Interview With Author Tony Knighton
Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.
I’m a lieutenant in the Philadelphia Fire Department. I’ve been on the job since 1985. I began writing in the early morning hours at home, and work when I could. As I got serious about writing, I took some courses at the Community College of Philadelphia.
My novella and story collection Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia Cruelties was published in 2015 by Crime Wave Press. My story “The Scavengers” is included in the anthologies Shocklines: Fresh Voices in Terror, published by Cemetery Dance, and Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume One, published by Comet Press. My story “Sunrise” is included in the anthology Equilibrium Overturned, published by Grey Matter Press. I have also published short fiction in Crime Factory, Static Movement Online and Dark Reveries.
Could you tell us a little about your latest book?
I’m happy to. My latest is a novel titled Three Hours Past Midnight and will be published this spring by Crime Wave Press. In the first few pages the narrator and his partner burglarize the home of a wealthy, jailed Philadelphia politician. Shortly, the partner is dead and the goods missing. The narrator spends the rest of the night hunting for his money and the killer. Along the way, he learns this was a job best left alone.
Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration?
There’s a private home in Philadelphia, a mansion near Center City, that everyone mistakenly thinks belongs to a real-life, notorious, long-time state senator. I liked the idea of a crew breaking into the house and stealing something from him. As Eryk Pruitt says, some people in this world need to be robbed.
Do you have a favorite character? If so, why?
Yes, my narrator from Three Hours. I first wrote this character into a story titled “Mister Wonderful,” from my collection Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia Cruelties. That story opens with him strapped in the driver’s seat of a car that has come to rest upside down in a shallow, icy streambed. He’s got a broken collarbone and he hears a siren go by on the roadway above him. The story was great fun to write, and one of the few that I began with only a premise – no clear idea of what was going to happen. By the end, I knew I wanted to do more with him. I like him because he’s smart and resourceful, but very human. He makes mistakes. I get bored reading stories that feature a superman or know-it-all.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Early on. I didn’t get around to it for a long time. I think I was afraid to try. I got started during a prolonged bout with insomnia. I needed to do something quiet that felt productive.
Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?
I have many favorites; it would be unfair for me to name only one so I’ll pick out a few: I love the Richard Stark books, Jim Thompson, Dashiell Hammett and James Ellroy. Ray Banks is really good. I have a special fondness for George V. Higgins’ The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
My inspiration to write came while reading books poorly written. I’d think, “I could do better than this.”
How do you research books?
I find someone who knows what I need and ask them questions. I have a network of experts – cops, a few lawyers, people in the trades, etc. People like to talk about what they know or what they do. Often, I’ve gotten more than I expected – bits of information that took me in directions I didn’t anticipate. No one has ever told me they didn’t want to talk. I know a locksmith who thanked me for asking.
What advice would you give beginning writers?
It takes a while to develop any skill, so don’t be discouraged if your early pieces fail to live up to your expectations. Keep writing. Revision is essential. Your stuff will get better.
Are you working on another book?
Two. I’ve started another featuring my narrator. He returns to the locale of the short story “Mister Wonderful.” I’m also finishing a book that I’d left idle a while ago, a story about a fire investigator, set during a four-day political convention.
Thank you for this opportunity – it was great fun!
You can find out more about Tony Knighton and his books on his Amazon profile.