Wednesday, August 17, 2016

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Neils Knudsen author of The Singing Stones of Rendor

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I’m a 68 year old introvert with marketing issues. I’ve always preferred letting others stand in the spot light which makes showing off my work difficult. I’m still working on that problem. 

I’ve always been involved with writing in one fashion or another most of my life. I did some guest articles in my high school’s student paper, wrote what is now considered flash fiction for my mother’s various social clubs (she read them out loud, not me—I wasn’t fortunate enough to get her social genes—just her allergies). After a couple of years in college my draft number came up so I went out and joined the U.S. Navy where I was immersed in the bazaar language of governmentese.  The Navy has (ahem) boatloads of very passive phrases and I became (aaaahem) submerged in it.

Fast forward 6 years, one month and 24 days. Honorably discharged from the military I went back to college and then worked for the U.S. Army at the Deseret Chemical Depot at an industrial facility dedicated to the research and development of chemical warfare agents. More . . . much, much more governmentese. Fast forward another 24 years to retirement.

I had a bout with cancer and my wife had a bicycling accident that left her paralyzed from the chest down. A normally active life became rather sedate and I bumped around trying to find something to do. My son suggested I write a book. It was a suggestion I had toyed with a few times but never took seriously.

For six full months a stared at a computer writing the worst stuff I could imagine. Fortunately, my wife has a degree in English and she plowed, blasted and pulverized my story (and me) until it was readable. After 500,000 words of garbage, loving every minute of it, I managed to learn the basics. I then joined the League of Utah Writers to commiserate with other writers. I had no idea there were so many wordsmiths out there. The next year, 2013, I received first place for the first chapter in my book, The Singing Stones of Rendor. In 2014 the book received the leagues coveted Silver Quill Award. That’s when I thought I might actually have some skill.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

My schedule revolves mostly around my wife’s needs. She no longer drives so I take her to her appointments and watercolor seminars and workshops. When her schedule is clear, I make time in the afternoon to write for a few hours, unless there are other unscheduled events like our kids and grandkids dropping in. Family is far more important to me than pounding out a set number of words.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a laptop or some other method of getting your words down?

A small pad of lined yellow paper is my preferred note-taking device. Weird ideas, metaphors, idioms and a whacky turn of phrase are my favorite ways to develop a character or scene. If I’m watching TV I listen for those unique lines of dialogue that in my mind just fun. I realize my ideas of fun may be outdated, but I’m not writing for anyone but myself. If I’m having a good time, maybe my readers will too.

My main writing instrument is my PC. When my wife is in her water coloring  workshops I’m sitting nearby with my laptop.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

My favorite part is how the voices in my head tell me what to write. I can always trust my characters to figure out how to get something done.

My least favorite is marketing. However, if you don’t consider that part of writing then I guess it is editing my work for the umpteenth time and still not satisfied with the details. That’s when I go looking for some good editors.

How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write?

My son suggested a fantasy novel with an antagonist based on my cancer. The idea evolved into a trilogy that I’m still working on. It took four and a half years to write and publish the first book—that includes the learning curve to do creative writing. The second book, which I hope to publish in late August, took two years.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

You may have guessed by now that I’m a reticent marketer. What marketing I have done is limited to Facebook, my blog at and some online book events. At a recent event, I met our host, Kathy Jones, at the “Spring Into Books” event at the Viridian Center in West Jordan, Utah. I’ve spoken to some small press publishing companies who have expressed interest in the trilogy when it is done. I’ll probably tuck myself under one of their wings and hope they will guide me in that arena.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I’m wrapping up book 2 in the trilogy. Tentatively titled, “The Call to Empire,” the novel currently stands at about 110,000 words (about 360 pages) and should be out by late August or early September. If my muse (wife) and/or my editors say it needs more work it may take a bit longer.

Get the Book at Amazon
Do  you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

Yes, I do. It is a prequel to the series and about half written. It is about the main character in first chapter of the trilogy, a witch with a particular skill you don’t see in other fantasy novels. At least none that I’m aware of. She dies at the end of that chapter. The book is a kind and powerful witch and the tragedy that turned her to anger and vengeance. It is also about how, even after death, one’s life can have a great impact on others.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Write it for the fun of it. Do it for yourself. Take an idea and run with it. So what if it doesn’t work, you learn through the process. Do it again. Don’t be afraid of writing junk. There is plenty of free, enthusiastic help out there to teach you. Join one or more writing groups. Toss around your ideas. Let them grow. Don’t worry about all the rules you are going to hear—that’s what editors are for. I don’t recall who said this, “there are three ironclad rules to writing, the trouble is, no one knows what they are.”

And, last but not least, develop a thick skin. Listen to the constructive criticism and toss the rest. The test? Knowing which is which.

My Question for you:
Do you consider yourself an introvert? Have you ever had trouble promoting yourself and/or your writing? If so, how did you overcome it?

I'm definitely not an introvert, though I was a pretty shy gal growing up. Once I went to college in my 40s, however, and graduated, I decided that I would do all it took to get my books out there. Sure, I still get nervous speaking in front of groups, but I do it. And you know what? The journey has gotten easier. I can speak about my book in front of writers, readers, non-readers, even people I've just met in line at the supermarket. But this has taken time and a daring sort of attitude.

Learn more about Neils:

NWKnudsen's Knotty Corner Post


1 comment:

  1. I should probably note that my wife is paraplegic which, at unexpected times, can consume a fair amount of the precious stuff.


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