Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Michael Knudsen Interview

My heart goes out today to all who've served in our country's military. Memories of my few visits to Pearl Harbor fill me with sadness of the ravages of war and deep gratitude to the men and women who have fought for our freedoms or directly supported those people. May God bless you always.

On a lighter note, I have a super cool interview today and one I'm so excited about. Michael Knudsen's book 'The Rogue Shop' comes out TOMORROW! That's right, the last day for pre-orders is today, so go HERE and get your copy. Then check out Mr. Kundsen's website. It's a fun website and I highly recommend 'The Rogue Shop' teasers. So, on to the interview - which is the best part of this post:

PU  What do you like best about your character Chris?

MK  I like that he wants to redeem himself from the awful mistakes he made as a teenager. At age 20, he is still suffering mentally and spiritually due to a car accident he was responsible for at age 16. What hurts him the most is that his own parents were killed by a drunk driver when he was just 3. It's heroic that he tries to atone for this by improving his own life, but during my story he learns the limits of what he can do by himself.

PU  A good lesson for all of us, too. What is your favorite line from the book?

MK  "I scanned the contents of my cerebral quarry for the bedrock of my convictions and came up with a load of sand."

In writing that line, I was looking for just the right metaphor for Chris to realize that despite his efforts at walking a straight and narrow path, his refusal to find foundational principles and live by them is severely limiting his progress--and is also creating distance between him and the girl he's falling in love with.

PU  Do you outline or let the fingers fly?

MK  An outline is critical to start with, but after letting the "fingers fly" for a few thousand words, the outline is pretty much out the window and I wing it until I get stuck again. Then I revise the outline and take off for another flight. This process is repeated several times, and the finished product is never very close to what the outline was. Even the ending tends to change dramatically. I know, it sounds awful, but that's how it happened with The Rogue Shop.

PU  I don't think it's awful. I think having a basic idea of where your story is going is valuable. Especially for me when the process is so long that I forget where I had originally gone with it even though, as you said, it changes as you go anyway. What are some ways you work through writer's block?

MK  I see the presence of writer's block as evidence of 1 of 2 things:

1) I'm feeling lazy and don't really want to write a novel as much as I want to have written a novel.

2) I don't have a good enough story idea or outline and need to spend a little more time in preparation (but not too much).

The best block-breaking motivation for me is to go visit a bookstore or library, just browsing around. After about an hour of seeing all the millions of words other people have written and published, I am
anxious to get home and back to work.

PU  What was your favorite genre and/or author growing up and has that changed?

MK  I grew up on speculative fiction. Tolkien, Brooks, Mervyn Peake and his delightfully wordy Gormenghast Trilogy, tons of science fiction and horror. In college I enjoyed many of the classics of American literature, particularly Hawthorne and Faulkner. I learned a great deal from Shakespeare and Dickens. As an adult, I read it all. I like to go back to the fantasy and sci-fi, and when I get sick of that
I pick up a classic, or mainstream fiction. I've read a lot of LDS fiction lately and have loved what I've found. I also enjoy a wide range of non-fiction on many different topics.

PU  Who has been your greatest influence as a writer?

MK  #1 is my 12th grade English teacher, Ms. Argus. She is the first person (besides my mom) who read my papers and told me she thought I was talented and could be a good writer. I've never forgotten that.

PU  Any words of advice for aspiring authors?

MK  There are a million distractions these days that take away from your writing time. Even things we consider important like keeping up on a blog and maintaining your place in the writer's community can take away from what you really need to do, which is finish your novel. Just today I looked at my blog stats, and saw that in November 2009, I made zero posts and had zero visitors to my blog. How pathetic, I thought. Why was that such a lame month? Then I realized: November 2009 was the month I finally finished The Rogue Shop. I wrote over 200 pages that month. Sometimes the level of intensity required to finish something big requires the sacrifice of smaller things.

Thanks Peggy for hosting me today!

PU  Thank you Michael and best of luck. Remember to check out Michael's cool website and order your own copy of The Rogue Shop.