Interview with Samuel Knight

If you could only listen to five songs for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
Cloud Speed by Sad Souls is my instant first pick. It's an ambient song that is very special to me. I've associated this song with moving on and facing challenges, and as such it's very close to my heart.

Lotus Island by Buckethead is my second pick. I really think he outdid himself with this six minute guitar solo masterpiece. It's got hard, powerful sections and a rocking snare hit in the center which I look forward to hearing every time it plays. It's really good for getting into the writing mood, especially if the scene is intense, action-packed, or just has a quick pacing. Definitely my favorite Buckethead song.

Guile's Theme from Hyper Street Fighter II: Anniversary Edition is number three; you may also know this song from the 10 Hour Guile's Theme video on YouTube. This song is definitely one of the most versatile, useful, and downright enjoyable pieces of music I can think of. I listen to this song when I work out at the gym and it never fails to keep me motivated. I've listened to this song while writing, reading, and even while studying. It has the perfect amount of rhythm and it never gets old.

Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi is my fourth pick. I found this song after watching Fantasia 2000 as a kid; this, if you didn't know, is the song that plays during the animation with the flying whales. I've jokingly referred to this song as "the theme of my life." I often drift off in thought when I hear this song, particularly the ending with its triumphant brilliance and powerful brass. Between its upbeat start, soothing center, and incredible finish, I would be a fool not to keep this song close by.

This was by far the hardest pick, but I think my fifth choice would be Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor by J. S. Bach. This behemoth of an organ solo is one continuous phrase spread over a monstrous 14 minutes, as Bach and other Baroque composers are bound to do in their writings. In my opinion it's his single best organ work, and probably the best organ piece ever written. It's complex, dynamic, and astoundingly beautiful.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand will likely always be my number one favorite book. Despite the stigma surrounding it, I've yet to read anything where the heroes are as deep, as strong, and as challenged as they are in The Fountainhead. The plot is masterfully written and connected with me on a level I never thought was possible. The book had a significant impact on my personal life and parts of it still influences my thinking to this day.

The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson is number two because of its importance to my writing. I am an epic fantasy author almost solely because of this series. Brandon wrote a long, powerful story that inspired me to write something with the same depth and magic. I saw in him what I wanted to be, and that motivated me to sit down and get to work.

The Once and Future King by T. H. White comes in at number three because it was the first "big" book that I read in my early high school years. I was interested in fantasy and dragons at the time, so my librarian recommended it as "the original epic fantasy novel." I picked it up one day and couldn't put it down until it was finished.

Epic: Legends of Fantasy as edited by John Joseph Adams is at number four due to its storytelling variance. It has big-name authors like George R. R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card, and a host of others I had never heard of before. The book itself is a collection of epic fantasy short-stories, each in different places and each with different moods. Besides being a thoroughly enjoyable read, it also opened my eyes to the possibilities in epic fantasy and was part of the reason I chose it as my professed main genre.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck is number five because it's the first classic novel I can distinctly remember reading. The plot taught me more about the simplicity of an isolated worldview than anything I've since learned in school. The characters were flawed and memorable, and all through to the end of the story I found myself hoping for the main character to succeed in his endeavors.
What do you read for pleasure?
I love reading science-fiction, space opera, philosophy, and epic fantasy novels. I read a lot of online webcomics and I've been going through Gaiman's Sandman as of late. I sometimes read the newspaper to keep up with politics and the stock market. I spend a lot of time browsing D&D and RPG forums looking for funny stories and inspiration for future novels. Sometimes I'm motivated by a single picture, other times I'm motivated by a long story someone wrote about their playgroup.
What's the story behind your latest book?
In the summer after my junior year of high school, I was bored and looking for something to fill my time. I heard about a webcomic that was gaining serious steam and, since I had nothing but free time on my hands, I decided to pick it up and start reading it. Over the next three months I put in anywhere from 2 to 10 hours each day in reading the webcomic from start to finish. I was so inspired and determined to create a story even better than the one I read that I launched into work on my Triumph of Heroes trilogy sometime that summer, though I can't remember when. It evolved into its current state over the course of a year, and the rest is merely publication history.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
This is a situation that I feel is more by accident than by purpose. I spent a lot of time self-publishing on the internet in middle school and early high school. I was rather successful on FictionPress for a while, though all of my stories have since been taken down by my own volition. Self-publishing is currently all I know. I'm trying to grasp the difficulty of finding an authentic publisher, but so far all the experience I've had is a collection of people telling me that the first one is always going to get rejected about 20 times.

In short, I suppose I'm an indie writer because I haven't tried to be a big-time writer. At least, not yet.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the woods of Oregon and the suburbs of central Florida. I spent my youngest years (0 to 9) at the former and my older years (9 to current) in the latter.

In Oregon, I was accustomed to huge backyard space and snow. Dad would often take me out to the porch and help me shoot slingshots over the tops of evergreens. He built a wooden fort between three trees and over a small river for me and my two sisters. Many times I adventured out there and played with my wild, unbound imagination. We had a tire swing that I would ride until I dropped to the ground, then get on and ride again. Winter was a wonderful time. The top of the snow would ice over and become so thick you could actually slide across it. I built snowmen and threw snowballs at anything that moved, and anything that didn't. I was often read books before bed time and I actively sought new stories.

I moved to Florida when I was 9. In Florida, I had to adjust to fire ants, alligators, and significantly warmer weather. It was here that I drifted towards indoor activities like band, which I did until my sophomore year of high school. I was still an outdoors person, but as my academic load increased, the time spent outside decreased. I began reading books on my own to fill the time, and around middle school I started writing my first story. It rained in the summer and I began to find the sound of thunderstorms equal parts comforting and inspiring.

Living in Oregon and Florida instilled in me a deep desire for adventure, freedom, and happiness. Back then it felt like the world had no borders, no boundaries, no fences. I try to emulate that hopeful desire in all of my works. Some days I yearn for the chance to walk barefoot in the cool grass and the warm dirt. I miss the summers I had as a kid when nothing mattered but what was over the next hill. If you're lucky enough to be reading this before you hit the adult world, cherish every moment you spend in blissful freedom. There's nothing like it.
When did you first start writing?
I started in 6th grade. At the time, my older sister was just starting to write. She, being a great influence on me, showed me the basics and left me to my own devices. She would go on to write several successful stories on FanFiction (some of you may have read them) and would start drafting the mythology of her very own superseries in 2010. I, however, deviated away from fanfiction, finding the characters too difficult to emulate and the situations too "absolute" to change. I started writing my own story about a girl I liked at the time, and my interest in writing only went up from there. I quickly found purchase in a small corner of the internet; I published my works chapter-by-chapter in hopes of striking internet fame. Though it ultimately wasn't meant to be, I made many connections, a few of which I still keep up to this day. After that I had a few breaks of uncertainty, but when I started working on Triumph of Heroes, I knew I was back in the game and I wanted to stay.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creation, above all else, gives me more joy than anything in the universe. It allows me to be in total control of what is going to happen. Nothing is more exciting than hammering out that first big plot point and wanting to write it more than anything in the world. I derive an intense amount of happiness from creating stories, and oftentimes I have ideas for new stories that I hurriedly write down before I forget what it's all about. Writing gives me a chance to express myself and my capacity for storytelling. It challenges me to be bigger, better, and deeper than I currently am.

Watching a character unfold as you write them is what I imagine raising a child would be like. You give them certain values, guide them with a background and give them obstacles to block their way. Ultimately, they end up making a lot of the decisions on their own, at which point I consider a character to be "alive." When a character reacts in a way I didn't expect or didn't plan for, then I know that I've created something special. Sure, the plot has the change a little bit, but that's the magic of storytelling. The plot can change from what you thought was going to happen. The character chooses to walk a different path. I think that's beautiful beyond words.
What are you working on next?
After I finish my flagship series, I have a stand-alone fantasy-adventure novel planned and another series behind it. After that I have a few backlogged "heat of the moment" stories I started but never finished, most of which I could finish in a month if I'm dedicated since the plots have already been planned out. After those are finished, I have the idea of a superhero series brewing but nothing more concrete than names and story aesthetics.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I lead a pretty straight-forward life. When I'm not writing, I'm usually playing various video games or working on homework. I try to keep up with the stock and forex markets, emphasis on "try." Some days I binge watch episodes of my latest favorite series on Netflix, but only after my homework is finished and I've gone to the gym. I go to the gym five times a week and oftentimes get more motivated there than anywhere else. My goal body is one that's both dense and strong; due to genetics, my body won't ever be big. I listen to a lot of music and try to explore new pieces as often as I can. Some songs have even ended up in my writing playlist.
Published 2017-07-11.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Convergence
Series: Triumph of Heroes. Price: Free! Words: 183,930. Language: English. Published: October 17, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
(5.00 from 1 review)
Now deep in their chosen realms, the Heroes continue on their quests to find their patron gods. Though their powers grow by the day, so do the stakes as a malignant force looms overhead... The second installment in an epic trilogy, author Samuel Knight continues to impress with lovable characters, intense cliffhangers, and an ending that will leave you desperate for more. Also available in print!
Advent
Series: Triumph of Heroes. Price: Free! Words: 164,590. Language: English. Published: May 18, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
(5.00 from 1 review)
On the debut night of a new tabletop roleplaying game, a group of friends are swept away to the world of Renea, a beautiful world with incredible landscapes and real magic. But are they too late to stop the oncoming storm? The first installment in an epic trilogy, author Samuel Knight creates a bright new world full of magic, humor, and intrigue. Also available in print!