I am happy to welcome author Jessica Knauss to my blog! With lots of great info on her writing process and her inspirations, I'm sure you'll get some great insight from this guest post. Enjoy!
xo - Andi
When Characters Take Over: Jessica Knauss and Awash in Talent
Jessica Knauss’s Awash in Talent was released by Kindle Press on June 7 to praise from readers who love something different.
This is the third stop in a week-long Awash in Talent blog tour. Don’t miss the crazy character interviews and writing advice at the blogs of A.J. Culey and Carrie S. Miller, and Thursday and Friday at J.L. Gribble’s and Jennifer Loring’s blogs!
Born and raised in Northern California, Jessica Knauss has wandered all over the United States, Spain, and England. She has worked as a librarian and a Spanish teacher and earned a PhD in Medieval Spanish Literature before entering the publishing world as an editor. Her acclaimed novella, Tree/House, and short story collection, Unpredictable Worlds, are currently available. Her epic of medieval Spain, Seven Noble Knights, will be published by Bagwyn Books in December 2016. Find her on social media and updates on the sequels to Awash in Talent and Seven Noble Knights and her other writing at her website: jessicaknauss.com. Feel free to sign up for her mailing list for castles, stories, and magic.
Awash in Talent features young women and men with Talents such as telekinesis, firestarting, and the ability to see people’s thoughts. How did you come up with this story?
Awash in Talent is the rare successful story that resulted from a dream. I often scribble notes about the bizarre scenes I see at night and they go nowhere. When I told the story of a girl having aluminum removed from her digestive tract from the point of view of her cynical older sister, it gained a momentum most dream scenes lack. The power of telekinesis cropped up and the story developed a special logic I couldn’t resist writing until the characters let me stop. I set this story down and kept picking it up again for years, in between chapters of my historical epic. It was a secret side project that came into its own. So I guess you could say I didn’t come up with this story. The characters made me do it!
What drives you to write?
In the case of Awash in Talent, the characters took over in the most obvious way. But I think most of the time, I write because the characters, their story, or some greater force of will than my own compels me. As Carl Clinton Van Doren said, “it’s harder not to.”
What are some of your kookiest writing practices?
Basing stories on dreams is not usually advisable because the success rate is so low, so I’ll say that’s my kookiest practice. Geography is essential in Awash in Talent, so I boosted my memory of beautiful Providence, Rhode Island, with Google maps on a regular basis. It doesn’t sound crazy, but I felt a little odd using satellite mode and zooming in and out, trying to dive into the pictures. Some other habits I developed in the writing of my historical epic, Seven Noble Knights, include listening to music from the time period in question while writing or editing; acting out scenes by standing up, stomping around, and executing sword strokes; and examining medieval movies and documentaries, trying to imagine tastes and smells to accompany the sights and sounds.
What’s the hardest thing about balancing writing with the rest of your life?
Writing takes everything you’ve got and it seems that in today’s economy, it doesn’t give much return on investment. Writing also takes up brain space nonwriters get to use for other purposes. If you’re thinking about your day job, or your family, or whether that guy in the grocery store line was looking at you funny, your writing will suffer. I think it might be impossible to have a writing career today without a great support network of friends and other writers to remind you why you do it. I’ve been incredibly lucky because the love of my life, my husband, was my biggest fan. I dedicated Awash in Talent to him because without his support, the book would never have come about.
Any tips or tricks to help other writers?
Most importantly, find a community of writers near you. Writing doesn’t have to be the loneliest profession anymore. I Skype with my writers group now, but nothing beats being in the same room. Find a group that has similar goals to yours and where you’re not necessarily the best writer so everyone can learn and grow.
Another tip would be to not follow my example and have your day job be editing and proofreading. Because my job requires such similar effort to writing, unless I start the day with creativity, that day is lost. If I get up and do paid work, I find I can’t get into my own writing without taking extraordinary measures for concentration.
Awash in Talent was published by Kindle Press after a successful Kindle Scout campaign. What was that process like?
Kindle Scout made the normally uneventful submission process exciting. I was metaphorically pounding the pavement, trying to get nominations, every one of those 30 days, watching my statistics obsessively. In the end, I think it came down to someone or a few people at Kindle Press enjoying Awash in Talent. After acceptance, I got to speak with the author liaison there, and she assured me that everyone was excited to work with my strange little book. That and the monetary advance are two of the most exciting things that have ever happened to me as a writer! The process was quick and efficient, and although I haven’t earned out the advance yet, Awash in Talent is already my most successful book to date. I hope it’s only the beginning of a stellar career.
Awash in Talent confronts a lot of interesting social issues and could be great discussion material for a book club.
I agree! I have some ideas for fun things a book club could do:
• Serve coffee milk, Del’s lemonade, or cabinets (milkshakes—just call them cabinets!), with seafood to include quahogs, Portuguese cuisine to include sweet bread, traditional Italian food, bakery pizza, New York System hot wieners, or orchard-fresh apples in season.
• Take turns trying to read selections of the book out loud with a Rhode Island accent.
• Contact the author for a visit or Skype session!
Thanks for hosting me on your blog!
Awash in Talent
Seven Noble Knights