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Richard A. Knaak Interview

Richard A. KnaakWho doesn’t know Richard A. Knaak? You know what, don’t answer. You all should. This is the author who has written more books than you realise, in more worlds that should really be possible, and created the truly epic Dragonrealm – which I’ve written about before. Now, he has branched out once more and written an urban fantasy set in the 1920s – I know! It is as good as it sounds. Anyway, enough praise, praise and more praise…on with the questions!

You have a new book coming out, Black City Saint, it’s a departure from the Dragonrealm and the other worlds you’ve written in, what can you tell us about it?

Black City Saint takes place in Roaring 20s Chicago and features Nick Medea, supposed ghostbuster who is actually the guardian of the great Gate opening the way between the mortal plane and the shadowy realm of Feirie. ‘Nick Medea’ is not even his true name, but rather a reminder of where he himself was executed more than 1400 years earlier. The world once knew him as someone else, as Saint George, slayer of the dragon.

Unfortunately, it was that very act that set him on his current path, for no one knew at the time that the dragon’s curse was to follow and guard the Gate as it moved randomly through the mortal world. That curse became Saint George’s, taking him even beyond his death at the order of the Roman emperor who had once been his friend. Worse, the dragon is not exactly gone, either. He is part of Nick…a dangerous, untrustworthy part. Yet, despite their animosity toward one another, they must keep the worst of both Feirie and Humanity from wreaking havoc on the balance between worlds during the most violent period in Chicago history. This forces a very tenuous alliance with Her Lady, the dark queen of Feirie against a force even she fears.

And then, of course, there’s the reincarnation of the woman he loves, the princess he saved only to lose her in death time after time. Now reborn again, she’s both a pawn of an old evil and his best hope of salvaging two worlds.

But wait! There’s more…in the book, naturally.

What drew you to the period of prohibition America, the setting for Black City Saint?

Black City Saint (cover)Having grown up in and around the Chicago area, the Prohibition Era was very familiar to me. It truly marked the city and I thought it would be a unique setting for a character like Nick, who is already very much at odds with his surroundings and those with whom he must deal on both sides of the gate.

There are many hints of a deep history to the characters in Black City Saint, how much of this is set down in your planning? Did you have to do much specific research?

Much of it was intended from the beginning. There are layers and layers that I hope will truly make the characters live for readers. In the case of legendary or actual figures, I did specific research on each and then tried to see how best to blend their various histories together to make the story have multiple tracks.

Some authors plan every detail of a novel, some just start with an idea and see where it takes them. Which camp do you fit into?

I’m actually in both camps. In this case, I knew many elements and details that I wanted to have in the story, while others materialized in the writing process. I think that’s the best method.

Do you ever have a favourite character, the one you enjoy writing the most? If so which one was it in Black City Saint and why?

There are always favourite characters, such as Darkhorse or Shade in the Dragonrealm. I very much enjoy how Nick turned out, although I think Fetch steals some of the scenes he appears in.

Is there another author’s world you’d like to borrow and write a novel in?

There are too many. I enjoy playing in other people’s worlds.

Which group of fans are the most passionate about the worlds you’ve written in? Dragonlance? World of Warcraft?

Firedrake (cover)Ha! Impossible to say. Both are very passionate, not that I can blame them. Both worlds are fantastic to play in.

The Dragonrealm is one of your most successful creations; do you still look forward to writing in that world?

Definitely. I’m just finishing up the TURNING WAR trilogy for that world (a rather unorthodox war detailed in past volumes) and have started the first novel of a new trilogy – THE DRAGON THRONE – that will take the world forward more.

How do you keep all the little details straight and consistent in a world that you have written in for over twenty years?

It isn’t easy. A lot of rereading and note taking. Some elements have also grown greater with time and so they have to be adjusted. Overall, I’m pleased with how the series has grown.

What is your next project?

In addition to the Dragonrealm, I’m working on a novel for the Pathfinder series and investigating what I might want to do next with Nick Medea. I’ve recently finished a piece for the Iron Kingdoms from Privateer Press and am also trying to continue on with my KNIGHT IN SHADOW trilogy.

Those who want to find out more can check out my website or join me on my official FB page or Twitter account.

You have been traditionally published and decided to self-publish too. How do you decide between the two? Do you have a preference for either one?

Dragon Mound (cover)With a series that spans as much time as the Dragonrealm, I knew that I couldn’t do everything I wanted to at the pace I wanted to with traditional publishing. I’m grateful for the works and collections published by S&S, but I enjoy the freedom that I can now have with the Dragonrealm. Not every idea is also compatible with the mind-set of the traditional publishing industry, so there are other stories I may take that route even as I continue dealing with S&S, Tor, and Pyr, for example. In the case of THE KNIGHT IN SHADOW, since the original publisher went defunct, it may prove easier to self-publish the sequels. I haven’t decided yet on that one.

You studied chemistry at University, why did you choose to become a writer as opposed to going into that line of work?

It was a mutual parting. I found that I enjoyed my writing and English classes much more after a while.

I’d imagine you are justifiably proud of everything you’ve written, but if you could re-write one of your novels which one would it be and why?

The Legend of Huma (cover)Believe it or not, I’d like to rewrite THE LEGEND OF HUMA, perhaps my most famous novel, but only because I’d like to somehow inject more of the details I had to leave out due to space. I think now I could add some of them in, although admittedly it would be tight.

Is there one book, or one writer, who you would credit for your SFF passion?

Only one? Doubtful, although I supposed Roger Zelazny comes close for his body of work. Maybe Andre Norton’s Storm Over Warlock should bet some credit bookwise, as it was the first SFF novel beyond those of Jules Verne and HG Wells that I read.

My sincere and great thanks to Richard for agreeing to be questioned… erm…interviewed by Fantasy-Faction (and therefore, me). More than that, I got to read Black City Saint last year, way before its release and that was an absolute joy! The review comes next – and you should be looking forward to it!

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One Comment

  1. Avatar M. L. Vessells says:

    Congratulations Rick on your interesting interview, Looks like you have been busy, your books get more addictive as time goes by and your fans eagerly await each new release!

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