Monday, May 4, 2009

Author Interview ~ Dee S. Knight

Good morning, everyone. It's another Monday and time for a new author interview. Today on the couch we have author, Dee S. Knight. Get ready that cup of morning... caffeine, in whatever form you need it, and sit back to enjoy our latest interview.

Welcome to the Menagerie, Dee. Why don't you tell us where you are from.

I claim Virginia, but I’m only an adopted daughter of the South. I was born in the great Midwest, and lived in northwest Iowa until I was six. Strangely, after all these *ahem* many years, people still say they can detect a Midwestern accent when I speak. Because hubby and I have lived all over—and even drove a tractor-trailer for eight years—we call anywhere we’re together home now.

LOL, adopted daughters are still daughters. :-D When and why did you begin writing?

I hate to say it, but I started writing a little over six years ago out of boredom. I didn’t have time to find a job before consultant hubby finished his temporary contract, and he suggested I spend my time writing a book. I thought that sounded like fun so I gave it a shot. I didn’t have any deep-seated desire or secret plan when I was growing up. Writing was something to do to fill the time. It quickly became a consuming activity, though, happily for me.

Oh, that's a great story. And how funny that it was practically a dare from your hubby. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Well, let’s just say, I said I was a fiction writer on my tax forms long before I ever put fingers to keyboard. Then I called my occupation “writer” before I believed it. It took a very, very long time to gain that belief that yes, I had written a book, and yes, people did read it and like it. I love e-publishing, but truthfully I started feeling like a writer when I held my first print book in hand. Each year I’ve come more to accept that I am a writer. Then…I turn in a new manuscript and the old fears and doubts come back. Does anyone ever get past that??

I think sometimes we set impossible standards for ourselves. “When I accomplish that, I’ll feel the way a successful [fill in the blank] should feel,” or “When I’m awarded that I’ll know I’ve made the grade.” In actuality, just relaxing and appreciating what we’ve done is half the battle, and when I start doing that, I’ll began to feel like what I want to be recognized as, a writer.

I think we all feel that way at one time or another. I know that I do the same "If I" game. How did you come up with the title or titles that you have?

In my book, Coming Home, I thought in terms of my life as a Navy brat and the feelings in our family when my dad came home from a cruise. He “came home” often since his job in the Navy meant going away a lot and spending long times at sea. To the family member away, coming home means warmth and family and acceptance and fitting in. But from personal experience, I know that isn’t always what happens. Day to day dynamics are different for the family dealing with daily issues than they are for the wife or husband away on duty, and sometimes their ideas of what it means to “come home” aren’t the same.

In the case of my hero who comes home from Vietnam for a Christmas leave, he finds he has changed while the farm and home he left in Nebraska seems to have stayed the same. He no longer fits in to what he envisioned as “home,” so the title is bittersweet as well as appropriate.

That sounds like it would be heartwrenching, and a good story along the way to finding what he's become and how he can make a life for himself. Yet another book to add to my TBB and TBR pile. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Simply that the darkest times yield to the brightest light. It’s a message that’s hard to accept, but one that’s proven true in my life over and over.

What a beautiful sentiment, and so very true. How much of the book is realistic?

Coming Home is paranormal, but personally, yes, I think it’s realistic and a story I could believe as a reader. After all, in the heat of emotions, when the heart needs an answer, it often comes from unexpected sources.

Very true. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Do you mean an inspiration? Like someone famous who inspired me to write? I don’t know of any, really. But I’ve been introduced to some wonderful writers who inspire and mentor me, people like Cheryl Norman, Leigh Wyndfield, Jasmine Haynes, Chris Neeley, Amy Wollf Sorter, Keira Ramsay, Larissa Ione. And there are others—I could go on.

Inspiration works just as well if you ask me. What book are you reading now?

I just finished The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I highly recommend. Before that, Unlaced, which featured Jasmine Haynes (who I adore as a writer) and is also great.

Sounds interesting, I'll have to look into both of those. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Finding the right place to start. Very often one of my critique partners will say, “What you have is good, but pacing will be much better if you start here instead of there.” And as much as I hate to admit it, she’s almost always right. Or I should say, she’s probably always right but I don’t always take her advice.

You're not the only one with that problem, but at least you have a crit partner who can help you with it. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Well, my favorite writer is Nelson Demille. I like how he combines humor with serious topics and the way he writes action so compellingly. It’s strange that I dearly love romance and women’s fiction, but when I’m boarding a plane or browsing in the book store, I tend toward thrillers, and I think DeMille is one of the best.

I think it's funny when people expect us to only read what we write. It's great that you love to read other genres. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. It’s the only way to improve. Find good, trustworthy critique partners who love you but will still point out your flaws. Ask around about publishers so you’re submitting to the best, who are honest and have a track record of knowing business. Persevere! Never believe everything a contest judge says. Try hard not to believe everything a reviewer says. Keep writing.

What fantastic advice! Now for our "Nothing to do with writing" questions: What animal do you think makes the best pet and why?

