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?
Alex R. Knight III. I’m a very young 48.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Originally, I’m from Groveland, Massachusetts. Today I live in southern Vermont.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have a B.A. in Literature and Writing from Union Institute & University. I’m single and have no kids. I do have a dog though – she’s a husky/golden lab mix. She’s 13 and her name’s Lily.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’m currently at work on my third novel, Time Passages: Shadow’s Acre. The subtitle would seem to automatically suggest a sequel, but that’s not necessarily going to be the case. We’ll see. I’m also working on a couple of short stories in between, and have a third under consideration for inclusion in a sci-fi anthology sometime in 2018. I’m scribbling down poems here and there, as well.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I toyed around with handwriting short stories as a teen, then later on it was poetry into my early twenties. Initially, I was most interested in music and forming rock bands, but that just never seemed to work out. Writing was an escape hatch from all of that.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
February 1, 1995. That’s when I decided I was done with music as any kind of a serious career consideration, and committed myself to primarily being a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Well, my first published book was actually a collection of short stories, so those were compiled over a few years and each one obviously had its own inspiration behind it. But as for my first novel, The Morris Room, I’d had two separate ideas, actually: One was that I’d like to write a novel set in the 1970s. The other was something very dark that took place in an old abandoned underground bunker called The Vault. But neither was a complete or concrete enough idea in and of itself. I wrested with both concept for quite a while. Then one night, coming home half-buzzed on wine, I fell asleep and had a kind of strange dream. When I woke up, I knew exactly what I had to do – fuse the two elements together. I was on my way.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
In that same dream. I saw the words The Morris Room written on a door, exactly as it’s described in the book. That part I took directly from my dream.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I don’t think much about style – or if I even have any. I could list scores of other authors whose styles I like a lot. But not only is it obscenely emulative to try to mimic those – it’s grossly counterproductive, as well. You have to just let your voice be yours. You’ll probably never like it as much as that of other writers you admire, but that’s just the nature of the beast. Sometimes, years later, I can read something I wrote a long time ago and say, “Hey, that’s not bad.” Other times, I wince and wish I’d written it differently. But this too, is only natural.
As far as writing horror, what’s challenging is that it’s literally – in spite of the success of people like Stephen King or Dean Koontz – the least popular of the genres. That makes marketing very difficult. There aren’t even a lot of magazines or anthologies buying short horror fiction anymore. I’d love to still have those old girlie mags around, like Cavalier. I actually have a handwritten note from Nye Willden (who published virtually all of Stephen King’s shorter work in the early 70s) telling me that there was no remaining market for straight horror or sci-fi stories in the XXX magazines any longer – and that was 20 years ago. Nothing’s changed since.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
A lot of The Morris Room is autobiographical. It flashes between 2015 and 1975 and the seventies parts are all based on my childhood and old hometown in Massachusetts. Of course it’s heavily fictionalized too, and the names have all been changed. But even the parts that take place in the 21st century draw from other places and experiences in my life. I guess ultimately writing that novel was a means of assimilating all of that in some way.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Yes. I travel down the hallway to my study, and park my ass in a chair in front of my computer. Then, as I’m writing, I occasionally have to travel to the bathroom to take a leak, or get up to swat a housefly every now and again once the buzzing gets annoying enough.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
That would be a very talented lady by the name of Kim Killion. She does an outstanding job every time. I could not ask for better covers, or an easier and more professional person to work with.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’d like the reader to take away from from the book anything that suits them. I’d like them to become engrossed in the story, stay a while, and escape from the routine of day to day life. I’d like them to be entertained. I’d like them to have a good scare, as well. But is there a message in The Morris Room? I think maybe it’s about how the past never stops exerting a pull on the present. How the experiences we have, the friendships we form – especially as kids – last and go on in their own way, long after the era in which they actually occurred has gone by the boards and become passe´.
