Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Thomas A. Knight Interview
1/8/2012 8:04:56 AM
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Fantasy author Thomas Knight discusses his debut novel and the writing life!
Thomas A. Knight Interview:
For today’s feature, I’d like to introduce you to fellow Canadian, fantasy author Thomas A. Knight, the creator of the magical kingdom of Findoor. I’d like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers, Thomas. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
TAK: Hi Lorna, and thank you so much for having me. As most people already know, I'm only a part-time writer/author. I develop software full-time. In my down-time, I spend as much time with my family as I can, and also love to play D&D and other role-playing games. I have a small local group of friends that I play with.
I beg to differ. You are a full-fledged author, but you can only devote part of your time to writing! ;-) I know you have a degree in network engineering and long have you been a fan of fantasy authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey, but when did writing fantasy become a reality for you? Was becoming a published author always a life long dream?
TAK: Actually, no. This wasn't a life-long dream. I've been playing fantasy role-playing games for almost twenty years, and during the last ten or so, I've had a growing desire to write the stories behind some of my characters. It was November of 2010 that finally provided the catalyst for me to write my first book, when I entered the National Novel Writing Month contest.
I had a chance to read an excerpt of your debut novel, The Time Weaver and it’s been receiving some great reviews! What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Seth Alkirk?
TAK: Seth was a character partially modeled after myself, in that he's an ordinary guy, trying to live an ordinary life. He's a bit of a geek, and he has some social issues (he's thirty years old, lives in a house all by himself, and appears incapable of holding a relationship for any length of time). He doesn't think big, and he's never felt like there was something more to his life.
My inspiration? That's a bit tougher of a question to answer. When I sit down to write, the words come to me. I don't think there's any one specific thing that inspires me.
Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the readers when they crack open The Time Weaver?
TAK: When you start reading, you'll find yourself drawn in by a heavy action scene, but there's a twist to it that has received a great response. I won't give it away, but it's hooked more than one unsuspecting reader. I have some of the familiar characters: the geeky normal guy who discovers incredible powers, the beautiful warrior maiden who rescues him, and a loopy bard. But I try to add a new twist to each; Seth can control time, but he doesn't want to. Malia's strength is countered by her sometimes over-confident nature. Cedric the bard has a subtle darker streak that is unexplored in this book.
There's also a mystery: Where is Seth's father, and why did he leave Seth behind?
The road to publication is very difficult at the best of times. What made you decide to become an indie author and self-publish this fantasy?
TAK: Some consider self-publication to be the easy road in the industry. I tend to disagree. Any road to publication is difficult, and requires a tremendous amount of work. In my case, I opted to go indie because I like having control over my work. I decided on my cover art, nobody is telling me how to craft my book, and I can get my book out to an audience sooner this way. I'm at a point in my life where I'm not prepared to deal with the rejection that's become so notorious of traditional publishing, and so I side-stepped it.
Would you recommend this to other authors struggling to find a traditional publisher or literary agent to help them get published?
TAK: This is a very personal decision. I wouldn't try to recommend going one way or the other. I can give people the facts about self-publishing, and then they can decide for themselves if it's right for them. What I can tell everyone right now? Do not choose self-publishing because you think it will be easier. It's not. It's just difficult in different ways. Instead of dealing with rejection from publishers, you deal with rejection from readers. You still have to go through a grueling editing process, and if you try to avoid this, it will show in your sales. You also have a ton more work to do, as you have to write, edit, format, and publish it all by yourself. Cover design, marketing, and establishing sales channels is all up to you. There is no safety net in this industry, and no easy road.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
TAK: No matter how close you might think you are, it is never finished. I thought my book was ready for Amazon, and though my sales have been pretty reasonable, I still think, looking back now, that I may have jumped the gun a bit.
