Friday, November 19, 2010

Dishing it up with author E.J. Knapp...

Hi folks, welcome back to another interesting Friday. Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing fellow Backspacer, E.J. Knapp. EJ entered the world of thriller writers with his d├ębut novel Stealing The Marbles, which came out on September 1st from Rebel e Publishers.

EJ was born during a thunderstorm in Detroit, Michigan, several years before the Motor City discovered fins. Raised in a working-class, blue-collar neighborhood, he morphed into the stereotypical hoodlum a teenager, growing up on the west side of Detroit, was expected to be. Dropping out of high school at sixteen, he hit the road in his 1960 Chevy and has, in one way or another, been rolling down that road ever since.

He has published numerous short stories in various on-line magazines. He is also the author of a nonfiction

work, The Great Golden Gate Bridge Trivia Book published by Chronicle Books in 1987.

JET: First of all, let me say thank you for joining me on my blog. Your first full-length thriller, Stealing the Marbles came out in September. Can you tell us a little about the book?

EJ KNAPP: Glad to be here, thanks for inviting me. The book revolves around the Parthenon Marbles, Greek antiquities stolen by Lord Elgin at the turn of the 19th century and shipped to England. The Greeks have been trying to get them back for close to two hundred years with no success. Danny Samsel, thief extraordinaire and the protagonist of the story, is exiled on the island of Kefalonia because of an earlier theft. Estranged from his lover, Kaz, and desperate to find a way to reconcile, he decides to steal the Marbles from the British Museum and return them to Greece, knowing he will need her help to pull it off.

JET: Was writing thrillers a conscious choice or was it just a natural affinity? Why do you think that is?

EJ KNAPP: Probably more a natural affinity. Though my tastes in reading spans the genre spectrum, I tend to read more thrillers than any other type of book. Over all, I prefer thrillers that are more character oriented than those that are primarily plot driven. As for why, I like the pace of the thriller, the inherent danger, the many obstacles to overcome and, in one that is character driven, the emotional turmoil the characters live through.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

EJ KNAPP: Oddly enough, the writing has been the easy part. It’s been the seeking-publication part and the promo part after publication that’s been the hardest for me. My horn is banged up and I don’t toot it very well in any case, so having to pump myself up in query letters and, now, in seeking reviews and interviews in an attempt to get the book buzz, it’s a bit like climbing a mountain with my hands and feet bound and an apple jammed in my mouth.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

EJ KNAPP: Initially, it was landing an agent. However, that turned into such a fiasco that it became my least favorite moment. Firing that dude was both the worst and near-favorite moment early on. The favorite moment by far was actually holding the printed book in my hand. I’m a staunch advocate of eBooks but there is something still quite magical about holding a paper book in your hand. I would say that was followed closely by its acceptance by Rebel e Publishers, the editing process with my editor Jayne Southern and seeing the cover, created by the genius Jacques Stenvert, for the first time.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

EJ KNAPP: Early on, it was Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein. I wrote a lot of really bad SciFi while stumbling my way through puberty. The greatest influence, though, was Kurt Vonnegut, who I discovered while in college. He not only influenced my writing, he gave me back my love of writing. Richard Brautigan would have to be listed as well.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

EJ KNAPP: Probably about the time I learned how to read. Reading took me out of the hostile environment my young self found himself in. In writing, I discovered that I could create whatever world I wanted, or needed, to travel to.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

EJ KNAPP: Back in the 80s, I wrote a non-fiction book on the Golden Gate Bridge for its 50th birthday. This was pre-internet so all the research for that book took place in the library. My friend Cindy Ford and I spent a lot of time in the San Francisco State library and, as it turned out, I’m allergic to book dust. I sneezed my way through several months of reading microfilm and dozens of boxes of Kleenex gathering the information for that book. As for the most interesting fact, there were many I found amusing in the GGB book the most interesting was learning that Lord Elgin did, in fact, steal the Marbles. There was no indication, that I found, that the Ottoman Empire actually gave the Marbles to Elgin, which is the prevailing belief.

JET: Of all the stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

EJ KNAPP: If we’re talking published short stories here, it would have to be a toss-up between The Dance and The Karaoke Singer, both of which can be read on my website.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

EJ KNAPP: Read. Read some more. Continue to read. Write, write, write. Read some more. Join a writer’s group or a good writer’s forum like Backspace. Get over your fear of putting your work out there. Learn to take criticism without it making you want to slit your wrists and then learn to take it with a grain of salt. Everyone’s a critic, not all of them are good critics. Pay extra attention to the writer/critics who’ve gained your admiration and respect.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?

EJ KNAPP: Paper. Why waste what little oil we have left on plastic?

JET: Steak or Tofu?

EJ KNAPP: Steak, rare.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

EJ KNAPP: Love both but if I had to choose, it would be the beach, preferably a deserted one.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

EJ KNAPP: Rock-n-Roll.

JET: Classics or Modern?

EJ KNAPP: Modern.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

EJ KNAPP: Not much of a horror movie fan so Silent Film Classics would trump Cheesy B Rated Horror. If we’re talking books, now, horror would be the way I’d go.

JET: Zombies or Demons?

EJ KNAPP: Zombies. My Latin is rusty and all you need is a good Mossberg pump with a lot of shells to kill Zombies.

JET: Paper or Digital?

EJ KNAPP: Digital. My hand writing is so bad, even I can’t read it.

JET: Salty or Sweet?

EJ KNAPP: Love both but I’m definitely a sugar addict.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

EJ KNAPP: Coffee. Peet’s coffee if at all possible.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

EJ KNAPP: It’s called Meter Maids Eat Their Young/A Love Story’s End. It’s about a journalist who returns to his home town after a long absence and must deal with a breaking story that has the town on a powder keg edge while dealing with all the memories of his past. Murder, memories, mayhem and mangled meters plague him at every turn. I’m nearly finished and hope to have it in the wind mid next year. I’ve also started work on a story titled Bad Bucket and the Church of the Dung God. I think that one will be fun to work on.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about E.J, Knapp and his work at the following places:

Join me next week when I'll have an in-depth interview with none other than billionaire Chris Ryan. 

Until next time.

1 comment:

Steve Kay said...

Lord Elgin simply did not steal the marbles.