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 haven’t seen anyone new emerge who really seems to stand out head-and-shoulders above the rest – there are a lot of great talents out there in horror, and other genres. I couldn’t really name one favorite writers. There are just so many good and even great ones. All of them have something or other to offer.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Well, speaking of childhood friends, one of them just so happens to be a very successful author of historical romance fiction. The literary world knows her as Danelle Harmon. I grew up next door to her and her family in the 1970s. It was her who, decades later, introduced me to the world of indie publishing. And here I am.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I can honestly think of no other way I’d rather make a living. It’s really the only thing I have any actual desire to do for a job. Anything else at all has been just, to one degree or another, compromise out of financial necessity. I mean, I kind of like private schoolteaching and I like welding a lot too. But compared to being able to be a full-time author? Nah. I’ll take the scribbler job, hands down.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
That would be Empty World, and that’s a good question. From the outset, I knew I wanted to write something experimental. I was trying for a feel like Albert Camus’s The Stranger, or maybe Franz Kafka. That’s why some of the character development is kind of spare, and had I been writing a more traditional novel, the book would be longer with much more of that. So I deliberately held myself back and I’m not sure if I succeeded in hitting my goal or not. I guess that’ll be for the readers to decide, over time.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I’d like to think so, though at the moment I can’t quite place what that might be. Perhaps that adolescence – particularly a troubled one, like mine – is an endless source of contemplation and wonder? Maybe even as much so as that which accrues to our final destination. The two of them, I guess, bring us full circle – by way of everything that comes in between.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Empty World? No idea. For that you’d want to consult a casting director. I don’t really keep up with the latest names in Hollywood anyway.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Write. write, write. Even if you think what you’re doing is no good, or off-center, just keep writing. And, just as importantly, read, read, read. Everything. Not just what you know or think you like. Not just what you like to write. Expand your knowledge. Look for craft. You cannot expect to be a good or even decent writer without that commitment and thirst for words and wisdom. And it doesn’t stop. It’s a never-ending quest. Embark on it. And then write everything down you can along the way.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Yes: Thank you, one and all, for taking the time to find out about me, and spending a little of your hard-earned money to buy something I wrote. Your contribution to what I do is literally indispensable. And not just the more prosaic monetary side, either. Writing is communication. And while I would still write even if no one read me or payed me another dime, part of the circuit would not be completed were it not for those of you who decide to plug in to what I’m doing from time to time and try to dig where I’m coming from. So again, thank you.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I usually read more than one book at a time, and change according to my mood. Most typical is three or four titles simultaneously. At the moment, I’m thin and only reading two: A collection of poems by Kennth Patchen, and another of short stories by Guy de Maupassant.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I read scores of children’s and comic books as a kid, and in fact my parents told me I was actively reading by the age of three. But the first “serious” adult book I remember reading was The Hobbit. I think I was about six or seven, and that was a game-changer.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Lots of things, both.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
There are several, in no particular order of importance: Rock stars, writers, painters, philosophers. I guess here in the present I’d like to meet some really sexy porn actresses, and just take things from there.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Some of my vocations and hobbies outside of writing and reading are abstract painting, welding, guitar, and hunting.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
TV sucks. I don’t watch it. The 60s and 70s had a few good shows (The Twilight Zone, especially), but today, there’s not much to compare. There are, I guess to be fair, a handful of good paranormal shows out there from more recent years – or so I hear: Stuff like Life on Mars, Black Mirror, Channel Zero, Stranger Things, The Walking Dead. There was one several years back hosted by Henry Rollins called Night Visions which was just fantastic.
As far as movies my three all-time favorites are: Apocalypse Now, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and both originalGodfatherfilms.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Mexican and Chinese. I love blues, greens, and aqua/turquoise – basically aquatic colors (maybe because I’m a Pisces?). Rock and roll from the doo-wop 50s into the very early 80s. I also really like jazz-rock fusion, and be-bop from the 40s and 50s too.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Probably just drink myself to death. I don’t think I’d survive very happily or very long. In fact, I know I wouldn’t. Writing is necessary for my survival, ultimately. That’s really all there is to it.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
What an apropos question to ask a horror author. Actually, I’m not even sure I want one. Not even when you factor in the inevitability of death. I’m with the late Frank Zappa when it comes to the idea of “being remembered.” I don’t really care about that. That’s not my purpose in writing, and it’s not my purpose in living. What happens after I’m dead isn’t a subject that much interests me, to be quite frank.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Sure. Here are all of my relevant niches in cyberspace. I hope I’ve been interesting enough to you that you’ll consider taking a more detailed look at my work. Enjoy.
For all of my titles:
Amazon Author’s page: http://www.amazon.com/Alex-R.-Knight-III/e/B00UENFTT0
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/alex-r.-knight-iii