Subscribe to Jessica's exclusive newsletter

Subscribe to Jessica's newsletter

* indicates required

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Happy Holidays

The Feliz Navidad sign always makes the
Plaza Mayor look like a postcard. 

This year, there doesn't seem to be much holiday cheer. So here are some photos of the cheeriest things in my city and a video of one very enthusiastic author talking about the thing she loves most (my book launch party). 

It's not the holidays without certain treats. My favorite variety tray of
the "most expensive turrón in the world." It's not that pricey.  
I found a Yule Log! I used to find these at Italian bakeries
in the United States, though the word "yule" suggests
 a Celtic origin... This Spanish version is so good



The fine folks at Kindle Press are gifting you a trip to magical
Providence, RI, for only 99 cents this December! 


The street lighting this year is even more subtle than usual.

But with the native beauty of Modernist and
Romanesque architecture, you don't need to add much. 

Afternoon strolls down the shopping street.


The old town hall. 

Down Balborraz Street, one of the oldest
and most beautiful streets in Zamora. 

The "umbrella" in the Plaza Mayor with the sign
so you don't forget where you are! 



My city has "love" in it! 

I wrote this book to curl up with and get lost in. 

Heading toward the oldest part of the city. 

The theatre, for plays and events.
(People from elsewhere often ask me if it's a movie theatre,
which seems to be the fate of many old theatres.)

On the side of the Parador. 




The store with the weird costumes for parades has a tree! 

The Renaissance convent and a Modernist balcony. 

The palace from the time of Ferdinand and Isabella 

How can you not follow the advice of Holiday Rhino? 
Holiday Rhino is from a complete zoo in Winterhaven,
Tucson, Arizona, 2011.

As this year comes to a close, let's be grateful it's over! And certain that 2021 will be much, much better. Stay safe, everyone. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Seven Noble Knights on the Loose! and a Secret


Happy book birthday to the love of my writing life, Seven Noble Knights

It's out today from Encircle Publications. Let's hope this is just the start of unimaginably great things! 

Tons of great photos, videos, interviews, and excerpts await you here

My author copies haven't arrived yet, so this is the closest thing to a photo of the author with her book I can get for now. Can you believe nobody asks me about my supercool mask when I walk down the street??

My city has reopened the bars and restaurants just in time to go celebrate! With masks on. Stay safe, everyone! 

And check out my message for readers on release day! 



Wednesday, November 25, 2020

My Cinematic Novel Just Got That Much Closer to Cinema

Devoted to the TV! 
via Life.com 

Seven Noble Knights
(Indie preorder) (Amazon preorder) has made it into the quarterfinals of the Road to Development Contest. I won't mention the website hosting it because I'm including below the highlights of their feedback, which I think they would prefer to remain anonymous. But come on, so many nice things about my book! I have to share! 

The Road to Development Contest is just that, a competition to be picked for development into a movie or TV show. I always thought Seven Noble Knights would do well as a series, either for streaming or on a cable network, or even, in the best of all possible worlds, on Masterpiece Theatre. The contest seems to agree (see comments below). 

via Life.com

There is no social component to this contest. Seven Noble Knights has made it this far on its own merit, which makes me proud. But it also stands to reason that if my dear readers shared this news and the book made it to the top of internet searches, such exposure could influence the judges. I would be ever so grateful for such sharing. 

Seven Noble Knights would be an expensive proposition, so from a practical standpoint, I'm not sure what chances it really has at this skint point in human history. But no one can deny that it would be really super awesome to have a Seven Noble Knights series! 

via Life.com

Feedback

Primary Hook of Story

A story of betrayal and revenge similar to some of the occurrences of Game of Thrones.

Fanbase Potential

It could, especially those interested in medieval stories, with knights, gorgeous ladies, tragic love, and sword fights.

Awards Potential

If well adapted, it could manage to earn some technical accolades, since the story would have to recreate an entire period.

