Author Interview #40, with husband/father/creative writer, Shane W. Smith!
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Hi Shane! Please describe yourself in 5 words:
Husband, father, writer; driven, optimistic.
Always good to meet fellow driven optimists :) Please share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):
Blurb: The Lesser Evil is a graphic novel that explores what it means to have a dream, and what that dream can end up costing…regardless of whether it comes true.
Dear mum and dad,
By the time you read this, I will be gone. It’s nothing you’ve done. This is just something I had to do, for me.
I know you think I’m wasting my life, enlisting in the Senate’s navy. But Danny Hopkins enlisted three years ago, and he’s already a bridge officer. In a few years, he’ll probably command his own ship.
It’s what I’ve always wanted. I want to be out there among the stars, helping the Senate to protect and improve the lives of its people…
Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):
“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar.”
— Mark Antony, Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare
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I know it’s a bit passé to pick Shakespeare, but the literary world owes so much to his work, and I personally was tremendously inspired by this speech particularly.
No worries — give me Shakespeare over drivel anytime :P! Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:
Writing has become so incredibly romanticised. The intangible and unknowable mystery of the creative process is responsible for more emotive and flowery purple prose than any other topic I’ve read about, including love. As much as I truly cherish and enjoy writing as a hobby and vocation, I have come to reject the premise that it has any divine or magical properties.
And getting published is hard work, fun or not. It’s work. In some ways, publication is the grounding process for writers, a reality check of sorts. Of course, the constant cycle of submission/rejection/repetition is one that would knock the romantic shine from any activity (indeed, having a romantic viewpoint seems to amplify the disappointment); but more than that, learning to treat your writing as a business venture really does provide another perspective into the whole process.
I’m yet to decide whether or not this is a good thing…but I believe that the point of tension between fantasy and reality is where the best writing occurs.
Yes, that might be where the creative tension thing comes into play ;) What is your definition of “good writing”?
For me, good writing tells two stories simultaneously (usually referred to crudely as the ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ journeys), and makes it seem entirely natural; organic rather than manufactured. Events feel inevitable because the characters are the way they are, and things only get resolved when the characters take action in a way they would never have even considered at the start of the story.
That’s not to say that considerations such as characters, plot, style, voice, world-building, dialogue, metaphor, suspense, authority, consistency and coherence need to be ignored; indeed, the very best writing mandates mastery of all these disparate elements. For my part, though, if an author has devoted considerable energy to the structure of the story and its subtext, there’s a much greater chance that I will enjoy reading their work.
Please share your #1 tip for writers:
Background: The Lesser Evil was a lengthy novel for almost a decade, and had been (rightly) rejected for publication about ten times before I junked it and re-envisioned it as a graphic novel. Less than two months after I finished putting it together, I’d landed an offer for publication with Zeta Comics for The Lesser Evil (and its sequel)!
I’ve given this advice before, and it’s pretty much the best advice I am capable of giving.
My #1 tip: If you can’t get a novel published, maybe it’s not meant to be a novel. Turn it into a screenplay, a song, a painting, an interpretive dance…or like me, make it a graphic novel.
Good advice (story > medium ^^). Please let us know your websites/blogs/etc:
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Much thanks to Shane for stopping by! Be sure to check out his website for his creative endeavours and “general ideas regarding the creative process.”