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[INTERVIEW + GIVEAWAY] A Call to Adventure: Julia Knight on SWORDS AND SCOUNDRELS, Swashbuckling Adventure, and More

Julia Knight is married with two children, and lives with the world’s daftest dog that is shamelessly ruled by the writer’s obligatory three cats. She lives in Sussex, UK and when not writing she likes motorbikes, watching wrestling or rugby, killing pixels in MMOs. She is incapable of being serious for more than five minutes in a row.

Follow her on twitter @Knight_Julia

Julia was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about Swords and Scoundrels, and more! This interview is part of a series of blog posts featuring seven books from Orbit called “A Call to Adventure” so you’ll want to visit the website and take their quiz that will direct you to a series that should fit your taste.

Also, courtesy of the publisher, we have a copy of Swords and Scoundrels to give away to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post!


Kristin Centorcelli: Will you tell us a bit about SWORDS AND SCOUNDRELS, and what inspired you to write it?

Julia Knight: I’ve always been a huge fan of all the old swashbuckling stories – the Musketeers, Errol Flynn, the Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro for instance. They’re such tremendous fun, and I wondered what I could in that vein but where our heroes aren’t necessarily as traditionally heroic. Then my husband showed me a video about a clockwork city and that led to reading about the clockwork universe theory. It all took off from there.

KC: What makes Vocho and Kacha such compelling characters? Why do you think readers will root for them?

JK: I think anyone with siblings should recognize their relationship (even if Vocho’s and Kacha’s is a more extreme form). The rivalry, the rubbing each other up the wrong way, the clash of personalities…and yet there’s also a sense of duty and love behind it. Kacha feels the weight of expectation on her from her father and, later on, her guild-master – it leads her to drive for perfection. Vocho’s lack of self-esteem on the other hand drives him to try to beat her at every opportunity. But it’s the love and loyalty that, while often hidden, is always there at the back their minds that binds them together and (hopefully!) make the readers care about them.

KC: What kind of research did you do for the book?

JK: I read a lot about the clockwork universe theory (that compares the universe and its physical laws to a ticking clock, where every motion is predictable), various styles of dueling from the Renaissance, what it’s possible to power using clockwork – quite a lot more than I’d thought! – the construction of waterwheels, the causes of the French Revolution, the biography of Alexandre Dumas’s father (The Black Count, a fascinating read)…I read a lot of historical non fiction for fun, so I knew various bits and pieces already. It was more a matter of brushing up/getting more in depth on specific areas.

KC: What do you enjoy the most about writing, and reading, epic fantasy?

JK: The sense that anything can, and often does, happen! I love seeing a world come to life, seeing how it shapes its cultures and characters and how they interact (and why in this particular way). When I’m writing I love looking at part A of the world, seeing how it’s different to ours and then figuring out how it affects part B, and all the other parts. That interplay of influences is where I lose track of time!

KC: Have you read any good books lately? Anything you’d recommend?

JK: I absolutely loved Claire North’s Touch and I’ve been catching up on Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom series – can’t go wrong with Cornwell! Non fiction I’ve been reading The Samurai by John Man, and The Deadly Sisterhood: A Story of Women, Power, and Intrigue in the Italian Renaissance by Leonie Frieda

KC: What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share?

JK: I’m having a little rest at the moment – the Duelist’s trilogy was pretty intense deadline wise – and just noodling about with a few projects, trying to decide which one is going to get to the top of the list. Like my TBR pile, my list of Stories To Write just keeps getting bigger!


Courtesy of the author, SF Signal has 1 copy of Swords and Scoundrels by Julia Knight to give away to a lucky SF Signal reader (US/Canada only)!

Here’s more information about the book and how you can win:

Vocho and Kacha are champion duelists: a brother and sister known for the finest swordplay in the city of Reyes. Or at least they used to be-until they were thrown out of the Duelist’s Guild.

As a last resort, they turn reluctant highwaymen. But when they pick the wrong carriage to rob, their simple plans to win back fame and fortune go south fast.

After barely besting three armed men and a powerful magician, Vocho and Kacha make off with an immense locked chest. But the contents will bring them much more than they’ve bargained for when they find themselves embroiled in a dangerous plot to return an angry king to power….

And here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:

  1. Send an email to contest at sfsignal dot com. (That’s us).
  2. In the subject line, enter “Swords and Scoundrels
  3. In the body of the email, please provide a mailing address so the prize can be sent as soon as possible. (The winning address is used only to mail the prize. All other address info will be purged once the giveaway ends.)
  4. Geographic restrictions: This giveaway is open only to residents of the U.S. and Canada.
  5. The giveaway will end Thursday, Dec. 10th (9:00 PM U.S. Central time). The winner will be selected at random, notified, and announced shortly thereafter.

Good luck!

About Kristin Centorcelli (842 Articles)
Kristin Centorcelli is the Associate Editor at SF Signal, proprietor of My Bookish Ways, a reviewer for Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, and has also written for Crime Fiction Lover, Criminal Element, and Mystery Scene Magazine. She has been reviewing books since late 2010, in an effort to get through a rather immense personal library, while also discussing it with whoever will willingly sit still (and some that won’t).
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