by Shellie Horst
Shellie Horst swashbuckles her way into the virtual presence of Sussex, England-based author Julia Knight (sometimes aka Francis Knight) and makes off with a copy of her latest book for our first competition.
Like many publishers, Orbit’s website likes to tantalise us readers; snippets of new releases sit alongside decadent covers. In that sea of promising stories, though, one cover reveal stood out from the masses.
The first thing that strikes me about Julia Knight’s Swords and Scoundrels is the cover.
It’s fantasy – I get that from the sharp pointy thing he’s holding, not to mention the equally sharp blade she’s brandishing. Two people on the cover, no hoods either.
That is different, in this world of ‘hooded-man-with-sword’ covers.
I haven’t read it, yet. This isn’t a review. But that cover is certainly doing what it’s supposed to. (Well done Gene Mollica and Wendy Chan) Intriguing.
In this cruel world of the fantasy genre, where an up-to-the-minute reader must wait a year or so for their next fix, publishers Orbit go on to inform us that we can read all three books in Julia’s Duellist trilogy – in the same year. October, November, and December. That’s the winter reads sorted then!
I asked Julia if she would be willing to be interviewed by a complete stranger whom she has only ever crossed words with on the internet and go figure, the lovely lady said yes. Obviously then the first question has to be:
SH: Is this one very thick doorstep of a book, sliced into three parts or more of a traditional trilogy?
JK: It’s, well a little of both I suppose. Each book has its own story, but there is also an overarching story of Kacha and Vocho (the two rather glorious people on the cover) and Petri, who is something of a divisive element between them. So it’s not one big book a la Tolkien, but while you could read each on their own, you’ll get more from the later books if you’ve read the earlier ones.
SH: There is a definite East European/Russian flavour to the blurb, as an Adventure Fantasy featuring reluctant highwaymen should readers expect a Three Musketeers meets Anastasia feel? No? What then?
JK: Oh that’s a great way to describe it! There was definitely a Musketeers influence – revolutions, ineffectual kings, swashbuckling – but with my own sort of twists. I read a lot of historical non-fiction which that kind of leaks in as we go….so we’ve got a bit of Russian, a hint of revolutionary France, a soupcon of post-Moorish Spain, all wrapped up in some fantasy.
SH: Did you have to lock yourself away in room to write the whole series before the Swords and Scoundrels publication?
JK: Pretty much! Every spare moment was spent writing. Luckily I had some regular train journeys, which helped. However, I had as much time before publication as my previous series – it was just that I had to have the books ready before the publication started, as opposed to writing/editing as we went.
SH: If you could seal off a building or place to have it all to yourself and write without interruption, where or what would it be?
JK: Somewhere really remote – a croft in the Scottish highlands or somewhere out of the way in Norway. If I felt like somewhere warmer, I would happily tap away in the courtyard of a riad in Morocco*. I’ve written in all three places, and the peace and quiet, the view out of the window, never fails to get me going.
*Oh, hark at me, don’t I sound glamorous. This merely means I write even on family holidays.
SH: What is your most favourite aspect of the Duellist’s Trilogy? (Finishing it isn’t allowed as an answer.)
JK: The dynamic between Kacha and Vocho. Brother and sister, they love each other (when they remember to) and rely on each other, but they’re like chalk and cheese and rub each other up the wrong way just as often. There’s a nice bit of sibling rivalry between them, along with some jealousy. It makes their scenes fun to write!
SH: You’ve developed a reputation for creating interesting characters, but the Duellist trilogy offers us two main characters, siblings Kacha and Vocho. Did these two materialise at the same creative moment or is one more vocal than the other?
JK: They turned up together – I think it’s fair to say neither would be as they are if not for the other. Vocho definitely talks more. Mostly about himself! Kacha is more the thinker of the pair. But neither can imagine life without the other by their side so they had to be together when they came.
SH: Do you have a favourite?
JK: Between those two? No. I love Vocho because he might be self absorbed but he’s trying to do his best, and he’s funny. I love Kacha because of her determination, her ambition and the fact she’s not afraid to speak her mind. Mostly to Vocho…
SH: And finally, as I know you’re part of the illustrious T-Party, a London-based writing group providing support to authors, if you had the chance to meet yourself at the start of your writing career, what would you say?
JK: Tempted though I am to say “Never give up, never surrender!” I’d say, read a lot, write a lot, find knowledgeable people to give you honest feedback. Write what you love and keep on subbing!
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Julia. Good luck with the new series!
Book one of The Duellist trilogy, Swords and Scoundrels, is out now.
Book two Legends and Liars will be available in November, with a December release scheduled for Warlords and Wastrels. Rather than sitting on your hands, you can pre-order the series now from bookstores and online suppliers.
OUR JULIA KNIGHT COMPETITION!!
Thanks to Julia’s generosity you now have the chance of winning a copy of Sword and Scoundrels!
To enter, simply share this post on social media, and leave a comment below.
We’ll announce the winner in House On The Borderland at the end of October 2015.
Find out more about Julia Knight
More details about the Duellists series can be found on the Orbit website.
Shellie Horst is a freelance copywriter who writes various amounts of fantasy and SF, more often than not inspired by Yorkshire’s history. As well as ghost writing, her fictional work has been published by www.AlfieDog.com. 2015 will see the completion of her Creative Writing Degree. She’ll be working on interactive narratives as part of Hull’s Humber Mouth Literature Festival in November. You can follow her progress on her website www.millymollymo.com
COMPETITION WINNER ANNOUNCED
Our SWORDS AND SCOUNDRELS competition has now been won by gilla01 who was chosen at random from all those who submitted entry comments to this page by 31 October 2015! Gilla will be contacted direct by our interviewer Shellie Horst.
Our grateful thanks go to Julia Knight for taking part and providing the prize, as well as to Shellie for an excellent interview.
Not to mention everyone who took the time to comment and spread the word – thank you all!