Author Interview – Jessica Knauss


Welcome author Jessica Knauss

Born and raised in Northern California, Jessica Knauss has wandered all over the United States, Spain, and England. She has worked as a librarian and a Spanish teacher and earned a PhD in Medieval Spanish Literature before entering the publishing world as an editor. She has published fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in numerous venues.

Her acclaimed novella, Tree/House, and short story collection, Unpredictable Worlds, are currently available. Awash in Talent is published by Kindle Press. Her epic of medieval Spain, Seven Noble Knights, will be published by Bagwyn Books in December 2016.

Describe your Kindle Scout winning book, Awash in Talent

So much Talent can kill you.

Welcome to Providence, Rhode Island, home of telekinetics, firestarters, and psychics!

Emily can’t escape her annoyingly Talented telekinetic healer sister without committing a crime.

Kelly must escape her pyrokinesis school and bring Emily’s sister to Boston—her mother’s life depends on it.

Appointments with Emily might drive her psychic therapist insane. With so much Talent, sometimes it’s all you can do to function in an un-Talented society. Awash in Talent is made up of three interrelated novellas, each with a different narrator.

Tell us three things we’d find if we looked under your heroine’s bed. How about the hero’s?

If I told you what was under Emily’s bed, it would be a spoiler. Then again, she’s not really a heroine! The area under Kelly’s bed is swept out daily to prevent fire-prone dust bunnies and confiscate any contraband. Patricia, Emily’s psychic therapist, likely keeps a cash escape fund under her bed along with the out-of-print editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

There aren’t male heroes in this book. I made a conscious decision to focus on the women’s stories, but of course there are important male characters: Emily’s teacher Carlos, who has no idea Emily passionately adores him; Kelly’s love interest, Brian, who shows her she doesn’t always have to follow the rules; and Patricia’s husband, an unrepentant slob—we’re better off not thinking about what he may or may not have left under his bed!

What is the theme of this book? If it’s part of a series, how does this book fit into the series?

I think there are at least two themes to this novel. Each narrator’s perception of love is a central concern. Love/hate between sisters, mother and daughter, scared teenagers, a mismatched married couple, adult female friends, and an obsessive and the object of her affection are all examined below the surface of the explosive events.

Second, like many paranormal books, Awash in Talent is concerned with the way difference is handled in society. In this world, people who can move things with their minds are privileged, while firestarters are shut away and feared. Un-Talented people are especially suspicious of psychics, and when captured, these people who can see thoughts are subjected to horrors worse than any known torture.

Although I didn’t envision Awash in Talent as a series, Emily’s character is so lively that I’ve started a sequel with her further adventures. Kelly and Patricia will make appearances, too!

Why do you write paranormal? 

My body of work up to this point has been magical realism, so perhaps the logical next step was to kick it up a notch and do a paranormal adventure. But it wasn’t really logical, because I’d been focusing on my realistic epic set in medieval Spain (Seven Noble Knights, coming from Bagwyn Books December 15). I loved writing that book, but sometimes I needed a break from historical accuracy. Contemporary plots and problems seem like a breeze after all that discipline! (And it turns out I couldn’t help myself: a few subtle ghosts ended up in Seven Noble Knights.)

Any tips to share with fellow authors? What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?

Somerset Maugham is reported to have said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Laughter is liberating! I love the idea here because I always chafe when someone starts listing requirements, using words like “must,” “have to,” and “should.” I’ve been writing fiction since I gained the motor skills to pick up a pen. I’ve found out what works for me through experience, and it might not work for any other writer. If I had to boil it down, I’d say read great writing and do what works for you.

Or, to quote Neil Gaiman, the first rule of being a writer: “Write.”

Thanks to Jessica for stopping by this week. Be sure to catch up with her on Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Good Reads, Facebook, and her website.

Awash in Talent is available here (as a Kindle Press book, subscribers to Kindle Unlimited can read for free)


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