Paranormal author Deidre Knight can honestly say she got her start in the entertainment business in a Georgia car wash. That's where she launched an early career in filmmaking before she went on to become one of the country's foremost literary agents. Now the multi-talented author is pursuing another dream as the second novel in her ground-breaking paranormal series, October's PARALLEL HEAT goes on sale across the country.
How did you find yourself behind a camera, and on what programs or projects did you work?
In high school I took night classes in photograph, and in college won some awards in amateur shows. I began charging local bands to do their promo shots. I had truly decided that I wanted to be a professional photographer - in that way that you land on an idea when you're young! Meanwhile, I was also studying Art History and English, and writing, too. It was about this time that my interest in movies turned into a true obsession with film.
One day I stopped at a car wash and met an executive with the top documentary and commercial filmmaking company in Atlanta, who gave me an entry-level job. After gaining experience there, I stepped out and began freelancing. I was assistant production manager on a B52's video, which had me wrangling the band and their 35 pieces of luggage into a van. I worked on a Lifetime movie with Lou Gossett, tons of commercials, and even the Nike Super Show. But hands down the most amazing experience I ever had was working on the NBC television show, "In the Heat of the Night," starring Carroll O'Connor and Howard Rollins.
If I could name a high point in terms of good gossip, it would be that David Soul (from "Starsky and Hutch") kissed me because of all the work I did on his episode. I wanted to burst into angelic choruses of "Don't Give Up on Us, Baby!"
What effect do you think your movie-related career has had on your storytelling?
For one, I've think of my novels as having "production design," a movie's look and feel, or sense of atmosphere. Will the movie be brightly colored? Flashy? Or muted and subdued. Will the southern town feel like a place that passed its prime twenty years ago? If so, how do we make it look like that. How do we visually state that fact? I try to do the same things with my book; create an atmosphere with weather and mood and colors and anything else that actually creates a mental look for the story.
Tell us something about PARALLEL HEAT.
Marco McKinley is a warrior who sole mission in life is to protect the royal family, which includes not only King Jared and his lovely queen, Kelsey, whom we met in Parallel Attraction, but also beautiful soldier, Thea Haven. The attraction between Marco and Thea is so hot it almost incinerates the pages, but there's a little problem. As a royal protector, Marco isn't supposed to have sex, and certainly not with a member of the royal family. But, as well all know, passion and love cannot be denied. Marco and Thea connect in an alternate timeline, then must deal with the consequences - and the continuing undeniable attraction - when their thoughts and energies need to be directed to saving their king and queen, their people, and Earth, for that matter. It comes down to having to choose between the love of a lifetime and honor, and we wonder if these two will ever be able to be together, especially with all kinds of plot twists to complicate matters.
You have developed a reputation of being an expert in paranormal fiction. What led you to this area of emphasis?
I grew up on shows and movies like "Star Trek," Star Wars" and "Starman." In my grownup years I've been an avid fan of "Roswell," Farscape" and the reimagined "Battlestar Galactica."
I've also always loved the Arthurian fantasy. When I was in my early twenties I was able to visit Cornwall, the land of the "real" Arthur. Seeing those moors and the mists and rugged coast really inspired me. So, I was a sci-fi geek, an epic fantasy fan, and a lover of all things Arthurian. I think it was natural that these influences instilled a love of paranormal romance and fiction within me. Once you read PARALLEL ATTRACTION and PARALLEL HEAT, you'll glimpse shades of Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere - though I won't tell you who's who. You've got to figure that part out for yourself!
What do you think has ignited readers' passion for all things paranormal?
First, I wonder how many people know that this isn't a world-wide trend, but one specific to the U.S., and somewhat in Japan? What do I think ignited the trend here? The advent of 9/11, and readers' subsequent desire to escape, to master their fates (in a world where they felt powerless), and to believe that Good could win. There's been no stopping it ever since, and it's a perfect time to launch my Parallel series! (Two more are in the works.)
PARALLEL HEAT could be called paranormal/futuristic time travel with science fiction elements, and let's not forget the very sexy part! What do you think your publisher found in this series that is fresh and different
I think my publisher responded to many elements in this series - the writing, the storyline, the characters. But in particular they liked that, in a paranormal market focusing largely on werewolves and vampires, this series featured aliens. But not just any old aliens--like the kind readers were accustomed to in hardcore science fiction, those riding around on space ships and tapping things into their communication devices. No, these are Earth-bound aliens, making them easy to respond to. Even readers who might shun sci-fi or futuristic romance can relate to people living in Wyoming who hotdog on snowmobiles, love their iPods and do things we do (wink-wink) and do them very well. Beyond that, my publisher really fell in love with the idea of alternate timelines and realities that is the bedrock foundation of the Parallel series.
