Heidi recently interviewed author Thomas Smith.
HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN?
I've written eight academic study guides, one book in a Women's Bible Study series, a coffee table book on Aiken, SC, and contributed to about 11 others. This is my first published novel. It's actually my sixth novel, but the first five were pretty bad, and I had the good sense not to send them out. I am currently at work on a new novel. The working title is Stranger.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START WRITING? DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A WRITER?
I think I was first hooked when Mrs. Cox (my third grade teacher) put my Christmas poem on the blackboard. In elementary school, that’s the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. And from that point on, I wrote everything from homemade comic books to really bad poetry and the five really bad novels we just talked about.
WHAT OBSTACLES HAVE YOU FACED AND OVERCOME ON THE PATH TO BECOMING A WRITER?
The biggest obstacles I have had to deal with were the ones I put in my own way. For example, for about six months early in my career I became dejected because the first seven things I wrote sold almost immediately. Then, I couldn't sell anything. Nothing. What I didn't realize until later was the first seven were a fluke. I just happened to hit the right publisher with the right things at the right time. But I didn't know a thing about market research or writing a good query letter. I just wrote stuff and sent it out. It took a pep talk from a writer friend of mine ("Write or don't write. Just make up your mind what you are going to do. And if you decide you're going to write, let me show you how to find out who is buying what and how to approach them." That was pretty much it.) to put me back on track. I had a lot to learn, and fortunately, I had friends who could teach me.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ASPIRING WRITERS?
Write on a regular basis, learn about the publishing industry, and don't look for shortcuts. There is always a literary bandwagon out there just waiting for people to jump on it. And it may be fun in the short term, but in the long run, it is good writing, solid market research, and delivering quality work ON DEADLINE that puts you on an editor's good list. Editors are always looking for a good story, or in the case of non-fiction, good writing that is both accurate and entertaining...and delivered on deadline.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS?
Charles L. Grant, Dean Koontz, Mike Dellosso, Charles Dickens, Bob Simpson, Lester Dent, Bill Myers, Jon Jefferson, and Robert McCammon.
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU’RE NOT WRITING?
Traveling with my wife, gem mining, playing with the praise team at my church (old guys can still rock!), reading, and helping beginning writers.
Readers can learn more about Thomas and his writing by visiting his Web sites: www.thomassmithonline.com or www.thomassmithonline.com