Today’s interview is with thriller author William Knight. He’s also an Awesome Indies approved author
Hi Willian. Tell me about your latest book
That’s such a wide-open question.
I could focus on the hero: an ex veteran turns to journalism and has to continuously fight his fear of mobile phones brought on by an incident in Afghanistan. Quite an affliction for a journo in this day and age.
Or I could talk about the story: where bodies are donated to a forensic science institute and go missing from the research compound. The hero has to discover where they’ve gone which leads to crossing a ruthless pharmaceutical company and joining up with a dedicated – and attractive – forensic scientist.
But mostly I could talk about those people donated to science who exist, still fleeting in and out of consciousness, are aware of their surroundings but are locked into their decaying bodies.
What a great concept, I’m going to check it out.
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you write
I’m a far too old, young man living and working in Wellington NZ, having left the UK some seven years ago with the family.
Sometimes I don’t know why I write, and other times I write for myself and still later I write for others. But all too often I write because I started something and have to finish it. It’s like some sort of bargain my fingers have with my sub-conscious self.
I know exactly what you mean. It’s like an affliction sometimes.
I like words. I like poems, I like fiction, and I like to play with meanings and images. I turned to professional writing in my forties after working in IT, and spent five years working for dozens of UK magazines and newspapers – only to realise I really wanted to finish the novels I’d started in my twenties. You could say I’m a later starter.
Me too. I started writing my first book in 2007.
There are a lot of people writing books these days, what makes your writing different to all the rest?
Oh! man this is so tough. Really. I don’t know. I’ve read so many really rubbish books (or half read them) and so many good ones. I like to think I’ve emulated the good ones and my journalistic background at least means the writing is of a good standard. I wanted to create thrillers that were subtle, real and terrifying. Based in science that could really happen, not in flights of fancy, and based on characterisations of really people that had real motivations. Obviously you still have to dramatize, but I like to think I’ve pulled off some of that.
What genres do you write in and why?
Thrillers. Chillers. A blend of thrills with an injection of horror and macabre science. I used to love the old masters of horror; James Herbert, Wheatley, Barker but I also loved John Wyndham and early scifi. I wanted to bring this all together into something that could be real. Not too fantastic to be dismissable – so close to reality you would actually wonder if it hadn’t already happened.
Where do your ideas come from, or what inspires you to write?
I am inspired by coffee and staring into space for long periods.
What kind of person would like your books best?
I write for clever, educated readers. Some say my books are too wordy, with too many sentences and sub-clauses. But I treat readers with respect and not dumb down the language or structure just because it’s fashionable to aim at a language nine-year-olds can understand.
Some acuse elegantly written books of wordiness when they’re not. Not being wordy doesn’t mean that you must use sparse sentences; wordiness means unecessary words as in ones that say the same thing twice in different ways.
Why did you choose the indie route to publication? Did you ever try the traditional route?
I spent years chasing the traditional route with dozens of rejections and near misses. I got close on three occasions and on each something other than the quality of the work or the story stopped it being published. Twice, the agent left the place they were working and retired before a publisher had been found – really it’s true! And once the publisher went on leave to have a baby – the book languished and was forgotten, and the replacement didn’t take to it as much.
Each of these occasions took over 6 months to go from contact to failure – 18 months elapsed with nothing to show. In the end, I decided this route was a mugs game when you can go online in a matter of hours.
That was my experience with Lethal Inheritance. It seemed as if life was pushing me towards the indie route. The near misses unrelated to the quality of the book proved that it was good enough to catch editors eyes which gave me the confidence that the book was worth publishing.
What’s the hardest part of being an author?
The day job. I went back into IT when we came out to NZ and now fitting writing in with that work is like trying to batter sausages with a piece of straw.
What do you like most about being an author?
Reading back what I’ve written years later and thinking “hey, that’s not bad”.
Yeah, that’s a good feeling.
If you could have one wish granted what would it be?
An end to climate change.
Yeah. That would be good.
Whats the most unusual object you possess?
A wind up tin model of Icarus flying too close to the sun – he has his penis dangling out from his Y-fronts. “Icarus flys undone” is the name of the piece, and it was a gift from a most excellent friend.
Ha ha, that’s gorgeous!
Find out more about William and his books at www.william-knight.info/blog
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