Category Archives: Author Interviews

Julia Knight – Author Interview & Competition

by Shellie Horst
Julia Knight (pic Amazon.com)
Julia Knight (pic Amazon.com)
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.

Swords And Scoundrels (Orbit)
Swords And Scoundrels (Orbit)

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!

Shellie Horst

The Duellists series (Orbit)
The Duellists series (Orbit)
Publication

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!!

Swords And Scoundrels (Orbit)
Swords And Scoundrels (Orbit)
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

You can follow Julia on Twitter for more info about her, or visit her website. http://www.juliaknight.co.uk/

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!

Stuart Williams

Author Interview: Jo Zebedee

by Shellie Horst
Jo Zebedee
Jo Zebedee
Shellie Horst pens her first author interview for us, talking to Northern Ireland-based author Jo Zebedee on behalf of House On The Borderland.

After her debut novel was published with Blyth-based Tickety Boo Press you’d think Jo Zebedee would be content with her novel sitting pretty in the Irish SF best seller lists, wouldn’t you?

No.

Off the back of that success she pressed ahead with her novel Inish Carraig released this August, which is already proving to be a hit with the reviewers. An alien invasion on Earth with a Belfast touch, Inish Carraig follows John – a teenager living in the aftermath of the invasion – desperately trying to survive in a cruel world.

Partially because we both have love for Gobolino the Witch’s Cat, (but mostly because I know Jo through the forums she haunts), Jo happily agreed to answer a few questions for House On The Borderland.

SH:  Jo, are you mad? Why on Earth are you self-publishing Inish Carraig?

JZ:  I might be mad… But, no, I thought long and hard about it (although possibly underestimated the work in bringing both out so close together.)

The easy answer is that I was afraid to lose the book, and liked it too much to want that to happen. Also, lots of people told me they loved the premise and urged me to release it.

The harder answer is that it’s a difficult book to market. It has a young adult protagonist, and a shared adult point of view in contrast to it. It’s sci-fi with a bit of thriller. It’s set in Belfast, not exactly a mecca for alien-contact books. When a book doesn’t have a comfy slot on the bookshelf, marketability becomes an issue, whereas the self-published market doesn’t get as excited about what’s on each (virtual) shelf.

Inish Caraig by Jo Zebedee

SH:  The cover of Inish Carraig offers a statement of its own, how did that come about?

JZ:  I wanted something that was both iconically Belfast but that would look equally striking to those who don’t know the city, so I decided on the cranes. They’re called Samson and Goliath and they dominate the Belfast skyline. Originally, I wanted a bonfire in the foreground but thought the bleaker image of the devastated land matched the feel of the book better (I don’t write Sparkly Unicorn stories…)

I worked with Gary Compton from Tickety Boo covers on it, who took that brief and produced the cover which exactly captured what I hoped for.

SH:  What is your favourite part of Inish Carraig?

JZ:  My favourite part was using a setting I found familiar, and changing it so it reflected the aftermath of what has been a tragic, and futile, invasion. The capturing of an inverted sense of place, if you like. 

In this scene, Henry, the policeman drawn into John’s story, is travelling to the house John and his siblings have been subsisting in throughout the war. The scene harks back to the earlier Belfast and builds to a pathos when Henry enters the house that brings the war home to him more than anything else could have:

‘Later, as they drove up the rubble-strewn streets of north Belfast, he wasn’t smiling. The city felt as if it was in stasis: the explosion of fear, held in abeyance for months, close and dangerous. The soldiers sat in silence, their faces closed and grim. Peters, leading the squad, had seemed resigned to the request from Carter for support. They passed no other vehicles, saw no one out on the streets. Below them, deceptively calm, was the lough. One of the old passenger ferries from before the attack was moored at its neck. No smoke rose from the sewage farms, but their smell permeated the van, an accusing reminder of the Zelotyr.

They pulled up outside the house. Carter got out of the vehicle, glancing down the small cul-de-sac. There was no one in sight. He could see the Oldpark Road, just visible through a gap beside number ten, its tarmac filled with weeds. A sparrow chirruped nearby, making Carter jump. He looked at the surrounding houses. Their windows – the ones with glass – were dark and empty. Was anyone there? Peters came alongside, his firearm ready, and Carter pulled his pistol from its holster. Both men walked forward, crunching over broken glass in the small front garden. The rest of the soldiers got out of the vehicle, dispersing into the house and round the back. Carter waited, tight against the wall, his heart hammering.’

Continue reading Author Interview: Jo Zebedee