1. Do you write a single genre or do your fingers flow over the keys creating tales in many forms? Does your reading choices reflect your writing choices? Are there genres you wouldn’t attempt?
I read a lot of genres: romance, both contemporary and historical; sci fi; fantasy; mystery; thriller. But I’m currently focusing my writing efforts into historical romance set in the early 1800s. That’s not to say I mightn’t branch out in the future. I have some ideas I’d like to explore: the bath house at Rotorua would be the perfect setting for a murder mystery set just before the first world war; I have a couple of post-collapse futuristics scenarios in half outline form; I’ve half written a sci fi novel based vaguely on the little mermaid.
Still, for at least the next two years, I’m in the fictional world I started with Candle’s Christmas Chair and Farewell to Kindness --- England in the early 19th Century.
2. Heroes, Heroines, Villains. Which are your favorite to write? Does one of these come easy and why?
I enjoy creating characters of any kind, and I’ll happily spend days answering questionnaires about my main characters. I really enjoy seeing the people in my head coming to life on the screen as I type, and I’m often surprised by how strong their opinions are about the way the story should go.
But I particularly love listening to and watching my villains. I find villains easiest, which might be worrying if I think too hard about it. The brakes come off, and I give them the kind of dialogue that suits their personality: sociopath, or spoilt young man, or self-centered society beauty, or thug.
3. Heroes. How do you find them? Do pictures, real life or plain imagination create the man you want every reader to love? Do they come before the plot or after you have the idea for the story?
The story usually starts with a situation. Whether the hero or the heroine comes next depends on what the situation demands. I start by mapping out the plot in my head, but the hero doesn’t really come to life until I answer a detailed character questionnaire that forces me to think about his preferences, his habits, his early family life, his hobbies, and his motivations. I usually don’t start writing till I’ve finished the character questionnaires for all of my main characters.
I tend to go looking for an image for visual inspiration once I have an idea of the character in my head. A picture that fits the person I’m creating then helps me to provide descriptions that are consistent as I carry on with the story.
4. Heroines. How do you find them? Do pictures, real life or imagination create the woman you want the reader to root for? Do they appear before the plot or after you have the idea for the story?
I follow the same process for heroines; rough plot outline, then character questionnaire, then first draft. I write strong, determined heroines, but they all have their own characteristics and personal histories.
5. Villains or villainesses or an antagonist, since they don’t always have to be the bad guy or girl. They can be a person opposed to the hero’s or heroine’s obtaining their goal. How do you choose one? How do you make them human?
In each book so far, the villain has emerged from the story as I wrote. As soon as I know who the villain is going to be, I go back and do a character questionnaire for them. Here’s how I write villains:
(a) I pick up things that frighten, worry, or annoy me - in characters on shows, or people in real life. What are the character flaws that cause this response in me? What would the people be like if those flaws were magnified and their good qualities absent or reduced?
(b) I think about the villain’s past. What terrible things have they done in the past? What terrible things have been done to them? Are they victims lashing out or are they just trouble makers? Were they deprived of love as children or were they born that way?
(c) What are their redeeming qualities? Do they love their cat? Collect bone china? Have a soft spot for orphans?
When a reader tells me that they loved to hate my villain, I know I’ve done a good job.
6. What is your latest release? Who is the hero, heroine and or the villain?
On 31 March, I released Farewell to Kindness. The hero is Rede, more properly Stephen Redepenning, 8th Earl of Chirbury. He has returned from Canada, where he was a fur trader, to take up the title and also to hunt down the people responsible for the murder of his family. The heroine is Anne, a mysterious widow who lives rent free in one of his cottages, and whose daughter has the distinctive eyes that run in Rede’s family. The villains are Rede’s enemies, the ones he is hunting, and Anne’s cousin, the person from whom she is hiding.
7. What are you working on now?
I’m currently writing a novel that will be published in October. It tells the story of David and Prudence, operatives for one of England's shadowy spymakers. They are sent to investigate a spying ring that is stealing secrets for the French by blackmailing aristocrats. Among those they investigate are David's legitimate brothers (the sons of the Duke who sired him) and the husband of one of Prue’s three sisters.
I’m also writing a novella set seven years before Farewell to Kindness, with Rede’s cousin as the hero. Called Gingerbread Bride, it will be published in November as part of a box set with novellas from each of the Bluestocking Belles.
And I’m writing a couple of made-to-order stories for readers who won one of my competitions. They’ve chosen three characters and a story trope, and I’m writing the story to that specification.
8. How can people find you?
Jude Knight is the pen name of Judy Knighton. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude is returning to her first love, fiction. Her novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was released in December 2014, and is in the top ten on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US and UK. Her first novel Farewell to Kindness, was released on 1 April. It is number one in a series: The Golden Redepennings.
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