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Interview: E.E.Knight

Ask anyone who know's me who my top five authors of all time are and E.E. Knight will be amongst them. Just in case you're wondering who the other four are: Charles Dickens, Marian Zimmer Bradley, Shakespeare, and Edgar Allan Poe round out the list.

I'm not going to go into a long diatribe as to the how's or why's E.E. Knight is one of my favourites right now. You will be able to read that when I discuss/review his Vampire Earth series. What I will say is this: I am not very picky when it comes to the horror movies I enjoy. Actually, as long as they have a decent story I am good. However, when it comes to the books I read, I am super picky to the point of being an intellectually pretentious bitch.

E.E. Knight is a top notch writer who in my humble opinion is far superior than, let us say, oh, I don't know, Stephen King for example. Don't crucify me I - said "in my humble opinion," after all.

With that said and flame wars about to ensue, I asked Mr. Knight if he would do an interview for Lili's Lair, and to my delight he agreed. So, enough gushing (no I don't have a crush, I'm happily & eternally "attached," and no, Mr. Knight is not paying me) on to E.E. Knight's interview.
    Lili's Lair: How old were you when you first began to write?

    E.E. Knight: I believe I wrote my first story when I was a tween. It was a bad pastiche of Creature From the Black Lagoon featuring an underwater spider.

    Lili's Lair: How did you figure out that writing was going to be what you wanted to do? Did you have an epiphany of sorts?

    E.E. Knight: I’d always done forms of writing. I wrote Advanced Dungeons and Dragons adventures for my gaming group, flirted with journalism, published some nonfiction articles. Writing a novel was something that was on my “bucket list” from my high school days. After college, it turned into a “next year, in Jerusalem!” sort of thing. Except next year always came, and the novel never did.

    Finally in my thirties I had an early mid-life crisis. Crappy jobs, a series of failed relationships, credit card and school loan debt, every morning I looked in the mirror thinking “is this all there is?” I decided to finally take my writing seriously and enrolled in some continuing ed classes being taught by working genre authors, read everything I possibly could about the craft, and put in serious time drafting. Still, my first novel was a failure.

    Lili's Lair: What was your first professional job?

    E.E. Knight: That depends on how you define professional. Where I had to wear a tie every day? I suppose when I was managing a McDonalds. I’ve been a wedding photographer, a photo lab tech, I’ve sold everything from pet food to home furnishings, and I’ve been a software developer for Andersen Consulting.

    Lili's Lair: What do you feel as a professional writer is the hardest part of writing story or novel?

    E.E. Knight: I think editing really separates the sheep from the goats. There are a lot of people out there who can put 80 or 100 thousand words together. Only a few have the skill to really make it work by revising and enhancing.

    When I’m in a darker mood, I think the hardest part of writing is that most novels never really live up to what you first envisioned when you began. There are always a few patches of regret when you finally read the typeset proofs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my work, but even my favorites have a few bits where I see where Spock’s ears are glued on and that takes the glamour out of it for me.

    Lili's Lair: Do you ever suffer from writers block?

    E.E. Knight: Not so much block [as] going over and back over a chapter or two to the point where I can’t tell anymore if I’m helping or hurting. I call it “churn.” I’ll spend time churning when I should be working on a new project.

    Lili's Lair: Did you find the process of getting your first novel published a difficult one?

    E.E. Knight: My first published novel you mean. My first novel won’t ever be published; I’ve done my best to make sure no copies exist.

    Yeah, it was tough. I was rejected all over the place with Way of the Wolf. Finally it came out as an ebook by AOL/Time Warner’s iPublish imprint – a terrible name, since they had editors and all that selecting and working with the novels – and sold pretty well for an ebook/POD title. When iPublish imploded in 2001 I managed to get an agent (John Silbersack with Trident Media Group) interested and he sold the series to Penguin’s Roc imprint, who’d originally rejected my first submission draft. I’d learned a lot in the interim thanks to working with Paul Witcover, my iPublish editor, and he’d improved it a great deal. They bought the first three in the Vampire Earth series almost as soon as my agent had extracted the rights from the iPublish wreckage.

    Lili's Lair: How did you come up with the idea for the Vampire Earth series?

    E.E. Knight: It was an old gaming world I’d come up with in the early 80s. My players really liked it, sort of a mish-mash of post-apoc survival with WWII French Resistance type stuff, with a conquering race of extraterrestrial vampires and their slave zombies as the bad guys. I’d been diddling with the world ever since, refining the aliens and the way the world worked, so I had a ready-made milieu with plenty of challenges for my hero when I started Way of the Wolf.

    Lili's Lair: Are the character concepts completely fictionalised, or are they based wholly or in part on yourself and people you know? (you don't have to name real names if you do not want to)

    E.E. Knight: They’re fictionalized, though every now and then I throw in a name of someone I know as a tribute to our friendship. It doesn’t go any farther than names, though. It’s fiction, not journaling.

    Lili's Lair: When you began writing Vampire Earth, did you have a clear and concise vision as to the direction in which you wanted the series to go?

    E.E. Knight: Yeah, I sketched out a twelve-volume series. I’ve always been a fan of series fiction, and I wanted to top the Hornblower novels.

    Lili's Lair: Some authors "just know" right from the beginning how many books a series will have. What was your case?

    E.E. Knight: The tale is growing in the telling, as Tolkien said. I keep having to break story arcs in two because the books get too long.

    Lili's Lair: Your books are very character driven. Do you feel you spend more time fleshing out the characters, or creating the worlds in which they live?

    E.E. Knight: The characters are products of their world. Characterization is fairly easy to understand, but it’s hard to do well. I still don’t think I quite have a handle on it, except maybe for David and Ahn-Kha and Duvalier. I wish my minor characters were more memorable and robust.

    Lili's Lair: How many more books in the Vampire Earth series should we expect, and how long will your publishers make us wait in-between?

    E.E. Knight: They’ll have me on a one-a-year for the foreseeable future. The audience is growing, albeit slowly. I’m thinking it’ll be fifteen or so books now.

    Lili's Lair: According to Amazon your next book will be released in July. Could you give us a little spoiler about the story?

    E.E. Knight: Spoiler? Well, the ravies virus, which we haven’t really seen since the first volume, plays a big role in Winter Duty.

    Lili's Lair: What would you like your next project to be after you have completed the Vampire Earth Series? Can we expect more horror novels from you?

    E.E. Knight: I’m not sure VE is horror, though I have horror elements in it. I’m just trying to write a ripping yarn that mixes my favorite genres: scifi, fantasy, and horror (with a little military and western thrown in for flavor).

    My Age of Fire series is wrapping up with volume 6, which I have to have done this December. After that I’ll move on to a lengthier volume. I’ve yet to write a truly “big book” and I think I’ve honed my craft enough to be up for the challenge.

Thank you E.E. Knight for this wonderful interview.

You can find E.E. Knight's books on Amazon or at your local booksellers.

You can visit E.E.Knight online:

or become his friend on MySpace:

and Facebook:

The author portraits are credit Ebert Studios, used with permission.
The shots of the author in his office are credit Kyle Cassidy, used with permission.


  1. michael anderson8 July 2010 at 18:55

    I love these books so glad I took a chance on amazon...


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