Michael Knight hadn’t planned on becoming a writer, or at least not as a career. He wrote poems and novels throughout his childhood, but as he was getting ready to graduate from college, he (somewhat resignedly) applied to law school.
“I always thought writers were sort of magicians, that they knew things the rest of us didn’t,” he said. “I didn’t realize [writing] was a thing you could do.”
Fortunately, a professor encouraged him to pursue his graduate degree in creative writing. Seven books later, he’s living that magical life.
His most recent novel, At Briarwood School For Girls, grew out of his desire to investigate and write about his “big, life-shaping years” in Virginia. The setting, a girls’ boarding school, wasn’t originally part of the plan, but once it happened, Knight said he started to understand the plot better.
“The drama had more weight, and the adult characters had more responsibility,” he explained.
The discover-as-you-write style is what he prefers; he never outlines his books before he starts writing. His favorite thing about writing is the thrill of being surprised by the way the story unfolds and the decisions the characters make. But this approach also takes patience, something he encouraged new or aspiring writers to lean into. The joy of writing fiction should be in the making of that fiction, he said. Slow down, and enjoy the magic.