Awesome Author Interview: Jen Knight (Plus a Ten-Page Critique!)

I’m so pleased to introduce ya’ll to debut author Jen Knight!  Her YA paranormal, BLOOD ON THE MOON, will be on shelves Aug. 30th!  (Yay Jen!)

Jen will be checking in throughout the day to answer any questions you might have and (duh, duh, DUH!)  she’s also agreed to crit ten pages from a random commenter!  So be sure to leave a comment! 

Welcome Jen!  Tell us a little about yourself: 

I’m a writer and small business owner. I love writing about werewolves and all supernatural creatures. Except zombies. Zombies scare me. I’m also a mommy of two babies and wife to a wonderful hubby. If you want to get on my good side, just hand me some chocolate. Seriously. Three Musketeers is my fav.

Wow!  Busy lady!  I’m totally impressed you can pull it all off.

If you were going to set up a Facebook page for your book, how would you describe it? 

I do have a Facebook page for Blood on the Moon.

I would describe BOTM as a Y/A book for anybody with a love for sexy werewolf men and emotionally confused young ladies. Also hot make out scenes. A book just isn’t complete without a few of those thrown in. Tell me I’m wrong.

Nope.  You are right. *whispers* Sometimes I scan through the pages of books I’ve already read just so that I can check out the make-out scenes again.

Describe your path-to-published in five essential steps: 

Step One: Have passion. You cannot possibly sit down and write 50K-100K words without a lasting passion for your story.

Step Two: Edit. I’ll say it again. EDIT! This is possibly the most important step in the path to getting published because this will take your novel from “Amateur Land” to the world of polished, gorgeous writing. Nobody (and I really do mean NOBODY) sits down and writes an epic novel without editing. It’s not a mark of bad writing to change something. It just means you were smart enough to know what you’d originally written wasn’t perfect. And really, who wants to send something out into the world that isn’t as good as you can make it?

Step Three: Get an agent. And I don’t just mean ANY agent. Get a good one. There are a lot of dishonest people out there, so be careful when choosing who to query. Do research. Lots of research.

Step Four: Speaking of queries…you have to write an amazing one. It’s probably the most difficult step to getting published, but it is vital to success. I suggest doing a lot of research. Many authors will share their queries on their blogs, giving you some excellent insight into what works and what doesn’t. Read books, edit a LOT and get the opinions of critique partners. Seriously. This is a big one.

Step Five: Have amazing luck. Yes, I know this is impossible to control, but it accounts for about 90% of the “road to publishing” process. A lot of getting published is just good timing. Catching the right agent at the right time with the right book and the right query. It’s incredibly difficult to do, but if you can manage it, the payoff is huge. Message? Don’t give up. If you don’t get an agent right away, it might not be your writing or your story concept. You just might have caught your ideal agent at the wrong time. 😉

Great tips!  I especially loved your comment about how editing shows that you are smart enough to know when something needs to be changed.

Your book is YA paranormal.  To get published in that genre, you have to have a pretty distinctive voice.  How did you find yours?

When I first began writing, I was working on a sci-fi book that was ultimately a total bomb. I wrote with this lofty, detached voice that wasn’t really mine. It was how I thought an author should write not what was really in my heart. After that first book failed, I did a total overhaul on my approach. I channeled my inner-teen and just wrote what came out. Faith (my main character) was brash and sarcastic, and, okay, a little mean. One of the first things my editor critiqued me on was Faith’s ‘tude. I loved her dark, sarcastic commentary, but she came on a little strong at the beginning. I did a lot of work to soften her up. She’s still got that edgy attitude, but it’s more authentic now, thanks to good editing.

What’s been the biggest surprise you’ve experienced so far?

That this is actually happening!
And we’re cheering for you!  Every time one of us is pulled up from the ranks of the unpublished, I do a little happy dance.  (It totally involves the running man…just in case you wanted to dance along.

What part of this process would you not want to repeat?

The waiting process. After writing the book, editing the tar out of it, and then composing a halfway decent query letter, all you do is wait. You send about 100 of these letters to agents and waaaaaaait. It’s agonizing to wonder if one of them will be “the one.” Every day you wait for the mailman, or check your email every ten minutes just praying for a “yes.” It was the longest, most miserable part for certain.

Oh boy, do I feel you sista’!

What do you think is your greatest writing strength?

