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E. E. Knight Interview

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:21 am    Post subject: E. E. Knight Interview Reply with quote

Exodus Night Announces a Live Interview with the fantasy author E.E. Knight, Sunday October 10th at 9:00 pm eastern standard time.

EEKnight would you like to take a few minutes to tell us a little about yourself and your books before we begin the question and answer segment?

You have a room full of fantasy writers and I am sure they are interested in hearing about you and your books.

Sure. I'm a long-time gamer-geek, I go back to the boxed set of "Dungeons and Dragons" in the late 70s

I started getting serious about my writing in the mid to late 90s
But didn't have much success with my work until about 1999=2000 when I resurrected an old RPG campaign I'd run for a game called Aftermath
And decided to write a story based on it
That was the genesis of the Vampire Earth series
Oddly enough, me and some friends are turning it into an RPG Worldbook now
So you could say it's come full circle
Sounds great
To the "room full of fantasy writers" take heart, if I can do it, you can too
I'm not that great a writer, I never blew any of my profs out of their chairs with my prose style
Remember, publishers aren't looking to put out one book of yours, they want to put out ten or twenty books over ten or fifteen years
I know what you mean, i have gotten compliments on some of my stories but i am not that good. out of curiosity, what inspired you to become a writer?
I've always liked writing and telling stories, goes back to my days as a GM and writer for my high school newspaper
Working for a high school newspaper is very good training, you learn to write consistently and to value each world. Sentences matter, since the ones at the end might be cut'

Hi Lasandria did you have a question?
What's it's favorite story?
Favorite short story or novel?
Because they are two very different things
Okay, a short story is something under 10,000 words, usually. A novel is a book length work
My favorite short story would either be Matheson's "I Am Legend" or H. P. Lovecraft's "Whisperer in Darkness"
Another candidate would be Bradbury's "When Soft Rains Fall" from The Martian Chronicles
My favorite novel is probably "Watership Down" by Richard Adams

OOH...depressing communist book
The movie's funny though..just..because

I like Watership Down because it is such a convincing job of worldbuilding
If there's a political angle I've never detected it.
The movie for Watership Down leaves a lot to be desired...and they killed off one of my favorite characters, Blackavar

Do you think there will eventually be too many vampire stories to hold people’s interest? Not me that’s for sure. Question from Emity`deRoss

They still sell well enough. Though lately it seems that there has to be a fusion between the Vampire side of things and some other genre. Like you have vampire chic-lit with books like "Undead and Unwed" and "Undead and Unemployed."
Thanks Emity good question
I'm waiting for the great Vampire Diet Book or perhaps the Vampire Business/Life Skill Success book
Count Dracula's guide to Corporate Management

My question probably isn't good considering it comes from a guy you can only identify as 'Him'. But anyway.. How can you deal with writing while under stress? How can you even write when the stress is difficult and nearly impossible to get away from?

Sadly, I have very little stress in my life. I make a livable income, have a lovely and supportive spouse, live in a great city with super cultural stuff (Chicago, the middle coast) and really have no complaints at all. My biggest obstacle is just getting going each morning, since there's no boss to stop me surfing the internet
But if you're having trouble you should try to use simple Pavlovian conditioning
Have a place in your life (a coffee shop, a library, a room, a park bench, whatever) that is for writing and writing only
When you go to your special place, you're there only to write. Don't think about any other issues in your life. Your business, when you are sitting in that spot, is just to write. Nothing else is allowed to enter.
When you go to your special place, you're there only to write. Don't think about any other issues in your life. Your business, when you are sitting in that spot, is just to write. Nothing else is allowed to enter.
When you go to your special place, you're there only to write. Don't think about any other issues in your life. Your business, when you are sitting in that spot, is just to write. Nothing else is allowed to enter.
It's what Stephen King calls "having the door closed"
You have to close that mental door to the rest of your life and just be a writer.

Good idea I have trouble with that too

ahh... well.. heheh.. That would be difficult. The same place I write is the very same place I conduct music and generate artwork. heh

Mine is a coffe shop, BTW. When I'm really stuck I take a long walk (what Aristotle called "peripatic thinking") and go to my local Borders. The cafe there is my place to work out issues.
Well, Him, that's great. Glad you do other things than just writing. They can feed into each other.

I have had the pleasure of starting on your first book of The Vampire Earth series, "Way of the Wolf" and I found your detail into geographical shifts and changes in this post-apocalyptic world you created amazingly detailed. What sort of research did you put into it? Where you familiar with the settings beforehand?

Lily Anne, I try to visit the areas I write about. The rest is a mixture of research and just making stuff up.

Do alot of traveling would you say?

