Jennifer Knight was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about her first book, Blood on the Moon, her writing process, and how she got into publishing at such a young age.
1) Hi Jen! Thanks for joining us. Tell us a little about where the idea for Blood on the Moon came from.
Thanks for having me! The idea for Blood on the Moon first came to me as I was perusing the shelves of a bookstore with my sister. Back then the amount of vampire Y/A novels was overwhelming in comparison to the werewolf novels. (This isn’t so true anymore because let’s face it: werewolves pretty much rock and authors are jumping on that train left and right.) As I picked up book after book with vampires – who by the way, are dead and suck our blood!—romanticized as heroes…well, I couldn’t quite understand why our sexy friends the werewolves were left out. I wanted to write a book that cast a werewolf as the hero and a vampire as the villain. Thus Lucas and Vincent were conceived.
2) Was it hard to write the dynamic between Faith, Lucas, and Derek? It’s not so much a love triangle as it is a tug of war.
It was very difficult! Not so much with Lucas and Faith, who have enough passion and sizzle to push their relationship forward. But Faith and Derek’s relationship took a lot of work. It was difficult for me to separate Faith’s feelings of friendship toward Derek from her romantic feelings, and keep her from leading him on. I needed her to love him, but not be able love him at the same time. Tricky stuff. Let’s just say I edited them up. A lot.
Well, I imagined Lucas perfectly from the get-go. I’ve always had a thing for the dark, rebellious type and that whole pushing-you-away-for-your-own-safety business is something I not only enjoy reading, but writing as well. So Lucas was easy. Just picture James Dean and give him a moody stare and that’s him. The only trick with Lucas was that his grumpiness and possessiveness (both werewolf features, which he works to overcome) can make him super unlikable. To soften him up, I gave him a really tragic past, and played up the way his curse tortures him. That way we all feel sorry for the grumpy jerk.
Derek was sometimes tricky because I wanted him to be sensitive (the opposite of Lucas) while keeping him manly at the same time. He’s a romantic, and wears his heart on his sleeve, which is also opposite of Faith.
Faith…she’s probably one of the most (if not the most) complicated characters I’ve ever written. She’s a haunted sarcastic loner in the start of the book and gradually learns to trust and love both Lucas and herself. It was a difficult transition to write, but that’s why we authors have awesome editors to help us out.
4) What is your writing day like? Walk us through a typical day.
Well, I don’t write every day (shameful, I know, but I have two kids and run my own small business) but on the days I do get to write, they are glorious. I generally wake up at 7 AM and take my oldest to school. Then, I race back home, flip on my notebook and curl into my bed. Yes, I have to write in bed. Desk chairs make me nervous. Music is a MUST. Something relaxing or whatever matches the mood of the scene I’m writing. Anberlin, Florence + The Machine, Paramore or something. I usually write anywhere from 3-6 hours a day, depending on whether my husband has to work and leave me with the kiddos.
5) Are you a fan of outlining or just letting the words flow, unrestricted?
In the beginning, I never outlined because I felt it took up too much time and was too restricting. But now I cannot live without my outline. Before taking on a project, I go chapter by chapter (sometimes scene by scene) and write out what will happen. I try to think about where I want the story to go, what I want to accomplish at the end of each scene both plot-wise and character-wise. Sometimes it morphs into a freeform brainstorm during which I actually write to myself. Example. Here’s a snatch from something I’m working on in my spare time. I was outlining the book, but for whatever reason, I just began writing to myself: “Maybe they can make weapons out of the soul-power thingy. Maybe there can be an AMAZING BATTLE in book 3, because there will be 3 books. Or four. I just decided. Yay! Anyway. So. Here’s the plan…”
Seriously, laugh if you will, but it works! I have a great many epiphanies this way.
6) In regards to your actual writing, did you take classes in college, read books? How do you work to develop your craft?
I took a few classes in college, but I hated them all. I was a very bad student. I didn’t like being told what to do, so there was never any life in what I wrote for class. When I first decided to start writing, I went to Borders and bought about five writing technique books. The best one was the first I ever read called Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. It had this amazing prologue which encouraged the reader to keep writing no matter what, even if you think you suck and even when people tell you no (he says it more eloquently than me). Do it because you love it and because you want to. It was this prologue more than anything else that kept me writing. Sometimes I go back and read it when I’m feeling discouraged. Also, I re-read the rest of the book because it’s just chock full of useful info. 😉
Well, I first started writing when I was nineteen. I’d just had my first son nine months earlier, and was feeling discouraged in college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and when my sister (who studies creative writing) asked me to help her come up with a story idea, I suddenly thought…hey! I can do this! So I read writing books, I skulked around on writing forums, and I wrote. I wrote like a crazy person. And I sucked at it. Seriously! The first book I ever wrote and tried to pitch to agents was a total bust. It was garbage! But as I was waiting to
hear back from agents on that book, I decided to work on something new. That’s when I wrote Blood on the Moon. I finished it in around two months and sent out about 100 query letters. Of those 100, I got three agents who were interested. Three. One of them was Tamar Rydzinski at The Laura Dail Literary Agency and she ultimately said yes! Granted, she had me do a lot of work on the manuscript before she agreed to sell it, but that was because I didn’t edit back then. (Like I said, I sucked.) Tamar sold the book to Running Press within a couple of months, and about a year-and-a-half later (and after an INSANE amount of editing) here we are.
8 ) A lot of our readers are in your age range. Any words of advice for those who are interested in writing as a career?
I’ll say the same thing to them that inspired me in the beginning: don’t give up! It’s a cliché, and it sounds too easy to work, but it’s the best thing you can do to further your career. People will tell you no. I got over 200 no’s before I received that one perfect yes. You just have to focus on the writing, and how much you love it and don’t worry about becoming published. Yes, it’s ultimately the goal, but if you make that the purpose of your writing, you’re lost.
9) What’s on your reading shelf right now?
Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel. Also Forever by Maggie Stiefvater. Oh, and I want to re-read The Hunger Games before the movie comes out. HOW BAD DO YOU WANT TO SEE THAT!?!
10) What projects are you working on right now? Anything new and interesting?
Well, I’m editing Book 2 of the Blood on the Moon series, which is both fun and torturous, as all editing is. And I’m also working on a new idea about demons and faeries, which will hopefully be my next big thing!
Thanks Jen! If you’re curious about Jen and her books, check her out at her goodreads account!