The folks at Nerd Girl were gracious enough to ask me to participate in an author talk and so here I am. Somebody got the idea that I’m interesting. I’m not sure how these rumors get started.
Anyway, I thought I would talk about something dear to my heart, which is the power of research. I always do research when preparing a novel or gaming adventure and I am disappointed so many others do not take an interest in the reality of the people, places and things they use in their writing. I try to experience as much as I can, whether it is through personal experience, reading, documentaries, photographs or anything I can get my hands on.
The reason for this is simple: Suspension of disbelief. Readers expect a level of realism in their reading, even if what they are reading is a fantasy novel with dragons and high magic. They still expect that gravity works the way it does in our world or there is an adequate explanation why it doesn’t. It is easier to accept the existence of vampires and magic if they are surrounded by things that are familiar.
I also believe research is important so you don’t sound like a nitwit when you are talking about something. For example, my books contain a lot of gunfights and firearms. I am familiar with the weapons and have used all of the ones in my stories, including swords. This allows me to write about them with ease. I am in no way suggesting anyone who writes about a gun fight needs to go buy a pistol, but most gun stores are happy to show you the basics. If you know the basics, your character will. Savvy? Just asking someone who knows ‘what gun should I use’ doesn’t mean you will be able to write about it. And what happens if a fan asks “why did you choose that kind of weapon?” They probably are hoping for a better answer than “Um… I asked someone.”
Libraries, historical societies, book stores are all full of useful information regarding places and things, documents that will help you visualize whatever it is you want to write about. The small details you can glean from reading about, I dunno, the rail station that burned down in 1953 can put flesh on what would ordinarily be very dry bones.
So there you have it. I’m a nerd, lol. I read and fill my head with all sorts of things so I can write about them some day.
Skye Knizley lives in Troy, Missouri, officially the middle of nowhere. When at home she spends most of her time writing urban fantasy novels including the best-selling Storm Chronicles series or working on Shadowrun games.
Her debut novel Stormrise struck gold less than twenty four hours from being let off the chain to an unsuspecting public, hitting best seller in the US, UK, Australia and Canada. Her subsequent novels Stormrage, Fresh Blood and Stormwind have all followed suit.
If she’s not setting quill to parchment Skye can be found hiking with her Siberian Husky, camping in the state’s beautiful parks, motorcycling, ghost hunting and studying Wicca. Which doesn’t mean she dances naked under the full moon… as far as you know.
Skye holds a degree in Forensic Science, practices Muay Thai, is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, is a proud Gamer Girl and has worked more odd jobs than anyone she knows.
Where are you from?
Daytona Beach, Florida not far from Ormond Beach.
Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I currently live in Missouri and yes my new location played a big role in developing the Midnight Roads series. Much of Fresh Blood takes place around the area where I live. I love to explore new areas and poke into creepy things I probably shouldn’t. I have found dozens of abandoned places, old cemeteries and haunts that are fascinating to explore and use in my books.
Tell us your latest news?
Stormwind, the third novel in the Storm Chronicles series was released January 6 and is an international bestseller. I am currently working on the second Midnight Roads novel: Bloodsoaked and am in the process of building a 1970 Dodge Charger… cause I need one lol. I love old cars and working on them is a sort of weird therapy. The only bad part is I get gunk under my nails.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in grade school for a class project. I had never really thought about writing, it was just for school, but I had a wonderful time putting the story together, a few hundred words based on the old Ravenloft Dungeons and Dragons module. From there I just kept writing. When my MacBook died a few years ago I lost a million words or so in un-saved short stories and novel ides.
What inspired you to write your first book?
It was a combination of things. I wasn’t able to game due to injury and desperately needed a creative outlet to keep from losing my mind. I started working on a few stories based on characters from my roleplaying games and eventually the Storm Chronicles were born.
What books do you like to read?
Too many. I love to read, though I don’t read as much as I would like to. Roger Zelazney’s Road Marks has always meant a lot to me, anything by Jack L. Chalker, the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce, Tanith Lee’s ghost stories and Nancy Holder’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
Raven Storm started as a roleplaying game character created over a decade ago as was much of the world around her. Francois and Strohm were game convention constructs along with Valentina and Dominique not long after. Levac was inspired by one of my oldest and dearest friends who to this day wears the beige trench coat and Aspen is based on another friend who has purple hair and comes up to my boobs. She knows who she is ;)
A lot of what I write has its foundations in gaming. My mentor said to write what I know, so that is what I do and it hasn’t steered me wrong yet.
What motivates you to write?
Telling stories is the greatest pleasure in the world. I was always the one telling ghost stories around camp fires, weaving tales about what happened at game conventions and writing game adventures. I love to tell stories and writing is just an extension of that love. Tales are my life. I think I would shrivel and die if I couldn’t at least tell stories round a fire once in a while.
What is the hardest part of writing?
I don’t think writing is particularly hard. When I sit down to write the words just begin to flow like water in a river. The hardest part about it is getting the words to stop when I want to, for example, eat or sleep. I have had more than one sleepless nights because a plot just wouldn’t shut up.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Get a bloody editor lol. No matter how much you polish your work, someone else’s professional eye will always help make you better. I have two professional editors who review my work and I couldn’t do what I do without them.
Where do you get your ideas?
A lot are spawned from my experiences. I’ve seen a lot of weird stuff and done a lot of things in gaming which helps me come up with story ideas. As I said before, much of what I write was born through being a completely obsessed gaming dork. I love the story aspect of gaming and I think most all of my gaming adventures are stuck in my head.
What does your family think of your writing?
You’d have to ask them.
What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Stop reading what others say or trying to do as others do. You’re wasting time. Write in your own voice and style, polish and work with an editor who is not your sister, cousin or brother’s uncles roommate. You want someone who will be honest and who you will be honest with. Once you’ve found a good one, turn your ego down and be prepared for criticism. It’s the only way to get better and really produce solid work.
What book are you reading now?
I’m working on two. One is the Firefly roleplaying game manual. I am hoping to run a few games in the near future and it would help to know the rules. I also started re-reading Pilgrimage to Hell by Jack Adler.
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