Interview with Neils Knudsen

cover with more colorAbout The Singing Stones of Rendor

Endowed with a magical ability not seen since the ancient Rendor Empire, life for K’Las just turned dangerous—and he’s not even born yet. His parents hide him in plain sight for several years until they learn of a plot to seize an heirloom and enslave the powerful magical voices that blend with the family treasure. The family manages to escape the clutches of cold-blooded zealots from the Grand Peer that chases them to one of Rendor’s mysterious great henges. A wild and shrewd wizard who hides within the henge, learns of the family’s secret treasure and vanquishes one of the zealots, but not out of altruism. He too is covetous of the powerful treasure the family holds dear. Trapped between a ruthless killer and a crazed wizard, K’Las must quickly learn to control his nascent skills to help his parents best their foes. If he can’t, it won’t matter which of their foes wins—his family will surely die. Even if he does succeed, the hostile and unstable world order will not permit such unrestrained magic.

My Review

I love a good fantasy that has me turning the pages and this book has done just that. Knudsen’s music based magic system is unique and different enough from those I’ve seen before to be intriguing. His colorful cast of characters are everything from quiet and brooding to dimwitted and gregarious, with lots of variety in between. If you like unique magic, good vs evil, and coming of age books, you will like this book.

An Interview with author Neils Knudsen

What was the inspiration behind The Singing Stones of Rendor?

There were two things that inspired the books.

In the first case I had the notion that I could write a fantasy story as well, and maybe even better, than what I read in some books. In nearly every fantasy novel I read I never really saw the source of the power behind the magic. In my more literal mind I could only see one real world way for it to happen

Vibrations. When I began this little project it seemed so simple. One of the aggravations I have with many fantasy novels is the lack of a solid foundation for the magic system with rules that cannot be broken. The groundwork that is made is often interpreted loosely and the magical characters/objects seem to have a limitless supply of power without suffering any consequences. I have some difficulty relating to them. I wanted to create a world with characters who had to develop their natural gifts just like any craftsman or athlete would—one step, one lesson at a time. So, I drew on my training in nuclear power and chemistry to build a magical universe.

I find the world of vibrations to be magical in itself. It goes right down to the smallest of all the known particles in the universe. To my knowledge no one knows for sure why they hum. So, it seems, in the fabric of our existence, there is a song being sung all around and in us. We just need to listen to find the magic within ourselves.

In the second case a life event spurred me into action.

In 2009, after a bout with cancer, my son challenged me to write a fantasy novel. I had never done any serious creative writing prior to that.

We bandied about for ideas in which I could include cameo’s of my grandsons and their antics. Over the next two years and 500,000 words of on-the-job education I figured I was pretty close to finishing the novel. I was wrong. The story read much like the poor writing I’d seen in books I disliked so much. So, the next two plus years, two gnarly editors who thrashed the story and a relentless muse who wiped the tears from my eyes, the book won two reaffirming awards from the League of Utah Writers. I then felt it was time to publish. Now I’m even more inspired than ever.

From your book, who is your favorite character?

If I told you that the others would never speak to me again. As the author I have to say I love ‘em all. Creating these characters has been some of the most fun I’ve had writing the story. My wife and muse, along with most of my readers, seem to like the giant forester, Maynard, the most. I tried to kill him off in the early drafts, but my muse insisted he live. It’s a good thing too, because a unique element in the magic system grew up around him. You’ll see that blossom a little more in book 2, “The Loom of Kanarrah.”

I can’t deny that I like Maynard, and his friend Bert, as well. Uncle Tomas and the old hengekeeper, Thaddeus Stonebreaker, share some character traits that I’ve really enjoyed developing. Their irascible natures just feel right. It’s all I can do to keep them from cussing at times and letting them foul up the whole plot.

The main character and protagonist, K’Las Campanill, and his parents have been the most interesting as far as developing their individualities. He takes a back seat in most of this first book as his parents try to protect and teach him while the world chases them. Just like in real life.

What makes you most excited as a writer?

Ah, the wealth, fame and personal accolades, of course. OK, that may be overstating it a bit—OK, a lot. Actually, I’m fairly reclusive by nature and would find that kind of excitement more than a little nerve wrecking.

The real excitement for me is finishing the book. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of fun things that happen along the way while my characters tell me what’s about to happen next. They have always entertained and surprised me. At the end, though, if I know in my bones I’ve done the best I know how and the final project is entertaining and different, I’m satisfied. When my brother-in-law calls me up late at night and says he just finished reading it and loves it, I’m thrilled. So yes, accolades from peers and strangers really boosts my excitement level, too.

What is your favorite book of all time?

I’ve gone through phases of favorites books. When I was a kid I thought there could be no better book than “Old Yeller,” by Fred Gipson. When I got into Junior High School my interests turned to history and Bruce Catton’s “Centennial History of the Civil War.” During my enlistment in the US Navy I finally broke down and read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings.” That’s when I got hooked on fantasy—especially epic fantasy. I could not imagine anyone ever making a movie of that saga. I fell in love with the “Lord of the Rings” all over again when they finally did appear.

Through my adult life I’ve enjoyed Sci/Fi. When David Weber came out with his Honor Harrington novels I became hooked on military Sci/Fi. Someday when I grow up I’m going to write one of those.

Where can we learn more about your writing?

I have a humble little blog at http://nwknudsen.blogspot.com/ which I update sporadically—usually once or twice a month. I’m rather reclusive and like my solitude which isn’t a good formula for successful blogging. I’m still learning how to open up and present myself to the public.

Unless I become world famous and can hire a webmaster to keep a website up and pretty, I don’t plan on one in the near future. Nor do I twitter. I’m more of an observer of people than a mingler. That little quirk has served me well in creating my characters.

Although I do have a personal facebook page I limit friending to family, friends and a few other writers. However, I do keep an eye out for messages if someone wants to contact me.

When will the second book come out?

“The Loom of Kanarrah” should be out in late November or early December 2015. When I wrote the outline for it I realized the book will likely be longer than book 1. If so, and my editors don’t slash anything major, it may take a little longer. About a third of the book is drafted now. So far, my muse loves the plot and twists planned for it. If she likes it, I love it. I hope my readers will too. Stop by my blog occasionally and check the progress bar.

Any other books in the works?

Yes, a prequel for the series entitled “The Tenebrous Witch”. It tells the story of the old woman in chapter one of “The Singing Stones of Rendor.” If not for her none of the trilogy would have happened.

photoNeils Knudsen: Retired. Happy.Writer. After 30 years of writing procedures, reviewing proposed regulations, and other technical stuff, my wife and I have turned to the arts for fun and entertainment. I am a member of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Writers Chapter. For those not familiar with the name, “Oquirrh”, it is pronounced “oh-ker”. My wife and I have five children and a growing list of grandchildren. All are exceptional and we take great pride in each of them. Our grandkids have been invaluable resources for the characters in “The Singing Stones of Rendor.” I’ve been blessed with a wife who inspires me, coaches and encourages me. She comes from a large family of amazingly talented people. There are teachers, authors, a playwright, song writers, dancers, a national beauty queen and a dozen or two goofballs (I say that in the most loving of terms). You throw that crowd together and you get . . . great stories.

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Do you have a question for Neils? Leave it in the comments!

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Are you a fantasy author or artist?

I’m still looking for fabulous new talent to feature here on this blog. If you are interested either leave a comment or send me an email!

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One thought on “Interview with Neils Knudsen

  1. Pingback: Writing Update February 2015 | Jodi L. Milner, Author

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