Aside from her fiction writing, Sandra Knauf is the publisher and editor of Greenwoman Magazine, a garden writing magazine. She was a 2008-09 featured “Colorado Voices” columnist for The Denver Post and her humorous essays have appeared nationally in GreenPrints. Sandra has also been a guest commentator on KRCC’s (NPR’s southern Colorado affiliate) “Western Skies” radio show. There she read her essays, including one about a chicken in her family’s flock that changed from a hen to a rooster (a true science story!). Sandra lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her family, three dogs, urban garden, and lots of books.
What inspires you to write?
Three things come to mind right off–curiosity, having an idea that I feel needs to be shared with the world, and nature. In the case of Zera and the Green Man, I became curious about the legend of the Green Man and finding out what this image of a man, with a face made of leaves, was all about. I did my research and discovered that the Green Man is a fascinating part of our heritage. I also feel like I was put on this earth to help protect it and show others its beauty and wonder. I’ve been concerned about genetically-modified food for many years (another thing I learned about through curiosity) and I felt that that, too, was a story that needed to be told. I should add a fourth element that is just as important as the others–FUN. When I write, I want to entertain. I want the reader to go on a ride they will not soon forget.
Tell us about your writing process.
When I wrote Zera and the Green Man, I started with two ideas I thought were compelling, the Green Man and genetic engineering. I wanted the book to have a female protagonist because so many stories had male “leads.” (I’m thinking of Harry Potter here, but if you go to the movies on any Saturday you will see that most stories we tell have males as the stars.) I have two daughters, and I wanted to write a book that put a female in the lead role. I really didn’t know where the story was going to go until about halfway through, although I knew how it would end. As it was my first book, it was my learning curve book. I felt fine writing it as a “pantster” – a term I’d heard for someone who creates/flies by the seat of her pants. It took me a while to get to learn about my characters that way. I think for the next book I will work more with an outline and speak with my characters (see question below). Once I have an idea to write about, I do not have any problems writing, though with this first book I struggled with the deeper issues in the plot. I’ve never experienced writers block.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I didn’t with the first book when I began, and that’s what took me the longest–discovering who they were, deep down. I certainly will talk to them before the next one!
What advice would you give other writers?
Get your work out there–d.i.y., publish by whatever means necessary. Keep improving your work, and, I know this has been said before, never, ever, ever give up!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I went through a process of looking for an agent and seeking traditional publishing for years. A few expressed interest, but ultimately nothing came to be. My book was not an easy fit as it’s a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and environmental fiction. I also know that many in the industry are not familiar with the subject of genetic engineering. It was a hard sell. After publishing a magazine for a couple of years (Greenwoman Magazine) I knew I had the skills to publish this book as well as a platform. I also knew a skilled editor and a proofreader who could help me give the book that final, professional polish. When I knew in my heart that the book was ready, I was happy to do it myself instead of wait for outside approval.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The future of publishing is bright! Publishing is about story-telling and I truly believe everyone has a unique and important story to tell. Self-publishing is going to allow those who would not be able to get into the traditional publishing market to have a voice. Print-on-demand is affordable and doable; an aspiring author can publish one book, or one hundred, and just get her work out there. Six years ago I asked a well-known and successful author what he thought about self-publishing. This was at a writers conference and we were in a room full of other struggling writers. He basically told me that it was not a legitimate way to go. I am very happy that he is being proven wrong.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Young Adult, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Biography
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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