Cats. They’re self-sufficient and confident. And I like their purr. Dogs don’t purr. Cats will also keep your feet warm and sleep on your head so you never feel alone. Plus, they always find the sunny places in life, and that’s a good lesson for all of us.

LOL, all excellent points in a cat's favor. Do you hate how you look in pictures? Why or why not?

OMG!! I take the worst pictures! I never look the way I think I should. If someone says, “Oh, this looks just like you,” I want to go and hide. Or wish I had before whoever it was got out the camera.

*snicker* Ah, well, at least you have a sense of humor about it. Do you have any strange handwriting habits, like capitalizing all your “r”s or dotting your “I”s with heart (or anything like that)?

My handwriting is almost impossible to read—I have a doctor’s handwriting without the fancy degree and big income. It’s kind of bold with strong strokes, but legibility is nil. And I’ve gotten worse since using a computer almost full time. But who cares, since handwriting doesn’t have Spell Check?

I'll bet a nurse could read your handwriting. :-D When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

If this is what morning looks like, no wonder I like to sleep in.

I think we all think that in the morning, even when we don't sleep in. What were you doing at midnight last night?

Judging Stroke of Midnight entries.

And at the Stroke of Midnight no less. :-D What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Sand, I think. Or haggis. (No offense to my wonderful Scottish friends. I actually like it!)

Hmm... sand, huh? I'm sure there's a story there somewhere. What do you want to know about the future?

Oh, everything! And I want to know all the stuff about the past, too. I’d love to see those plates move to separate the continents and the dinosaurs stomp around and the volcanic activity that formed the caldera at Ngorongoro Crater. I’m naturally snoopy.

Speaking of the future, you know how at Macaroni Grill they play Italian lessons in
the bathroom? Well, when I was in the ladies room of our local Macaroni Grill last year, the sentence they translated into Italian was “I have seen the future and it is exactly like the present, only longer.” I laughed so hard I’m sure the woman in the next stall thought I was strange, but I loved it!

Oh, that is priceless! How funny is that when we pay attention to what is around us and get a good laugh out of it. What is your heritage?

Irish, German, Danish, Swedish. Yes, I used to be blond and I don’t just mean mentally.

S'alright, you are in good company... only Mysti isn't blond here at The Menagerie. Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?

It would be shorter to name the movies I didn’t cry during. I cry during Kleenex commercials. And oh my gosh, the waterworks during almost any Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation!

I think most of us have that problem with the Hallmark shows. Do you sleep with the light on? Why or why not?

Well, not on purpose, but I can, yes. When I’m ready to sleep, almost nothing keeps me from it. It comes from years of trucking I suspect, where you sleep through storms, bad traffic noise and pig haulers parked next to your truck. That’s an experience I could talk about for awhile.

I'll bet! But it sounds quite interesting and a source of material. If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?

Freedom from need for everyone, but not freedom from want.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my news!

And thank you, Dee for joining us today at The Menagerie. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Stop on in anytime, hon. It's been fun. :-D

Coming Home by Dee S. Knight

On an unexpected Christmas leave from the jungles of Vietnam, Tom Stabler finds himself at home, but in a life he no longer fits. The farmhouse where he grew up seems too close, his parents and grandparents older and frail. Tom the man is uncomfortable in the skin of Tom the boy. So much so, he's beginning to think he should have stayed in Nam, where his memories were innocent.

During a restless pre-dawn morning, the girl he's dreamed off for months arrives unexpectedly. Tom is afraid he'll feel disconnected to her, too. Then what dreams will he have to take back with him?

Susan Swenson, the sweet, farm girl Tom loved in high school, has rushed home to be with him, not as a girl but as a woman. Touches lead to kisses; kisses lead to skin gliding against skin and a deep loving that produces a small miracle. As the sun crests the shore of a nearby lake, Tom fulfills Susan's dream of passion. With her own heat and desire, Susan helps to heal Tom's soul and shows him a way to come home.

Prior to writing her first fiction only a few years ago, Dee S. Knight lived a varied lifestyle. After college she married her high school sweetheart and they became house parents at a home for wards of the court. Thus, she went from newlywed to "mother" of a dozen teenage boys, in a month. Two years of living in one city proved to be enough, and she and her husband spent the next eight years as long-distance truckers. Swiftly following their trucking years, she became a computer consultant, high school and adult ed teacher, technical writer and novelist. More than thirty years later, she's still married to her own hero and finds life infinitely interesting. They currently reside in the Midwest. You can visit her at her website and get some advice from her and her sister at their advice blog.


Helen Hardt said...

Dee, it was great getting to know you. Best of luck with your releases!


Dee S Knight and Anne Krist said...

Thanks, Helen!

Dee S Knight and Anne Krist said...

Ladies, I looked all over for an e-mail but don't see it. Thanks so mcuh for the interview! I loved being here--

Menagerie Authors said...

Hi, Dee, I'm sorry, I thought it was over in the sidebar. But apparently I'm cracking smoke. I apologize for the lapse. Thank YOU so much for being here that day. It was fun doing your interview and we hope to see you around and that you keep us apprised of all your good news. :-D