Updated: Jul 18, 2021
A Phoenix Reborn
By: Krysta Kearney
“If you really have an idea, the important thing is to stick through it until it becomes your reality.”
As an entrepreneur, a published emerging author, an accredited voice actor, and a skilled barista, Kathryn Carnahan has already made her way into the hands and hearts of people worldwide. Her shown accomplishments at the young age of 23 are an exhibit of not only her courageous strength and capabilities but also her desire to grow. We give cheer and salute to her as she makes her aspirations become a reality, as her dreams become true. As in any creative field, there is the survival of the fittest, it is not only based on your talents but also your work ethics, willingness to market yourself, and your engagement with the audience. She does just this, in all of her professions. As a barista slinging coffee, she prides herself on engaging with customers and chatting about the everyday nuances that life throws at you, as a voice actress she is constantly challenging her capabilities and creating sounds that no one could ever imagine would come out of her charming face and as an author, her main goal is to connect with her readers. To have the messages of her book(s) be used when tackling life’s lessons and hardships. The sincerity and genuineness that carries through her art, writings, and her own personal persona are quite evident and honorable.
Her passions for writing and creativity date back as far as she can remember. As a kid, she was always drawing something, whether it be doodling at school, at the kitchen table, really wherever there was a way, there was a will. She found comfort in creativity. Eventually, instead of drawing she began writing. She would write a lot of fan fiction (fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, etc.) because she couldn’t figure out how to create her own alternate world. Her mother and grandfather would encourage her to write her own stories, but it wasn’t until post-college that she started dabbling in it. Recently, in April of 2021, she published her first book, The Golden Hearts of Avalar which is part of a series known as, The Living Doll Trilogy. This science fiction and fantasy piece took her about a year to complete. Prior to putting the pen to the paper, she spent an awful amount of time sorting out in her head what the book may look like. The book is a true testament to her talents.
“There was a little self-doubt and I did have second thoughts when I first started creating the story because I thought, ‘What if this doesn’t work, what if this is too stupid but really there were a few factors that lead to me creating the doll trilogy.”
Growing up some of her biggest influences were cartoons and all the science fiction and fantasy shows that she watched. One day she was thinking about all the different heroes we’ve had through the years and thought of all the witches and wizards, robots in disguise, even characters like the Power Rangers. She looked over at her shelf that still holds the dolls she played with as a child and thought to herself, ‘What if we had dolls for heroes instead? What if we had these dolls with magical properties (and so on and so forth)?’ She took the thought, this vision, and created something from it. It was then that she started to develop and conjure up a bunch of ideas where dolls were the superheroes.
After many months of coming to a conclusion, she created the characters and a storyline, thus began her first book. Not only did she decide to write one book, but she decided to write a whole trilogy, a three-part book series! It hasn’t been easy. She has edited out paragraphs, moved thoughts around, reworked characters, and has even had to scrap whole chapters. After a lot of editing and proofreading, finally, after one year, Book One was completed.
The Living Doll Trilogy is based off a saying that she heard as a kid, ‘Hold on to your dreams, the future is built on dreams.’ It’s something that she resonated with during a time in her life when she was feeling very lost and depressed. It gave her hope and encouragement to keep moving forward and look past whatever negativity had been going on, to get through some dark times. She realized the saying was true, that the future is built on dreams.
“If you really want something to become your reality, then, you know, you can’t fall asleep and wake up the next day and find out it’s happened. You gotta work for it. You got to work hard and fight for it and next thing you know, it’s right there on your plate.”
The trilogy is filled with many strong, powerful messages. First and foremost, it’s about acceptance for other people and of yourself, accepting who you are. It’s also about love and family, how important the strength of it is and how differences in diversity can bring people together. All the magic and science fiction aside, she makes sure that those messages are prevalent through the book. It’s meant to target many different audiences and she aims to have the readers connect to it and feel part of the story in some way.
It was very important for Carnahan to be consciously inclusive with her characters and show diversity in race and sexual orientation. When writing it she considered social issues, how characters self-identify, the many different family dynamics and if characters have experiences with disabilities. One of the main characters during the story line come out as being a lesbian. She felt it was important to recognize the contrasts in humanity, how we all identify differently and have our own individual struggles. As a kid, she doesn’t remember reading any books that were very diverse, that had openly gay characters, or that represented people of multiple backgrounds, she feels that it’s important that not just her own writing but all creative outlets in the current day reflect that.
“In this changing world it’s important to be inclusive and accepting, acceptance is one of the major themes in The Living Doll Trilogy.”
Not many people get the chance to read her books before being published, but her mother gets the ‘backstage pass’ to all that she does. It’s helpful for her to have someone to proof her writing and give feedback. Seeing her reactions alone, helps her understand what might be working well and what’s not. One day when proofing the book, her mom asked if the main character was autistic, with a higher functioning development disability such as Aspergers Syndrome. Sydney who is the main character exhibits character traits (such as speaking more formally than others) that lead her mother to think that, maybe she is! Carnahan didn’t create her character to be but she says that it is possible that she could be on the spectrum and it is something that she identifies with because she, herself has a disorder. It’s not something she typically talks about, as it brings back a lot of bad memories, she didn’t have it very easy as a kid. As she has gotten older and knows how to cope with it more, it has gotten much more manageable over time but is still a struggle. She was labeled with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified) at a very young age.
“Basically what happened is I was kind of ‘delayed’ in a matter of speaking. For some reason, I was able to speak a little more formally than a lot of other students in my grade and that got me made fun of in school, admittedly. But over time I was able to overcome that label and I was even declassified my junior year. What that meant is that when I was declassified I didn’t need to take specific classes anymore.”
