Below, another Orbit fantasy star Benedict Jacka, author highly popular Alex Verus novels, interviews Francis on the towering fantasy world of Mahala . . .
Benedict Jacka: One way to describe the Rojan Dizon books would be dark fantasy – how did you end up moving into that genre, and what’s it like to write in compared to other things you’ve done in the past?
Francis Knight: By accident! It started off as an antidote to what I had been writing – romance – and went from there. I like to challenge myself each time I start something new, and this was it. Every genre has its restraints, and I wanted to explore not-so-nice “heroes” and not-so-Happy-Ever-After endings and lots of other things that a romance reader might be very disappointed to find in her book! In particular I wanted to explore how being a not particularly nice chap doesn’t have to prevent you from doing the right thing.
BJ: How difficult do you find it to write a protagonist of the opposite sex? Do you find yourself asking guys for advice on how a male character would react in a particular scene you’re writing?
FK: The first time it was hard, I have to say. I actually find I prefer it nowadays. It’s a lot easier to separate my characters from me for a start! Also I love trying to get inside a guy’s head, see what makes them tick. I do sometimes ask husband/male friends/betas for advice about whether a guy would do X – but it’s just not that simple. It’s not about whether he’s a guy or not, it’s about who he is. Some guys would do one thing, and others would do the opposite. They’re still both guys.
BJ: So, the scenes in Fade to Black which go into detail on exactly what Rojan and the other pain-mages do to themselves to fuel their pain magic . . . did you deliberately make them wince-inducing or did it just work out that way?
FK: I actually tried not to be too graphic there, but it was necessary to show something, I think, or it wouldn’t have been honest. There’s a fine line between glossing over something important and showing graphic things that are unnecessary. Of course, that line is going to be different for everyone. I inferred more than I showed (I think/hope), but that goes for lots of things.
BJ: What’s a typical writing day like for you – when do you find you have the time to write/get the most work done?
FK:When the kids were smaller, I used to do most of my writing at night, after they were in bed. Now I get most of it done while they’re at school. Typically I get all my other stuff done early, then write for a few hours until they get home. If I’m not working, I’ll try to get an hour or two done in the evening as well. I write better in the evenings, I think, but sadly I work shifts so it isn’t always possible. You have to take the time when you can get it!
BJ: Are there any series that you’re a big fan of at the moment, book, film, TV, or otherwise?
FK:I’m loving Ben Aaronovitch’s Folly series and I’ve got the next on pre-order, yours, naturally, I’m looking forward to the next instalment of Kate Griffin’s Magicals Anonymous series, the next few of Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black series, and I had a bit of a binge on Sandman Slim just lately too. Hmm, looks like I’m reading a lot more UF these days. Reading wise, because it’s sometimes as much about research/learning as sinking into a story, I tend to try new authors rather than read a whole series, unless I’m hooked – I’m a bit of a reading butterfly. I don’t really watch TV except for films (ok, and Game of Thrones), but I’m really loving all the Iron Man/Thor/Avenger films.
BJ: Any hints about what’s coming in the next two Rojan books?
FK:Oh, um, well what to say without spoilering? The same, only different I suppose. Rojan actually gets a few things right. Not as much as he might do…And he learns a few things too, about himself and other people, and that they aren’t always as they’ve seemed. He starts to realise his own flaws, and how his actions have brought a whole mess down on everyone’s heads. He faces his biggest fear. And then….well, you’ll have to read and find out!
Francis Knight is the author of the Rojan Dizon novels, which begin with FADE TO BLACK (UK|US|ANZ), continue with BEFORE THE FALL (UK|US|ANZ) – released next week on 18th June – and finish with LAST TO RISE, released this October.
Tune in this Friday to see Francis interviewing Benedict in return . . .