10 Questions with Sam Knight
My guest today is Mr. Sam Knight, author of THE MILFORD ULTIMATUM. Please enjoy our interview.
1. Mr. Knight, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. Your international thriller THE MILFORD ULTIMATUM came out in June. Tell us a bit more about this book.
The paperback edition, which incorporates improved editing, was published on October 1st. The novel is set against the background of the Israeli/Palestine conflict and is written on two levels. The first explores how the frustration felt by Palestinians leads to extreme measures; the second level explores the relationship between Leo and the young Saudi girl as they become caught up in the Milford conspiracy.
2. Who is security advisor Leo and where did the inspiration for his character come from?
I based Leo’s work and social experiences partly on my own, except that he is far more cautious a character than I ever was. He inhabits the same geography as myself.
3. What kind of research did you do for THE MILFORD ULTIMATUM? How much of what your write in this novel is real and how much is fiction?
I spent the best part of two years researching this novel, partly because I felt it important to state the Palestine situation accurately. This involved not only books by academics but actual interviews and blogs by people directly involved in the conflict – on both sides. The only non-factual element of the plot is the Milford Ultimatum itself. It hasn’t happened – but it could.
4. Why do you write? Why thrillers?
I have spent my life in the written world, as bookseller, journalist, editor and corporate communications advisor. Words come as naturally as breathing.
I am not sure why thrillers. I enjoy the genre in the cinema, and probably see the thriller as a form of personal exploration as well. It’s also fun to search for an ending which still quite vague twenty pages from the end!
5. A word of advice for new writers?
Write one good sentence at a time. And when you have completed the first paragraph, read it aloud. Does it sound good?
6. What have you learned during the writing process for crafting a novel?
The most important thing I have learned is to obtain good critical advice earlier, rather than later. I submitted the novel, under a different title, for critical review when it was finished. Back came the review – strong on plot, weak on character.
That meant I had to undertake major revision throughout the book, because character cannot be that easily changed, whereas plot can be.
7. What was it like living and working in Saudi Arabia?
I spent just two years in Saudi Arabia in the early 80s. It was my first experience of the Middle East and I made many mistakes in my relationships with Arabs. As the only westerner working in the airline’s public affairs division I loud-mouthed my own expertise, unaware that I was hurting the pride of my fellow managers. What I learned stood me in good stead when I moved to Bahrain, a small country with high levels of courtesy and a big heart.
8. What are your writing habits?
I normally start about 6.00 am working upstairs in my study at my computer. I finish about 11 am and have coffee with my wife. If household duties permit, I may do a little re-writing in the afternoon.
I like to develop a plot for a novel fairly thoroughly before putting pen to paper. In contrast, with short stories I often start with a situation and have no idea as to the conclusion.
9. What are your favorite pastimes?
I enjoy photography, gardening, collecting silver spoons and wondering whether I will ever dance properly.
10. What is your next book going to be about?
I have two works in progress: a collection of short stories which covers thriller, romance and some humour too; then another novel which explores the relationship between two strangers as they visit significant towns and cities in Europe.