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Author Spotlight Week ~ Talk to Me Tuesday: An Interview with James Knapp, Author of ‘Alice in No-Man’s-Land’! Woohoo!!

Hey Y’all!! 

This week I am OVERJOYED to introduce you to James Knapp ~ author extraordinaire of the Young Adult Novel Alice in No-Man’s-Land! Today, I’ve interviewed an interview and giving you all the ways you can stay in touch with James. On Thursday, I’ll be revealing an exclusive excerpt. Finally, on Friday, I’m going to review Alice in No-Man’s-Land.

Each one of my posts will include ways to get in touch with as well as stay in touch with James Knapp as well as just a little about him!

Be sure to read the entire interview because you’ll find my ‘Random Question’ section and his answers are fantastic. For example, on the favorite bands question, I laughed out loud at his answer as to why James hasn’t seen them in concert. Come on James, can anyone ever truly be too old for that specific full-contact sport? lol 😉

OK and here we go! Ready?!

Hi James,

Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

My name is James Knapp. I’m an author of speculative fiction with five other novels (all in the Adult space) to date. I’ve written most of my life, but saw my first book published in 2010 (well, first novel – my first published book was a ten pound technical manual that came out in 1999). Alice is actually my seventh novel – my sixth is currently being shopped by my agent – and I’m feverishly working on my eighth now.

Quickly, give us the title and genre of your novel and a 50-word or less tagline.

Alice in No-Man’s-Land is a YA speculative fiction novel that takes place in the remains of a mostly abandoned metro area.

Alice, following in the footsteps of her ultra-rich father, intends to observe his company’s restoration of one of America’s decayed urban ‘Blocs’. Things change quickly, however, when the plane they’re travelling on is shot down by a Bloc militia. Alice wakes to find herself alone in the very (dangerous) Bloc that she and her father were meant to repurpose.

Give us an interesting fun fact (or a few) about your novel or series:

It ends in a gigantic pie-fight (just kidding). Here’s two real ones; I wrote this novel in between The Burn Zone and Fallout (which I wrote as James K Decker), and while researching details in the novel I had to use the search term ‘what does dog taste like?’ Turns out some people know. I’ve never eaten dog, but I hear it tastes like goat and I have had that.

Who is your favorite character? Why?

Alice – it’s her point of view I decided to tell the story from, after all. I like Alice because, while there are plenty of YA heroines to choose from these days, she’s one of the more grounded. That’s not meant as a ding toward other YA heroines, I just mean that Alice isn’t hyper-intelligent, she isn’t an expert in any type of weapons or crafting, she doesn’t have any special fighting skills, she’s not particularly gorgeous or sexy…she’s just a reasonably smart person with only her wits to fall back on. She does have the advantage of wealth, but that gets stripped away almost immediately (her family’s wealth is meaningless in the Bloc). I feel like she has the same toolbox to work with that any of the rest of us might have, it’s all in how she uses it.

Who is your least favorite character? Why?

Nino – you’ll see why when you meet him. There have always been guys like Nino, and there always will be regardless of gender, race, or creed, but no one has to like them.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book (over another book in the same genre)?

I think there are four main audiences that will enjoy this novel; A) Readers who enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction, B) Readers who like strong female protagonists, C) Readers who like plenty of action, and D) Readers who enjoy a little social reflection in their books. Oh, and I guess E) Readers who like A, B, C, and D.

What I think this novel brings to the table is a mostly accurate (some things are dramatized in the interest of the story) reflection of our world today. You could look at the synopsis from a high level and see that stories like this have been done before, but like the original it’s loosely based on, I wanted my version of Alice to be a reflection of our own society and times. With very few exceptions, everything that happens in the book *could* happen in real life. I enjoyed The Hunger Games (and to a lesser degree Divergent) but I feel like those stories are meant to be somewhat allegorical – I don’t see how a society like Panem in The Hunger Games or the faction system in Divergent could ever really come to pass in the real world and I don’t think they’re meant that way necessarily, I feel like they’re devices to support each book’s themes. Alice is much more rooted in the real world – the story revolves around a young woman coming of age in a hostile environment, yes, but a version of her plight could play out today. The story has science fiction elements, but it’s the closest to straight drama that I’ve written to date.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers trying to get published?

These will sound a bit cliché, but there’s a reason people keep saying them; the first is to learn patience, because everything about publishing works slowly. My first novel took a good year to write and then finally saw print over a year after getting accepted. The first novel you write might get published, but it might not which means you might have to write many before you finally hit. Even getting published is no guarantee of success, it’s more like getting your foot in the door. You need to develop a long-haul approach. The second is to learn to process criticism. By that I don’t mean learn to brush off or ‘take’ criticism (although that too, to a degree – a lot of criticism is mean-spirited and little else), I mean learning to parse constructive criticism in a way that will help your writing. I’ve known plenty of writers who take any criticism as a personal attack, and spend tons of energy deflecting them instead of taking the time to see if maybe there’s something valid there that they could keep in mind when writing their next novel.

Do you write a little every day or do you find yourself binge-writing more often than not?

I’m a tortoise, rather than a hare. Slow and steady wins the race for me. I shoot for 2,000 words in a writing session, but I go through periods where I only hit ~1,000. The trick is to manage it every day – it might seem like a slow pace when some writers hit 5,000+ words in a sitting, but in just three months that adds up to almost a full-length novel. There’s still tons of editing and rewrites to do, but before you can do that you need a completed manuscript. For me, this works.

When did you know that writing was going to be your profession? Did you work in another field prior to writing? If so, what was the catalyst behind your decision to write full-time?

Sadly, I’m not able to write full time (yet) so I kind of straddle the fence. I write code during the day to pay the bills, then I write at night.

OK, Random Question Time: 

What is your favorite sport? Did you play a sport in high school or were you a part of any club? If so, which sport/club?

I am almost universally terrible at all sports, but I was a savant at badminton. This went over in high school about as well as you’d think.

Do you have a Hollywood crush? Who and why?

I don’t know that I have one anymore, but I carried a little celebrity torch for Sigourney Weaver for the longest time. She’s one of those actresses who I find interesting and entertaining in interviews as well as films. I still think she’s pretty awesome, but her 30+ year marriage (and my own 15+ year one) has necessitated the downgrading of my crush.

Who is your all-time favorite band? Have you seen them in concert?

My current favorite band is Disturbed. I haven’t seen them in concert, but if I were twenty again I’d go to all of them (I’m not super old…just a little too old to be fighting it out in the pit anymore).

Thanks, James, for being so honest and revealing in your answers! The only thing I have a problem with is that you haven’t seen Disturbed. Every once in a while, it’s fun to get back in the pit! lol 🙂

It’s always so interesting to readers to find out what makes their favorite (or one of their favorite authors because as you know…I can’t even tell you how many favorite authors I have! lol)

And now, as promised – here’s info about James and how to stay in contact with him:

About James Knapp:

James Knapp was born in New Hampshire in 1970, and has lived in the New England area since that time. He developed a love of reading and writing early on, participating in young author competitions as early as grade school, but the later discovery of works by Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov turned that love to an obsession.

He wrote continuously through high school, college and beyond, eventually breaking into the field with the publication of the Revivors trilogy (State of Decay, The Silent Army, and Element Zero). State of Decay was a Philip K. Dick award nominee, and won the 2010 Compton Crook Award. Ember, The Burn Zone, and Fallout were all written under the name James K. Decker.

He now lives in MA with his wife Kim.

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