Please help me welcome the fantastic Mark Knight to my blog today! He is the Author of the new Blood Family: Quest for the Vampire Key just newly available on Amazon.com but widely known already. He is a great Author and has become a close friend of mine so excuse me if I’m a bit partial to him. This is going to be a fairly long post but it is so worth the read!
About this author:
Mark Knight grew up in Massachusetts, USA. Settling in the UK, Mark continued to write novels of differing genres, including horror and television scripts. Mark has worked on feature film scriptwriter, having scripted two horror scripts for Hollywood’s Little Slices of Death production company and one for Illusion Studios. He also won several short story competitions, and has had his work featured in published anthologies. Mark concentrates now on Young Adult fantasy/horror/science fiction novels.
Here is my interview with him:
What is your name? Do you use a pen name (if so, why?)?
Tell me a bit about yourself:
I grew up in the USA, living on the West and East coast. Now I live in the UK in the Greater London area. I live very close to Leavesden Studios where all the Harry Potter films were made.
What type of genre do you write?
Originally my thing was science fiction. My first few novels were sci fi. When a friend in the movie industry asked me to collaborate on horror scripts with him, I began to develop an interest in horror and supernatural. My first novel with that theme was Blood Family, which had a 17 year old protagonist. Now I am almost exclusively a Young Adult writer.
What genre to you personally read?
I tend to read YA as that is what I write. I do like biographies as well, especially biographies of writers. Tolkien’s was most absorbing.
Tell me about your latest?
Blood Family is a novel about family and origins. Daniel Dark thinks he is a normal kid. He finds out he is adopted. Then he finds out his real father is a vampire. Finally, he discovers that his true mother has been imprisoned by his vampire father since Daniel’s birth. That is what sets him off on his quest, which ultimately takes him far from home. Along the way, his deadly vampire powers emerge.
What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story?
I think it started with the books my mom read to me and the books I discovered in school. When we were given a vampire short story to read in my 6th grade English class, it started me thinking: ‘I could write a short story’. What I wrote was a small 20 page ‘novel’, which my teacher read out to the class. From then on I knew what I wanted to do.
Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way?
Possibly The Hobbit. I lived in Ireland for a few years after relocating from America. We were out in the country. No TV and certainly no internet back then. I found The Hobbit and got lost in it, as though it were a real place. That was what appealed to me, creating a kind of visceral reality with words.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t set out to put forth a message. Often you find yourself implanting one, though, without even intending it. A lot of my stories are about the importance of family, and that your family is what makes you you. Many of my stories are quests, and they highlight perseverance, that you must have perseverance in order to get to that goal. I think that is a reflection of my own determination to get published!
What challenges have you faced in your writing career?
I have had many challenges; books and scripts that were almost published but ultimately weren’t. Blood Family got me my first agent. It also got me a meet with an editor of a very big publishing house in London. Sadly, we couldn’t agree on some changes that were required. The vampires in the story are part interdimensional, and the editors wanted them to be, well, ‘normal’ vampires. Part of the reason I wrote the book was to present a new take on vampire lore.
What has been your best moment as a writer?
I think acquiring an agent and the meet with the publisher. Although it did not end with publishing deal, it was a huge thrill. It verified to me that my work was considered ‘worthy’ of publication.
Who is your author idol?
Every author who has given a good story to people, who have thrilled them and elicited emotions from them, is my hero. Whether self-published or traditionally published. If their work moves people, then they have done something great.
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
Every one! Every character is a reflection of one or more aspects of the author. Yes, even the antagonists. You can base it on other people, but really it all comes from within yourself.
Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do?
I feel as though the dream is unfolding gradually. I guess my real goal is to hear back from people who were swept up in my stories, engaged with my characters, and now can’t get them out of their heads! That’s the dream.
What does your workspace look like?
A converted second bedroom that has a desk with two monitors, and heaps of scrap paper where I have written down notes in coffee shops, trains, etc. It must look a mess, but to me it is all perfectly logical!
Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit?
You know…I don’t think I have.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I love films and have a big DVD collection. Sometimes it can be distracting. Writing should always come first! I do love travelling when I can, and often explore London, which can be like a warren of undiscovered wonders.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
That whatever setbacks may happen, you can still get excited about the next project. There is always a next project!
Did you have a moment when you realized you were meant to be a writer?
I think after I wrote my first novel. I was 16. It was all by hand. It was terrible. But it resulted in my telling myself, ‘I’m going to be a writer’. And I have never, ever deviated from that.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Again, perseverance. ‘Don’t never give up!’ was one of the first bits of advice I read from an author (the bad grammar was deliberate!). If you love writing, you will keep writing.
After this book, what is next?