Lead Characters

Most of them are brave, but some are cunning, some horribly hot-headed and some simply honest and honorable, which means that they are different, complex and well-established in the narrative.

Uniqueness of Story

The story is very well-written and developed. With a top-notch adaptation, it could become a great TV series or film.

Possible Formats

Film - Studio, TV Series - Cable, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series, TV Series - Streaming

Comments

The narrative is good and compelling, and the author has great writing skills, which makes the book interesting throughout most of the reading, no matter what character you are following. In fact, the structure is also very well-developed. By following different characters and getting to know their needs and aspirations, no matter which side of the main issue they are on, we learn more about their personalities and realize there is no one completely right or wrong in the matter. The ending is particularly good, creating a reflection about how many of these people's struggles, grudges, sorrows and acts of revenge are based on actions that cannot be undone and lives that can't be recovered, creating a spiral of violence that seems to have no valid origin or reason to exist. All these things could be very well explored in a miniseries, especially if it would use each chapter to follow one of the characters, more or less like the book does. 


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

30+ Multimedia Reasons to Read SEVEN NOBLE KNIGHTS


Seven Noble Knights is chock full of great historical tidbits. During the run-up to its new debut from Encircle Publications on December 11, I've been participating in lots of fun new multimedia experiences you can find links to in this post. I'll add new material as I do more cool events. I'll also include some oldies but goodies because Seven Noble Knights is nothing if not historical. 

Seven Noble Knights is available for Kindle preorder for only 99 cents. Grab it before the price goes up on December 11! It's also available for preorder in softcover. Order it now and it will probably arrive on release day. If you're trying to avoid the 'Zon, try directly from the publisher, or Bookshop.org, where you can order, and it will come to you from your favorite (or closest) indie bookstore. Or, if NetGalley is your groove, snag it there in exchange for a review. 

Perhaps the most important reason to read Seven Noble Knights is that it would make "a great TV series." 

Audio

• A short and sweet interview on Chat and Spin Radio about Seven Noble Knights and the importance of artists in trying times 

• An interview with All Classical Portland's book guru Ed Goldberg, crammed with noble knights, devious ladies, and ominous auguries! Check it out and download it at the station's site. Or try listening here, at the top of the page

• A lively chat about battles and authenticity with author friend and elegant narrator Seymour Hamilton 

Reviews

“Let Seven Noble Knights welcome you to historical fiction! …it’s a rich saga populated with characters you will grow to love (and a few you will love to hate). The ancient empires of Spain are a beautiful backdrop to the struggles of humankind across all generations of all lands: romance, revenge, war, and adventure.”

—Pushcart Prize nominee Reneé Bibby, The Writers Studio

• Seven Noble Knights is endorsed by a discerning reader in the Historical Novel Society Review

• Author Seymour Hamilton observes medieval bathing habits. 

• Author Kim Rendfeld discusses love and vengeance in medieval times. 

• A fan in Spain admires Seven Noble Knights

• Nancy at Goodreads says Seven Noble Knights kept her awake at night! 

• Grab it at NetGalley and review it yourself! 


About the Author

• A thrilling romp at Much Medieval Mayhem hosted by Anna Belfrage: The Princess Bride, Cantigas de Santa Maria, and the multicultural, multiethnic Middle Ages. 

• At Historical Fiction Blog: What's my writing process? What do I have in my refrigerator? 

• Writing Superheroes with Author Maria Grace: My surprising secret life, with polka dots. 

• At the Huffington Post with The Book Doctors: They mention a blog post about the Pitchapalooza where we met in person, and that's here

• At Unusual Historicals: Legends of medieval Spain, history, and fantasy. (Unfortunately, the giveaway mentioned is no longer active.) 

• An appearance in the St. Helens Chronicle gives my opinion on ebooks and the lure of historical fiction. 

