Everyday people: Knott sees life from many different anglesAuthor. Mother. Wife. Small-business owner. Volunteer. City employee. Leanne Knott juggles those and many other titles in her daily life. The different roles allow her to view the world from a variety of angles.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
Author. Mother. Wife. Small-business owner. Volunteer. City employee.
Leanne Knott juggles those and many other titles in her daily life. The different roles allow her to view the world from a variety of angles.
A GIS specialist for the city, her “day job” is grounded in actuality. Her department works on projects from digital mapping to redistricting. It’s a position she has held for seven years.
“I love it,” she said. “I’m a very visual person. I like the graphic environment.”
She came to the position after living in quite a different world. When her children were younger, Knott stayed home to take care of them.
How was it with three sons around?
“Loud. Busy,” she said. “We had a ball raising our sons.”
As they grew older — two are now in college, the youngest a junior at Red Wing High School — Knott decided she wanted to go back to work. Her husband, Dan, suggested geographic information systems or GIS.
“I laughed at him and said ‘that’s computers,’” she said.
But the more she thought about it, the more interested she became. So she went through the University of Wisconsin-River Falls’ program — building on her bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Minnesota — and started work at the city.
There’s another world Knott lives in as well. As a fiction author whose books are set in the past, she steps into another time and other lives.
“It’s fun to play with my imaginary friends,” she said. “It really does bring me a lot of joy.”
Knott recently released her third novel, “Blackburn Island.” It builds on her first book: Both are set at the turn of the century along the north shore.
“I feel a spiritual connection to Lake Superior,” Knott said.
That passion for Superior, along with interest in shipwrecks and lighthouses, a love of romance and fascination with history culminated in her characters, storyline and first novel, “The Keeper’s Daughter.”
She used to write as a child, but she stopped as a teenager, Knott said. It must be in her blood, though. Knott’s mother published a novel and it was at her publication party that Knott’s love of writing was resurrected.
“She said, ‘Well now it’s your turn,’” Knott recalled of her mom.
Writing offered her an escape when the real world got tough. In the time between her first two novels, Knott’s husband was deployed to Iraq for nine months.
“It was a very difficult time for me, and not just because of the separation,” she said. “It was a very anti-war time. … The war was literally tearing our country apart.”
“Writing really saved me,” Knott said. “It was one of the little small things I had control of in my life.”
The experience caused significant changes in their lives, both while he was gone and when he returned home.
“The change when he was coming back is everything they say it is,” she said. “I didn’t see it coming.”
But the experience also strengthened her family, Knott said. “He is very proud to have served our country and I am very proud of him.”
Looking ahead, new opportunities appearing on the horizon make Knott excited for the future. She is working on a fourth novel to pick up where her latest left off and close the trilogy.
She also is doing GIS consulting work on the side, and recently started her own company.
“Right now I’m an army of one,” she said of the business.
Knott said the support of her family and friends has inspired her to take on all of her ventures, from GIS to writing to her new company.
“There’s always been that one person that thought I could do it.”
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