Thank you so much for joining us for the final portion of my interview with C.H. Knyght. (If you missed the first three parts, you can read them here, here, and here.) More than just a fantasy author, she's a talented artist, as well. Today, I wanted to share our discussion of her adventures in art and how she incorporates it into her writing life. Read on!
The Independent Author Interview No. 2: C.H. Knyght, Part 4
Me: I really hate it when I pick up a book at the store and the cover has an image that doesn't really match details in the story. One of the things I love about your books is the fact that you create your own covers. They're impactful and match up perfectly. What's your favorite thing to draw or paint?
C.H.: Wolves feature a lot. Wings too.
Me: Do your favorite things influence your work in both literature and art – things like your favorite color or your favorite personality trait?
C.H.: Oh, I think it all gets worked in there one way or another, even the stresses of my life show up. Dante’s headaches are all mine too.
Me: How long have you been an artist?
C.H.: A long time! I grew up with color on my hands. My dad is an artist so I learned at his side pretty much from the start.
Me: That's amazing. I love hearing from people who learned their love of things just by spending time with family. Do you do freelance artwork?
C.H.: I do offer freelance when interest comes my way, I don’t actively hunt for the work at the moment, but I’ve been taking commissions since I was fourteen and doing portrait sketches.
Me: Are you doing anything new in the field of art this year?
C.H.: Well, I’m always drawing something. I am trying to stay focused on doing an illustrated edition of Nightvision, and possibly a second coloring book.
Me: Oh, yes! Your coloring book would be a lovely addition to my shelf. I'll be adding that to my wishlist. :) (You guys can add it, too, from her Esty site, linked above.) I'm also excited to know there's an illustrated version of Nightvision in the works. I'm a sucker for books with illustrations. What are you looking forward to in creating art in the future?
C.H.: Art is my happy place. Writing is too, but it’s harder. Drawing for me is usually like breathing. I am planning to attempt a gender-swapped cosplay of Edward Elric from FMA for Dragon Con this year. Lol So I suppose that counts. I haven’t decided what the cover for book three is going to be as of yet, so that’ll need to get sketched out here soon enough.
Me: Speaking of things that are harder for you, one of the toughest things for me in writing is trying to flesh out a character who is my polar opposite - someone who would make opposing decisions to my own choices all the time, or most of the time. Do you have a piece of advice that would help me and other writers who struggle with this?
C.H.: Well, the character development books should actually help with that, giving insight to their actions and reactions. A lot of it is understanding their reasons, why are they the way they are. Even if you never tell the readers, it’s not a bad idea to write a choice point(s) of a character that turns them into who they are.
Me: So true! I've found that to be the case with other characters, so why not with the troubling ones? Excellent point! We're coming to the end of our interview. But before we go, what are your goals for the upcoming year?
C.H.: Write a short story of Dante’s younger years; hopefully get published for some shorties I’ve already submitted; finish out the first draft of a steampunk fantasy; and get started on Nightvision three.
Me: Whew! That's a nice list. You're going to be very busy. What would you like to see more of in the writing world? Why's that important to you?
C.H.: Fantasy shapeshifters. They are out there. It’s not just my book, but there’s few enough of them that we don’t quite have our own niche to categorize ourselves in. I think people pick up Nightvision thinking it’s going to be Urban Fantasy but it’s really not. But it doesn’t have an official subgenre slot.
Me: I know what you mean. Lots of urban fantasy and paranormal romance out there contains shifters but not with the heavy fantasy atmosphere involved in high fantasy or epic fantasy, where the focus is more on adventure or questing. Do you consider yourself to be a rule-breaker when it comes to crafting novels or creating artwork?
C.H.: Eh, where it suits me. Either way, it’s always a learning process.
Me: *nods* Speaking of the breaking rules and the learning process, the writer's life is so complex, especially when it comes to marketing your story. So I noticed something immediately about Nightvision: Twilight Shadows. Your MC isn't the strongest of his people and I love that. He's always wondering if he can do the job he's been tasked to do. Even his physique is different than what many readers would expect for this type of character. What prompted you to write such a believable main character (indeed, I could say the same of all your characters) in a genre that's rife with stereotypes?
C.H.: Well, he’s (Dante's) still got his own chunks of clichés, but by the time I started working on Nightvision, my dad and I had started working through a writing advice series. I could point them out if I saw them, but I can’t name them off the top of my head. I do have a couple of them listed on my site. Anyway, one of them was a character book and I absorbed a lot of that and it came out in them. I worked really hard to break out of the typical stereotypes. And really, I think a lot of Dante’s insecurities are mine, I always thought it would be Nakai fashioned after myself, but I truly struggled with her. Dante spoke easily to me.
Me: One of the things I like to ask people is how their faith influences their work. I consider myself to be a person of strong belief in the God of the Christian faith. In some ways I find it hard to write fantasy when the genre is overrun with many things contradictory to that faith. Do you consider yourself to be a person of faith (any religion)? If so, do you think your beliefs help or hinder you in writing fantasy novels?
C.H.: I am also Christian, so yes, I understand the struggle. But I think it also only holds power over us if we give it that power. I see God as a supernatural being and what is he but magic or science we don’t understand yet? And many of the creatures we count as fantasy can potentially be found in the Bible under other names -- dragons as Leviathans for instance. We can swear something off as evil, HP for instance has witches and wizards and has undergone a great deal of religious debate, but they aren’t doing anything satanic, or using magic as anything more than an innate talent or tool. There is evil portrayed, yes, but not anymore than a typical violent action movie. I see it all as in how you use it, for good or ill. As for other deities, not for me to decide, I believe in mine and they believe in theirs as is their choice to make, and time will tell if our faith is placed in anything other than imagination.
Me: *nods* You make some very good points. It's been great getting to ask you questions and hear your thoughts on writing and your own work. I have one more question for you. With all the things you've accomplished so far, and the direction your work is taking you, what are you most excited about at this stage of your writing career?
C.H.: Finishing the trilogy.
Me: Yes! I'm excited for that, too. :) Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I wish you all success with your work in the future! Don't forget to stop by C.H.'s website and subscribe. She's got some pretty awesome content and you can even read a free chapter of Nightvision: Twilight Shadows! :) Join me in supporting indie creators in the struggle to get the word out about their work. If you like what we do, share, like, comment, leave reviews once you read a book, and/or make a purchase. Every little bit helps.
That's all for the April edition of The Independent Authors Corner. I'll have another interview ready for you in summer (in the USA). Stay tuned (and/or) sign up for my newsletter to stay informed about upcoming articles like this.
Disclaimer: All links are going to the author's website, the author's online store, IMDB, and the Dragon Con official website. Visit them at your own risk. Also, I'm not being paid by the author I interviewed, or by any of the sites whose links I've shared.
Melody Kittles writes fantasy fiction under the name Robin McElveen. She loves God, her family, the arts, a warm cup of coffee or tea, visiting friends, and collecting coffee & Pusheen items.
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