I think Mickey Spillane was once asked about the phrases his tough guys used and someone asked him what sort of dark streets he walked down to hear that kind of slang. Spillane said he just made it up.
I don't do as much travelling as I'd like to do. I make a living, I'm not rich.

Well then, your mind is a world I'm bent on visiting thoroughly, thanks Smile

I've been to Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, Alaska, and some of the remoter corners of Canada

Scary place, isn't it? Smile

Very, but enjoyable

Greetings Knight.....What advise would you give just starting writers, who want to get their work published? I by the way have the vampire cookbook....LoL...Actually, its called The Dracula Cookbook by Marina Polvay.....Mmmm...Ducks Blood Soup

What do you know, there is such a thing
I'll give you a phrase Alan Dean Foster gave me
"Write every day. Submit when you're done."
He said most writers failed to do one or the other.
King noted that writing is a lot like lifting weights. When you start you can only do a small amount of weight
As you get more skilled, you can do more heavy lifting
A lot of writers either write so little they never produce anything
or they never submit, they're endlessly revising so they can avoid the mental trauma of submitting and the inevitable rejection

I rember a phase someone told me once before....wish I could remeber who....."The world around is just a novel waiting to be written and read"

Yeah there are great novels in everything
I've been toying with the idea of a fantasy based on the whole internet-bubble bursting.
Sort of a fantasy "Sense and Sensibility"
About two daughters of what they thought was a very rich man, but it turned out he was an illusionist, and when his spells got broken they found out they were penniless commoners
Say you have problems with your boyfriend, he's one way half the time and another way when he's with his buddies. Turn him into a lycanthrope and go for it.

Our next question will be from SkyFlare for Mr. Knight. Without further ado, the much reknown and beloved Sky-child

Wow, after a build-up like that SkyFlare you'd better have a good question.

Do you need an agent or do you contact the publisher directly to be published? Seems at times when I sit and read what I have read I have this inate desire to tear it apart critically.

A lot of publishers now won't look at work unless it's submitted by an agent.
I do have an agent.
But there is and end-run around that.

I thought so, and the best way to find a good one is?

If you can get to know the editors in sf/fantasy by going to cons
and pitch them your idea in a thirty-second "elevator speech"
a lot of times they'll ask to see it.
My friend Jim Butcher at Roc who does the Harry Dresden series
got to know his editor that way, met her at a con. She asked for the ms and bought it
He's hugely successful now.

Thanks and the inate desire to edit destructively?

Yeah I go throught the same thing with my work
irst 1/3 of the book I think "this is the greatest thing I've ever written"
second 1/3 I think "this is utter shit"
Final 1/3 I think "it's utter shit but it's almost finished"
And I just force my way through it.
Hemmingway said "first drafts are shit."
They are. You just have to put your head down and keep going. Don't revise until you've written "the end"

They are. You just have to put your head down and keep going. Don't revise until you've written "the end"

Anyone here fans of "Freaks and Geeks"?
I was listening to the creator's commentary
He said something great in that that goes to your question
They always asked themselves "what would a typical teen drama do?"
And then not do quite the opposite, but go about half way to the opposite
You've got to surprise the reader a little. Make them think the story is going in one direction, but make a 90 degree turn

* Lance-Valliant nods

Steven King's THE STAND is a good example
You think the end is going to be a big epic battle between the good guys in Boulder and the Bad guys in Vegasl
But no, the four walkers go to Vegas
And evil ends up destroying itself when Trashcan Man shows up with his bomb

Kewl, I haven't been writing on my book for a couple of weeks now though because of a sudden, rather unfortunate case of Writer's Block... -.-... it's evil.

Yeah that happens. One of two ways to work on writers block. First, write something completely different for a while, a short story or whatever
Second, keep working on the story you're working on, but write your "favorite scene"
Something you just can't wait to get going one in that story
I did that once and it worked out well, I skipped ahead three chapters to something I had a very good picture of and was excited about, then went back and filled in the gap

Well, I'll keep that in mind, but I've been mainly looking for music to get me through it.

Music is good, gets the brain synapses firing

I actually started to do artwork for my book as well when I got extremely bored from writing
I did one of the most vital scenes of the book lol

Sounds great too but you have to keep writing. I'm a big beliver in momentum.

But.. that's pretty much all I wanted to ask about, thank you for your advice and I'll be sure to keep it locked up in my memory whenever things go sour =)

Writing is very Newtonian, objects (and stories) in motion tend to remain in motion. Objects (and stories) at rest tend to remain at rest.

I have a major writer's block on one of my stories right now. kinda like lance, but i haven't written for 3 weeks.... i can't figure out what else i can do with it. so i guess my question is what do you do when you run out of idea's for your stories? do you just put them away for awhile and hope something comes to you, think deeply about what to write next for a long period of time, or something else entirely?

