I had the great pleasure of conducting an interview with the talented Francis Knight, author of the Rojan Dizon Trillogy – Fade to Black, Before the Fall set to be released on June 18, and Last to Rise scheduled to be released November 26, 2013.
If you remember my review of Fade to Black I applauded her ability to translate what I loved about film noir into a written form. That combined with characters you can’t help butfall in love with for their wit and charm, an original setting, with an engaging plot left me eager for more.
So naturally I sent a request and before I knew it I had received a copy of Before the Fall for a review. Once I finished I had to have some burning questions answered. So without further ado, I give you Francis Knight!
- Anyone can search Google to get your author bio. What’s something new and interesting that you can tell us about yourself?
I’ve got three tattoos – two dragons and a Rohirrim flag. I’m kind of hankering for another one, but I can’t decide what I want.
- Would you mind giving us some information on the development of theRojan Dizon books – inspiration, writing process, or any quirky pre-writing rituals?
My usual process is ‘start with a character in a situation’, a vague idea of the tone/atmosphere I’m going for and then I develop by writing to see what happens. For the Rojan books, I originally envisaged a sort of future dystopia, but after feed back from my writers group it became apparent I’m pretty shoddy at future tech, so I decided to go for dark, Bladerunner style fantasy. The rest turned up as I was writing. And my only ritual is ‘Tea!’
- Rojan is one of the most interesting characters I’ve had the pleasure to read. Where did he come from?
Rojan turned up pretty much fully formed – a part of the setting in essence. He wouldn’t be who he is without the city and what’s happened to it, and what it’s done to the people he knows and loves. He’s the cynical, sarcastic part of me unleashed and stripped of hope. Which did make him fun to write!
- Besides the trilogy of books focusing on Rojan do you have any other stories to be told in this world?
Certainly! Frankly, I have more ideas for stories than I could reasonably write in the next ten years, though not all on the same world. I’ve got plans for a few other cities on Rojan’s world though…
- Faith and religion feature heavily in your books, especially the role of the deacons and archdeacon in the government. Why did you choose to place such a strong focus on the beliefs of the city and what does that do for the plot?
Religion and faith are large parts of the fantasy genre (in much the same way that tech is part of Sci Fi – a story can live without it, but it’s a common theme). But I wondered about the more personal aspects of living in a theocracy – especially if you don’t believe in the same things everyone else does. Rojan’s lack of faith is a huge part of him, and a reaction to the same things that made him such a cynic elsewhere. For the plot – well it can go many ways! It always can. But it informed the setting, the backstory of the city, which then informs what people are doing now, what they want and how they go about it, which becomes the plot. As with any setting, all the aspects have to work together to make a convincing whole, and that’s, and people’s reaction to their setting, is what affects the plot.
- Your world has an interesting blend of technology and magic. What made you decide to include some modern amenities like cars and guns while still having a strong and present magic system?
I was interested in how magic and technology could co-exist. If not everyone can do magic, but tech can do some of the things that magic can. Or if one can do things the other can’t. How does it affect the balance of power? Mages might feel tech is a threat and suppress it, or vice versa. They could of course live happily together, but that’s for another story!
- That being said, why do you think so many fantasy authors are hesitant to create worlds that feature technological advancement as well as magic
Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but what daunted me about it was because of the difference it makes to the balance of power. Swords and wizards, there’s been many books about that, and the balance of power that brings, and its variations. We know it, it’s comfortable (and there’s nothing wrong with that!). But once you change one thing, it has a ripple effect – it can affect everything! That said, there are many authors who play around with magic and tech.
- What drew you to the dark, gritty aura around your Rojan Dizon books? I’ve read it elsewhere that films such as Blade Runner and Sin City appealed to and inspired you, why is that?
I’ve always had a soft spot for dark atmospheres when I read or watch a film, I don’t know why. I thought it was about time I tried to see if I could make one for myself. A challenge.
- Fade to Black ends with great change for the city of Mahala. How are the things Rojan experienced in Under going to change him for Book 2, Before the Fall?
Well, the change really started in Fade to Black, but we’ll see more of that as the books go on. Rojan was pretty self absorbed to begin with, but he’s forced to confront parts of his own and other people’s natures. What he experienced Under, and what he woke up to about himself, has a profound affect on that confrontation, and how he deals with what it shows him.
- Mahala is a beautifully crafted city that reaches up instead of out. The Ministry expends a lot of effort to ensure that the outside world essentially doesn’t exist. Yet we see a Storad fighting in the Death Matches during Fade to Black. Any chance we’ll see more of the neighboring nations in Books 2 or 3?
I think it’s safe to say that Mahala is going to have to acknowledge that there is, in fact, an outside. The neighbours will be sticking their oar in plenty, so it’ll be hard to hide! Rojan may even get to leave the city….