Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Intervew with David McKnight, Author of Tongue of Fire

Last week I reviewed the book Tongue of Fire, by David McKnight. This week I interviewed the author:

How long have you been writing for? Have you always wanted to publish a book?
I’ve been writing financial articles for national magazines for a few years and of course had a very intensive writing curriculum in college. But, believe it or not, this is actually my first foray into fiction. I’d always wanted to write movie scripts, short stories, and novels, and frequently had interesting ideas pop into my head. But this was the first time I actually acted upon it.

Where did you get the idea for the book?
Believe it or not, the basic premise for the story came to me in the one place where almost all inspiration comes: the shower.  After getting out of the shower, I told my wife, “I just had this crazy idea and I think I’m going to write a book about it.” Almost two years later, the book was done. Quite an incredible process going from the first inkling of inspiration to a finished product.  For any aspiring writer, I’d suggest writing a novel from start to finish—there’s no better learning experience out there.

Which character did you enjoy creating the most?
One of my favorite characters (and as it turns out, the favorite character of quite a few others I’ve talked to) is Arnie. He’s the backup kicker on the football team, a bit nerdy, somewhat of a social pariah, and Jacob’s (the Mormon preacher’s son and star quarterback) only friend when things get really bad. He can’t really be in the “in crowd,” so he settles for being “in the know.” He makes it his business to know everyone else’s business and becomes one of the main catalysts in the plot. Notwithstanding all his frailties, he’s got a heart of gold and wants to do the right thing. I think everyone can identify with Arnie because who, at some point in their lives, hasn’t been kicked to the curb a time or two?

What did you learn from the writing and publishing process?
Writing a novel is twice as hard as I thought it would be and took me twice as long. I spent 9 months writing a version of the story that was not workable and basically ended up starting over completely. It took me another 10 months to finish the next version, and after going through about 20 different revisions, I finally got it to the point where it was polished enough to publish. 
I also learned that there is no such thing as having it come out right the first time. Writing fiction (as in all other types of writing) is a process that requires constant revisions and refinement. I still read the story and say, what if I had said it this way instead of that? Of course that’s a process that could ultimately drive you batty so you just have to capitulate and get the thing published.
Lastly, find someone who knows what they’re doing and have them assist you in the writing process. I have a good friend who’s written 8 or 9 novels who acted as my sounding board. I’d shoot him 4 chapters at a time, he’d critique them, then I’d shoot him another 4 chapters. I’d recommend that anyone interested in writing a novel find an accomplished writer or writing group that can give you no-holds barred feedback during the writing process.  That way, if your story starts to veer off course, you can make those crucial adjustments along the way.

I can totally see your book as a movie. If that opportunity ever came up, how would you feel about it?
I've been asked this question quite a few times and I, of course, would be tickled pink if they made this story into a movie. I think before that can happen, however, we simply need to get the word out so that the story can reach critical mass. So, for that reason, I'll simply ask that if you read my book and you like it, you tell all your friends about it. For a limited time, I will continue to give away the ebook for free. All you have to do is go to the Tongue of Fire facebook page and Like it. Here's the link: facebook.com/tongueoffirebook.

Do you plan on writing a sequel or other books?
I’ve had other people suggest writing a sequel to this book, but I think one of my main goals was to write a story that could really stand on its own. I really wanted to try to button everything up by the end of the story and have no loose ends. Certainly you could take any of the protagonists and follow them on an adventure of their own but, I think for right now, I’m going to leave this story be.
I have a lot of stories bouncing around in my head, and I’ve already started on the next one. It’s about an inactive member of the Church who suspects he’s had a brush with one of the Three Nephites. When he becomes obsessed with finding out the truth, his life begins to spin violently out of control. The storyline is completely plotted out and I’ve already begun the first draft. It will appeal to much of the same LDS audience as well as others who are simply in the mood for a non-stop thrill ride. Think M. Night Shyamalan meets the LDS Church.
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