• 10 Questions in 10 Words with Author Linda Sands: Seven Noble Knights as well as Boston, The Invisible Library, and a sweet roll with Nutella. 


History and Legend

"My Characters Lived in Tenth-Century Spain" at Historical Fiction Reader: The complexities of tenth-century life couldn't help but produce a legend. 

• "How the Seven Noble Knights Survived One Millennium ... and Counting" with Author Kristin Gleeson: A story so good, you can't tell it just once! 

• "A Medieval Ritual of Rebirth" with Author Kim Rendfeld's Outtakes of a Historical Novelist with an excerpt sure to squeeze the breath out of you 

"Fertile Fields, Fields of Blood": Exploring the site of the novel's big, bad battle 

• A different version of Seven Noble Knights from the 1800s 

"The Seven Noble Knights in Modern Life"Living with the legend in my characters' hometowns today 



Characters: Inspirations and Interviews

• That time I stumbled upon my characters near their hometown  

• "Salas de los Infantes, Where the Seven Noble Knights Lived": A delightful visit to Salas de los Infantes to share a copy of Seven Noble Knights and see the casket inside the Romanesque-Gothic transition church 

Lambra: The Villainess

• “Vengeful Ladies and Bloody Cucumbers: J. K. Knauss on Seven Noble Knights with Author J. L. Gribble and the pivotal bloody cucumber scene! 

• “When Does a Blood-Soaked Cucumber Solve Your Problems? J. K. Knauss interviews Doña Lambra, Villainess of Seven Noble Knights” with Author A. J. Culey 

• Meet the Villains 

• Blanca Flor, Lambra's daughter 

• Long-Suffering Justa, Lambra's maid 

Heroes

• Meet Gonzalo González, the youngest of seven noble knights.  

• Meet Mudarra, the conflicted hero of Part Two.




Book Clubability

Seven Noble Knights was the official February 2017 pick of the St. Helens Literary Divas Book Club. The author made a special appearance and good times were hadContact the author to arrange a virtual or in-person visit for your book club.


Virtual Events and Video

A release day message to my readers! 


Your truly and some engaged readers celebrated Seven Noble Knights with this entertaining virtual launch experience! We talked about men, women, monuments, cucumbers, honor, and the writing process. Catch the recording here or in the box above. 

Many thanks to Susan Wands of the NYC Historical Novel Society for making this possible. 



Lands of Legend: On December 5, 2020, I gave a photo- and excerpt-filled a virtual tour of Spain, medieval and modern, courtesy of the New York Public Library. The event was well-attended and the audience was engaged and asked thoughtful, interesting questions. There was no recording, but a special encore presentation has been recorded in four parts. 


On May 3, 2017, I gave a reading of Seven Noble Knights and did a book signing at the Harvard Book Store, fulfilling a lifelong dream


Check out this intimate reading of Part One, Chapter I. 


Watch the colorful trailer with art by Ayal Pinkus.


In October, I joined the other wonderful authors of We All Fall Down to talk about hope in hard times. 


Excerpts

• The siege of Zamora (at the bottom of the page)


• When you can't kill 'em, throw a blood-soaked cucumber at 'em, with J. L. Gribble. 


• Think chess is a slow, intellectual game? Check this excerpt out and think again, at History Imagined. 



The World of Seven Noble Knights

Research and sudden dramatic transport from the 21st century to the tenth:


Friday, November 6, 2020

Lands of Legend: The New York Public Library Invites You


We all miss those magical times when we could travel. Now you have a chance to travel without leaving the safety of home. 

If you missed this event, scroll down for links to the special video replay of the content. 

Thanks to the generosity of the New York Public Library, you can join yours truly, author of Seven Noble Knights, on a Google Meet virtual tour of medieval and modern Spain. You'll learn the legend of the seven noble knights, see the places where it all happened, and learn the ways Spanish people today celebrate this legend. Photographs, anecdotes and excerpts bring this fascinating country alive. I'll also answer your burning questions!

