Thursday, November 7, 2019

E.E. Knight Interview - Novice Dragoneer

Photo Credit: © Ebert Studio, Oak Park, IL

E. E. Knight was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Minnesota, and now calls Chicago home, where he abides in domestic felicity with his family and assorted pets. He is the author of the Age of Fire series and the Vampire Earth series.


When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I did start writing stories at a pretty early age. My first story was around third grade or so, a Creature From The Black Lagoon fanfic, though that word didn’t exist yet, it being the very early 70s. My first original piece was soon after about a diver who gets into a tangle with a giant bubble-net spider. I guess I was in a watery phase. Later, around high school, I turned into a “someday I’ll write a novel” person and I’d put words on paper a lot, but the only thing I managed to get published was nonfiction – articles about photography, mostly. I was in my thirties and I had an early midlife crisis, I suppose you could call it, thanks to various sorts of failures in life and at work and I decided to start poking around with a novel as an outlet. I needed to do something with my life other than get up and go to work every day. That novel never turned into anything, it was awful, but in trying to write it I was taking creative writing classes (continuing ed stuff at the local community college) and reading books and talking to authors, briefly and when I could, and I learned enough that my second book was much better, and eventually was published as an ebook/POD title in 2001 and moved on to traditional New York publishing in 2003 (I was one of the earlier examples of an author who started that way and moved on to traditional).

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
We had three kids in quick succession. I’d been planning to do more with the dragons from within a year or two of the Age of Fire series ending. I was able to work a bit on the world and how things played out between the end of that series and where Novice Dragoneer picks up, but the writing itself had a lot of false starts while we had toddlers running around. I couldn’t seriously get to writing until they were in school full-time.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?

I tend to shy away form “one book” people. My life has built up a lot of inertia, about all a single book will do is change its course by a few degrees or maybe make my inner engine burn a little hotter. As I kid Watership Down altered my course most. I think it was my first “grown-up” book and it’s still a model of what storytelling can be – you appreciate different nuances at forty-five than you did at ten. Reading the Stoics helped me deal with everything from depression to parenting. I turned my health around by getting into fasting after I read Dr. Jason Fung’s The Obesity Code.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
It’s a toss-up. If I allow myself to indulge my ego, it’s probably been the cover art reveals. I have a shelf full of books of fantasy art and I’m just staggered that I have artists like these turning my words into images. I’m humbled when I hear from readers, maybe a kid who got through a tough time reading about the Copper or a soldier deployed overseas who read the Vampire Earth series during down time.

In your new book; NOVICE DRAGONEER, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
It’s a coming-of-age story about a girl who has had a dream of being around dragons since a chance encounter with one when she was little. I hinted in the Age of Fire series that a few of the dragons, after years of warring with or hiding from mankind, would figure out a way to build a future together. This book is the first taste of how that project is going. In this story, Ileth is just finding her feet in the human-dragon alliance of the Serpentine and trying to prove herself worthy of an apprenticeship.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Ileth?
Probably that she found so much friendship among her fellow young people. She’s an outsider, mixing mostly with people mostly far above her in social status. When I first started writing it I pictured her as lonely and miserable with the dragons being the only ones she could talk to as they didn’t much care what family you came from. Turned out she was much better at finding friends than I thought she’d be.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
It would be fun to have Ileth meet Falameezar-aziz-Sulmonmee, the Marxist dragon from Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger books and probably my favorite fictional dragon other than good old Smaug. I’d enjoy the scene where he explains that Ileth’s gallant little bourgeois republic is just a steppingstone to a future workers’ state.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
This book will be followed by the next Ileth story as she progresses to the next stage of her career, which I was calling Apprentice Dragoneer because the whole point of a successful novice year is to be signed on as an apprentice – but that title looks like it’s not going to fly since they think it’s too similar to the first. I’ve also been poking around in the Vampire Earth world with Georgia Showdown, the planned next book in that world.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
The weather, since I have to get the dog out.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
The book marketing thing to say is probably visiting the Alhambra in Spain since it was one of the inspirations for the Serpentine Academy, but I think I have to go with white water rafting on the Pacuare in Costa Rica just because the canyons and rain forests were so beautiful.

What was a time in your life when you were really scared?

These days I’m mostly scared for other people. My wife was ill with an infection they couldn’t locate, so it was hour after hour of her getting progressively sicker with me helpless to do much except hand her tissues after she vomited. You get mugged, you hit black ice on the highway, everything is out of control for a few seconds and then it’s over. This was horror in slow motion. They finally found it – septic gallbladder. Even after it was out they were chasing around after-effects because it had spread. Then there are the echoes later, when you realize that thirty years ago I would have been “Eric the widower” instead of “Eric the author.”

Where did you go on your first airplane ride?
I was pretty young. Six. Flew out from Minneapolis to Disneyland with parents and grandparents.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?

It’s the same inertia as above, no one thing gave me some new staggering insight, it’s more a case of slow growth. I guess I’ll fall back on the cliché of parenthood. Becoming a parent punctures your ego, you realize you’re just one link in the chain and you try to stay strong enough to pull the next generation along. I feel like we’re shepherding the kids now. Eventually they’ll have their own abilities and resources. They already have their own worlds. Every family is a multiverse.

In the first book in an exciting and charming new coming-of-age fantasy series from the author of the Age of Fire series, an impoverished girl enters into a military order of dragonriders, but her path won't be as easy or as straightforward as she expected.

Fourteen-year-old Ileth grew up in an orphanage, and thanks to her stutter was never thought to be destined for much beyond kitchen work and cleaning. But she's dreamed of serving with the dragons ever since a childhood meeting with a glittering silver dragon and its female dragoneer. For years she waits, and as soon as she is old enough to join, Ileth runs away to become a novice dragoneer at the ancient human-dragon fortress of the Serpentine.

While most of her fellow apprentices are from rich and influential families, Ileth must fight for her place in the world, even if it includes a duel with her boss at the fish-gutting table. She's then sent off to the dragon-dancers after a foolish kiss with a famously named boy and given charge of a sickly old dragon with a mysterious past. But she finds those trials were nothing when she has to take the place of a dead dragoneer and care for his imprisoned dragon in enemy lands. . . .


“Novice Dragoneer is deep and thoughtful, with intricate worldbuilding and resonant characters both human and draconic. Anyone who fell in love with Tamora Pierce’s Alanna will find a home here too.” —Django Wexler, author of The Infernal Battalion

"Engaging, inventive, and compulsively readable, Novice Dragoneer serves up adventure after adventure of our determined, clever heroine, along with plenty of surprises. Highly recommended." —Howard Jones, author of For the Killing of Kings

"One of the most consistently interesting writers." Charlaine Harris

You can purchase Novice Dragoneer at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you E.E. KNIGHT for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Novice Dragoneer (Dragoneer Academy #1) by E.E. Knight.


  1. "What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?" A poster for breakfast cereal.

  2. I have seen a real stuffed bear standing tall and ferocious in the entryway. What a way to greet your guests. Pretty weird.

  3. When I sold Avon, I delivered to this trailer with probably over 100 cats everywhere. It stunk so bad.

  4. I went to a place that had holes in the sofa and rodents were using it as a shelter. *shudder*

  5. I can honestly say I really haven't seen anything really weird in anyone's home before. At least not anything that made me think "that's weird".

  6. Recently, camel saddles. Yep, 2 of them. In northern NM.