My pen name is R.Smith.
The Title of Your Work or Group:
My full length novel is "Pop Culture Sucks, Manifesto of A Vampire," available on amazon and createspace, paperback and ebook. I also have two serial stories being released chapter-by-chapter free on Smashwords titled "Everything Sucks," and "The Knight of Albion."
Where are you from?
I was born in Grand Junction, Colorado, but I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where I still live. It's too beautiful and green here to consider moving away. :-)
In what genre do you write?
I never consciously thought of writing in one genre or another, but I seem to have landed in the modern/urban fantasy category. I like to bend and twist typical genre tropes in ways I find fresh and interesting.
In your own words, what is your book about? If you were not the author and trying to explain this awesome book you just read to a friend, what would you say about it?
"Pop Culture . . . ": it's like the anti-twilight. The narrator starts of the book by saying he's totally frakking sick of human culture's total BS portrayal of Vampires in popular culture, so the title does relate to the book aside from just being kinda punny. The Vampire element is *there* on the book, but it's really about characters first. As the narrator goes on, the vamp thing kinda becomes a casual detail, right down to the blood thing. "Everything Sucks": a buncha standalone short stories that tie in to The book's (Pop Culture's) characters, sometimes a little sometimes a lot, but they all still make sense even if you haven't read the book. Some of the shorts don't even have anything to do with Vampires. "The Knights if Albion": King Arthur in Albion, Michigan. The premise alone makes it too weird not to read. He was the once *and future* King, so it works, but obviously a lot changes. The King grew up in the foster system, never got adopted, and has NO IDEA who he is until he lands in Albion and . . . events ensue. It's a really fun read.
What is your writing style? Do you follow all guides and rules? Synopsis, outline etc. or do you just sit down at the computer and type to see what happens.
My writing style is usually minimal planning ahead, I do rough outline in chunks & only flesh out the outline if I have a lotta good ideas I can't get to right away and don't wanna forget. No matter how outrageous or "genre" my subject is, I always focus on each of my characters as if I'm writing a real person in a real environment. I do my best to earn a character's actions/reactions within the plot.
Have you ever written anything and thought; " The world has got to see this!" ?
Even writing as a little kid I wanted to write things for all to see when I grew up. Now I go 2,3,4,5 rounds with my editor guy before I release my material. I want to make sure my work is as polished and interesting as it can possibly be.
Do you have an editor and Cover Designer or do you do this yourself?
Yes I have an Editor/Graphics Guy. Both the same guy. I won the indie writer lottery. We work phenomenally well together, it's a really solid partnership. We prop eachother up as creators to the extent that it's hard to tell who's riding whose coat tails. We discuss ideas for cover/as images, he designs and sends me rough images, we narrow down, and once something is chosen, he perfects it--gets colors/fonts just right, etc.
Who is your favorite author. Not just someone that you read allot. I wanna know whose book you read that made you suddenly know that if you didn't do this for the rest of your life then you would never be happy.
The first book that made me absolutely certain I wanted to write for a living was Roald Dahl's "The Witches." Also "James and the Giant Peach." I only remember the broad strokes of them now, but when I first read them I remember being so ensconced in the language and the world of each of them, and the idea that as a writer I could build a rich, funny, colorful world whenever I pleased. As a pre-teen, Stienbeck's "Of Mice and Men" devastated me in just 99 pages. George and Lenny's bond, and the repeated story about the rabbits made the ending so hard a punch to the gut, it still breaks my heart if I think about it for too long. That's the book that taught me how deeply a great story could affect a person.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My challenge swings back and forth between not making a character/plot detail clear enough before I give it action, thus making it seem odd or out of nowhere--or the opposite. Over describing a point. Hitting it too hard. Really hard. Over and over again. See what I did there?
Do you write your characters or do they write themselves through you?
As far as whether characters are written or write through me, it's a 50/50 partnership. Sometimes I come up with a scenario/event and then drop my character(s) into it and just write down how they behave, and other times the characters utterly dictate where the plot goes.
Do you ever write yourself into the characters?
I don't think any writer can avoid a small piece of themselves wiggling into each character--whether an idealized, rose-hued piece, or a a black-hat-wearing bwahaha piece, you're inevitably there somewhere whether you like it or not.
Is writing your full time job or are you "Keeping your day job"? So to speak.
I'm juuuuust able to pay a few my expenses off of royalties, but the trajectory is certainly an upward one so I'm satisfied. Tutoring and dd jobs take care of the rest.
If you could go back in time and meet one famous person or legend in history, who would it be?
This is a weird answer, but I'd love to talk to the first humans who began to innovate with toolmaking, art, musical instruments, ect. I'd love to know who first looked at a brush or forest fire and thought "I'll bet there's a way to create and control that."
There are millions of new books released every year. What in your mind makes yours stand out from all those millions in your genre?
My work stands out first because of character. I spend a lot of time hanging out with and observing them, so when it comes to putting them on paper they look/feel/sound authentic, rather than voice boxes within a pre-planned structure. Second, I challenge myself with bizarre ideas. I like to build a reality from elements that ostensibly lack realism. In short, my work stands out as fresh and innovative.
In the world of Indie, marketing is very difficult, especially if you don't have the funds to pay for it. Have you found a great free way to market your work that you think other Indies will benefit from?
Free marketing? Well, the closest I've come to that is that each of the FREE short stories has a last page letting the reader know about the full length (not free) novel, as well as a list of sites they can visit/follow to keep up with the latest R.Smith or project-specific news, which has helped our sales. Also, my editor/Graphics Guy and I have presented ourselves as such a combined entity during the launch and blog/fb marketing platforms that we've recently begun to re-brand our sites. We've gone from being just about the novel to being Team Pop Culture! Thus sorta turning even ourselves into an interesting "product."
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