Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Deanna Knippling and I am 43. If anyone is wondering, yes, last year was a year full of some pretty good answers.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Wyoming and grew up in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota. Like, literally the middle of nowhere, or maybe a few miles south of that.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I grew up wanting to be a country music singer with very long hair (Crystal Gayle). However, that didn’t work out for me (probably because I’m not that great of a singer and I grew up painfully shy). Instead I turned to making up stories, which I used to keep the various cousins I have entertained when they stayed at our farm over the summer. I now live in Colorado with my husband and daughter.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My latest news! I have a new novel out about a steampunk Alice in Wonderland that’s very twisty in the plot, called The Clockwork Alice. I also am releasing a horror novellette, By Dawn’s Bloody Light in a few days; it’s the first in a series of cheesy (but still dark) 80s horror riffs with a fairy twist. This one’s about a serial killer who gets tracked down by three women with vengeance on their minds and dark magic in their hearts. It’s currently available as part of a very cool fairy bundle, The Fairy Summer Bundle, with all kinds of weird stuff for $2.99.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in high school after an English teacher (Mrs. Sanderson) decided that I was going to Be A Writer and suggested that I go on a school trip for writers. I’m so glad she did, and I’m so glad that my parents let me. I’d always made up stories and read a ton of books, but it wasn’t until then that I started thinking, “Hey, words. You can do that.” The story that I had to write for the application was, um, terrible. But it got me in, so I guess that counts as a success.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
There wasn’t a clear moment between not a writer and a writer. It was more like looking back and going, “Oh! I’ve been ‘a writer’ for a while now.” It was after I started getting paid for ghostwriting in 2009, but I’m not suuuuure when.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I just had my daughter. It was in 2001, early 2002. I had been messing around with stories and poetry before then, but not really trying. And then all my time was getting taken over by my daughter! I felt very much like I was becoming not a real person anymore. I’d work and then come home and then take over house and baby stuff and then sleep and then work, like a robot.
So for sanity’s sake, I said, “I’m going to be a Real Writer, and nobody gets to stop me, because if I have to give up that, too, I’m going to go postal.”
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The Clockwork Alice started out as the working title for a NaNoWriMo project, and I was going to try to come up with a more serious name (it’s kind of a goofy book, like turning around in circles too fast until you get dizzy), but then I was building my dream cover one day when I was stuck and behind on words, and I emailed the artist on Deviantart to see if I could use the image for a cover, and they said yes, and I’d already put that title on the cover, and…it stuck.
By Dawn’s Bloody Light came about because of another book in the series, One Dark Summer Night, and I decided to make the titles in the series rhyme and be about times of day. And the serial killer was killing people at dawn in the first draft, so it just kind of subconsciously worked out.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
It’s always really hard to see your own style. I struggle with making sure that the reader has the perfect amount of information at exactly the right time. As far as my genre goes, I have a love-hate relationship with horror. I love writing and reading dark fiction, across genres. You’d think that would mean that horror was the perfect genre for me—but a lot of time, horror limits itself. Many of the best non-Stephen King books that I consider horror fall outside the genre. For example, Beloved by Toni Morrison clearly falls under all the horror tropes, but nobody lists it as horror. American Psycho is listed on a lot of people’s best horror novels lists—but it, too, isn’t listed as horror. So at times it’s a struggle to try to figure out how to market what I write, because only some dark fiction fits under “horror.”
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The Clockwork Alice is based on my obsession with Alice in Wonderland. None of the scenes are based on anything in my real life, although some of the themes are, like how being a mother messes with your brain and changes your personality, and how people are always trying to sell you some story for their own benefit. “Uh-huh.”
By Dawn’s Bloody Light is pulled out of my experiences of college in a small town in South Dakota. The events aren’t mine at all—but the setting comes straight out of my memories. Some of the characters, too.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t have to travel in order to write, although I love to do so when I get the chance. One of the reasons that writing has stuck with me for so long is that writing allows me to escape reality even more than reading does. I have to do research, because the inside of my head, as interesting as it is, is not as weird and cool and fascinating as the real world once you’ve pulled back the illusion of normalcy. If I had the money, I would 100% travel all the time to do my research, just because I could.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Me. I’ve always loved art and took a ton of classes in high school and college. I may not be the greatest designer ever, but I love doing it, so I do. I’m slowly getting better.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In The Clockwork Alice, I want readers to go, “Waiting on dreams too long can mess with your head,” and in By Dawn’s Bloody Light, I want readers to have the satisfaction of seeing the serial killer as the dull jerk that he is. Screw that guy, you know? If the most interesting thing you can do with power is kill people, then maybe you’re not some kind of dark hero. Maybe you’re just an internet troll with a knife.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I just finished a horror novel by Jeremy Hepler, The Boulevard Monster, that I loved for both the pacing (fast, but not so fast that I got overwhelmed and had to take a break) and a character so sympathetic that you couldn’t help but agree with the choices he made. I read his book in two sittings and didn’t go, “Don’t do that, stupid!” once. Bravo.