What do you mean by alternative realities?
The idea that our choices all have repercussions, and for all we know - much like in the movie, "Sliding Doors," - every time we make an impacting choice, it might well spawn alternate realities. Haven't we all felt like somehow, just beyond our reach, we could be living a whole other life? For me, I've often wondered if maybe there's another Deidre working in Hollywood who became a big time producer (which was my mega-dream for a number of years.) It's not quite de javu, but it is the feeling that somehow along the road, many paths branched off. It's that sense of almost being able to touch these other lives (the ones I might have led) that was a big part of what inspired these books. Don't we all long for the chance to start over and make better, more perfect choices - especially with the hindsight of knowing our mistakes? That appeal is a big part of what makes this series work; the inherent desire to revise our wrong choices, to maximize the right ones. To live to the absolute fullest, defying our limitations of time and space. Although this series is hot, hot, hot, I would also say that it has a spiritual dimension; if we can bend time to our will, then we can defy everything that limits us as human beings.
You set your Parallel Series in Wyoming, with a heroine who is a geologist. Why Wyoming, and what inspired the geologist career for your character
Honestly? I needed a very remote place and I adore Jackson Hole and the Yellowstone area, so I chose it somewhat selfishly. "Maybe I can go there!" I thought. But it was also the perfect, extremely rugged and isolated terrain I needed as a believable hideout for my hero's people. It seemed pretty believable to me that a rebel group of warriors might manage to hide out there and get away with it undetected.
I've been back to Jackson Hole a couple of times, and one of those times I consulted with an FBI agent there for PARALLEL HEAT. I put my theory to him, this idea that someone might hide out there undetected, so long as it was the right part of the park, and he basically concurred.
You're not only an agent and an in-demand author, you're a mom and wife as well. When do you find time to write? When do you find time to relax, and what do you do for entertainment?
I'm hugely blessed in having a husband who supports me wholeheartedly as a mother, author and agent. That means where I might have to grocery shop or cook, I have a fantastic hero who does these things for me, allowing me to focus on the most important aspects of my life: Brownies, ballet, deal making, and, of course, writing. I tend to write at night once my girls are in bed, or occasionally at odd early-morning hours. There's a Tim McGraw song that I love, "How Bad Do You Want It?" I love the message in that - the idea that you have to breathe and sleep and eat your dreams.
As for time to relax, as you might have guessed, I'm a movie junkie. These days, I love nothing more than kicking back on the sofa with my honey and watching DVDs.
In the past, I loved Six Feet Under - which I still contend was one of the most well written shows ever to appear on television - and The Sopranos. Plus, I love reading romance - no surprise there!
Do you have time for hobbies? Are you a collector? (A little bird told us you love "I Love Lucy" memorabilia.)
Well, I do love Lucy, but only because I AM Lucy - on a whole lot of levels! Just ask my husband about my tendency to be a bit whacked out and spacey. That, of course, comes back to the question above about living in my imaginary world. It's hard not to be a bit of a space cadet when your brain is performing full throttle in another dimension! But as for hobbies, these days, I'm eBaying it, searching out Coach bags. That's pretty much my only girly-girl indulgence, at least apart from bubble bath (grin!)
My entire family is musically oriented. I play the Hammond organ, used to play in a church band.
I don't get much time to play piano or keyboard anymore - apart from helping my seven-year-old with her weekly piano lessons - but music is my lifeblood. Between my husband and myself, our iPods are always playing something. Current favorites on our play list include Tim McGraw, Blur, Coldplay, Alice Cooper, Teenage Fanclub, Buena Vista Social Club, Deathcab for Cutie, The Flaming Lips - and this just scratches the surface. That, almost more than anything, inspires what I write. I tend to identify books with what I was into listening to at the time; usually, I even create a play list for a book I'm writing, the soundtrack for the story, if you will. It's bizarre, but The Band's The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down has always been emblematic for the Parallel series, simply because it's a first person account of how war tore a family apart. Even though that war was here on our planet - and long ago - it still speaks to this story for me.
What do you wish your readers knew about you?
That writing isn't just an occupation, it's a deep expression of who I am. To me, the story is king (not just Jared!), but it is an expression of the great wonder I feel about life and the universe. When I write, I delve into the hidden places in my heart, and hopefully - if I'm successful - I convey at least a part of that to my readers. They will join me on a journey in which together we can appreciate the absolute mystery of what it means to be human, to love, have sex, sacrifice, commit and live up to our duty. In the end, isn't that what we're all looking for?