SB Knight lives in West Virginia with his wife and son. His poetry and short stories have appeared in both books and magazines, such as Dream’s Catcher Magazine and Poetry Against Cancer. His debut novel, a dark fantasy Born Of Blood, released earlier this year from Muse It Up Publishing. In addition to writing he blogs at http://the-new-author.blogspot.com/, can be found on Facebook, Twitter as @thenewauthor and via his website http://www.sb-knight.com/. He also helps authors with promotion, including making book trailers like the one for my debut The Worker Prince http://t.co/XzO0h405.
SFFWRTCHT: So SB, where’d your interest in speculative fiction come from?
SB Knight: To be honest, Dark Fantasy and Horror scared the crap out of me as a kid. When I was a teen movies like Lost Boys, Dracula, and The Howling really sparked my interest. I also love scary camp stories. Also, I’m a big Star Trek and Star Wars fan.
SBK: The Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time, The Shannara series…to name a few. Favorite Authors would be: Tolkien, Raymond Feist, Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, Stephen King, Lovecraft, and Koontz. A new author would be J. Thorn…to name a few.
SFFWRTCHT: When did you develop an interest in writing and how did you pursue that?
SBK: About ten years ago I went through a harsh divorce. To help handle that I wrote thoughts and things down. That turned to poetry.
SFFWRTCHT: Ahhhhh now I see where the dark comes from. And so from SB Knight we learn that marriage to vampires, despite what Twilightsays, is not a fairy tale.
SBK: Poetry soon morphed to short stories. I also researched and learned about writing which brought about The New Author blog. After learning I began writing novels. Many said I should write my experience but I didn’t, I went to Dark Fantasy. My muse feels drawn to it. It seems that all the story ideas gravitate to Dark Fantasy. I find it interesting and challenging.
SFFWRTCHT: How long did you write before making your first sale? Do you usually start with characters or plot?
SBK: I wrote shorts and poems for about three years. I researched and learned for about two. It took about a year to get Born of Blood ready to submit.
SFFWRTCHT: As a former camp counselor, I have to ask what your favorite summer camp scary story was & how they influenced you.
SBK: Oh there are a number. I’m not sure I will get the titles right but The Hook was a good one. And there was a ghost story about a ghost that was looking for missing body parts…scared me bad at the end.
SBK: I get story ideas. From those ideas I get a picture of the characters as the plot develops. I’m a fan of monsters and so I wanted to write a book about those monsters. I started with vampires. I was developing a vampire story when I saw a show on the History channel. It was about female serial killers. One small comment about Countess Bathory fanned the fire and really helped pull The Blood Chronicles together. What if a vampire’s immortality wasn’t permanent?
SFFWRTCHT: Blood Chronicles is the series name. You’ve written a sequel. How many books do you plan to write?
SBK: Yes, The Blood Chronicles is the series name. It will be a trilogy.
SFFWRTCHT: A vampire in romance with a human is not entirely new. How do you keep it fresh?
SBK: There are a few things – the dynamic of the relationship and the meaning behind the romance. A true monster is incapable of true love. So why would a monster be in a relationship? I forgot the manipulation aspect too.
SFFWRTCHT: What makes monsters truly frightening? A lot of the ones I read really aren’t.
SBK: Monsters have to have human characteristics that we can connect with as readers. That is where the fear is. Different things scare different people but some emotions and needs are universal.
SFFWRTCHT: Since you’ve written poetry, shorts and novels: does your writing process change at all form one form to the next?
SBK: Not really my process but my style and focus does change. Poetry comes by instant inspiration. Shorts by plan.
SFFWRTCHT: What, to your mind, are the core elements of good dark fantasy?
SBK: A strong story with believable characters. You also need to remember the words dark and fantasy. Dark Fantasy plays on fear, tension, disturbing and uncomfortable situations, but there always needs to be a hint of hope, a will to survive. It is a battle of good vs. evil set in dark times.
SBK: I did receive an email from a reader that said she loved the book but could only read it during the day. Many have mentioned those scenes but in a good way. It adds to the story and defines just how evil the vampire is.
SFFWRTCHT: Which vampire mythos did you follow to dictate the rules for your vamps or did you do your own thing? How much research did you?
SBK: I know many of the rules (not all) but I did read up on the mythos from other cultures. I wanted to hold true to some of the rules. Introducing some new ones. I did a lot of reading before making notes. Checking dates, verifying a few things, things like that.
SFFWRTCHT: So, as a writer of Dark Fantasy, what scares you most?
