DeAnna sits in front of a keyboard all day trying to figure out whether the dark shape moving in the reflection of the screen is just her imagination. Often it turns out to be her daughter or husband trying to sneak up on her. A freelancing writing, editing, and formatting jack of all trades, DeAnna’s ambition in life is to learn how to take more ladylike bites out of life instead of shoving it all in at the same time. Just kidding.
DeAnna writes adult SF/F/H as DeAnna Knippling, middle-grade as De Kenyon, and mysteries as Diane R. Thompson. She runs her own small press, Wonderland Press, in an an attempt to keep things organized. You can also find her at her blog, www.DeAnnaKnippling.com.
1. Why do we have to pronounce the K in your last name? Or are we not supposed to and I’ve been saying it wrong since the day we met?
It’s K-nippling. It’s German, which means that we have a tendency to make more throat-clearing noises than are strictly necessary; also, that side of my family tends to have this dry sense of humor. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone didn’t go back into our family history and find out that the K wasn’t supposed to be pronounced until one day, some distant Knippling ancestor said, “Okay, cuzzes, let’s mess with people…”
2. How do you plan to celebrate Towel Day this year?
I’m looking forward to my first shower in months, actually. The life of a freelancer is hard. So hard.
3. Have you failed somehow as an author if you google yourself and don’t find any pirated books?
Yes. [Sob.] It’s like having that beat-up car whose doors you never have to lock. You could leave cash in the glovebox and nobody would ever know.
4. As a ghostwriter, are you ever frustrated that you can’t talk about your projects?
Not really. It’s more like being in Fight Club or having a clearance. I know something you don’t know…
5. Which came first, writing as DeAnna Knippling or as De Kenyon?
DeAnna. I originally planned to keep everything under MY OWN NAME. Then I had a kid. No, it wasn’t having a kid that did it. It was having a kid in daycare that did it. When I finally met other parents and saw how weird they were about what kids could/couldn’t read or say or do. The first time I heard a parent say, “Don’t say the word stupid, that’s not very nice” I realized that perhaps having a kid’s pen name could be a good choice, because if some of my kids’ stories are pushing the limit (especially the ones about parents who aren’t very good at it), then quite possibly I could be causing some kids issues with their parents if they caught the kid reading some of my adult works. And some of my adult works are so grim that I wouldn’t want a ten-year-old to pick one up by accident.
6. Why did you choose De Kenyon as a pen name?
Easy. I didn’t change my name when I married, and my daughter’s last name is Kenyon. So now part of me is named after her.
De is just another aspect of DeAnna. I go by them interchangeably in person.
7. Do you have separate social media accounts for your pseudonym?
I do, but they languish on the vine. I should just delete them, because they were just exhausting to maintain. Cut into writing time.
8. Have you ever been criticized for writing multiple genres and for multiple age groups?
Nope. I sometimes criticize myself. “It might be easier to build up a fan base if you had some consistency, self.” “Bugger off, stupid nagging voice in my head. Just bugger off.”
9. What is weird west fiction?
A Western with speculative elements. You still have to have Western tropes and themes, though. Aliens vs. Cowboys was a Weird Western. I love writing them, because I grew up weird in South Dakota.
10. What motivated you to start the Wonderland Press?
The fact that it’s easier to publish under multiple pen names if you have a publisher name to organize them 🙂 I think now I’m finally confident enough that I can go, “Oh, yes, I have a small press,” but when I started out I was constantly terrified that someone would yell at me for having a small press. “Go home, stupid writer, you’re drunk!” But nobody has. I think people just expect me to do strange things, which means I can often get away with doing strange things without a lot of specific criticism. “Oh, it’s just DeAnna being DeAnna again.”
11. Has anyone ever mentioned that your smile resembles that of a Cheshire cat?
No, thank you! The Alice books are my favorite books ever.
12. How is being a writer similar to schitzophrenia?
You’re split off from the world. The better you can split yourself off, and the better you can convey what you see in that other world, the better you are as a writer. Imagination is a dangerous thing to give in to; if you’re not doing what it wants, it can throw you into depression. If you’re doing what it wants, you can be cut off from the people around you. People who have a passing acquaintance with imagination go, “Oh, you’re so creative! Where do you get your ideas?” But if you’re opening the door to your imagination on a daily basis, you know it’s not you that get the ideas; it’s the ideas that get you. You don’t follow them, you get nightmares and feel half-dead all day.
13. Is writing a murder mystery for a party game very different from writing a murder mystery for a book?
I actually think writing the games is much cooler. Harder, but cooler. A book, you can control the reader throughout the book. A game, you have to wind everyone up and just let them go, and a lot of behind the scenes work goes into making sure even the most “minor” character is fun to play, and is connected to enough people to a) be able to find clues and b) look like a suspect, but c) not unravel things too fast or d) get overwhelmed by tasks. In games, you have to make sure every person, including the person running the game, is controlled enough to give players the experience they want, but in a book, you only have one reader to control and entertain.
14. Was the editing process for Choose Your Doom! Zombie Apocalypse more difficult than editing a normal story?
I did a flow chart. An IMMENSE flow chart. I ended up having to edit the flow chart, and it about killed me. The text itself was an easy edit, because by then we were done messing with the flow chart.
15. I’ve never understood how a lover of music could stand to teach beginners and listen to the screeching and squalling. Likewise I can not fathom being a lover of words and having to go through a slush pile. How do you keep your brain in gear while searching for that gem in the slush?
Reading slush isn’t the same as teaching writing, or teaching music, or even judging a high-school music contest. Reading slush is sifting through job applications. Beginning writers like to think that editors are there to help them grow, like beautiful little flowers being tended by benign gardeners. No. Editors are there to sell stories to readers. The growth process is something that happens only after you’ve gotten a foot in the door–just like any other job. No job’s going to hire you based on their need to help you grow as a person, although they might send you to some continuing ed classes after you’ve been with them for a while. When I slush, I go, “Can this person do the job?” Usually, it doesn’t take too long to figure out whether they can or not, a paragraph or two. It’s the ones that are pro-quality but off on genre that are frustrating… “Great! A world-class plumber! Too bad we’re only hiring electricians.”
So how do I keep my brain in gear? I don’t. If I find myself going, “blah blah blah” while reading a story, I stop reading and send the rejection letter. My brain going out of gear is a sign that the writer’s not ready.
16. Should only guinea pigs worry about the Guinea Pig Apocalypse? Or does this affect the world at large?
The Guinea pigs go through some tough times, I won’t lie. I’m pretty upfront about the fact that not all the pigs make it. But, really, it’s something we should all be worried about, because the implications are staggering. I don’t think even the squirrels really understand the chaos they’ve unleashed.
17. What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?
Shameless plug, I write on StoryBox, which is software that my friend Mark Fassett for indie writers and publishers. He’s in the trenches with the rest of us, so it’s like he wrote the software for me personally. He didn’t, but I find it Just Right. And TrackerBox will take all your indie reports and turn them into graphs, so you can go, “X story is my bestseller” and “Sales on Y story have been going up; maybe I should promote that one more.” So nice.
18. What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?
Teeny notebooks. I keep one in my purse. One page will be a grocery list; the next will be the word ZOMBIES circled three times and the note “Army of Dreamers = Chop Suey” along with a bunch of character names with arrows to show secret relationships, and then I IS AN OTHER scrawled beside that. Not enough room to get anything down but the essentials.
19. What is the most persistent distraction from writing?
Not being crazy enough about the story. Jumping onto Facebook isn’t the problem, it’s just a symptom. But the solution, giving yourself over to your imagination, is more of a commitment to the crazy than most people can feel comfortable with on a consistent basis.
20. Who shot first, Han or Greedo?
Han, mentally counting credits and calculating time vs. interest on his loan to Jabba, didn’t look up as a shadow came a little too close to the table.
A split-second later, Greedo’s hand slid slowly along Han’s thigh. The Rodian leered drunkenly and make obscene squrnking noises.
Han cursed himself and grabbed Greedo by the wrist, twisting until he heard a whimper of pain. “Get your hand off me, you stinking Rodian slimeball. I’m waiting for a client.”
Greedo laughed mockingly and tried to slide closer. “You’ll always be waiting for a client, Solo. You should start being less picky about who you service.”
Han took another drink of his rough brandy, bending the wrist hard enough to produce grinding noises. “Try sitting with me at a table again and you’ll find out how my service is. Now get outta here.” He shoved Greedo onto the floor, where he flopped into another customer. One thing led to another, and soon Greedo was pitched out into the cold desert night and the bartender was sweeping glass off the floor.
The Rodian was already forgotten. Han had bigger fish–bigger Hutts–to fry. And besides, Rodians weren’t his type.