I’m always petrified of writing clichés so I’m very careful to eliminate those. I try to keep my descriptions and imagery fresh, always try to look at things in new ways. Nobody wants to read the same tired description in every book, and it’s boring to write the same thing over and over.

What did you do when you found out your book was going to get published?

I called my husband and screamed a lot. Then I called my mom and screamed some more. Then my sister. Then I ran into the kitchen and told my dad, whom I hugged like crazy. Then I told my son, who said some version of “bloogie blargen fargen.” He was about 18 months old at the time, so he didn’t quite understand the gravity of “mommy just sold her book!”

Someday I hope to relate!

Do you have any words of encouragement for those of us who are yet un-agented or un-published?

Yes! Don’t give up. NEVER give up. People will tell you no far more than they tell you yes, but that doesn’t mean you should stop pursuing your dream. If writing is what you want to do, then do it. If you love to write, getting published doesn’t matter. Do it because

Thanks so much for hanging out with us today! 

And don’t forget, that if you are interested in a 10-page crit from Jen, leave a comment with your email address!  A random winner will be drawn next Friday! WOOT!! 


  • Jess

    Awesome interview! I especially love your son’s reaction to your publishing news (“bloogie blargen fargen”)~ too cute! Thanks for the advice on editing and not giving up.

    Question for Jen: Do you plan on continuing to write paranormal stories~ do you feel like that’s your career niche or do you write all genres of YA?

    Oh, and Becky- I love your running-man and I-reread-makeout-session-scenes confessions 🙂

  • Kelly

    Thank you Becky for doing this interview series!

    Jen, thank you for describing how you found your voice, I think that will help me and others. (A special thank you for including an example!)

    Where do you get your inspiration for characters? Friends? Family?


  • prerna pickett

    great interview! I’m also completely freaked out by Zombies. Seriously, I’ve already planned out an escape route and everything should we have a zombie apocalypse, which COULD totally happen 🙂 Question: What kind of music (should you listen to music while you write) inspires you?

  • Jen Knight

    Hi everyone! Thanks for reading the interview, it was so much fun. My very first one!

    I’m packing for vaycay today, but I’m going to try to keep popping in to answer questions. Bear with me if I’m slow! (also I have atrocious spelling so forgive that as well.) 🙂

    @Jess: Do you plan on continuing to write paranormal stories~ do you feel like that’s your career niche or do you write all genres of YA?

    Answer: Well, I plan on finishing the Blood on the Moon series (yes it is a series, I did not leave you all hanging!)and then hopefully moving on to something new. It will probably be paranormal, but I’m not saying I’ll never to contemporary lit. If I get a great idea for a contemp lit, I’ll go with it. 🙂

    @Kelly: Where do you get your inspiration for characters? Friends? Family?

    Answer: All of the above. I pull from everywhere.

    @Prerna P: Question: What kind of music (should you listen to music while you write) inspires you?

    Answer: I listen to ALL kinds of music. Mainly alternative and soft rock, though sometimes I have a Taylor Swift binge or something sappy like that. 😉 Anything that matches the mood of what I’m writing…or maybe what I’m writing reflects the music??? Idk, all I know is that I MUST write to music.

    Thanks for the questions, guys! Be back soon!

  • Becky Wallace

    @Jen: Have you read Cassie Clare’s DSCS (Dirty Sexy Club Scene)? It’s a teaser on her blog. Holy schnikes! Had to get my shower squeegee to de-fog my computer screen. It was THAT hot!!

  • Carrie Butler

    “Bloogie blargen fargen.” Hah! What a great interview! It’s always inspiring to hear (or read, in this case) how someone made their dreams come true. I guess it’s back to the editing trenches for me!

    Congratulations, Jen, and best wishes for your continued success. 🙂

    P.S. Great post, Becky! Your comments crack me up!


  • Laura C.

    Congrats, Jen, and thanks for the great interview and pieces of advice! I have the worst time with un-cliche-ing my descriptions. I’m glad someone else has to work at it, too.
    Becky – I read CC’s club scene. Whew!

  • Jen Knight

    Ever seen Night of the Comet??? It’s an old movie, but it scarred me for life. I tried to read Carrie Ryans book, Forest of Hands and Teeth, but couldn’t get past the first few chapters. Not because it was boring or poorly written, but because it scared the tar out if me!! I just cant handle them.

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