Interview with Alex R. Knight III

Published 2021-10-05.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Groveland, a small town in northeastern Massachusetts. This was during the 1970s, and the horror craze that began in the sixties was still very much alive. There were comic books, plastic models, games -- pretty much everything you could imagine. There was a store called Gerry's Variety that carried every comic Marvel, DC, and Gold Key/Whitman ever published. I devoured stacks of them. Then I read J.R.R. Tolkien, and my inner landscape changed even more. Everything seemed like Middle Earth in and around the house where we lived, which was right on the Merrimack River. There was also the music of Led Zeppelin and just rock and roll in general. That place in that time was very magical to me, and always will be: The styles, the culture, the music, the craziness. I draw energy from it to this day.
When did you first start writing?
Originally, my aspirations were musical, but I was one of those kids where from grade school up into my late teens, teachers and professors were always telling me I had writing talent. It was just a sideline thing, though. I didn't take it that seriously. Occasionally I'd write a short story longhand, and then later on, it was poetry. It was just something that came in handy if I wanted to get a good grade on an English assignment, nothing more. I was more interested in starting rock bands and being a guitarist or singer. But by around 1995 I saw that just wasn't going to go anywhere. Conversely, at the encouragement of my landlady's daughter, I started doing arts and entertainment articles and reviews for the local newspaper, and not only was I getting published -- I was actually getting paid. I got some of my poems published separately. I sold a magazine article cold on the first try. So it became pretty obvious to me at that point which of my abilities I ought to be focusing on.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It's certainly different from anything I've written before, at least in terms of tone and approach. It's deliberately constructed to be at kind of loose ends, and to have a specious, almost ghostly atmosphere. But it deals with a host of really human concerns, as well: The pain of adolescence, loneliness, addiction, love and unrequited love. The cruelty people can engage in, many times without even realizing it. The fact that even those who love us most can be cruel. It's a dark book. But I think it's not without its bright spots. I hope it causes people to think deeply about themselves. And I hope it gives them a damned good scare, too (laughs).
What motivated you to become an indie author?
E-books are here to stay, and they're unquestionably the wave of the future. But aside from the technological ramifications from a consumer standpoint, the medium also means much more independence for authors. No more are we beholden to the powers-that-be in New York. They're no longer the gatekeepers to a writer's destiny. A very good friend of mine from childhood turned me on to and got me started in indie publishing, and she's a bestselling author in the historical romance genre. Anyhow, she went the traditional print publishing route with one of the Big Six in the Big Apple and came to the conclusion ten novels or so later that it's not what it's cracked up to be. I'd done two print books with a small now-defunct publisher, and they failed miserably in terms of sales. She kind of walked me through the mostly pros and very few cons of going e-indie, and the rest is history. Or, hopefully, (insert laughter here) history yet to be made.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Well, I think one of the greatest aspects of Smashwords is that it allows the consumer a lot of format choices. Currently, even a lot of avid readers haven't yet invested in any kind of electronic medium for doing so, and while I don't expect that traditional print publishing will entirely disappear in my generation, more and more of it is and will continue to be electronic in nature. So while we're in this kind of techno-transition period, I think it's a really big plus when someone wants to purchase a piece of work that's only available as an e-book, but can do so by obtaining it in a format they can enjoy even if all they have is a standard desktop or laptop PC.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I think it's really in those moments when you can crystallize your vision in words -- when you really get that sense that you're going to be able to convey something to the reader that's from your innermost thoughts, whatever that might be at the time. I also really get off on when something spontaneously comes up that you never anticipated when you sat down to write, and you just kind of chase it wherever it goes. Then there are those times when the words all just seem to flow so smoothly, and a sequence of events in a storyline just plays out perfectly, like a movie reel going on inside your head. But I also think it would be very wrong and very disingenuous to categorize writing as all joy. It's an obsession, a need -- like food, water, air, or sex. There are times when it's just therapy, and nothing more. There are times when writing is raw survival -- a way to try to hang on for one more day. Writing for me is a necessity. But when it can be joyous, I praise those times.
What do your fans mean to you?
