An Interview with Richard Knaak

Written by Rebecca Donovan-Tifft

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Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
[I was] born and raised in the Chicago area, spent most of my life in Schaumburg and Bartlett. Last of three children, one brother and one sister. Father a lifelong railroad man. Both parents encouraged me to read at an early age. Discovered mysteries first, but soon after found a copy of an Andre Norton novel among my sister's books --- that despite the fact that she had never really been an SF reader. Started creating my own stories as I got older and sent my first submission to magazines as a teenager (no sales!). Went to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana with the intention of gaining a Chemistry degree, but eventually changed that to Rhetoric (writing). Got my Bachelors in that and worked at such occupations as stockroom handler, office clerk, and resume' writer while pursuing my stories on the side.

In 1986 I literally walked in off the street to TSR just as they were publishing the second of the two Dragonlance trilogies by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. After the book editor got over the shock, he agreed to look over my writing samples. Two weeks later, we talked and he informed me that they were interested in trying me for their new anthologies based on the Dragonlance world. Submitted ideas for four stories; sold three.

After writing the stories, went back to my own work, but received a call from the editor asking if I would be interested in writing a novel about the first hero to wield the legendary Dragonlance --- a novel called THE LEGEND OF HUMA, which has sold about 600,000 copies so far in the country alone and continues to sell.

Since then, I've published 20 more novels with another due out in May and more than a dozen short pieces, mostly for Dragonlance. I now live in Arkansas but retain ties up north. My work has been published in Russia, Poland, Germany, France, Japan, Denmark, Finland, Spain, Great Britain, and Italy.

Q: Who do you like to read?
Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Glen Cook, L. Sprague de Camp, Harry Turtledove, Harry Harrison, Robert Sawyer, Barbara Hambly, and many, many more. Mysteries include those by Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Creas, Anne Perry, and Elizabeth Peters.

Q: Did you plan on being a writer?
Wanted to be one most of my life, but figured I'd have to do it on the side. Imagine my surprise...

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
From things I see, books I read, places I go, people I talk to.

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