I’m curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
TAK: Because I have so many things going on in my life, I tend to write when I have time. Being a programmer has given me an advantage in this respect though, as I can turn the writer in me on and off. If I sit down with the intention of writing, I write. The words just come to me. I've also been known to end a writing session mid-sentence.
Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
TAK: Oh I'm a total pantser. The one thing you learn as a writer is that often the characters take on a life of their own in your own mind. While I write, sometimes they decide to do unexpected things. It can change the plot in incredible ways. I plot out the basic storyline in my head, but I don't write anything down until I'm ready to write the scenes. If I write it down before that, the scene is gone out of my head, and I have a hard time recapturing the passion for that scene.
Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
TAK: If I really want to focus and pound out the words, I have a big pair of stereo headphones that go on with some loud music that drowns out all the outside distractions. I drink a lot of Diet Coke, and I despise coffee. Most of my writing sessions are fairly relaxed though, with two little girls running around laughing and playing behind me. I'm used to the distractions now, so I can still be productive without the headphones.
At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
TAK: I switch scenes. It's as simple as that. If the words won't come for one scene, I make a note, and move on. This keeps the word count climbing, and often it's just what I need, as whatever blocked me will resolve, and I can come back and finish the scene later. There was one scene in particular in The Time Weaver that did this to me, where Seth, Malia and Cedric were in a tavern, and Malia was sick. This hung me up, as I couldn't figure out how to proceed. So I switched scenes, and figured out how to get the plot moving again.
Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
TAK: This is probably one of the most difficult questions you could ask me. If I was to tell you who the number one influence on my writing was, I would say J. Robert King. I reread the opening to his book, The Thran, the other day, and was startled at how similar the writing styles were. Who do I enjoy reading? Stephen King, Anne McCaffrey, J.R.R. Tolkien, Weis and Hickman, and a number of others. I don't think I could pick a favorite really, as they are all great for different reasons, and I enjoy reading them all.
What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
TAK: Profound? That's a pretty strong word. I've discovered a lot about myself during the course of writing The Time Weaver. Just the fact that I could write a book at all was a major discovery. It's interesting to me to see how other people interpret my work. I love reading reviews, even the bad or negative ones. They open a window into the reader's mind and tell me if my writing was effective or not. Even the one two-star review that I received was appreciated, as it showed me that I still had a lot of work to do on my book, and pointed out some significant editing mistakes. These will be fixed in the print release and an update to the eBook.
What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
TAK: I'm the kind of person that always has two or three books on the go at a time. So, in no particular order: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King, because I've been working my way through the Dark Tower series. Preying Angels by Jeff Davis, because he's a friend of mine, and because he's indie. I try to read all of my friends' books at some point, even if they are outside of my normal fantasy genre. Johan by Clayton Emery, which I stalled on because I didn't find this book as compelling as some of the other Magic: The Gathering novels. Up next on my to-read list is The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner, and The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, though these selections are subject to change at any time.
What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from fantasy into other genres? Can your fans expect the sequel, Legacy: The Time Weaver Chronicles, Book II in the near future?
TAK: Branch out? Probably not. I'm a fantasy guy, and that will likely never change. Write what you know, right? But I have been toying with the idea of writing an urban fantasy novel, just to challenge myself. I have some ideas I'm tossing around in my head. As far as Legacy goes, I'm a little over a third of the way done the first draft. Fans can definitely expect this one to be out before the end of 2012.
TAK: I think I can reasonably expect to complete one novel per year at my current pace of writing. Those interested in The Time Weaver can expect at least three books to complete the current arc, but make no mistake, The Time Weaver is complete on its own, and can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your crazy busy schedule to discuss your works as well as the writing life, Thomas! Wishing you all the best in 2012!
TAK: Thanks again for having me on your site, Lorna. I love connecting with other authors and fans, or just talking to people in general. I answer every email I receive, and do my best to reply on Twitter as well.
For more information about Thomas and his novels, check out:
Follow Thomas on Twitter: .thomasaknight
Where to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0061GJX0U
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