You probably haven’t heard the name Roger Knowles, but that’s not to say his is not a name worth knowing. Like thousands of people taking advantage of the groundbreaking, easily accessible technology now available to writers world-wide, Derby-based Roger is part of an independent movement far bigger and ultimately more astonishing than anything dreamt about as little as 20 years ago. Using portals like Amazon, he’s getting his work into the hands of anyone owning a Kindle. It may be doing the publishers’ heads in, but who cares, right? All’s fair in e-books and war.
Roger and I became acquainted through an online forum and, while I haven’t met the man in person – who is certainly a character – I have read one of his recent works – Broken Cats and Cowboy Hats – and enjoyed it; largely because I don’t write thrillers, and always enjoy reading books which approach things a bit differently to the way I do. With that in mind, and always one to jump at the opportunity of doing a blog post with minimal effort – can you really blame me? – I asked the man if he’d like to answer a few questions on this blog. He said yes. The result is as follows…
One: Your novels contain technical shifts in POV (point of view) which many authors find less than easy. What do you enjoy about jumping between time frames and what draws you to writing from the perspective of multiple characters instead of just one?
I’ve never liked the POV rule, feeling that as long as the reader can understand what’s going on, the rule’s irrelevant. Yes, I know – try telling an agent, publisher or editor that! But as I have no interest in conventional mainstream publishing, I can do what I like [Roger put a smiley face here, but you’ll just have to imagine that, as WordPress seems to harbour a serious dislike of smiley faces]. I don’t especially enjoy jumping between time frames, but I wanted to try different approaches with different books, and I thought that approach best suited ‘Broken Cats…’
Two: Broken Cats and Cowboy Hats is an unconventional thriller to say the least. What are your influences (literary and other)?
I must have some buried in my subconscious, but, consciously, I honestly don’t know of any. Having said that, I have the attention span of a young child on E numbers, so I like short chapters. For that reason I’ll happily read early James Patterson. And for his ability to tell a good if improbable story, I enjoy Lee Child and his Jack Reacher books – yes, I’m a bit lowbrow. Non-fiction wise, I’m a fan of Bill Bryson and the PC incorrect Jeremy Clarkson. I know admitting to liking the latter is like saying you’re a Jeffery Archer fan, but I can’t help that – he makes me laugh. Non-literary – my mother was a house-mother in a children’s home when I was in my teens, so I lived with severely disadvantaged kids for a few years and saw that even the basically good ones could easily go wrong.
Three: Could you give us some insight into what you did before writing novels and how that helped when you decided this is what you want to do?
My previous life involved writing long and complex investment reports for discerning clients along with pieces for the financial Press. I guess this taught me brevity, which I hope is reflected in my novels – I dislike long descriptive passages – sorry Mr Dickens.
Four: Although your work is obviously fictional, do you draw inspiration from any real locations?
Not really, though I have used one or two locations from my home town, Derby. One of my books, ‘The Association’, actually uses Derby as the location in one section – pure laziness, requiring no research.
Five: Some people are under the impression that books always take years to create. In reality those who write know that that isn’t always the case. How long do you spend working on a first draft and what do you think the advantages and disadvantages of writing at speed are?
On the first draft, probably about a week, but I’d stress that the end result is always extremely poor quality. The main advantage, I think, is the opportunity to get ‘the bones’ down as they emerge from the brain, and to quickly reveal aspects that don’t make sense in one way or another, which can then easily be dealt with in later drafts. Disadvantages? For me, none, but I know many writers have everything carefully planned before they put pen to paper, and for them, that’s the right way.
Six: ‘Write a thriller’ seems to be something on a lot of people’s to-do lists. What advice would you give to someone who has always harboured a secret desire to write one but has never quite got round to it?
Pick up a pen or switch on your computer and write/type ‘once upon a time’ then keep writing/typing until ‘the end’ appears on the page.
Seven: I like to wear stone masonry ear-defenders while I write. Do you have any strange or surprising tactics for shutting the outside world out and getting on with what you need to accomplish?
I use headphones with my MP3 player, using alpha-wave producing classical tracks.
Roger has another book out — this time romantically inclined — which is called To Be A Man. You can buy it or read the reviews by clicking here.