Author interview: Alisha A. Knaff

Alisha2Alisha A. Knaff’s novel, School of Sight, is set in a Seattle that may look familiar at first glance, but secretly has a whole host of fantastical characters beneath the surface. Set mainly in Capitol Hill, Alisha paints a picture of a carefree college world with a twist.

We asked her to tell us her favorite things about Seattle.




1. When did you first come to Seattle? Did it make a good impression?

I moved out to Seattle in 2000 when I started college, but I had visited it a few times before that, and it made such a good impression that I didn’t apply to colleges anywhere else.

2. Do you live in Seattle? How long have you lived in Seattle?

I do! I’ve been here mostly for the past 14 years, minus about a 10-month stint in Flagstaff.

3. What is the best part of Seattle?

The community. As cliche as it may be, Seattle is a city that feels very much like a small town. You have the advantages of a city (theatres, art, music, professional sports, etc.) but you also have the desire and willingness to be neighborly and to get to know the people and the community around you.

4. What place in Seattle holds the most nostalgic power for you? Why?

Upper Queen Anne. When I first moved here, that was where I spent most of my non-campus time. It’s changed so much since then, but it still feels very nostalgic to me.

Upper Queen Anne at night – photo by Joe Wolf, via Flickr
Upper Queen Anne at night – photo by Joe Wolf, via Flickr

5. If you had to pick a favorite coffee shop in Seattle, which would it be? Favorite Bar? Favorite Microbrew from Seattle area?

Coffee shop: Hotwire in West Seattle, partially for the proximity but mostly because the coffee is great, they don’t charge extra for almond milk, and the baristas are always friendly and awesome.

Bar: The George and Dragon in Fremont. I don’t really go to a lot of bars, but that was my hangout when I lived in the area.

Microbrew: I love Elysian’s Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, but Manny’s is quickly becoming another favorite.

Gasworks Park – photo by Tony Cyphert via Flickr.
Gasworks Park – photo by Tony Cyphert via Flickr.

6. What is your favorite place to write or read in Seattle?

Anywhere with free wifi! Cupcake Royale in West Seattle has become a favorite, but I also like Bauhaus. For reading, if the weather is nice, Greenlake or Gasworks.

7. Do you believe that Setting is a vital part of narrative?

Absolutely. It’s the easiest way for the reader to connect to the story. Sometimes characters take some coaxing to really let you get to know them, but a setting (or even a lack of setting) can tell you things about the story immediately, whether it be comforting and familiar or strange and alienating.

8. Why is Seattle a critical part of your life? Why is it your setting? or How does it critically impact your life?

Seattle is the place where I became myself for lack of a better phrase. It’s where I learned to be independent and to form my own community. It’s where I learned to share my ideas with people to strengthen or challenge them. It’s my setting because, in a way, writing about a place I don’t have a strong connection to feels disingenuous. If I’m not connected to it, how can I hope my readers will be?

9. What is the most important or interesting thing that has happened to you in Seattle?

The most important thing is probably the people it’s brought into my life.

10. Best Restaurant?

I would have a hard time choosing! Jai Thai in Fremont and the Five Spot in Queen Anne will always have fond memories. Than Brothers Pho is right up there, and Luna Park in West Seattle is getting to be my favorite breakfast spot.

Luna Park Cafe – photo by Jasperdo, via Flickr
Luna Park Cafe – photo by Jasperdo, via Flickr

11. Where can the cool kids be found on a Saturday night?

I have never been one of the cool kids, so I’m really not sure.

12. What neighborhood is the best in Seattle? Why?

I would have to say West Seattle, again because of the community. It can be frustrating to feel like you’re so isolated by the bridge, but as a neighborhood, it does a great job of creating its own community.

13. What would you say if you had to convince your favorite author to come to Seattle for a reading?

It’s weird and wonderful, and we’ve got great readers.

14. What is your favorite thing about being a part of Four Windows Books first serial quarterly?

The collaboration. It’s great to have people working through the same experience you are to both encourage and challenge you.

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