she was. On time, unprepared, about to enter the lecture hall and pretend to be just another college student. Standing outside of the lecture hall, Alicha smoothed her clothes. She’d dressed lucky, in a fitted blue blazer, jeans hugging her butt, and matching heels. The blue went good against her dark skin, and with her freshly pressed hair styled down, she looked real good. Maybe that would draw attention away from her tired eyes.
‘I don’t wanna do this shit anymore.’
Especially when she had to wake up each morning, get ready, and attend college classes like normal. A weary sigh slipped her lips. Then, straightening her shoulders, Alicha pushed open the door to the presentation and went inside.
As she entered the room, a few heads swiveled toward her before turning away. Most students didn’t look up, either too busy preparing to present or caught up in casual conversations. Alicha didn’t bother trying to make eye contact with anyone. She hadn’t made any friends in this class or in any of the other classes that she was in. Making friends wasn’t a top priority for her. If there were friends out there who would understand why she Dream-walked at night, drank mysterious sludge out of an old glass vial, and was usually missing one full day a month, Alicha would be surprised.
Since she hadn’t found those people as yet, Alicha didn’t bother trying to sync her life with anyone else’s. Except for Chris, her almost-boyfriend. He was her silver lining on the stormy cloud of her life. Chris Artest had been trying to get with her for a while. Just recently she had given in, and so they were dating, but she hadn’t given him the goods yet. While he made her happy, Alicha wasn’t sure she wanted to go there with him. Not yet.
As she searched for a seat, her eyes grazed over one particular girl seated in a cluster of friends. Janessa. Immediately, Alicha felt a wave of guilt brush over her. The night before, she had been sent to collect Janessa’s soul, and though she’d done the mission, she had hated every second of it. Janessa was usually nice to everyone. As for why Tevit had chosen to pick on her, Alicha had no clue. But this was another victim that Alicha needed to save.
Last night, after only a few dream sequences of torture, she’d convinced her classmate to give up not only her soul, but also to work in demon service even while she was still alive. It was a record for Alicha, taking less than 45 minutes to screw a person’s afterlife forever. But while her evil boss would be pleased, Alicha hated herself for it. Making a mental note to add the doomed girl to the growing list of names in her black notebook, she promised herself that she would fix it. Like she’d vowed with all of her other victims, she swore to find them in the real world and help them somehow. As soon as she paid off her own debt to the demon.
Hate wasn’t strong enough to describe what she felt for her master, Tevit, House of Leviathan, Demon Lord of Envy, youngest of the seven princes. She hated having to torture innocent people into giving up their souls. What she hated even more was the fact that she was slightly grateful to Tevit…. simply because he wasn’t the worst of the seven princes. She’d heard that the other Hell Princes were wayyy more sadistic that Tevit, and she needed to be thankful that she belonged to Tevit’s camp, and not one of the others.
But she wasn’t, not in the slightest. She hated them all.
She moved closer to the group. “Hey girl,” she said to Janessa, catching the other woman’s eye.
Janessa, with her big smile and fluffed-out Afro, had to be the friendliest person on campus. Smiling, she gave a little wave. “What’s up, girl! Good luck on your thesis.”
“Yeah, you too.” Guilt wracked Alicha as she saw that her classmate’s eyes were dilated slightly and fuzzed around the edges. When a person had lost their soul, the eyes were the first indicators. It wasn’t noticeable if you weren’t looking for it, but to a trained Walker like Alicha, swollen pupils marked a victim.
Janessa turned her attention back to her notes, and Alicha made to move away, but then froze as she noticed something else. Janessa’s Inner had already shrunk. The Inner was a person’s mental voice/ spirit, and for captured souls, the Inner became frazzled over time. Janessa’s shouldn’t have started fraying already, but it had. That was bad, mostly for Janessa, since it meant she had less time before Tevit, Alicha’s master, would be able to control her.
But Alicha couldn’t dwell on it, because at that moment, her classmate glanced back up with a curious look. So Alicha kept moving along, searching for a seat.
There were no available seats left, so Alicha leaned against the wall at the back of the room. Shaken over what she had seen, Alicha slipped a tiny black notebook out of her pocket. Fingers trembling slightly, she reached for a pen too, so that she could add Janessa’s name to her book. But just then, the professor stood and called the room to order.
“Good day all! As you know, we are mid-way through our quarter, and the presentations that you will be delivering today-,”
And then suddenly, over the professor’s voice, she heard it.
Suddenly, the professor’s words rolled down to a drone as Alicha heard a louder, more otherworldly voice. Since none of the other people in the room even flinched and were all still listening to the professor intently, Alicha knew they hadn’t heard the awful voice calling her name.
COME TO ME.
Closing her eyes briefly, Alicha forced herself to breathe normally and ignore the voice. It was Tevit, and though technically she was bound to obey the demon’s wishes, she needed to ignore him this time. Although clearly his word meant nothing, Tevit had agreed that he would never interfere with Alicha’s schooling, ever.
Yet, here he was, summoning her while she was on the college campus. She grit her teeth against the sudden urge to leave the room now and transport to him. Frustration welled up in her.
She couldn’t just leave the presentation. There was no make-up for this grade, and she needed to do well on it in order to keep her grades up. ‘Tevit will just learn to wait,’ she thought resolutely. ‘I don’t care what he thinks about it.’
It was then that she noticed everyone in the room was staring at her expectantly. The professor raised his brows.
“Is your presentation ready, Ms. Anthony?”
‘Shit.’ She hadn’t expected alphabetical order for the presentations. Apparently, she would be the first one to present. “For real?” she mumbled to herself, and pushing off of the wall, headed to the front of the room.
Standing in front of the room at the podium, she stared back at everyone else. Everyone was giving her their full attention, unfortunately. Chris, she noticed, was seated towards the back. She hadn’t noticed him earlier, but she gave a tiny smile as he winked at her.
Making it a point to ignore Tevit’s voice echoing in the depths of her mind, Alicha greeted the class and immediately launched into her presentation with gusto. To her surprise, she was able to get through most of the presentation successfully. That was, until she began to near the end of her speech. A late student to the presentation opened the door and entered noisily, distracting most everyone in the room, including Alicha.
With her focus broken by the interruption, Alicha paused in her speech, only for a few seconds. Then she tried to resume her speech. But the small interruption had been enough. Now that she wasn’t entirely focused on her memorized words, all she could hear was Tevit’s verbal assault. And now that he realized that he had more of her attention, he turned up the attack. She began feeling ill, swaying slightly on her feet.
Vomit rose in her throat, and Alicha forced the flow back down. The roar in her head grew louder until she couldn’t stand it anymore. Giving up her pretense of normalcy, Alicha turned away from the podium and raced for the door.
Alicha flung the door open with one hand, pitching herself forward out of the room. Her legs took her down the hall with speed. Frustration mounted as she realized that she was jeopardizing her grades and hurting her chances of a transfer, but she had no choice.
Typically, she had about an hour to respond to Tevit’s calls. Given the fact that she had been ignoring him for a while now, Alicha estimated that she had about thirty more minutes before things got bad.