Welcome to author interviews–the first of many, I hope. Lately, I’ve realized there are a lot of great authors out there that get buried underneath a pile of rejection letters and self-doubt. Social media is a wondrous thing, but it only gets you so far. Once a month I’d like to showcase a very special author and this week I was lucky to have my friend Charlie Knight answer some questions about herself.
She’s a sweet soul. Keep reading and you’ll find out for yourself.
MN: Charlie, why did you want to become a writer?
CK: The first thing I ever wrote was fanfiction when I was nine years old; back then, it was just a lot of fun! The creative release felt good and I really enjoyed letting the stories in my head out so that they could take on a life of their own. As I got older, it started to become something of a necessary release. Writing is an exercise for my mental health, it gives me some relief from depression and anxiety. Now I choose to write stories with queer characters so that I can see the kind of representation that was missing in media when I was a kid.
MN: I’m so glad you have writing as a release. It was also my release as a child, as it is for many authors. Is there any advice you’d give a young writer who doubts their ability?
CK: Remember that you don’t have to do this alone! Writing is hard and other writers aren’t your competition, they’re your community. Use them for inspiration, for support and commiseration, for advice, for whatever you need. Starting with #writingcommunity and #amwriting on Twitter is a good way to expand your circle.
MN: Great advice. If a friend gave you their book to read and you didn’t like it, what would you do?
CK: Oh, yikes. I’m a firm believer that it’s never, ever OK for a writer to tear down another writer – especially publicly. So a bad review is out of the question. I wouldn’t lie outright, I might just give three stars and be a little more vague than usual. But I’d also talk directly to my friend and be straight with them about the opportunities that I saw whether or not it’s published. I believe just as firmly that, especially as indie authors, we all need each other to succeed. The quality of indie work available effects every indie writer, so I’d want to give feedback that might help them improve. Besides, our friends deserve our honesty.
MN: That’s very kind. I’m grateful that you would be honest. Not a lot of people want to be honest, especially with friends. I’m finally getting into reading indie author books because I know there are some really great ones out there? Is there an indie author you’d recommend?
CK: SO MANY! I have a few clients with published works that I would absolutely recommend for anyone because they’re all so talented.
- Desdemona Wren and Louise Czarnobai each write fantasy with queer characters.
- Autumn McKayne has the Renegades & Rescue series – an in-progress romance trilogy.
- Elle Linder writes beautiful romance novels and short stories
- Marlena Wolf writes insanely hot erotica.
I’m hoping to get a page up on my website in the next month or so linking to all of my clients and their work, so keep an eye out for that!
MN: That’s fantastic. What projects are you working on right now?
CK: My primary WIP is a high fantasy with a m/m romance subplot, dragons and magic, subterfuge and warfare. It was my 2018 NaNo story and I got about 85k words into the first draft until I had an epiphany that led me to change a major part of the plot. Soooo now I’m about 5k into the first draft again. I also have a fantasy trilogy that I shelved last year but have started re-reading to decide where I want to take the rewrite. The more I read the more I fall back in love with it so I’m very excited to dig back in.
There’s also my pet project, a fanfiction that I’ve been working on for years. I put part of it on AO3 a couple years ago and then had an issue with someone duplicating my account, which then led to me getting the courage to rewrite the entire thing from scratch and make changes I’d been too scared of before. I’m hoping to get it back online soon.
MN: First of all, congrats on winning Nano. That’s a huge accomplishment, even if you end up changing every single word. Second, these stories sound fascinating. Although, I’m sorry that someone duplicated your account, I’m very happy that it inspired your writing. Do you pull from your own experiences in your writing?
CK: Thank you! NaNo was an incredible experience and I’m looking forward to doing it again. I definitely pull from my own experiences in writing. There are a few recurring themes that pop-up in every story I write that definitely provide some insight into my life and into what’s important, but I’ll keep them a secret so my readers have to figure it out!
MN: Looking forward to it. If you are on an island and have to choose 3 writers (living or dead), who would you choose?
CK: Only 3?! That’s just mean, Mikki! OK. If I’m stuck on an island, I want people around to keep things interesting so Mark Twain is definitely invited for humor. I’d have to invite Toni Morrison; I can’t think of any writer whose brain I want to pick more, especially now that diversity representation is finally getting some attention in popular fiction (though, not enough). My final choice has to be an old favorite, William Faulkner. I return to his books more than any other so if I’m going to have authors around, he has to be part of the group. Now I just have to figure out how to get bourbon shipped to this island…
MN: I know, I’m terrible. These are some really great choices. I knew you could do it. What family member encouraged your writing the most, if any?
CK: So, I’m a professional writer. It’s my day job. And I hate it. For a long time, that writing kept me away from fiction writing – burnout is real, folks. A couple of years ago when I decided I wanted to start dabbling in fiction again, I wasn’t even taking myself seriously. I’d say that I was doing it and then make excuses about time or being tired and never do it. Then, for Christmas two years ago, my husband gave me a “writing kit.” It had an old edition of The Sound & The Fury (a favorite), a few blank notebooks, new pens, headphones, and a couple little bottles of whiskey. He told me that it was time to be the kind of writer I wanted to be. And it all kicked off from there. Had he not been that thoughtful and pushed me forward, I probably never would have stopped making excuses.
MN: That is so fantastic! He sounds like a real gem. Have you written a character that reminds you of your husband?
CK: I haven’t! Not yet, anyway. He is my favorite soul so I want to write him, but he’s also a trans man and I wouldn’t leave that out of any character based on him. I just need the story to come to me first…
MN: Hopefully one day, you’ll get to write about him. If you had the money, where would you travel to and would you write about it?
CK: If I had the money, I’d never stop traveling. The places at the top of my list right now are Ireland and Vietnam. And I would definitely write about it, I write about everywhere that we travel. Recently we spent a week in NOLA and that city has magic. It inspired a bunch of new stories that are waiting for me to write, as well as some characters and settings. I’d love to see more new places to get more inspiration.
MN: That’s so great! Good luck with the new stories. I can’t wait to read them. Do you reward yourself upon completing a manuscript?
CK: Yes! I set little rewards for myself throughout the process, too. For example, I have a goal to write at least 1k words a day every day in January. If I accomplish it, I’m going out to my favorite restaurant at the end of the month. But every week during the month, if I stay on target, I give myself some extra time to play video games or something small like that. Rewards don’t have to be lavish but I think they’re great for motivation.
MN: Wonderful! That is very important. Have you thought of a brilliant idea and someone else has already written it?
CK: Call me a pessimist, but I’m someone who doesn’t believe original thought exists. It’s all been done already in some way, shape, or form. I also don’t think we can be expected not to be inspired and to use that inspiration in our own stories. So, yes, I’ve had ideas that have already been done…and then I use them anyway!
MN: I see your point and that’s great that you don’t let that hold you back.
You can find Charlie at these links
Charlie has been gracious enough to share her writing with us. This is from her current WIP–yes, the one she mentioned above.
The first time I can remember hearing the prophecy was sitting at my mother’s feet when I was barely old enough to start school. At four, my magic had just started to appear and the fire I could conjure from my hands scared me. She told me that one day, I would need the fire to defend us all against the falling skies. I remember her telling me that I’d need to keep my sister safe, just a baby at the time and the most precious thing in the world to me from the moment I laid eyes on her. The prophecy, she told me, would need warriors to face it.
Back then I was determined to become the warrior my mom spoke of. The second time I heard about the prophecy, my outlook changed.
Don’t forget to follow Charlie for updates on this wonderful piece, and more.
MN: I want more.
So, if you’re not aware, Charlie is also my editor. I was fortunate enough to find her and thought it would be cruel to keep her all to myself. I asked her a few questions about her editing journey that will hopefully answer some of your questions. And if not, please feel free to follow the link above to find out more!
MN: How long have you been an editor and are you looking for new clients right now?
CK: I’ve been editing professionally for 10 years now, after graduating with a degree in English Language & Literature. I just started editing for indie authors under this pen name about seven months ago, since I need to keep my day job separate. It’s been amazing so far! I am accepting new clients right now for February and for March (or beyond), but there’s never really a time when I turn anyone away for more than a couple of weeks.
MN: What do you prefer to edit?
CK: I have a soft spot for queer romance, regardless of what genre it’s in. Diversity representation, in general, is definitely my favorite work to be associated with; supporting indie writers at all is important, but supporting ownvoices writers is vital.
MN: Would you edit non-fiction as well? (Just double checking.)
CK: I would have to take it on a case-by-case basis. Honestly, my freelance editing for indie authors is not something that I profit from while my professional editing is my primary source of income. If I started blurring those lines, I’d lose my income! If it were an indie author… maybe? Everyone should reach out, it’s always worth asking.
Didn’t I tell you Charlie was a sweetheart? Thank you so much for joining The Papercut Diaries today, Charlie. You’re wonderful.
And thank you for joining us. You’re awesome, too! Until next time, happy writing.
A Clumsy Writer