They're very flattering, and very humbling. Anytime someone who I've never even met before shells out a few of their increasingly hard-earned dollars to buy something that came out of my head...well, that just floors me. That's really one of the ultimate expressions, when you get right down to it, of, "Hey man, fantastic job! Keep it up!" And of course I'd keep going even if no one bought anything I write -- because I have to. Again, that's how I survive. But it adds a certain validation to your work. It shows that on some level, other people identify with you, and care about what you do.
What are you working on next?
A lot, as usual (insert smile here). I have several more short stories, and some poetry in progress, all of which will comprise future e-titles. And I'm always publishing nonfiction essays hither and yon online. What was to be my next novel, ORDER CASTLES, a historical horror/spy/military thriller set in 1942, during the Second World War, is now on hold. I'm about three-quarters of the way through the first draft, but I came to the realization that it's not the novel I want to be working on right now. It's not the one *demanding* to be written. So I'll be coming back to it with a fresh perspective at some point in the future, I'm thinking. That's all I really want to say about it for sure right now. The novel I'm working on currently is SHADOW'S ACRE, which is *begging* to be written, by contrast. It's a time travel novel, and without the benefit of an actual time machine, I'm guessing I'll have it published before 2022 ends. It'll likely be far bigger than THE MORRIS ROOM in length -- almost for certain, in fact -- but that's all I'm really prepared to say at this point.
Who are your favorite authors?
Man, there are so many of those I wouldn't even know where to begin. It depends upon the topic or genre. And maybe even the day of the week (laughter). But if we're going to talk horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, there are the obvious ones: Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Matheson. Poppy Z. Brite is an amazingly talented writer you don't hear much about anymore, unfortunately. James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Simpson) was always great. Peter Straub is just fantastic. Dean Koontz is maybe one of the greatest short story writers in H/SF/F today. And of course Tolkien. Roger Zelazny and Terry Brooks might be some others in the fantasy genre -- and there are scores of others. Big names and obscure ones alike.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The fact that it's another day of life, and you never know what that's going to bring -- even if it's just a few thoughts you happen to write down, and nothing more. We're all only here for a brief blip on the cosmic time scale. That certainly doesn't equate to life being any kind of utopia. Mine sure as hell hasn't been. But wasting what time is allotted to you, or that you can squeeze out of this dark glass of a world? If there is any such thing as real sin, that's got to be one of them.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Easy answer: Reading (laughter). Every serious writer reads at least as much as they write, and that means reading everything -- not just in a few narrow areas. But otherwise I also take a strong secondary interest in abstract painting and have a modest portfolio. I'm a welder, and have my own metalshop. And of course, I still play the guitar (how well, I wouldn't want to have to admit to -- let's just say I'm no Jimi Hendrix). I speak Spanish with some fluency (I've taught it on a basic to intermediary level), and I like to keep up with and expand upon that. I enjoy nature too, and when I can get away -- which isn't very often -- I like hunting and deep sea fishing. I also have a dog, and they are always great and loyal companions. Every writer should have a dog. Unless you're Rudyard Kipling. Then maybe you should have a mongoose.
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Books by This Author

Empty World
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 54,150. Language: English. Published: April 26, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
Jim Avery is nowhere. Or maybe he’s everywhere. Either way, there’s no one around. Except a nameless, faceless pursuer who shadows him through the endless succession of hallways and strange rooms. But Jim remembers a time and place where there were people: His parents, his schoolmates, and Jill Gillis, his best friend. Then everything began changing. Everything became an Empty World...
The Morris Room
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 155,030. Language: English. Published: March 7, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Crime
Welcome to Rye Falls, New Hampshire. A quiet seacoast town where four vicious murders have taken place under mysterious circumstances. As the investigation unfolds, fire chief Larry Keller is drawn into an unspeakable terror he must confront, and a childhood past he cannot forget.
Tales from Dark 7
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 46,810. Language: English. Published: July 21, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Suit up and prepare to blast off into ten tales of tantalizing terror with Alex R. Knight III’s Tales from Dark 7. From dizzying frozen heights where a sorcerer’s apprentice takes part in a nightmare ritual, to the steamy depths of an underground jungle prison where inmates navigate decades of hell…Tales from Dark 7 is sure to frighten you until long after sunset.