Register at the bottom of the page linked here, under the book cover and my photo, to receive a link to this program with a reminder 10 minutes before event. 


You can preorder Seven Noble Knights so that you'll receive it on release day, December 11. 

Or, if you're a NetGalley member, you can pick up your review copy right now and ask questions about the story on December 5! 

Lands of Legend await you! 


This event went really well, with lots of engaged audience members. I've recorded a special replay of the content for those of you who couldn't make it on the day, available in four parts: 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Facebook page

Enjoy! 

Monday, October 26, 2020

A Prolific Spanish Author and the Seven Noble Knights

He should smile, with all the money he made from
writing! Maybe the mustache is too heavy. 
Manuel Fernández y González (1821–1888) used words to gain notoriety and to finance what his contemporaries considered a “bohemian” lifestyle. He wrote dramas, poetry, and more than 300 (300!) novels. Although he doesn’t quite reach the level of infamy of Edward Bulwer-Lytton in English (the “It was a dark and stormy night” author), his Spanish Wikipedia article describes his writing this way: “a feverish imagination, a certain Andalusian grace and genius, excessive verbosity, especially in dialogue… a defining lack of solid learning, bad taste, and a lack of self-criticism.”

Anyone who wrote (or in later years, dictated) 300 novels can’t be hampered by self criticism. King of the episodic novel (novels published in newspapers over the course of several weeks and, only later, bound as a book), Manuel Fernández y González put the words out there. Period. He worked in an atmosphere of incessant creation because he was paid per page. Of course he wrote a lot of dialogue—it fills up a page faster than anything else. Revision or even just reading over what he’d written wouldn't have contributed to the bottom line. It’s unlikely if not impossible for great literature to come out of such an atmosphere, but I can’t help but stand in awe before that way of doing business.

It's inspiring, in a way. The words are out there for the writer to seize!

Some might consider the current self-publishing atmosphere to be similar to the nineteenth-century word machine. I haven't found a way to follow the volume model, so instead I do a lot of revision in an attempt to ensure that the writing is actually good.

The only reason I've heard of Manuel Fernández y González is that one of his 300 novels was Los siete infantes de Lara (1853), based loosely on the same legend I took inspiration from to write Seven Noble KnightsThe novel is almost 150,000 words in the original, many of them uncalled for. But within that haystack, there are plenty of exciting and amusing needles. Twists and turns and surprises. It was first released to the reading public chapter by chapter in a Madrid newspaper that cost one peseta per issue. 

If I had a lot more time on my hands, I would do an edition of Los siete infantes de Lara and present a "good parts" translation (à la The Princess Bride) here in installments, just like the first time it was published. 

As things stand, there already exists in English a much more carefully researched and developed version of this tale with fewer words, a modern storytelling pace, and irresistible medieval details: Seven Noble Knights. You can get it December 11, or you can preorder it now, while it's the cheapest it will ever be, or, if you're into that kind of thing, pick it up at NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. 

Thanks for sharing my excitement!

Friday, October 23, 2020

Short and Sweet Radio Interview on Chat & Spin

These people in the Cantigas de Santa Maria
are listening to oldies from the 1280s. 

Click here to listen to the Interview with J. K. Knauss on Chat and Spin Radio
. Fast forward to 1:36:00 to skip an hour and a half of awesome 80s music to just hear the chat. 

Chat and Spin Radio is an indie Internet radio station based in the UK and broadcasting to 750,000 listeners daily. They play the best music, which is to say 80s jams (they take requests!), and have little chats with an astonishing variety of literary personalities. Ron Clark was kind enough to sit down with me for a short spell (less than ten minutes) yesterday evening. As I mention above, click here and fast forward to 1:36:00 to listen

Here's a transcript in case you have technical issues: 

Ron: And the time now on Chat and Spin Radio in the UK is 7:36 pm, and we've got our next guest on the line right now. Who's calling and where are you calling from?