I don't outline in extreme detail, but I have a pretty good picture of the whole story before I start writing. Usually I know where it's going to start and where it will end.
There's nothing dishonorable in abandoning a story that you have no idea what to do with next

but i just kinda trapped myself in this spot

Well good stories have a plot and a sub plot. Maybe shift to the sub-plot?

Good evening, do you find yourself drawn to writing the same characteristics in characters, or the similar storylines throughout your different books?

Hmmm, that's a good question I'll have to put the thinking cap on.
Story is all about conflict, and one of the major conflicts in Vampire Earth is my character's battles between duty and morality
There's the right thing to do, and the best thing to do in terms of winning the war against the vampires
Usually he decides in favor of the right thing to do. His conscience is clear but he gets in trouble
Sometimes he decides to do the best thing, duty wise, and ends up a hero but his conscience bothers him
That's a pretty consistent theme throughout my work, I just pose the question in a different way with different situations

Your work seems very graphic and detailed. Have you thought about going beyond books and maybe into cinema or movies?

Hey, your lips to God's ears, Stacia
Hasn't happened yet

Would you like to go that route in your career?

Yeah, but I think I'd like to just sign over the rights and take my check. I'd hate to have to rewrite WAY OF THE WOLF to conform to Hollywood standards (the love interest doesn't show up until the book is two thirds over, the enemy isn't personified etc. it's a pretty non-commercial novel)

Thank you

You are welcome.

I am hoping I have this right, but I noticed a Lara Croft book with your name on it. Just curious, but what was your opinion on the movies? Do you got any hopes of maybe one day getting your book up there with Ms. Jolie? hehe 'sweatdrops'

I tried to get a weekend with Ms. Jolie worked into the contract but sadly she turned me down.
thought the movies were flashy but dumb.
The ancient greeks had holographic technology? Who'd a thunk it?

What do you think was missing?

Laura was a frickin' terminator. She was never vulnerable, and she always knew more than the audience. You have to have the hero/heroine learn facts at the same time as the audience, like in the Indiana Jones movies
Even let the audience get a step ahead now and then
he movies could have had a little badda-bing now and then too, I mean Lara's a flesh and blood woman, she'd want to get laid now and then if an exciting guy came along.

Good critique, thanks alot, looks forward to seeing your version atleast on a video game console Smile

Ha. doubt it.

When you feel yourself becoming tired during writing and you want to continue, how do you keep from losing your train of thought if you take a break or keep from wearing yourself out entirely?

There's a pretty simple trick, and that's to always quit just when you're getting excited about what's going to happen next
I tend to try to meet a certain word count every day
But if i know EXACTLY what's going to happen next, and can't wait to get to it, sometimes I quit early and force myself not to write the scene I'm eager to write until the next day. It makes getting started (my big hurdle) in the day's writing so much easer.

Oh, well, that gets kinda hard to do..

When I'm excited then it all falls down smoothly, but ya know.

When I'm excited then it all falls down smoothly, but ya know.

When I've reached a stump it just all boggles up and clouds, especially when I'm at a high point in the story.

Just concentrate on one character's emotion, that'll take you out of the clouds. One emotion, one expression, one attitude

Another Story i started as a result of my writer's block with my first one has more than one book to the series, but i am not really sure when i should end one book and begin the next, so when you are writing a story with multiple books, how do you know when to leave one book off?

Your characters should go through a lot of ups and downs in your story. End at an extreme up (preferable) or down.
You can go by word count too.
If you're at 80-100k words, that's a novel

right... so when my character THINKS he has destroyed the "ultimate evil" i should end it

EEKnight> Sure.

I find writing with lots of description time consuming but lose interest in books with little description. Is there a point where one should think about being more straight forward and factual?

Ohh, that's a tough one
It's important to know more than the audience.
You really have to winnow out any description that doesn't set mood or reveal character

Yes I agree, but I become utterly bored reading if I can't visualize everything in my mind

. I've read fantasies where they spend three pages on a chair
That's way too much
Description is a key to importance
If you spend three paragraphs on something, it better be important to your story in some way
Otherwise a reader will be cheated, as though they've studied for a test but never got a question
about a particular topic they worked on

And so ends tonight's interview with Author E.E. Knight. You can check out his website for further info, and let's all give Mr. Knight a thanks for his time and patience with all of us.

Oh, okay, thank you all for coming and your really excellent questions.

We would like to thank E.E. Knight for coming tonight. Everyone join us in thanking him. http://www.vampireearth.com/ Don't miss our next speaker Andrew Fox next month. Thank you for playing at Exodus Night

Look for TALE OF THE THUNDERBOLT by E.E Knight coming out March of 2005!

The most beautiful picture is the one painted with words!
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