This week's featured author is actually a double-threat -- Deirdre Knight is a literary agent and a novelist.
She's the founder of the Knight Agency and is the author of two books -- Parallel Attraction and Parallel Heat (with a third forthcoming in April 2007). For more on her agency, click here and for more on the books, click here.
WN: You’ve worked for a long time as a literary agent before becoming a novelist yourself – how did that background help you as a writer?
KNIGHT: The most interesting aspect of agent and writing is that your skills improve simply as a result of the sheer volume of hours you spend reading submissions. It teaches you what works and what doesn’t, gives you a better appreciation for strong pacing and emotional scenes. It’s like the old saying about the tennis player who improved just by practicing tennis in his head. I took a few years off from writing, and when I came back to it in 2000, it was almost miraculous how much stronger my writing had become.
WN: How did you come up with the idea for the Parallel Series?
KNIGHT: I’ve always been a fan of big epic stories, particularly sci-fi ones like STAR WARS. For some time I had been growing a world in my mind, particularly about an alien hero who had two definitive forms, one of which was pure fire. For me, stories come together with bits and pieces from various corners of my mind, then it all finally gels. I know I got part of the idea for the book while watching PETER PAN with my daughters, hence how PARALLEL ATTRACTION begins. I thought of Jared as being Kelsey’s Peter Pan when I began conceiving the series.
WN: It seems like there’s a lot of gloom-and-doom talk about the publishing industry – how hard it is to break in as a writer, how fewer books are purchased now, etc – from your perspective as an agent and a writer, is the picture really so bleak for wannabe writers?
KNIGHT: Well, I can say this: I have two deals in the works right now for first-time authors. I did a four book deal for a first-timer earlier this year based solely on proposal—and, more than that, at least half of our clients are authors we discovered as unpublished writers. I think that publishers are always looking for fresh talent, and so are agents, but it’s a matter of making that manuscript shine and sparkle by going over it and over it. Too many writers submit work that really isn’t ready for an agent or publisher, and then that’s how the market gets blamed. I’m not saying it’s easy out there—it’s definitely tough—but I think new writers still have some strong chances to reach their dreams if they work hard enough.
WN: A lot of authors are turning to blogs, myspace pages, etc., to get the word out about themselves and their books – is it working? Has it helped you as an author?
KNIGHT: Absolutely. I think that the Net is the biggest shining light in the “tough market” we discussed just above. E-publishers, blogs, and so forth all put the writer and the reader in the driver seat without so many middle men. There’s an immediacy that fans enjoy and creates loyalty, but more than that, the readers can also get more of what they want. Amazon Shorts, for instance, are easy and short downloads often from bestselling authors. Before, the reader might have waited a year for a book from an author; now in that same year they can read a daily blog, get a short, visit a myspace page, receive an e-newsletter. There are more goodies for the reader, and there are more ways for the author to reach out to their audience.
WN: What is your favorite word and why?
KNIGHT: Great question, but a tough one. The word that came to mind is “ethereal.” I think because it’s beautiful and intricate sounding; makes me think of a spider web with early morning dew on it. In other words, the word itself has as much elegance and mystery to it as what it might describe.
WN: What piece of advice helped you out the most as a writer?
KNIGHT: To write every day, day in and day out. I think that’s the key—to persevere and try to be consistent.