The Sizzlers Welcome Allison Knight!

One thing you have to say about the Southern Sizzlers, we have got some of the coolest friends you could ever hope to meet. Today it is our pleasure to introduce to you our friend Allison Knight, whose medieval story of love and jealousy, Heartsong, was voted the Best Novel of the Year by her publisher, Champagne Books, Inc. The eagerly-anticipated sequel, Battlesong, will be coming out August, 2010. Then you have to add to that our excitement about her upcoming “sweet Gothic” novella, working titled The Haunting of Hastings Hall — part of the Shadowed Hearts series. And we just got word today that Allison’s “A Treasure For Sara” has been nominated as Best Historical of 2009 by Love Romances and More.

In other words, Ms. Knight is one busy and popular author, and we are so pleased that she took a few minutes from writing to talk to us!

SS: Welcome to Southern Sizzle Romance, Ms Knight. Let’s talk about these releases. First, tell us about Battlesong.

ALLISON: Thank you for the welcome. About Battlesong, as the name implies this it a tale about a few battles. Of course, I write romance so these are battles between the hero and the heroine.

SS: What can you tell us about the story?Was there any incident or idea that inspired you?

ALLISON: I just knew Arthur, the youngest brother of Rhianna, my heroine of Heartsong, had to have his own story. Lo and behold the beginning (which I hope is a shocker!) came to me after my husband and I discussed various romantic hooks, some I’ve read, some I was thinking about using. (You have to understand I run most of my plots, especially the beginnings, by my husband before I actually start to outline things. He is great and often his comments will lead the story in a completely different direction than what I planned.) This beginning was a perfect start for Arthur’s story. Then I had to get him out of the situation I got him in, in the first place. Hence the title, Battlesong. Not sure that makes sense. You just have to read the book. I do love the beginning of this book.

SS: What drew you to the Middle Ages for these books?

ALLISON: I loved reading about the Middle Ages. And I write about the time periods I like to read myself. Besides, you can get away with a lot in a historical tale, that doesn’t work for a contemporary novel.

SS: Your readers can tell you do your research. But as writers, we’d like to know more about how you do it. Do you do all the research, or at least the bulk of it, before you write, or are you a look-things-up-as-you-go kind of girl?

ALLISON: I usually try to start with as much information as I think I’ll need. Notice I said – think! The book I’m working on now takes place during the reign of Charles the second. I did the research on clothing, London at that time, the plague and the London fire before I started. But, and that’s a big but, I get into the story and find I need to do more research. Not really sure if I need to do more research, or if something sparks an interest but off I go. I do love the research part. HMMMM Maybe that’s part of why I write historicals.

SS: In writing historical fiction, what resources do you find most useful, and why?

ALLISON: The computer…. I wrote my first three books on a typewriter. I hate to think of how many times I typed a page over and over and over. Being able to pick out sentences, rearrange paragraphs, change chapters. Oh, glorious.
With my second book, published by Kensington, I decided the second chapter was really the beginning of the book, not the original first chapter, which finally became the third chapter. I would have loved to have a computer then.
I also value my books. I have a wonderful book called the reverse Dictionary. I don’t know much about horses, or saddle parts, so I look up the word saddle in the reverse Dictionary and it lists everything and how and why. Invaluable. I have four different word finders – in case. You’d be surprised how many times they’ve come in handy.

SS: Got to get me a Reverse Dictionary! Having grown up loving Victoria Holt and Daphne DuMaurier, I am intrigued by the description of your novella as a “sweet Gothic.” How is it different from what you usually write?

ALLISON: A sweet Gothic is a Gothic without any sex. The most my hero and heroine do is kiss. Some of the Gothics by modern authors take the hero and heroine into the bedroom. I don’t. I figured my granddaughters could read them at 12 and 13 without their mothers yelling at me.

SS: Will we be seeing more Gothics from you? What great stories do you have up your sleeve for the future?

ALLISON:I love Gothics. I truly enjoy writing in the first person. I love becoming the heroine, struggling with danger, trying to figure a way out of a dilemma. At the present time, I’m working on the historical romance taking place in England during the fire, I also have the next ‘song’ book in the works. Not sure yet if this will be Arvil’s story or another of Rhianna’s brothers. When I get tired of writing third person, I’ll write another gothic. It might be next week, or next year.

SS: I am seriously looking forward to your Gothic – I love ‘em! Now, we never tell our ages here on the Sizzle – such an insignificant factoid, to our way of thinking. But we have to say that you have had a long-running successful career as an author. How does one maintain that kind of achievement over the long haul?

ALLISON:Like any thing else that is worth doing, you keep at it, and you have to enjoy what you do. I love writing. I love story telling, I always have. My kids will tell you, I told them stories as we occasionally drove to my mother’s (a three hour trip) as well as the trips to the lake for swimming in the summer. (a two hour trip). We’d go two or three times a week to the lake so I finally ended up verbally rewriting some of the bible stories for inspiration. My kids still laugh about some of my tales. But I truly enjoy what I do.

SS: And your readers enjoy what you do, too! You have been involved in e-publishing as much as anyone I can name. What should aspiring writers know when they are comparing going e-pub with more traditional publishers? The upside of e-pub, and what to look out for?