J. K.: My name is Jessica Knauss. I'm an American, and I live in Zamora, Spain. 

Ron: Jessica, you've written books, you're an author, and you want to mention a book that's coming out in December.

J. K.: Yes, so, my medieval epic novel, Seven Noble Knights is going to be released by Encircle Publications on December 11. 

It takes place in Spain, in the year 974. Gonzalo, a brave but hotheaded knight, unwittingly provokes tragedy at his uncle’s wedding to beautiful young noblewoman Doña Lambra: the adored cousin of the bride dead, his teeth scattered across the riverbank. Coveting Gonzalo’s family’s wealth and power, Doña Lambra then sends Gonzalo’s father into enemy territory to be beheaded, unleashing a vengeance that devastates Castile for a generation.

A new hero, Mudarra, rises out of the ashes of Gonzalo’s once great family. Raised as a warrior in the opulence of Muslim Córdoba, Mudarra must make a grueling journey and change his religion. Then, he chooses to take his jeweled sword to the throats of his family’s betrayers. But only when he strays from the path set for him does he find his true purpose in life.

So, as you can hear, the book is in two parts. It's a substantial read, and that’s because the feud that starts at the wedding continues for years, with the villain laying waste to the beautiful land, never knowing that the hero is just waiting for the right moment to stop him and put things right. Mudarra does this at great personal cost. He’s perfectly competent to avenge his family, but he has a lot of doubts about whether he’s doing the right thing. 

I personally really like to get lost a book, and feel transported to another world when I’m reading. Seven Noble Knights, is, I’m happy to say, one of those books. You can let it absorb you into its sights, sounds, smells. So, if you’re looking to escape from this dismal year the whole world is having, Seven Noble Knights could be a great option. 

Ron: It certainly can. The book is is great thing to read during all this. It's a form of escapism to read the book, and possibly to write it, as well. 

J. K.: Yes, indeed. In times of great anguish, we always to turn the artists, and so we should appreciate them. 

Ron: Seven Noble Knights is coming out on December the 11th. Just tell me how can people purchase that book, and also if anyone wants to get in touch with yourself, how do they do that?

J. K.: Seven Noble Knights is now available for preorder in both ebook and softcover at Amazon. It will be available at many more outlets on December 11. 

Preorders are very helpful to the book and the author, so if you’re interested at all, order Seven Noble Knights now and receive it on December 11! The ebook is specially priced at only 99 cents for preorder in America, that's only 77 p in the UK. And December 11, the price goes up! It won’t be on sale after that, so take advantage of the bargain. 

You can find much more information about Seven Noble Knights and my other books, which are a world apart, at my website, JessicaKnauss.com.

Ron: Okay, Jessica. Is there anything else you want to mention?

J. K.: I thought I would mention what inspired me to write this book, if that would be of interest. There I was, innocently studying for my PhD in medieval Spanish literature, when my thesis advisor handed me an article she’d written about the meaning of the bloody cucumber incident in a lost medieval epic poem. I’m naturally attracted to the bizarre, and this was one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever heard. So of course I had to read the historical records of the legend, and it turns out, throwing random vegetables at your enemies was a common enough occurrence in the Middle Ages in Spain that there are a couple of laws against it. And this ended up being one of the least interesting things about the legend. 

I didn’t get to focus more on this material until long after I’d finished my PhD, when it seemed to me that the best way to handle the exotic locations and complex characters would be to write a novel. The legend has had many adaptations in the Spanish-speaking world, including comic books and movies, in the hometown of the main characters, they have a rock opera that they do every year, but I strongly felt that readers in English would love this story, too. 

Ron: Okay, then, Jessica. Thank you very much, and the very best of luck with the books as well. 

J. K.: Thank you very much for having me. It's been a pleasure. 

Ron: That was Jessica on the line from Zamora, Spain. Thanks very much for coming on.