Monday, January 21, 2013

SHERWOOD SMITH

Interview with Sherwood Smith

I was born in 1951 and recently retired after twenty years of teaching. I have been married for over thirty years. We have two kids, three dogs, (two of them rescues) and a house full of books.

What are you reading right now?

Fiction or nonfiction? In nonfiction, I'm reading a great deal about sexual dimorphism, and also about the history of Eastern Europe especially in the last hundred years.

In fiction, I am reading the first Eye of the Maker novel by Tom Simon. I am also rereading the third Patrick O'Brian novel for a discussion group.

What first sparked your interest in writing?

It was actually drawing. Writing was so laborious. I was six years old, and I made books on folded paper towels. For years, I drew the stories out in comic book form, then tore them up and threw them away. But between the ages of eight and ten I began to get the urge to write them out instead. My dad was a stationery salesman, so I could get tablets. I realized when I was nine or ten that nobody was forcing me to write short stories, the way we had to do at school. I could write my stories as long as they needed to be. What a joy that was!

What do you love the most about writing? The least?

I love everything about writing. I guess the only thing I don't like is how many decades it took for me to understand that I was a visual writer, and to learn to rewrite. An ongoing process.

Tell us a little about your writing process.

Generally stories begin with an image, a situation. I ask myself how they got there, and if I see where it's going next I sit down and live it all through my fingers.

What are your passions?

Life! Love! Laughter! Beauty! Honor! Agency! Justice!

What inspires you?

The above.

Why fantasy?

Because it's cool, it's fun, I love the possibilities of magic and other worlds.

Why young adult?

That mostly arose out of habit. I started writing young, and many my stories seem to be about young people finding their place in the world.

How was A POSSE OF PRINCESSES born?

The first image was a disparate group of girls who are all princesses going off to rescue a prince. As I started writing about them, and how they got there, it seemed more fun to have them rescuing a princess who had kidnapped a prince — though nobody knew that at the time.

How was CROWN DUEL born?

I was sitting alone at my desk in Vienna, Austria. I was cold, and lonely, as I had not mastered the German language as well as I had thought. I felt ignorant in my shabby Los Angeles clothing in the middle of this sophisticated city. Then I got an image of a girl with her foot caught in a trap. Ugh. But it persisted, I sat down to write it out, and the next thing I knew I had a hundred pages. I put it away for a couple of years, took it out to reread it, and that the court duel half hit me.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Read a lot, especially outside of your favorite genre of fiction. Observe how real people act and react.

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