Francis Knight is the author of the brand new fantasy, Fade to Black (out 2/26 from Orbit!) and she was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the book, geeking out, her influences, and more! Please welcome Francis to the blog!
Francis, will you tell us a bit about your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I can’t say that I have always wanted to write. I always read voraciously, even before I was at school, and always made up little stories in my head but it never occurred to me to write them down. Not until a few years ago anyway, when I was struck down by ME. All that reading and practicing stories in my head helped then, because I suppose I’d picked some sense of story structure etc up by osmosis. So, being virtually housebound and with nothing else to do I dabbled in writing. It was that or daytime TV, and if I watched any more of that I’d have lobbed a brick through the telly. The more I wrote, the more I found I liked it, so I kept at it.
Your new book, Fade to Black, is out next week! What inspired you to write it?
I can’t say it was any one thing – almost all of my stories come about when ideas and influences collide. I suppose I could count my love of noirish films, a couple of non-fiction articles I read, and a desire to do something different in my writing. Then Rojan turned up and wouldn’t shut up.
Will you tell us a little about Fade to Black?
Fade to Black is the story of a man, Rojan, who’s quite content to hide in the shadows. He’s a pain mage, which is illegal as well as stupidly painful, so he does his best never to use it. The story is about what happens to him when he can’t hide what he is any longer.
How did you celebrate when you found out Fade to Black would be published?
I recall getting the email from my agent. I’m pretty sure I just stared at the email for a while, and then said a rude word. Then I took my husband out for lunch to celebrate.
Did you do any specific research to help you in “building” the city of Mahala?
Not especially. I read a lot of non-fiction anyway, so I generally incorporate what I’ve already read about. There were a couple of instances over the series where I rang my Dad up (he’s an electrician) to ask ‘How the hell does electricity work?’ and ‘How do I make it do this, is that possible?’
What do you love the most about writing fantasy?
That there are no limits except what I can imagine. And that anything can, and frequently does, happen.
What are a few of your biggest literary influences?
CJ Cherryh was the writer who made me want to write. I fell pretty hard for some of her heroes, and I wanted to do that to someone else. Lois McMaster Bujold is an influence too, and I love Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, and pretty much anything by Pratchett who appeals to both my silly side and my cynical side, and who writes such fantastic characters. I can’t miss out Tolkien either – a big influence in my youth. I even have a Rohirrim flag tattoo.
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
CJ Cherryh’s Chronicles of Morgaine. This was the book that got me back into fantasy in my late teens, after a prolonged absence. I’m almost afraid to go back and reread it, in case I don’t love it as much anymore.
I read that you’re into SF&F geekery! Will you tell us a bit about that?
SFF is one of the things that got me and my husband together, to be honest. We were both into everything SFF, and still are. We’ve made it a mission to indoctrinate our kids too! Films, books, games – my son runs a Star Wars table top RPG for us all – pretty much anything SFF gets us interested, right down to the tattoos we have and how we decorate. We’ve a painting of a joust on one wall, a dragon’s head sculpture on the other, and a Bat’leth over the PC….
What’s next up for you this year and beyond?
This year, all three of the Rojan Dizon books will be coming out, so I imagine it’ll be busy! Afterwards, I’ve got a few projects on the go, but nothing I can talk about yet. Whatever happens, you can be sure I’ll be writing, and you can be sure it’s SFF. As addictions go, it’s less dangerous than some others!
Keep up with Francis: Website | Twitter
About the author:
Francis Knight was born and lives in Sussex, England. When not living in her own head, she enjoys SF&F geekery, WWE geekery, teaching her children Monty Python quotes, and boldly going and seeking out new civilizations.
About FADE TO BLACK:
From the depths of a valley rises the city of Mahala
It’s a city built upwards, not across – where streets are built upon streets, buildings upon buildings. A city that the Ministry rules from the sunlit summit, and where the forsaken lurk in the darkness of Under.
Rojan Dizon doesn’t mind staying in the shadows, because he’s got things to hide. Things like being a pain-mage, with the forbidden power to draw magic from pain. But he can’t hide for ever.
Because when Rojan stumbles upon the secrets lurking in the depths of the Pit, the fate of Mahala will depend on him using his magic. And unlucky for Rojan – this is going to hurt.