Like a little noir with your fantasy? Then let Francis Knight tell you about her new novel, Fade to Black — hot off the presses (I just saw it in Barnes & Noble, matter of fact, on that lovely New Releases table). Behold: ten questions, ten answers.
Tell Us About Yourself: Who The Hell Are You?
Important factoids about Francis Knight:
Despite the name, I am of the female persuasion.
I spell funny, because I write the Queen’s English dammit. With ‘u’s and everything. American English uses far too many ‘z’s for my liking. Z is a letter that should be reserved for special occasions. Like…ZOMG! Zebra zygote! Or something.
When I wrote this story I was blonde. However, one of my characters has dyed red hair and I decided to give it a go for a giggle. Now my hair ranges from Fire Engine Knock Your Eye Out red to Aubergine/Eggplant purple. At least my kids can always find me in a crowd!
I make hobbits look reasonably sized.
I didn’t start writing until I was well into my thirties, and not seriously until…*calculates swiftly using all twenty eight fingers and toes* just over five years ago.
Give Us The 140-Character Story Pitch:
Bladerunner, only with mages instead of replicants. Fantasy noir with a pain magic twist.
Where Does This Story Come From?
Like all my ideas, I found it under the sofa…
You know, I started this story a while ago (egads, was it four years ago? It was), stopped, started again, rinse and repeat. The only thing I can say with any surety is it came from a myriad of influences (no, not the drug kind) from the whole spectrum of SFF and beyond, most of the things I love about stories that got mashed to a pulp in my head. Then it kind of leaked on to the page, which is really messy. But essentially, it came from the character of Rojan – that’s how all my stories start in my head, with a character and I want to know what happens to them. I write to find out.
How Is This A Story Only You Could’ve Written?
Tempting to answer ‘Because it was me what thought of it’…Rojan is the answer, I think. All my characters share at least one thing with me, and with Rojan, it’s the snark. While I think we are totally unalike otherwise, I’ve been told it’s ‘obviously’ a story written by me, because it/he sounds like me in that regard. Thinking about Rojan, I am unsure as to whether to take this as a compliment!
What Was The Hardest Thing About Writing Fade to Black?
Probably getting that first critique from my writers’ group. The story was supposed to be a future dystopia, but I was (rightly!) called on not being very good at making believable future tech. But that was where the whole thing came alive, when I changed it from future SF to darker fantasy, and the concept of pain magic popped into my head. So the hardest part was probably the best part too, because it made the story what it is.
What Did You Learn By Writing It?
To just get the story down and worry about making it good later. While this isn’t my first, or even fifth novel, it was the second I started. It was the seventh I finished. I learnt to just plough through and get that sucker done already.
What Do You Love About The Book?
Rojan – he’s a dark bugger at times, but he’s always ready with a sarcastic quip or a twisted way of looking at things. I’d love to go for a beer with him so he could spin me a story or six – but there’s no way in the world I’d date him!
What Would You Do Differently Next Time?
Not get distracted by other projects. I’d try to have a little more belief in the story too.
Give Us Your Favorite Paragraph From The Story:
Ooh that’s a tricky one!
I’m quite fond of this one:
Every muscle was sculpted to perfection, a stomach to die for, a flow of thick glossy black hair – and a face with no more sense in it than a five-year-old’s. But a five-year-old with a large sword at his waist, who looked like he could use it if someone stole his lollipop. He waved at me, happy to meet me, which was a new experience. I tried to act as if I was allergic to lollipops.
What’s Next For You As A Storyteller?
Well I’ve got a few projects on the simmer at the moment. First I need to finish the edits for the third book in the series (which will be done by the time this interview appears). Then it’s time to decide which project to go to town on! I have one finished first draft in one series, and half a one in another…safe to say “more fantasy with a little twist.”
Francis Knight: Website