Author Interview Number Twenty Eight – Sue Knott

Hi and welcome to the Library of Erana, a place of words and of their magic. Words are power, they are knowledge and they are freedom.

Welcome to Sue Knott.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Let’s see…I’m married to a very cranky man, but he can’t really help himself as he has Assbuggers. (I think perhaps if they spelled it that way, they wouldn’t have officially removed it from the Autistic spectrum.) I also have a teen son, a Siberian Husky, a big garden and an affinity for Dove Promises. The common factor in all of these is that they are all beyond my control.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. My writing tends to fit into the Young Adult and/or New Adult genre, but it really spans the gamut. I throw in a little paranormal, but I treat it in such a way that it feels like it could be science fiction. I’ve got a little bit of everything in my novel, Catching On Fire. There’s action, adventure, suspense, romance…it runs the gamut. My parodies are lighter. I brought in a coauthor for “The H.Unger Games Gone Wild” because I wanted to appeal to boys as well as girls. That book has a lot of frat-boy humor involving breasts, so I had my name appear in tiny type on the cover.

Where can readers find your book? Currently, my novel, Catching On Fire, is available in paperback through any website that sells books. The ebook version is only available for Kindle right now as I have an exclusive deal with Amazon that runs through the end of August. My parodies are available everywhere in both ebook and paperback formats. Chances are that local bookstores don’t stock my books, but any bookstore should be happy to special order a copy for you.

I believe you design your own covers, what is involved with this process? I do design my own covers (except for Twilite A Parody, that cover was designed by a very good friend of mine). I guess I’m a control freak. I worry about anyone else being able to capture the feeling of my books in the covers. (Though, they’d probably do a better job with typefaces than I do.)

My “day job” is in advertising. I’m a copywriter, not a designer, but I work with art directors all the time and enough knowledge rubbed off that I felt I could handle cover design. I taught myself Adobe Creative Suite (not something I recommend…it’s a very expensive suite of programs and it is ridiculously difficult to learn). I haven’t been able to do everything I’d like with the cover design as I’m limited by my own lack of expertise in using the software. However, I do enjoy working with the graphics programs (when I’m not swearing at them) and I like to learn new things. Someday, I hope to do my own photography or artwork for a cover, but right now I am using professional photos.

Many people believe the cover is the initial pull for a book, or indeed a turn off, do you agree? Does a generic cover mean a generic story? I definitely agree that the cover has to work hard. I think many cover designers haven’t come to grips with the digital world. There are so many covers that you can’t even read when they show up at a reduced size online. I sacrifice esthetics somewhat in order to design a cover that pops off the computer screen at thumbnail size.

To me, the cover should do more than interest the reader. It should accurately convey the feeling of the book. For instance, my novel, Catching On Fire, is popular fiction rather than literary fiction. If the cover (or the title) had a lofty feeling, I would be misleading potential readers. I think I’ve managed to capture the feel of my books with their covers and that’s not something that I think most covers do. For instance, that apple in a pair of hands on the cover of Twilight…what the heck is that supposed to tell you? It’s really shocking that a book with a cover like that could be so successful. (Of course, it’s really shocking that a book with 90 million references to how gorgeous a sparkling vampire is could be that successful.)

I don’t think you can judge a book by its cover, though readers do. There are some publishers out there putting a lot of money into fancy covers for horrible books – and a lot of indie publishers putting cheaply designed covers on great stories. And, of course, publishers often don’t put much money or effort into covers for reprints of the classics.

You self-edit your work. Does this provide as good a result as a paid editor? How long does the editing take (on average.) Do you have a set of beta readers? I think there are great paid editors and not-so-great paid editors. And I’ve heard good editors complain when a client accepted one of their revisions without question. I’m not sure everyone could produce a decent book without an editor, but because I write for a living and have been my own editor for many years, I felt I could handle the editing process on my own. That way, my books would be my story – not somebody else’s version of what they thought my story should be.

It probably takes me almost as long to edit a book as it does to write it. I edited my novel for months. And I do have beta readers who commented on the story as well as helping with the proofreading. I think the beta readers are extremely helpful.

How long have you been writing and what, if anything, made you choose the genre in which you write? I’ve been writing for more decades than I care to admit. I became an advertising copywriter right out of college. But, I’ve only been writing fiction books since 2008. I started with Twilite A Parody. After reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, I just felt I had to parody it. Twilight was a page-turner, but it was so, so bad.

For my novel, Catching On Fire, I chose the YA/NA genre because that’s such an interesting time in life. Young adults have so many important decisions to make and have such little life experience with which to make them. Plus, Twilite A Parody was very popular, so appealing to the same age group made sense. A big percentage of readers who read one of my books go on to read the others.

Genres don’t seem to restrict people, though. I can see from the reviews that a lot of my readers are middle-aged women and even men.

Who or what are your inspirations/influences?

I’m giving all the credit for my writing to Stephenie Meyer. I knew I could write as least as poorly as she does.

Can you name a positive  and a negative experience from your writing? Young women I know (mostly daughters of friends) tell me that they get points for knowing a celebrity because their friends love my books. That’s kind of fun. Even a friend of mine, a very talented and beautiful young woman who I think will eventually be a very successful professional singer, says her fledgling actress friends in LA are all “OMG, I love Twilite A Parody.” That’s the closest a dumpy, suburban mom can get to being “cool.”

A negative experience would be that some people track me down who may have strange ulterior motives. I’m actually nervous about author appearances. You don’t satirize Twilight with upsetting some unstable Twihards. (Though, lots of emotionally stable Twihards love my parody.)

With the rise of e-books do you still publish in print as well? Is this medium important and why? I publish in both print and ebook. I think it’s important to be accessible to readers. Some people prefer print – I’m not going to limit how they should read. I do have my print books underpriced. I thought that the print sales would be so small that I didn’t care about making a profit on them, However, I’m selling more print books than I thought I would. And I hate that my product is in any way responsible for deforestation. So, I really will have to raise my print book prices. Unfortunately, my “to-do” list is huge, so I don’t know when I’ll get around to it.

Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? No and no. I can’t concentrate when anything else is going on. I’m very unpopular around the advertising agency because art directors like to listen to music while they work, but I ask them to turn it down. People tend not to believe this, but I haven’t really watched TV in 18 years. I’m too busy. I see bits and pieces because my husband watches constantly, but I’m really out-of-touch when it comes to TV.

Books are important, why is this the case? What can a book provide that say a video game cannot? Well, I think that books CAN BE important, but aren’t innately important. This gets back to Twilight. To me, Twilight was empty calories. It was entertaining, but it didn’t give the reader anything else. I try to write to the Twilight crowd: readers who want to be entertained and to be emotionally involved with a story. BUT, I try to deliver just a little bit more than Stephenie did. I try to structure a story in a way that will make readers question things. I want to make readers think (but not so much that it’s work – I believe that may be the difference between popular fiction and literary fiction). I also try to give readers some knowledge. The factual stuff in my books is meticulously researched.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I perform standup comedy. I think that is ridiculously silly.

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