Interview with Deborah Valentine, Author of The Knightmare

Deborah Valentine is our special guest today! She dropped by the virtual offices to chat about her book The Knightmare.  This time-traveling romance has something for everyone, so check out what Deborah has to say.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Deborah Valentine] Battered by life, but reasonably cheerful about it. A typical Gemini, running on two courses at the same time. Obsessive about writing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Knightmare?

[Deborah Valentine] It’s about a F1 driver who remembers as past life as a Knight Templar. Sounds weird, but there’s logic to it. In both lives he’s the action arm of a corporate body: in medieval times, the Church; in the present, big business sport. I mean, with a background as a knight he’s not exactly going to turn out to be a pencil pusher in this one, is he? In remembering his past life he finds the origins of the personal issues he has in the present.

And, of course, there’s dodgy racing accidents, sword fights, the occasional massacre, betrayal and sacrifice… and, perhaps needless to say, a woman at the heart of it all. Quite an extraordinary one. A lot of history and magic are thrown in for good measure.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Deborah Valentine] I knew a guy once who wanted to be a F1 driver. I always thought of him as bit of a ‘hooray Henry’; fantastically good-looking and entertaining, but not to be taken seriously. But one day I went to watch him race – I went camping with him in the snow (it still gives me shudders) – and did I get a surprise. In an instant, he changed to a man with total focus, genuine discipline, a real tactician. It changed my entire viewpoint on him. Out of that, grew the character of Conor.

Another big influence was the medieval story of Abelard and Heloise. I read their collected letters as a teenager and what a story! The love between two amazing scholars that ended in horrific tragedy, yet with an epilogue of redemption (of a kind). I was greatly influenced by her letters in particular – her attitude to love and marriage. What a modern woman! It stuck with me.

So when I created the character of Conor, I also based him on what I imagined would be the psychology of their son. What would it do to a lad to know his father had been castrated as punishment for loving his mother? What would his attitude to love be? What choices would he make? And, more universally, how many children are embarrassed by their parents’ history and absolutely determined not to make their mistakes. Of course, in reaction you can make some pretty spectacular disasters of your own.

From all of this grew the story of The Knightmare.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Conor?

[Deborah Valentine] Intelligent, disciplined, conflicted.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Conor had a theme song, what would it be?

[Deborah Valentine] If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lightfoot. Yeah, we’re going back a few years here – and I don’t like folk music generally – but it’s a classic. And appropriate.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Conor’s pockets?

[Deborah Valentine] A compass, nicotine gum, tissues.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Conor’s greatest regret?

[Deborah Valentine] Like a lot of us, learning too little, too late.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Deborah Valentine] Life experience. You’ve got to find some way to make sense of all the brick walls you bang your head against.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Deborah Valentine] Cigarettes. And more cigarettes.

Music. More often than not, medieval or medieval-like chant. I play the same CD over and over again for hours, days, months on end. It would drive any sane person mad. For me, it merely focuses the mind.

An animal to hand – these days, usually a cat.

Did I mention cigarettes?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Deborah Valentine] That’s a tough one  – I’ve had a good run of gob-smacking books lately but forced to make a choice… The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. But then there was The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Finished it and immediately started all over again. Oh, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. And I just read a short story by Neil Gaiman called Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire that had me grinning from ear to ear – so VERY clever.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Deborah Valentine] Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Deborah Valentine] Walking. I’m a maniac walker.

Watch films. I’m a maniac film watcher as well.

Hit the outdoor markets – food, antiques, books and bric-a-brac.

Meet friends at the pub. I have one friend in particular that I go to a museum with for a couple of hours then spend about five in the pub with afterwards. I think that’s a reasonable ratio.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Deborah Valentine] The Knightmare has a Facebook page and I have a website with a contact email. I’m also a Goodreads author so I can be connected with there.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order The Knightmare by clicking the link below:

About the book:

France, 1209: A Knight Templar riding through an eerie forest is suddenly attacked by an assassin as a man and woman watch from a distant hillside. When his death seems certain, the woman takes up a sword…
Present, Formula 1 race, Magny Cours: Observed by the very same couple, Conor Westfield, a career-obsessed Scottish driver, is in a horrible racing accident. Miraculously, he survives what seemed to be certain death.
As he is recovering from his injuries Conor’s childhood nightmare recurs, a strange jumble of terrifying images that feel more like memories than dreams. Can it be mere coincidence that the very next morning he is informed a mysterious woman with whom he had very brief affair has died and left him as her heir? But this was no ordinary woman and no ordinary affair. Dogged by a niggling feeling of déjà vu, Conor travels to Amsterdam to identify the body. At her home he finds an illuminated book that transports him back in time, to a woman he left behind and a life lived in the shadow of a tragedy that cries out across 800 years for resolution.
Weaving history with the present, fact with fantasy, The Knightmare is an unforgettable story of angels and alchemy, betrayal and sacrifice, and a truly extraordinary love.

About the author:

Deborah Valentine Bio: Deborah Valentine is a British author, editor and screenwriter who once lived in California but far preferred the British weather and fled to London, where she has resided for many years. She is the author of three books published by Victor Gollancz Ltd in the UK, and Bantam and Avon in the US. Unorthodox Methods was the first in the series, followed by A Collector of Photographs and the Ireland-based Fine Distinctions. A Collector of Photographs was short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe, a Shamus, a Macavity and an Anthony Boucher award. Fine Distinctions was also short-listed for an Edgar. They featured the characters of former California sheriff Kevin Bryce and artist Katharine Craig, charting their turbulent relationship amid murder and mayhem. They will soon be available as eBooks through Orion. With the publication of The Knightmare she has embarked on a new series of books with a supernatural edge.