ALLISON: Probably the best advice to give is KNOW YOUR PUBLISHER. Note, I’m shouting. When I first started with e-publishing, the concept was new, the publishers inexperienced, some of them dishonest. I was lucky. I got my books back without too much damage. But there are companies now with track records. Those are the ones you want.
Another thing. Be realistic. If you don’t promote your work, no matter who the publisher, you will not make any money. Also if you write to get rich, you’re not realistic. According to research, the average author makes about six thousand a year. Not a living wage. E-publishing pays more now than when I started, but it still can’t compete with the money paid by traditional publishers per book. However, you can receive royalties on books five, six, seven years old because they are still out there. And if you continue to publish people will look for your old books. Old paperbacks only come from used book stores. No royalties on that.

SS: We have all heard horror stories about authors who sign over their rights to an e-publisher, and then the company disappears, with no sales, no royalties, and no right to re-sell the works to someone who will really market them. How prevalent is that, and how do authors guard against these problems?

ALLISON:You always hear about the bad ones. But with this business, again the best advice is find out everything you can about the publisher, ask questions, contact other authors who write for the same company. Do your research. There are crooks in almost every profession.

SS: So let’s say one of us finally gets the letter we are all wishing for – an e-publisher wants our baby! What should we look for (and look out for) in an e-pub contract?

ALLISON:Like New York’s big publishers, many of the better e-publishers have boilerplate contracts. The important thing is to learn what royalties mean, what rights mean, ask about the company’s business model. And don’t sign anything where you have to pay one penny to be published. Don’t pay to have your work published. It’s worse than giving your hard work away for nothing…….

SS: We are all somewhat familiar with the ways an author promotes her books with a traditional publisher – ARC’s, signed copies, etc. But how does a successful e-book author promote her books? What works for you, and is there anything you tried but found not to be successful?

ALLISON: Well, let’s see. Making ARC’s for reviewers, signing copies you make of your cover, chatting online, having a web presence. What works for traditional publishers works for e-published authors as well. Today, all authors have to promote their work. It doesn’t matter who their publisher is. After all, a book is a book, whether you hold paper in your hand or an electronic device. How your eyes see the words really doesn’t matter.
The one thing I don’t have much faith in are bookmarks. You can pay a lot for them and they really don’t do much for you. People tend to throw them away.

SS: Well, kids, now you have heard the inside story on e-publishing from someone who has the credentials. We cannot thank you enough for your insights, and the way you encourage all of us who want to grow up and be just like you!

If you want to meet Allison Knight and other great writers (and the Sizzlers themselves!) join us at the beach for the Silken Sands Writer’s conference in March. White sand beaches, good friends, and all the romance industry guidance you could ask for – so why aren’t you registered yet?????

http://www.gccrwa.com/silkensands/

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12 Responses

  1. Wonderful insight and interview, Allison. We appreciate you being here and I am eagerly awaiting the gothic as well. And waiting to hear more about your honor you received today. Best Historical nomination is awesome and I hope it wins.

  2. Great interview, Allison! Your books sound wonderful. Thanks for the tip about the Reverse Dictionary. I’m going to look for one.

  3. Great interview! I wish I could go to the Silken Sands conference, but it’s a no-go this year. I know you’ll all have a blast and hopefully I can meet some of you at Nationals this summer.

    Ms. Knight, congrats on your nominations!

  4. Greetings Ladies, Great interview, I’m going to order one of those reverse books. I can’t wait for it to come in.. Your books sounds great, and I’m sending congrats again on such great success.
    Paula

  5. Hey AK

    You big bud, big Mike here. Luv southern woman. SO feminine, so smart, so determinate, and so hot. In my book TAINTED HERO I even cioned the phrase SWAT for Strong Women Of the South. My aunts, cousins, all are southern ladies I adore.

    Loved your interview and take care.

    Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
    Author of the year, 4/09

  6. We so enjoy reading your blogs and interviews, finding out more about who you are as a writer and about what’s behind your stories.

    Always had a special place in my spirit and heart for historicals.

  7. Allison, great info lady! Thanks soooo much for stopping by and posting for us. As always we love ya to death and have learned something new. Thanks for all the great tips!

  8. Good interview, Allison! Love those gothics!

    Thanks,
    Monti

  9. Allison, I’m with you on historicals and loving the research almost as much as writing the book!
    I wrote my first book on a word processor – one of the first – and boy was it a PITA! Can’t imagine how hard it would be on a typewriter.
    Thanks for the insight into you and your books.

  10. Hello Allison!

    Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to do this interview with us. The information you’ve so graciously offered is very encouraging, and an absolute inspiration to so many. Please accept my personal congratulations for the nominations! Hope we’ll be some of the first you let know when you win!

    My hubby said to be sure to include him with all the well-wishing. He started by reading the interview over my shoulder, but somehow snitched the laptop from me. And being one of the few men taller than I am, all I could do was fume and wait for him to finish. LOL

    It was definately worth waiting for, and he’s grinning like an ape over the Reverse Dictionary, saying maybe there’s help after all for my tendancy to do things . . . Bass Ackwards.

    Luck and love from all us Sizzlers, as well as all your fans! It means so much when someone shares themselves as well as their expertise!

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