Growing up, both school and home life were hard. In middle school especially, her fellow peers didn’t accept her for who she was and she was bullied. She sought acceptance but would constantly get pushed down. At home, she dealt with a lot of mental and emotional abuse from her father and stepmother. Not being good people, they discouraged her to be herself and would belittle her. Her mother fought hard to get full custody of both she and her brother and eventually won. Without going into much detail, the obvious negative effect that her father had on her has made a big impact. She referred to him as a ‘Spineless Jellyfish.’, which basically means he has no sense of morality and doesn’t care about the repercussions of his actions, lacking a good conscience. She didn’t speak too poorly about him by any means but respectfully it seems she is thankful that he isn’t a prominent figure in her life any longer.
“I don’t want my labels to define me because at the end of the day I am not some person who has a “disability.” I’m a person with ABILITIES. At the end of the day, I’m just me.”
Years later as an adult, she now has a very fulfilled life. She doesn’t have a strong relationship with her father nor her stepmother and people don’t bully her anymore. Her mother got remarried to a great man and Carnahan is super close with all of her family members and she can’t stress the importance of that unit in her life enough. She and her brother are good friends and she has a very strong social network.
“I feel really grateful for that social bubble that I have and I would feel like an empty shell without it.”
After graduating high school, she went to SUNY Albany as an english major and a theater minor. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree (or as she says, her ‘bachelorette degree,’ haha). She didn’t think twice about going to school for writing. It has always been rewarding, one of her greatest escapes, and her best friend. So why not do what makes you happy!
“Stay rooted, follow your dreams, but be realistic about it.”
She started to get serious about writing her own science fiction book once she graduated college. Since she started to focus on the trilogy, she hasn’t stopped. With book one being published, she is currently working on the others. Book two is completed (although it needs a lot of polishing) and she is now working on the third. The Golden Hearts of Avalar has had a slow start but it is not something to be discouraged about. It has only been a couple of months and as a first-time author, she realizes it’s going to take a bit to get both her name and the books noticed. One lesson that she says has been very big for her, that she learned growing up is to not get your hopes up because not everything will end up the way that you want it to, or happen in the timely fashion that you hope for. She says it’s important to be realistic and not to set your expectations too high. Great things will happen, you just need to be patient.
“Be the best you can be and the best influence you can be.”
As we said earlier, not only is she an author but also a voice actor. Many years ago, as a teenager, she created a Youtube channel where she goes by the name, ‘Phoenix Prime.’ It has a variety of videos but its main focus has been to showcase her voice acting work. Carnahan has always had a very wide vocal range and being the creative she is, she wanted to learn more on how to work and grow it, utilize it in some way. The channel’s main focus is the comic dubs she makes, it’s a very accessible and simple art form that has allowed her to experiment with her vocal range. By finding online comics, she cuts them up and arranges them in chronological order. Then, she adds commentary, creates voices for the characters, puts in sound effects, and composes music to go along with the comic strips. Once completed, viewers basically feel like they are watching a cartoon. Of course, she asks for consent from comic artists and allows them to use what she creates on their own platforms. It’s a good exchange between the artists because in a lot of ways, what she creates promotes their art. She has been following a few different comic strip series for several years now and has continued to develop her voiceovers and own artistic takes. By mimicking the storyline and maintaining the same character development that the artists have, she has managed to enhance her skills and learn a lot from these projects. She does most of her work solo but also collaborates with other artists.
“A part of being, a part of this community, is that you get to find other people of similar interests. You find people that also like to do voice acting and also like to do comic dubs.”
Through voice acting, she has found friends with similar interests across the globe. Her international friends and colleagues all support each other, who knows what this network could bring to her future! One day she hopes to eventually get to Hollywood, work aside Hollywood legends and develop her voice acting career. She knows in order to make it happen she would need to go to NYC, California, or Orlando FL; it’s where the industry is. She can’t just stay in her small hometown of Saratoga Springs, NY. It’s something that she thinks about often but doesn’t plan to be making big moves anytime soon. Carnahan is happy with where she is at now and doesn’t want to change anything currently but knows that might be a path she will follow. Out of her many voices that she takes pride in is her monster ones, no one ever believes it’s her! She told Moxxi about a time where she went out on the town with some friends in downtown Saratoga and a guy asked her what she did for a living. With the encouragement of her friends, she decided to pull up one of her of her voice-over videos, in particular one where she is a monster.
“I show it to him, and this guy looks absolutely terrified like the blood just drained from his face and he goes, ‘But you look like a Disney Princess.’ I was laughing so hard, I was crying.”
Literally, she is as far from a monster as you could ever imagine. Sweet, delicate, well-spoken, and kind. Seriously though, if you saw her, any single monster sound or demotic voice could never come to mind. Although she started her YouTube channel in 2012, she really didn’t start using it for her voice acting work until 2016. Admittingly, she says her first few videos were quite rudimentary but after time it started to gain popularity.
“The subscriber account just kept growing. One day I had 100 subscribers, then 200, then 1,000, then 3,000, then 10,000, and right now, I’m at over 85,000.”
It took a lot of time and patience for it to grow. She worked really hard on it and noticed the more she posted, the more response she would get. Now, fortunately, the hard work has paid off and she does get some income from the channel. Her voice impressions are so good, when interviewing her, she did one of Gollum from Lord of The Rings, and we must say, it was pretty spot on…but oh so strange coming from her smiling face!