Monday, June 1, 2009

The Dragon of Trelian - interview with author Michelle Knudsen!

Welcome to Day 1 of the Kidz Book Buzz tour for The Dragon of Trelian by Michelle Knudsen! Today I am thrilled and honored to post a delightful interview with Ms. Knudsen.


Welcome to Cafe of Dreams, Michelle! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions!

Can you tell us a bit about The Dragon of Trelian?

The Dragon of Trelian is a fantasy adventure about a young princess (Meg) and a mage's apprentice (Calen). Calen is struggling with his role as apprentice, and Meg has a troubling secret -- she's been raising a young dragon that she found, and now she's starting to be able to *feel* the dragon all the time, inside her mind. In the meantime, a delegation from an enemy kingdom is on its way to the castle, bringing a foreign prince to marry Meg's older sister in order to end a hundred-year war. When Meg and Calen meet by chance, Meg decides to share her secret with him and the two begin a friendship that will become more important than either of them realizes. They soon discover a traitorous plot against the kingdom, and it's up to Calen and Meg (and Meg's dragon) to find a way to stop the traitors before it's too late.

Who are your favorite characters in the story and why?

Meg and Calen are both really important to me, and I've gotten to know them pretty well, having spent a lot of time inside their heads. I like Calen's thoughtfulness and loyalty, and especially how much he cares about Meg. And I like Meg's impulsiveness and courage, and her devotion to her family and friends. As far as the secondary characters go, I especially love Serek (Calen's master) and Maurel (Meg's little sister). I'm looking forward to writing more about them in the next book.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process and what writing means to you? Where do you come up with your characters, ideas, etc.?

My writing process varies all the time. I don't always write every day, although when I'm working on a novel I try not to let too many non-writing days go by. I tend to jump in with a new story and start writing before I know a lot about what's going to happen. Then at some point I need to stop and step back and figure things out. I never seem to be able to outline or plan too much ahead of time, even though I know that would make some things a lot easier! When I am trying to figure out things about plot or characters, I do a lot of free-writing, asking myself questions and then thinking on the page to discover the answers. Sometimes I also spend time thinking about the story while taking long walks, or while listening to music on the subway.

I can never really say where my characters or ideas come from. Usually I just get a glimpse of an image or person or situation, and then keep turning it over in my mind until I feel I have something to start with. With picture books and short stories, sometimes I'll just start writing with absolutely no idea of what's to come. That results in a lot of abandoned, barely begun stories, but sometimes something will spark along the way and I'll end up with a complete first draft. There's a lot of trial and error, and different stories seem to want to be written in different ways. I suspect I'll never really have one process that works all the time.

What is a “day in the life of Michelle” like? Can you share with readers a bit of the person behind the fascinating writing?

I usually spend the morning on the computer, catching up on email and reading blogs and things. I do most of my writing in the afternoons or evenings. It's easy sometimes to spend way too much time at my desk, so I try to get outside in the afternoons, either to meet up with friends or go for a walk in the park or even just to run errands around the city. Some nights I stay in working or writing, other nights I meet friends for dinner or movies or other fun things. In addition to writing my books, I also do some freelance editing and am working on my MFA in writing for children and young adults at The Vermont College of Fine Arts, so the course of any given day will depend on what deadlines are looming soonest. It can be a little hectic not having a regular schedule, but I like that my days are often different one to the next, and it's nice to have the freedom to work at night -- I often seem to do my best writing then.

What types of books do you like to read and who are some of your favorite authors?

I love to read fantasy and science fiction more than anything else. Right now my favorite authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, George R. R. Martin, and Patricia A. McKillip. I'm also a big fan of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy; Robin Hobb's Farseer, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man series; the first nine or so of Piers Anthony's Xanth books (those were some of my absolute favorite books growing up); and selected Stephen King titles (especially The Eyes of the Dragon, The Stand, The Shining, and the Gunslinger Books). There are tons more books and authors that I love, though. I'm always reading, and always coming across new books to love. It's hard to come even close to listing them all.

Who inspires you?

Other writers inspire me all the time -- the ones mentioned above and many others. I'm especially inspired by writers that I know personally. Writing can be a very solitary way to spend your days, and so it means a lot to connect with other writers and to see how they deal with their own writing challenges and struggles.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I remember wanting to write from a very early age. There was a brief period when I was little where I was certain I wanted to be an animal trainer, and then when I wanted to work at a ranch and ride horses all day, and then a few years when I thought about being an actress, but writing was always there through all of it and was the one thing I always came back to. I always loved making up stories and wanted to be able to create the kinds of worlds that I read about in the books that I loved reading.

*Ok, here are some fun questions:

What are some of your favorite foods?

I love Italian food, and could probably eat pasta every night and never get tired of it. Especially if there are meatballs involved. Or fried chicken cutlets. I also love breakfast food, especially pancakes and French toast. And Chinese take-out. And good burgers. Someone recently introduced me to the joys of Japanese Kusihyaki, which is now also among my favorites. And nothing beats late-night pulled pork BBQ sandwiches. I do try to eat healthy sometimes, but I guess a lot of my favorites are not especially good for me. :) And I haven't even mentioned chocolate chip cookies or Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt!

What do you enjoy doing when you have free time?

I love to read, and also watch a lot of movies (either in the theater or on Netflix). Lately I've been re-watching Angel on DVD (I've already re-watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer a bunch of times). On nice days I love going for walks in Prospect Park or just wandering around the city. And I love getting together with friends, either to do one of the above things or just to have dinner or hang out and talk. I used to do a lot of community theater, and would still love to be involved with that, but it's been hard to find enough time in recent years.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I don't really have a plan. I hope to have written many more books, and hopefully be in the process of writing many more. I would like to do some teaching, maybe working with beginning writers who want to write for children. I suspect I will still be living in the NYC area, because it's home and I love it here, but you never know -- life can always surprise you and take you places you never imagined.

Do you have a favorite movie or t.v. right now?

The only TV show I watch in real time these days is House. (And since that's over for the season, I guess I don't watch anything in real time at the moment!). I do watch series on DVD, though, and among those my favorites are Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Veronica Mars. I also like catching episodes of Scrubs from time to time. I have way too many favorite movies to list, but a few random favorites include The Shawshank Redemption, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Quick Change, Moonstruck, The Quick and the Dead, 12 Monkeys, and Die Hard. I'm a sucker for Bruce Willis movies in general, actually. Sin City, The Fifth Element, etc.

Is there anything that you would like to add, Michelle? Or anything that you would like readers to know about you or your writing?

Just that I hope readers enjoy The Dragon of Trelian! Anyone who is interested can stay informed about my upcoming books and events at my blog, which is For more detailed information about my published books as well as information about school visits and freelance editing services, they can visit my website at I also love to hear from readers and welcome comments on my blog or emails at


Other fabulous bloggers on this tour are:

A Christian Worldview of Fiction, Abby the Librarian, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Homeschool Book Buzz,, Novel Teen, Reading is My Superpower, Reading to Know, Small World Reads, The 160 Acrewoods, Through a Child’s Eyes, Through the Looking Glass Reviews

Be sure to stop by and show some love! Also, please be sure to pop back by tomorrow for my review of The Dragon of Trelian! Until then, go out and find a little magic of your own....