I have three other novels all ready to go, save a bit of last minute proofreading. They are all paranormal, all YA. One is about a boy who is cursed and made undead. I also have one about a group of teenaged friends who all have psychic powers. Just completed is a novel about angels reborn in human form, along with their demon enemies, to resume their war here on Earth.
This site has just had a huge overhaul by a very talented web designer; I am amazed with what he has done!
I post often, and have great fun on there. People will sign up for my newsletter will get a copy of my most popular paranormal short story, Forbidden – about an angel’s illicit love affair with a demon and subsequent punishment – just for signing up.
Blood Family has its own site, www.bloodfamily.co.uk
It has lots on it already, but I am constantly expanding it. Check back for insights into how the book was researched, and images pertaining to the novel. Oh – and the timeline of events in the Blood Family storyline.
Where can your book be found?
Blood Family will be published on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Later on it will be on Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other outlets. I love to hear from my readers, and hope they love it.
Here’s how Blood Family came to be:
The Road to BLOOD FAMILY
Posted: January 1, 2013 in MUSINGS
April 2, 2004 was the earliest date I have recorded for the inception of Blood Family. Also known as Blood Family – Quest for the Vampire Key, the novel was going to be a Young Adult horror adventure which would by my take on vampires and what vampires might be. And when I’d decided that, I knew I was in for an interesting journey, but had no idea where it would take me…
Vampires, vampires, everywhere…
I’ve always loved vampire tales and vampire movies. As a youngster growing up in Massachusetts, I was aware of quite a few famous vampires. Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, of course, but also Dark Shadows’ Barnabus Collins and the Count off of Sesame Street. They were everywhere, Scooby Doo, The Groovy Goulies, and even Gilligan’s Island had a vampire episode (didn’t Ginger look great in that gothic dream sequence?). In fact, it was a short vampire tale that we read in school – that’s right, school; it actually had some cool moments – that flicked on the writing switch within me. I now wanted to write. And so I did – a science fiction tale that had nothing to do about vampires. But my seventh grade English teacher read it out to the class nonetheless. My first audience! I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
As with everything I write, I knew that Blood Family had to be not just a good book, but a book that I would want to snatch from the bookshelves if I saw it there. So it had to be exciting. It had to feel real. And it had to be different. But not too different – vampires have to be vampires. Blood, immortality, strength, and supreme coolness. Oh yes, and fangs. (Where the hell are the fangs in the Twilight series?). Yes, I would keep all of the good stuff. Otherwise, I might piss off any potential readers. But how could I make them different?
The Devil In The Details
The angle I came up with was to make my vampires dimensional creatures that entered our world via ritual portals, altering those human beings who let them in. The dark spirits would take over the body of a willing host and that host would change. Strength. Long life. Hypnotic powers. And a thirst for blood.
That was my angle. I liked that. Now for my characters. The first character any writer should come up with is the main character. If he or she isn’t of supreme interest to you, then that character’s journey won’t be either. Daniel Dark starts out as a sullen, lazy seventeen-year-old New England kid. He loves his car. He loves his girlfriend. He loves the occasional spliff. But he has father issues. Dad is harsh, distant, and, to make matters worse, a strict pastor of a local church. But those daddy issues become enflamed a hundredfold when he receives a mysterious parcel from an entity claiming to be his true father – a vampiric entity calling himself Dominus.
Blood Family cover art by David M Rabbitte
As Daniel’s true origins unfold, he realizes that his life has changed completely. Not only is he adopted, but his real father is some kind of demon, one not even fully in this world. His adoptive mother tells him that his true mother is actually her sister, Celeste. Celeste has been a captive of Dominus since before Daniel’s birth. Daniel then knows what he has to do. He has to find his real mother, and confront his real father.
I had decided to make Daniel an American as I had grown up in New England myself, near Boston. I knew what it was like to live there, and to go to school there. I knew how the kids talked. Now I live in old England, and thought it would be exciting to lead Daniel on a quest that would lead him to the UK. Where in the UK, though? What was the spookiest, most myth-ridden area of England, a place where the malevolent Dominus might reside?
A Haunted Inn
I decided upon the moors of Devon. These vast tracts of wilderness and bogs located in South West of the country would be the perfect place for Silverwood Manor – the mansion in which Dominus and his followers resided.
Research. That was the next thing. I knew I couldn’t just read about Devon and its moors and hope that it would all sound authentic once incorporated in my novel; no, I knew very early on that I had to go there.
My friend Mike Hopkins lives in that area and, as it turned out, was pretty much an authority on the moors. Notebook and digital recorder in hand, I set off for Devon for several days. I stayed in the Old Church House Inn is set in the tranquil village of Torbryan. This historic Inn was built by stonemasons in the middle of the 14th century. During my nights there I had experienced not only strange sounds in my room but the distinct impression that someone was in the room and standing close to my bed. On the day that I checked out of the Inn I made a joke to the proprietor about the place being haunted. He told me that many people had experienced just what I had experienced. I left the Church House Inn with a chill lodged well within in my spine.
