(CPFE): Who, or what, is your inspiration to write?
Dee S. Knight (DSK): I have two major influences in my life: my husband and my mom. Of course, my dad always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted and I’m very close to my aunt, but Jack and Mom really are my rocks and pillars of support. If I do anything well, it’s because they helped or encouraged or (yes, sigh) criticized—but in a good way. And they both make me laugh right when I most need to. That’s always a good way to get centered.
CPFE: When did you start writing?
DSK: I started in 2002. Jack was on a contract job in Greenwood, SC and we never knew when we would be leaving. Instead of taking a temp job, he suggested I use my time to write the story I’d had rattling around in my head for a few years.
CPFE: When did you realize that you wanted to become an author?
DSK: LOL! In 2002. Truthfully, I did have that story rattling around, but I never thought I’d make it into a book. The characters weren’t speaking to me or demanding to get out of my head or any of those other things I hear authors talking about. I just thought it make an interesting book for someone to write. But after I finished those 95,000 words (in one month) and a publisher told me she liked my writing style, I was hooked. I haven’t run out of ideas since.
CPFE: What is your advice for aspiring authors?
DSK: Learn craft. Concentrate on mechanics and flow and grammar and punctuation. Spend time figuring out goals and motivation. But most of all, know your story and learn how to tell it. If you’re a good storyteller, the rest can be learned. Then stick to telling your stories. I’m not sure if that’s good advice or not.
CPFE: Do you do research for your books/stories? What kind of research do you do?
DSK: I do research for some books. The contemporaries are easy because I know pretty much what I want to say and what the current world is like. But I still investigate the cities where the characters live or their professions. I do that by asking friends or through books and the Internet. I just finished a short story about voting rights and did a lot of research about the suffrage movement in Virginia, and I did that all online. I’m also lucky to have lived many places, so often I can travel to a location or know people who live in just the right spot.
CPFE: Do you outline before you start writing?
DSK: No, I don’t outline. Lord knows I’ve tried it but it just doesn’t work for me. I wish I was that organized!
CPFE: Do you plan ahead before you sit down to write, or do you let the story take you where it wants to go?
DSK: I don’t need to plan the story so much, but I do the characters. I use character sheets that cover everything I can imagine about the main characters, and that makes me think about their motivations, goals and major characteristics. When I have the sheets filled out I usually also have part of the story in mind—maybe the opening or ending or a scene. I sit down at the computer and hunt and peck my way from beginning to end. When I’m stuck I talk things out (endlessly, sometimes) with Jack or one of my critique partners. Somehow, it all comes together.
CPFE: Do you write at a desk, or do you have a laptop that you drag around the house with you?
DSK: I have a very nice desktop unit and an AlphaSmart, which is what I drag around the house…and to Panera’s and to work and to my friend’s house when we’re going to brainstorm.
CPFE: Besides a pen/pencil/notepad/computer, what is a must-have while writing?
DSK: Silence. I’m one of those people who normally likes nothing going on while I write. The exception is if the story is fully formed and coming easily. Then I put TV on the computer and half listen to the news or some crime show. That’s a happy time because the writing is so darn smooth and fast.
CPFE: How did it feel to sign your first publishing contract?
DSK: Oh my gosh, I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t told anyone except Jack (well, duh.) that I was writing because it was erotic romance. Plus I had no idea what I was doing, so my expectations were very low. No one wants to go around saying, “I’m writing a book!” to everyone they see and then have it not accepted, so I stayed quiet. But when I was offered the contract I next told Mom. She didn’t care that the work was erotic—she was thrilled for me.
CPFE: What is your favorite genre to write? Your least favorite?
DSK: I write erotic romance, ménage and sweet romance and I like all of them. Strangely, when I’m writing sweet, I keep wanting to add a sex scene and when I write erotic or ménage I keep wanting to cut back on the sex and make the couple cuddle. I absolutely can’t be satisfied, lol. And my least favorite to write? I don’t have a least favorite—so far, anyway.
CPFE: Is there a genre that you haven’t written yet, but you want to try?
DSK: No, I guess not. If I want to write it, I do. In the paranormal realm, I’ve written ghosts, time travel, and psychics, and I’m happy with those areas.
CPFE: Tell me a bit about your books? What do you think makes them stand out from the rest
DSK: Gosh, I can’t say what makes my work stand out. I’d like to think it’s that I write good, realistic characters who are fun to spend a few hours with. I also try to give my heroes and heroines a reason to have sex so there’s a deeper purpose behind their going to bed. (That makes me happier, anyway.) I hope people are entertained, touched and titillated—just a smidgen—when they read my work.
CPFE: There are many fascinating historical places in Charleston, South Carolina. Are there any within your books?
DSK: Lucky you!! I love Charleston! I’ve used Richmond, VA (capital of the Confederacy) as the location for several books, Kitty Hawk, NC and Beaufort, SC (lovely, wonderful, charming! And near you!). I’ve also had San Francisco in a couple of books—historic and fun.
CPFE: And, for fun, if you could be anyone for a day – real or fictional – who would you be
DSK: Gosh, that’s hard. I’ll just go with my first thought, regardless of how shallow and silly it seems. Scarlett O’Hara. She was beautiful, charming, confident and made the best of any situation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Tomorrow is another day,” so I feel Scarlett and I are sisters where it counts.