Today we feature Keith Pyeatt and his novel Dark Knowledge. Keith lived in an isolated log cabin in Vermont for ten years. He entered that decade an engineer and came out of it a novelist. He won't say what happened in those rural woods that turned him, but it's easy to suspect it had something to do with things that go bump in the night. He writes paranormal thrillers.
Keith's published novels include Struck, Dark Knowledge, and Above Haldis Notch. A fourth novel, Daeva, is scheduled to be released in June 2014. All novels contain a strong paranormal element, well-developed characters, and a psychological bent.
What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?
Good speculative fiction--like a good night's sleep--provides an excellent getaway from reality. Just as things tend to look clearer in the morning, escaping into speculative fiction for a few hours gives your mind a rest and can add focus once you return to your life. Think about some of the wild scenarios and images our minds produce when they're set free to dream. I figure our minds must need that kind of release. Speculative fiction provides the same type of escape for the waking hours.
Why do you write in this genre?
I enjoy the extra leeway a paranormal element gives my imagination. I like the unusual threats I can force my characters to face. When I brainstorm ideas for a new novel, I always start with the paranormal element. Will this novel have an alternate world, a demon locked in a character's mind, the afterlife bleeding into character's normal lives, supernatural powers stolen from the spirits...? That's what gets me going until my character's motivations take over.
I read many genres, but I've always particularly enjoyed speculative fiction. I write what I enjoy reading the most.
How did you come up with the idea for Dark Knowledge?
I wanted to unleash my imagination by creating a strange, dangerous, and ever-changing world with no conventional limitations. I also intended to use temptation as a key element. I set the world inside the mind of a mentally challenged man who longed to be able to interact and reason like his friend. The mind-world could then tempt him with what he longed for the most: the means to improve his intelligence.
Almost immediately into writing the first draft, this crafty mind-world that I'd barely created took good and evil and wrapped them tightly together. I loved it. I revamped my plans to focus on this slightly warped version of the old "good vs. evil" theme. I refused to let the two extremes separate. If you took one, you got the other too, a restriction that led to many stressful dilemmas. So even though my original intent was to thread a temptation theme through this novel, it's the "good and bad together" theme that actually runs rampant throughout the story, manifesting itself in various ways. There's even a character, Lydia, who is the personification of that theme.
I had such fun!
What was your biggest challenge in writing it?
Much of the novel takes place in a group home for mentally challenged men and women, and my main character, Wesley, is mentally challenged. I wanted to portray him with compassion but not sugarcoat the guy. He's got a dark heritage, a darker destiny, a traumatic past, an uncertain future, and a mind that doesn't function as well as most. He's a fascinating, tormented man with an amazing inner compass, but it was difficult to write from his point of view and to nail the setting of the group home where he lives.
Among the people I turned to for help were my sister and her friend. They each had over ten years experience working with mentally challenged men and woman as well as with private group homes. Their experience, added to the little bit of direct experience I have, helped me be sensitive and real enough for my needs. I'm very happy with the result.
Oh, and this was the second novel where a character challenged me by refusing to go away. Stuart, a doctor who was meant to deliver bad news and then disappear, became a major character. Turns out I needed him, but adding a major character I hadn't planned on complicated my writing process.
What are you working on now?
I'm writing first draft on a novel with a working title Sirens of Sayhurn. The paranormal element in this one is also an alternate world, but it's quite different from the mind-world in Dark Knowledge. The only way to reach Sayhurn is to follow the call of its sirens, and they only lure people over to fill specific needs. It's a fun novel to write, full of passion, seduction, addiction, lust, greed, and even some romance. It has a very dark side, which, as always, is a nice contrast to the light.
About Dark Knowledge
With knowledge comes a dark destiny...
A whole new world beckons inside the mind of mentally challenged Wesley Henson, a world that offers him a gift he can’t resist: knowledge. He carries bits of knowledge back to the physical world and returns for more, unaware of the dark instincts that come with them. The knowledge builds Wesley’s intellect and gives him abilities he’s never had before--to reason, to understand, even to heal a sick friend--but the instincts thrust him into an evil contest he can’t yet understand, against opponents who have been trained to compete. And kill.
To survive, Wesley must keep moving forward. He fights for his life in two worlds while piecing together his mind, coming to terms with his heritage, and facing a terrifying destiny he almost escaped. The more he understands, the harder it becomes to tell good from evil. The greater his intellect, the more difficult his choices. What must he sacrifice to save the world from his dark knowledge...his life, or his soul?
"Pyeatt has created an intense tale of horror that is one of the most gripping reads I’ve read this year. From the very first page, you are thrust into a story that has you begging for more...I highly recommend diving into Dark Knowledge if you’re looking for an entertaining read that is as dark as it is brilliant." - Fictitious Musings