Today, we’re chatting with author and editor Alisha A. Knaff, one of the authors with a story in Battling in All Her Finery.
DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!
Alisha A. Knaff: Ah, self-description. The bane of every introvert. In the wilds of White Center, lives the solitary author. Flanked by her feline familiars, Hal and Odin, she fashions flights of fancy into fantastical fairytales. I also enjoy cross-stitch, cooking shows, and sudden, jarring breaks in alliteration.
DV: What inspired you to write “The Dissolution of the Niamh” for Battling in All Her Finery?
AK: Like most speculative fiction, this started as a what if. What if there were a gathering place for all the people who left their home worlds with some dashing, charismatic alien promising to show them the galaxy? It started as just a group of companions sitting at a table bitching about their aliens, and it sort of grew from there.
DV: The characterization in your story is magnificent. Do you base your characters on people you know or see, or do you come up with them whole-cloth?
AK: Neither! Not exactly. Usually I have one or two characteristics that I start from and then the situation builds the character from there. With “The Dissolution of the Niamh,” I wanted to be as inclusive as I could with this group of women, so I started with a location and a vocation (or their function within the group) and built personalities around those.
For me, a lot of characterization happens when characters interact with each other, so often I don’t really know what a character is like until they’ve had a chance to play off someone else. Perla, for instance, was a pretty hazy character for me until I got her interacting with the group a little.
On occasion, I do base characters on someone I know, but by the time they’re finished, they usually bear very little resemblance to their inspiration.
DV: Your story features leadership from all of the main characters, not just the one who might be singled out as the leader. Was it difficult to balance this team of leaders?
AK: I hadn’t really thought of this group as being a team of leaders before, but it fits them, doesn’t it?
I think when I wrote this story what I wanted was a group of women who all had their own strengths and expertise but who had all been around the type of big personality that seems to dwarf everything around him. What good are earth-based computer hacking skills compared to an alien time machine?
In the end, all they needed was someone to point out that if they combined their impressive skills, they could do something really incredible. I wanted a story about women realizing how powerful they were and harnessing diverse strengths to change the system that was trying to keep them powerless.
DV: What’s on the horizon for you?
AK: I’m currently working on my second novel (the first, School of Sight, is available on Amazon) and finishing up several short stories for submission to various publications.
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