But I am getting ahead of myself. There was much to see and take in even prior to checking in at the Church House. I had taken the train from London to Torquay in Devon – a journey that took several hours . My first impression of the colourful town of Torquay was that it looked like something out of the 1950s or earlier. Perhaps even a town you might find in France or Spain. The climate was much warmer than the parts of England I knew, and was right by the sea. It is not called the English Riviera for nothing. I even spotted palm trees lining the roads. Was this really England? The writer Agatha Christie certainly had loved it here, having lived in Torquay most of her life.
How things would change by the time I got to the moors!
A Moor Is A Mysterious Place
‘Ok, ok’, I hear you say. ‘But what on earth is a moor?’ Imagine a vast wilderness, peppered with white granite rocks, russet hills, and peat bogs that squish beneath your feet as you walk. A perfect place for ghosts, or vampires. And Dartmoor is three hundred and sixty eight square miles of it.
There is a quiet and an eeriness to the place which cannot fully be put into words. It is a place where mists and howling winds are perfectly at home. The barren trees, I noted, were so relentlessly windswept that they took on the shape of scrawny hands clawing at the air. Ancient stone circles are everywhere – not quite as imposing as Stonehenge but remarkable all the same. Some were over a hundred meters across. Thousands of years ago, these circles would have been roofed with grasses set atop wooden supports. An entire extended family of perhaps a hundred people would live inside.
And what of the various legends associated with this place? There was the legend of the hairy hands. Cross a bridge here, and a pair of hairy hands will cover your eyes. Shudder. Great black cats, perhaps panthers, have been spotted skulking here. And then of course there are the ‘bottomless bogs’, as featured in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes classic, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901). Thin, loamy topsoil fills in any gaps between impervious granite. You could be walking along and suddenly – you sink. ‘You just don’t know where any of them are,’ Mike cautioned. But were they actually bottomless? The mischievous smile I got back from Mike answered that one.
After tales of ghosts, phantom panthers, hairy hands, and way more than I will go into, I knew that I had a lot of material for my novel. Much of my journey became Daniel’s journey.
Blood Family – coming very soon as a e-book for Kindle, Nook, and all good e-reader devices!
What an excellent insight to the creation of a classic tale with a twist. I personally read this book and here is my review of it:
Blood Family: Quest for the Vampire Key is an awesome, awesome, awesome book. Did I say awesome? I read a lot and believe me, I’ve not read anything like this since I read Anne Rice novels back in the 90’s. I originally read just the sample of this story on the Author’s website. I was so intrigued that I bugged and bugged him for the full novel. It far exceeded my expectations and I had already had high hopes for it after the sample.
Young Daniel finds out from his family that he is a Dhampir and the blood package he received in the mail further confirmed what he feared. He was adopted from his ‘mom’s’ sister, Celeste and his father was Dominus, Lord of the Shadow World. Daniel leaves his home and everyone he knows in search of his biological mother. After visiting Xochil, a shaman, he learns much of what he’s going to need to know to battle to keep himself from succumbing to his fathers’ twisted world. He meets a young paranormal investigator whose father was killed by Dominus and takes her along on his journey reluctantly. Read the story to follow his journey. Will he find his mother? Will he keep himself from the snares of his father? There’s so much to this story that it will keep you guessing.
The Author, Mark Knight, takes you on a twisting and turning journey with his main character. Just when you think you have things figured out and how much more could possibly happen, he adds another aspect to the story that sucks you in. He’s created a world where you really feel like you are going through this journey with Daniel yourself and envelopes you in a world of insane, cunning and manipulative characters. He is an excellent storyteller and paints the picture so well for you that you can actually see it in your mind. His attention to detail and creativity is leaps and bounds beyond anything I’ve ever read. The story is simply creative, well thought out and just crazy good! It is a must read for anyone who loves paranormal, mind blowing, dark fantasy. I just can’t say enough to give this book its proper justice. If this were a movie, which it would be awesome if taken on, it would break all the blockbuster records out there and win all the Oscars if the right people were cast. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest, it is a 100! If there was a grade above an A+, it would be used for this book! You will not be disappointed with this book. It was worth every minute I spent reading it and I’m already looking forward to a sequel. “Behind every door, and down every alleyway, we will be watching.”
People, I can’t stress this enough, this is the best book I’ve read in a very long time! Please, please, please check out this book! You won’t be disappointed. I’m expecting to see Mark again in a year and him being a billionaire saying, “Oh yeah, I remember your little blog”…LOL! Good luck Mark!