Interview: Jessica Knauss, author of Seven Noble Knights

I’m thrilled to have J. K. Knauss, author of Seven Noble Knights, as my guest today. You’ve been incredibly busy with your release of Seven Noble Knights on December 11. So let’s find out more about this gripping epic of family and betrayal in medieval Spain.

  • How did you come up with the title for this book?
    • I arrived atSeven Noble Knights by working over the translation of the title of its source material, which is the lost medieval Spanish epic poem Los siete infantes de Lara. I considered a lot of other titles but could never come up with anything as good as The Price of Blood, The Last Kingdom, or The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar. Those are some great titles I envy.
  • Is there a message or theme in this story you want readers to be aware of?
    • I hope that as well as enjoying the adventure, readers will sympathize with Mudarra’s confusion about the revenge he has to carry out. His society doesn’t allow him the possibility of forgiveness, but I hope the reader considers it.
  • Is Seven Noble Knights part of a series? If so, can you share a little about what’s coming next?
    • Given the way the source material stands alone, I thought one epic novel would be enough, but when I realized there are more tenth-century stories I could tap into and at the same time, give more space to the women characters, I decided Seven Noble Knights merited a sequel. I’m not sure when I’ll ever get to write it, but the new novel will follow the female characters as they witness intrigue and betrayal at the Castilian court and search for Mudarra, the mysteriously missing hero from Seven Noble Knights.
  • Is there a process you go through when deciding your characters’ names?
    • Most of the characters came from the source material, and I kept their names as they appear there. My beta readers were worried about some of them, since I have a father and son with the same name, but I took special care to make sure the reader knew which Gonzalo I was referring to. Some characters I added to fill out the story got their names from a list of medieval Spanish names I put together during my research—Teodemiro is a great medieval man’s name that shows up in ancient texts, and Justa was no less than a saint. The romantic character, Blanca Flor, got her name, appropriately enough, from a medieval “romance,” one of the legendary poems in the spoken languages of Spain.
  • What made you become a writer?
    • Believe me, if I could’ve avoided it, I would have!
  • Beginning writers look to published authors for advice, so what words of wisdom can you give new authors?
    • Find a writing critique group or partner that works for you. If you can find one of these rare beasts, hold onto it for dear life, because you may never find another. I’m fortunate that my critique group has allowed me to Skype in after I had to move away from Arizona—both times. I couldn’t do any of this without them.
  • Do you have one particular character in your current novel that you just love?
    • I tend to love the long-suffering good women such as Justa the most, which can make it painful to throw more suffering in their paths. The most fun to write is Doña Lambra, the villainess. I don’t mind throwing obstacles at her, and she reacts in ways no one in their right mind ever would. Writing a scene with Lambra filled me with glee every time.
  • What new stories/projects are in your pipeline?
    • As well as the sequel to Seven Noble Knights, I’ve got a science fantasy novella, The Atwells Avenue Anomaly, about to come out, and am putting together a collection of retellings of the Cantigas de Santa María (thirteenth-century songs describing miraculous occurrences), to be released to 2021 in time for the 800th anniversary of Alfonso X el Sabio’s birth. Sign up for my newsletter to get access to these stories before they’re available in book form.
  • Thank you so much for being my guest today.

Meet Jessica Knauss

Born and raised in Northern California, J. K. Knauss has finally found her home in Spain. She worked as a librarian and a Spanish teacher and earned a PhD in medieval Spanish literature at Brown University before entering the publishing world as an editor. Feel free to sign up for her mailing list for castles, stories, and magic.
Her epic of medieval Spain, Seven Noble Knights, will be published by Encircle Publications on December 11, 2020.

Connect with Jennifer


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *