Thursday, June 23, 2011

Author Interview: Rebecca Knight

Today I'm interviewing Rebecca Knight on my blog. She's an indie fantasy writer who recently published her first novel, Legacy of the Empress. Welcome, Rebecca!

Sandra: Please tell us about yourself.

Rebecca: Hi, Sandra! Thanks so much for having me. Well, I’m a fantasy writer living in the Pacific Northwest with a husband and a cat. My dad was a freelance writer when I was growing up, and my mom was an English teacher, so writing has always been in my blood (along with how to use a comma correctly!) Now, I’m working on following my dream as an author and do some freelance editing on the side. So far, I’m loving it!

Sandra: How did you become a writer?

Rebecca: Before I could write, I would draw these little crayon picture books about alternate Peter Pan adventures or other weird stories I’d dream up. I’ve always been a writer, as far as I can remember, or at least a storyteller. Being an author has always been my dream job, but I didn’t really believe I had it in me to complete a novel until I met my husband. He encouraged me to give it a go back in 2005, so that’s when I first got serious about writing for publication.

Sandra: Why did you decide to write fantasy?

Rebecca: I write the books and stories that I want to read! It’s really very selfish. I’ve always loved fantasy books like Lord of the Rings, Song of Ice & Fire Series, and Neil Gaiman’s books, so it was natural for me to write something in a fantasy world.

Sandra: Can you tell us about your work, particularly your novel, Legacy of the Empress?

Legacy of the Empress is a fantasy novel about a girl named Astrid who escapes imprisonment in her mother’s castle, and while worrying about how to do basic things like survive on her own without being caught by her mom’s spies, discovers she’s the only one who can save her land from total destruction. There’s an evil magic spreading throughout the kingdom, devouring the people—it’s what corrupted her mother, the queen, in the first place. The only one who can stop it is an ancient empress imprisoned on the other side of the world, and Astrid may be the only one who can free her.

What I love about Legacy is that it reads like a fairy tale but with these pockets of horror when Astrid has to fight the evil magic. It was really fun letting loose for those darker moments.

Sandra: What inspired you to write Legacy of the Empress?

Rebecca: Weirdly enough, I got the idea for Legacy back in college when I was taking a writing class. There was a prompt we did where I imagined lines of magic intersecting all over the world like a grid, and an Empress imprisoned in a crystal fortress. I never did anything with it, and ended up finding it a couple of years later in my journal.

It was my husband who convinced me I could actually write the novel I’d always wanted to, so I gave it a go, and here we are!

Sandra: According to your blog profile, you’re interested in art in addition to writing. Are you an artist yourself? If so, what’s your specialty, and can you tell us about some of your work?

Rebecca: When I say that I paint, I mean that I paint silly things for my own amusement. You can only call it art if you’re saying it really sarcastically with quotes around it. Ha! For example, I’m responsible for this painting:

Based on this video I found on Youtube:

Truly, “art” at its finest ;). It’s currently on display in my living room.

Sandra: What types of research have you done for your stories? Can you share with us something unusual you learned from your research?

Rebecca: I researched types of swords and horses mostly, but the most interesting thing I researched was exactly how to use a Ye Olde Crossbow. Apparently there’s a crank involved—who knew? I love medieval weaponry, so figuring out how to describe loading a bolt and winding it back was great fun for me.

Sandra: Why did you choose to go the indie route when publishing your writing? How do you feel about the overall experience?

Rebecca: Since the recession hit, genre mid-list authors have had it rough, even if they were already in with a traditional publisher. Authors were getting dropped from their houses left and right after their books were only making modest sales. I knew that at that point, I probably wasn’t going to get an agent willing to take a chance on a debut in epic fantasy. Contemporary or paranormal fantasies were selling, but the old school fantasy was much more of a niche market. So, I stopped querying and waited for the tides to change.

However, while I was waiting, something unexpected happened. E-books started outselling their paper counterparts, and self-publishing switched from a dirty phrase to a viable option—one where mid list authors were now making more money and selling more books than their traditionally published counterparts. This was what really got my attention and made me research indie publishing more thoroughly.

The overall experience has been excellent so far. I just sold my 100th e-book this weekend, and am over the moon about it. Sales are increasing steadily, and I know I’ve made the right call for my career. The fun thing is, whenever my next book is ready, there’s no waiting—I can publish it as quickly as I can format it and get it straight to the readers. Love that!

Sandra: Who are your favorite authors and why do you admire them?

Rebecca: I’m totally falling back in love with George R. R. Martin right now because of Game of Thrones on HBO. I started rereading his books, and not only do I love how subtle he is with his use of magic through the Song of Ice and Fire, but I also how no one is ever safe. He makes his books dangerous by making you love someone and then making you fear terribly for them because you’re never sure if they’re going to make it.

I’m also a huge fan of Neil Gaiman and how he takes old folk tales and legends and weaves them into modern stories.

Sandra: What other writing projects are you currently working on?

I just finished another installment in my Fairytale Assassin short story series called CARNIVORE. It’s basically my own twisted take on the Little Red Riding hood story and is a follow up to two short stories called NO REST FOR THE WICKED. These shorts are fun, naughty action-packed tales about an agent named Veronica Grim who goes head to head with real world fairytale villains.

I love writing these, and when I get a good handful of them, I’ll group them together as a book of shorts.

Sandra: What’s one of the goals you hope to achieve with your writing?

Rebecca: My goal in my career is to make enough from my e-book sales to quit my day job and become a full time writer. That’s always been my dream, and now it seems more achievable than ever before.

My goal as a storyteller is to completely entertain my readers and leave them wanting more. Books that I re-read have always had something special in them that touched me, surprised me, or scared me to death, and I want more than anything to illicit an unforgettable response from my readers. I want people to put my books down and think “When does the next one come out??” It’s all about telling a great story.

Sandra: What’s something people wouldn’t be able to guess about you just by looking at you?

I have awesome aim. I’m not very athletic, being a geek and all, but for some reason, I’ve always been able to sink a basket, or shoot wadded up paper into a trash basket, left handed. No clue where this came from. Don’t challenge me to a game of HORSE! You’ll regret it ;).


Deborah Walker said...

Thank you for the interesting interview. I love hearing success stories like this. Wonderful.

The novel sounds fascinating.

Rebecca Knight said...

Thank you so much, Deborah! :) I appreciate you stopping by!

Mboyd1978 said...

I've been pretty busy with my own writing lately, but I started reading Legacy of the Empress the other day.

What a well done book! I'm not a big "magical fantasy" type of guy usually, but she did a great job making the characters come to life and taking me into Astrid's world.

I can't wait to finish it. Thanks for the cool interview, it's nice to get some insight behind what thinking went into creating such great work.

Rebecca Knight said...

Thanks for the kind words, Matt! I'm so glad you're enjoying it so far :D.

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