My favorite authors are generally in the SF/F fields, because a lot of the dark fantasy I love got moved out of horror and into “dark fantasy” and “dark SF” and “grimdark.” I’m really loving the whole grimdark thing. Ironically, I also love Terry Pratchett, who is generally known as a funny, rather than dark, writer. But his humor was often used to point out the evil and injustices of society.
I’d like to particularly recommend Mark Lawrence’s Red Sister. I just finished that.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Cthulhu? No, no, just joking.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. I do a lot of ghostwriting; I see that more as my career at this point than the stuff that I write under my own name. I hope to change that.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Eh, no. You can either move on from the last book to the next book, or you can mentally perfect it over and over like one of those conversations that you rehearse in your head for years, trying to think of the perfect, witty response. My memory for things that I write is bad enough that I’ve learned to just move on, despite the imperfections.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
In The Clockwork Alice, I learned more trust in my subconscious. I had no idea how it would end when I started NaNoWriMo. In fact I had to start it midway through NaNoWriMo, because I had to finish up something else before I could start it, on a deadline. But the ending wrapped itself up pretty neatly, with all kinds of stuff that I hadn’t realized I’d been planning in the back of my head. The twists shocked me.
With By Dawn’s Bloody Light, I had a short deadline to get it in for the Faery Summer book bundle, so I didn’t have time to second guess myself. “I’m just gonna go for cheesy!” But when I had actually finished, it didn’t feel cheesy. It just felt right. Another lesson in trusting the subconscious, I guess.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
For The Clockwork Alice, I’d say Kate Beckinsale. Before she became an awesome action heroine, she did a lot of historical parts…and played Alice in a version of Through the Looking-Glass. I think it would be fun to take someone who did Alice as the younger version and show how time has matured her from a complete and utter brat to a grown woman.
For By Dawn’s Bloody Light, wow, I’m not sure. The characters are too close to real people that I knew, so it’s hard for me to imagine them as actors.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Every writer has to break at least one writing “rule” in order to become a successful writer. The next time someone yells at you for breaking one of the “rules,” then take it as a challenge to break that rule so well that they can’t even argue with you about it anymore. “But you’re not supposed to write prologues and use a lot of adverbs!” “Hold my beer and watch this…”
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I hope you have fun! Also, I totally take requests.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I always read a lot of books at the same time (because I have a ton of books stashed around the place just in case). I’m reading The Emperor of Maladies, a book about the history of cancer and cancer treatments; Barry’s Lodge: A Haunting by Annie Walters, a crazy haunted hotel horror book; Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James (because I have somehow managed to miss it over the years—how??? It’s such a classic); and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2010 off the Nightmare Magazine’s Top 100 Horror Books list. I think I’ll just stop there…
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Nope. Now I wish I did, though. It was probably Dr. Seuss. My parents subscribed for kids’ books through the mail. We got stuff like One Fish Two Fish and The Cat in the Hat.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Everything. I try to come across as really analytical, but I’m the loudest person in the theater every time. I also jump at everything in a horror movie. I don’t always laugh or cry at the same things that other people do, though, because as a writer I sometimes see a joke or a horrible situation being set up, so I’ll laugh or cry then, rather than when it actually comes to fruition.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Georgia O’Keefe. Growing up, her art struck me as the most beautiful art in the entire universe (as you do when you’re a kid), and her life inspiring.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
“Do you have any hobbies besides reading?” Heh.
I love food and cooking, and I occasionally try to knit, but that’s mostly in order to teach myself humility. Because I am so bad at it. I also play mandolin, but again, mostly I do it to please myself. Most of my time is writing-related, so my lack of skills is 100% based on not putting in the practice I need to get better.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I recently watched and loved Get Out! For TV shows, I’m working through Archer (I’m starting to wonder if all of Archer is about 12-year-old Archer’s flash of a life he never lived because he was drowned in the toilet at private school by those bullies) and Clone Wars. I read waaaaay more than I watch TV or movies, so I’m quite behind. One of my favorites ever is Cowboy Bebop.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Green and black.
A wide spectrum of things, from classical to unts unts unts, with a stopover at folk music (how can you love horror and not love all those folk murder ballads?).
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would write. Or else I’d succumb to the nightmares.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
‘What does it matter where my body happens to be?’ he said. ‘My mind goes on working all the same. In fact, the more head-downwards I am, the more I keep inventing new things.’ – Through the Looking-Glass
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I do! I’m at www.WonderlandPress.com.
The Clockwork Alice links are here:
And By Dawn’s Bloody Light is still only available as part of a bundle, which is here:
My Amazon author page is here: