Today it’s my pleasure to present an interview with Evelyn Knightley. Her debut book, ‘I Haven’t Lived at All’ is scheduled for release on August 14th and I talk to her about her book, her background and utilising Kickstarter as a way to get her book published. Enjoy!
1. Hello Evelyn, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Could you start off by telling me a little bit about your background?
Thank you! Where to begin, well I was born in Oxford in 1992 and grew up in a small village a few miles down the road. I had quite a hectic childhood, made tolerable by my siblings, close family and books. I was raised by my mum and I have an older brother and sister; the latter of which fuelled my imagination with stories of witches and wizards, causing both excitement and horrible nightmares! I spent a lot of time at my Grandparent’s house, playing card games and helping my Grampy with the peeling of the broad beans (which I took great pride in!) A great past time would include going for days out with the family and running away with my Aunt, leaving everyone else wondering where we had got to. This was quite an expensive hobby, as I always felt guilty afterwards (particularly that time I left my Nan stranded in a shop) and she would have to buy presents for everyone else to ease my guilt.
I was quite a quiet child with a few OCD tendencies and a huge lover of reading, predominantly anything by Roald Dahl, J K Rowling and Enid Blyton. I attended a primary school in the village I grew up in, moved to a town just down the road from where I grew up just in time to move on to secondary school. After finishing school, I moved on to college to study my A-levels in English Lit, Psychology and Sociology. The original plan was to go straight to university to study Psychology and English but I threw a spanner in the works at the very last minute and decided to take a gap year; I had the intention of going travelling but I spent the majority of it working, with a week in New York (and my first time on a plane) to make the entire year worth the hours spent in retail. I began university in 2011, studying Psychology and English in my first year and Psychology in my second year, and now I’m here; an official drop-out with a book on the way!
2. Was writing something you always wanted to do or has it been a recent development?
It’s definitely something I’ve always wanted to do, it’s something I took great pleasure in it as a child but it was only in my early teenage years that I fully comprehended it was something people can do for a living. It’s always been something I’ve done, but it’s only been in the past year or so that I’ve accepeted it’s something I actually want to do and that there really isn’t anything else that could feel as natural to me. For a long, long time I never really knew what I wanted to do but the phrase “in an ideal world…” would come up a lot. It’s a recent development for me to try and make this ideal scenario more of a reality.
3. ‘I Haven’t Lived At All’ is coming out soon, how would you sum it up? How are you feeling – excited, nervous?
It’s quite a difficult one to sum up, and you’d think I would be good at it by now! It’s a collection of poetry and short stories that in some ways mark the end of one very long chapter in my life and the beginning of a new one. I’ve had a few people say that it seems quite dark and sad, which I suppose I would agree with. I think that works in it favour though, the overall theme is the idea that many bad things can happen, and it’s easy to lose faith in life but there’s so much out there waiting to be lived and experienced; it’s just a matter of patience and determination to seek it out. That’s where the title, ‘I Haven’t Lived At All’ comes from, for a long time I’ve given myself the pretence that I’ve seen all there is to see and it all sucks, but that’s so far from the truth; there’s so much I haven’t seen and done and it’s about time I started to. The poetry is quite personal in nature, but I think there’s aspects of it that anybody and everybody could relate to, nobody has it easy and everybody experiences dark periods in life; but as the saying goes- there’s light at the end of tunnel…even if it’s a very long tunnel!
I keep pulling a 360 in regards to emotions, I think nerves are beginning to decrease now that a few copies are in hands that aren’t my own. At the moment, I’m feeling excited and impatient, I want the book to be officially released and I want to know what the future holds. As far as nerves are concerned, I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s impossible to please everyone and I have to remind myself that it’s my first book; a stepping stone and a learning curve. Then I watch QI to take my mind off it, before I make myself ill and resign myself to never leaving my bed.
4. You chose to go through Kickstarter, what prompted that decision?
It was a multitude of things really. Firstly, there’s the financial aspect. It’s not a cheap process to get a book out there, and whilst I’ve pumped in a lot of money myself, I work in retail and my own funds are limited so it was a necessity for me to try and raise some money; primarily for the more business orientated side of things. There’s also the side of Kickstarter that leaves you entirely responsible for completing the project and delivering it to pledgers, meaning that if nerves got the better of me and I decided that actually…I’m really not ready to put my writing out there, I have no choice. That’s something that’s been very important to me, I am prone to letting nerves get the better of me and this has forced me so far out of my comfort zone. Most importantly, it’s allowed me to spread the word of the book before it’s even released and to gain a bit of interest in it, people have put money into this so it’s natural that they’re going to follow, and hopefully support, the full process. That’s been something that’s been very overwhelming; seeing how people get behind you and show their support.
5. What was the process like – did it meet your expectations? Was it fun interacting with the people who were pledging money along the way?
I honestly had no expectations, but it was a really exciting process. I loved interacting with everybody and it was so nice to finally have this idea out in the open. For a lot of people, it seems like this book has kind of come out of nowhere, but some of the poems are refreshed versions from years ago so for me it feels like it’s been a long time coming.
6. Who are your main influences?
I don’t know if there are any influences of this book, in the sense that I couldn’t compare it to the greatness of the following people; but these are people who I look at and think “yep, I want to do this!”
J K Rowling, Amy Lee, Tori Amos, Chuck Palahniuk, Carol Ann Duffy, Sylvia Plath, Charles Bukowski, Angela Carter, Augusten Burroughs, Stephen Chbosky, John Green, Caitlin Moran, Marya Hornbacher, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, Steig Larsson…I could go on.
7. What do you think your biggest challenge has been so far?
A combination of dealing with my own nerves and fears, and doing everything single handedly and having to learn about the entire process from scratch; juggling this alongside working full time isn’t easy!
8. Do you have any other projects at the moment or are you focusing on the release of ‘I Haven’t Lived At All’?
I had started work on a novel before I started compiling IHLAA, and an excerpt of it is at the end of the book so it’s definitely something I want to get back to and finish; i’ve been with the idea of the story for a long time and I still love it just as much so as soon as I’m in the place where I have time and I’m able to focus, I’ll be back to working on that! (I’m very excited about this, I miss the world I was creating!)
9. Have your family and friends been supportive, what were their reactions when you told them you wanted to be a writer?
They absolutely have, surprisingly so. This whole thing has been something I’ve sprung on them (sorry guys!) but they’ve been incredibly accepting of it. It’s absolutely made this whole process so much easier, I feel like I’m doing something that they’re proud of which is amazing.
I honestly couldn’t tell you what their reactions have been, I think it’s always just been a given that it’s what I want to do but perhaps a shock that it’s something I’m actually going to do. It probably offers an explanation for my anti-social tendencies and the many hours I’ve spent alone.
10. What is your target audience for ‘I Haven’t Lived At All’, who do you think think it will appeal to the most?
I honestly think this could be a book for anybody, regardless of age and gender. I think there’s something in there for everybody, but I think it might especially appeal to the young adult audience.
Thanks again to Evelyn! Remember, ‘I Haven’t Lived at All’ is out August 14th. If you would like to be interviewed or have any other comments please get in touch with me. Look out tomorrow for my review of World War Z!
– Man of Yesterday