I recently had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Chris Knoblaugh’s debut novel Tribute and I loved it.
Below you will find my chat with the lovely and talented debut author.
The Smart Cookie: How did you realize your love of writing?
Chris: I started writing in middle school. Dark Shadows was on T.V. at the time, and I wrote fan fiction about Quentin Collins, the werewolf on the show. I had mononucleosis at the time, so I was home and quarantined.
The Smart Cookie: You teach middle school as well as have a tutoring business. Would you say you write books for children?
Chris: I write pieces for my students to use as models. They asked me to write a full-length horror story, so that is how I started. Tribute is my third novel, but the only one I have published to date. My target audience is aged 11-14, and I don’t think of them as children. They are young teens at the age where the veil between reality and fantasy is thin.
The Smart Cookie: What inspired the story in Tribute?
Chris: When I first started teaching, I taught in downtown San Jose. Several of my students lost friends and family members to the gang violence in the area.
The Smart Cookie: I noticed there was a lot of mention of scripture in your novel. Do you consider yourself a person of faith?
Chris: I am. However, the scripture is directly related to exorcism practices. In a different novel, I write about voodoo and hoodoo practices. There is always a cryptid of some type in my stories as well as some type of belief practice.
The Smart Cookie: Tell us more about where the MC Miguel came from.
Chris: Miguel is a hodgepodge of many tweens I taught over the years. This is my 17th year of teaching, and I’ve met over 2,000 tweens between tutoring and teaching grades 5-7.
The Smart Cookie: What are your goals with Tribute and The Cleaners series?
Chris: I want to write books I can use with my own students, many of whom are English language learners. The books are designed to be high interest/low reading level books with enough action and intrigue to appeal to reluctant readers. Interestingly enough, most of the reviews I have on Amazon are from adults as far as I can tell.
The Smart Cookie: Where are you from? Do you have any personal ties to the Latin culture?
This question made me laugh. My Dad worked for the federal bureau of prisons for 23 years as their Chief of Mechanical Services officer. That meant we moved to a different prison reservation about every six months on average. I attended twelve different school systems in eight different states. Moving around as often as I did to many different cities, I grew up with multicultural exposure decades before it was fashionable to trace heritage connections. The other kids I knew with similar experiences were the children of military families. We had a lot in common.
The Smart Cookie: If you could chat with one person living or dead, who would it be and why?
Chris: I’m an adult orphan, so it would be nice to talk with my deceased parents again.
The Smart Cookie: Any other projects in the works?
Oh, yes. I have drafts of three more novels, and I have plans for more. My goal is to continue writing in retirement.
Connect with Chris at all these places.