SBK: I’m not sure what scares me really. As a writer I would say writer’s block or not finishing a novel.
SFFWRTCHT: Have you suffered from much writer’s block?
SBK: No, I have never suffered from writer’s block and I hope I don’t.
SFFWRTCHT: The novel is short. How much of an issue did that present as far as finding a publisher?
SBK: Yes, it’s just over 61,000 words. I had three publishers who wanted Born of Blood. I gave my word to MuseItUp that I would finish the trilogy before they signed me. From what I can tell many have found it to be an enjoyable length. I try to stay away from too much description. I also learned it is harder for a new author to get a book signed with a publisher if it is over 100K words. I will say each new novel is longer than the last though.
SFFWRTCHT: What kinds of responses have you gotten from reviewers?
SBK: Reviews have been great! Some phrases used are – Brilliant, great debut novel, surprised me, page turner, loved it. My favorite so far is – “S.B. Knight has given us one of the most wicked and evil Vampires to grace the pages of a novel.” Now, just cause I quoted that doesn’t mean people can go and say bad things about it….just kidding!
SFFWRTCHT: We’ll go post some one star reviews right now to balance it out…Do you outline or pants it?
SBK: I make notes as the story develops but mostly I just let it flow to the screen.
SBK: Book two continues the saga. The title is Drago’s Revenge. I can also say that the revelation from the end of Born of Blood plays a major role in Book two. We meet new characters and yes, there is blood.
SFFWRTCHT: What???? Blood? In Blood Chronicles. Dude, spoiler. That’s so cliche. Do you use Scrivener or other “writing software tools”? Write to music? Any rituals?
SBK: Sorry, had to go there. Would it be better if there was no blood in a series named Blood Chronicles? lol! I typically write at night. I sometimes write with music but I also write with the TV on in the background. It is easy for me to ignore the TV but it does provide something to look at when I get tired of the computer screen.
SFFWRTCHT: What kind of music do you listen to? Scary stuff? As you reread to edit, can you hear the music you were listening to during the writing? Cadence? Tenor of scene?
SBK: That depends on the scene but I really like Epic music like Two Steps From Hell or Immediate Impact. I zone out when editing…nothing but the book and the words at that time.
SFFWRTCHT: You could do a follow up: Bloodless Chronicles. First, he sucked them dry. Then the story began. Or what if they ran out of people…only one human left…Sorry. I digress. What’s your writing time look like-specific block? Write till you reach word count? Grab it when you can?
SBK: It really depends. I like to hit at least 2K words. But when I’m in the zone I will write until I just can’t type anymore. When I get to a tough spot or a scene that is giving me difficulty I will take a break once I finish it. Even if it is just fifty words. I do that to reset and focus on the overall story.
SFFWRTCHT: You also help authors with promotion, particularly book trailers. Tell us how that came about?
SBK: The book trailer came about because a friend of mine (ahem, you) asked for help making one. I had already made a few for my use. I enjoy helping another succeed. My partner Jo-Anne and I started Premium Promotional Services to help others gain exposure. We have been at it for three plus years now.
SBK: First, promote others in your genre. Second, randomly and sporadically mention your book(s). Third, be yourself and be honest! Fourth, don’t push your title in the face of readers. Leave it in the open where they are so they can “find” it.
SFFWRTCHT: In relation to promotion, in what ways do you strive for honesty?
SBK: I stay honest by being me and being open with interviews and things such as this. It is more being honest to yourself.
SFFWRTCHT: What are the elements you think every good book trailer should have?
SBK: A theme, a smooth pace, continuity, and emotion.
SFFWRTCHT: What’s the best and worst writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
SBK: Best – If you love writing, keep writing. It doesn’t matter what everyone thinks. Worst – Describe everything.
SFFWRTCHT: What are some areas where you struggle as a writer? And how have you worked to overcome that?
SBK: With each novel I write I target an area I feel weak at to improve. My third novel was settings. I’m also working on expanding my stories in ways that increase the feel and experience of reading it. I constantly work on making my characters diverse and add more depth to them. I do struggle with the thought – “Am I giving enough detail for the reader to see what is going on?”
SFFWRTCHT: What future projects are you working on that we can look forward to?
SBK: The sequel to Born of Blood will be released in October. My third novel will be under contract soon and should come out early 2013. Oh, and my third novel is not a vampire story. This creature can be demon or monster…I will begin writing the third book for The Blood Chronicles very soon. I`m working on a graphic novel with a friend of mine but I can’t go into that much at the moment.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured in anthologies and magazines. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.