Gill McKnight is originally from Ireland, but also shares her time between England and the beautiful Greek island of Lesbos. This recipient of the Alice B. Readers’ Appreciation Award - a prize given to writers for their contribution to the lesbian community - has a string of books to her name. Fun, passionate lesbian romances such as Erositible, set in the Greek islands and Falling Star, featuring a sexy stuntwoman, Green Eyed Monster, involving a revenge kidnapping that fast becomes a love story, and the forthcoming Cool Side of the Pillow sit alongside her fantasy Garoul series; Golden Seal, Ambereye and Indigo Moon. Mcknight’s novels are not high brow. They’re about lesbians, passion, exotic settings, and happy endings. And sometimes werewolves...
Does moving between places influence your writing?
No, but my exhaustion is. Location is built into the plot, so it doesn’t matter where I am I just work on where the story needs to be.
Are you looking forward to visiting Nottingham again?
I enjoyed Nottingham very much on my last visit. It’s a city I’d never been to before and I have to say it had a lovely atmosphere and a very pleasant populace. Performing in public is not my most favourite thing; I think that’s a common occurrence among most writers. It’s an insular activity but in todays market there’s this unsettling self-promotion element that I personally suck at.
Some of your novels are romances and some combine fantasy - such as werewolves...
I have a varied output because I get bored easily. I sort of fell into a werewolf series, it was not intended that way and I am rather suspicious it has become popular. Who knew so many lusted after the hirsute? I’ll keep writing them as long as people want to read them, but I also write non wolfie books, too. I try for a wolfie and a regular romance every year. It gives me a little diversity so I don’t get boxed in to the one genre.
You chose to introduce werewolves into the real world, rather than create a whole new fantasy world. Did you find it challenging to do this in a way that it seemed believable?
Nah, it’s easy, that’s why I did it. My werewolves are the typical Hammer Horror, hiding in a human skin type. It’s no bother dropping them into a real world.
Does a good romance have to have a happy ending?
Yes. Otherwise it’s a bad romance. Like being at a wedding where the bride is jilted is not a good day out, now is it? But then again you’ll always remember it.
Your werewolf novels are a series. Do you plan these in advance?
I have no idea what the hell is happening even half way through the one I’m writing, never mind the next. I never have a plan. Oh, I have a lot of notes scribbled on bits of paper that get lost. Honestly, I couldn’t plan a slumber party for a herd of hypersomniacs. In any book I start at page one, wade towards the middle, and grope for an ending. Luckily all my plots are shallow and I haven’t drowned yet.
Why are werewolves better than vampires?
They’re not. Vampires don’t happen to exist in my world. I’ve enough problems with the bleedin’ werewolves. (Ed note: if you like werewolves, see our interview with Jörg Albrecht)
Do you hope to convey a message in your writing, or is your purpose solely to entertain?
I started writing to entertain me, me, me, me, and one other person. Then other people jumped onboard and it grew from there. I have no real message except don’t trust excessively hairy people with big, sharp teeth, but I think Brothers Grimm got there before me. So, no, I have no unique message for the world.
|"And don’t give me all that airy-fairy nonsense about Muses and the like. If they’re out there at all then they’re wearing dungarees and steel capped work boots, and they’re not waiting around for you so don’t waste your time waiting for them."|
How much of yourself do you put into your characters?
None. I’m not hirsute enough.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge in being a writer?
There’s never enough time. Oh, and spelling. I’m rubbish at grammar, too. And don’t trust that Microsoft Word to do it for you either. It’s got me in more trouble than enough.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Yes, prepare for hard work. If this is your first book keep at it ‘til the first draft is done, then you can have the luxury of a fag, a reread, and an edit. Repeat until you have something half sensible to sell. Don’t believe family and friends when they say it’s good – they’re liars. It stinks as you half suspected, go away and do it again and get it critiqued properly. And don’t give me all that airy-fairy nonsense about Muses and the like. If they’re out there at all then they’re wearing dungarees and steel capped work boots, and they’re not waiting around for you so don’t waste your time waiting for them. Just sit down and do it.
What do you like to read?
Anything and everything. I like to read the best of things and the worst of things, and whatever’s making money. And my literary sense is so poor I can never tell one from the other. Except for stinkers. We all know when we read one of them.
Can you describe your perfect writing day?
Early morning and preferably all alone, but if it’s busy I can ignore most things and get on with it.
When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?
I hang out in Lesbos, what’s not relaxing?
Are you working on any new projects at the moment?
I always have four or five on the go. That way if I get stuck or bored with one I can swing to another and work on it for a chapter or two until I get refocused on the original one. The main draft will always be the one with the closest deadline. Sounds weird, but believe me it works to keep your ideas simmering even if it’s only an opening chapter.
Gill McKinght will be attending the Bold Strokes Books author event at Waterstones, Bridlesmith Gate, on Saturday 23 July (from 3.00pm onwards) and Sunday 24 July (from 11.30am onwards).