May has been officially declared as the “Interviewing the Indies” month. As such, all month there will be posts containing interviews with indie authors. Today’s guest is Jefferson Smith, author of Strange Places.
What do you have published?
I’m a fantasy and science fiction author, and I write about strong female heroes who like to kick butt and take names. They live interesting, complicated lives and while it may get dark at times, they definitely know how to laugh, too.
My first book, Strange Places, is a modern day two-worlds fantasy, and is the first book in the Finding Tayna series. Spunky and irreverent, 13-year-old Tayna is every villain’s worst nightmare: an uncooperative victim who refuses to play by his rules. After living her entire life in a cruel orphanage, Tayna discovers that she may never have actually been an orphan in the first place, and flees from nunnish captivity to search for her real family. But time is running out and she has two entire worlds to search: one filled with shopping malls and televisions, and another filled with Brownies, Djin and magic!
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently putting the finishing touches on Strange People, the long overdue sequel to Strange Places. Tayna’s life is not getting any easier, though, so get ready for more adventure and hardship as she continues the search for her family while getting dragged deeper and deeper into the Gnomileshi uprising. And as if that wasn’t enough, she’s also got to find a way to protect the other orphans from the Good Sisters of Salvation and their latest hideous nun-schemes, which would be so much easier if they weren’t an entire world away.
I’m also working on a new series, this time with a boy protagonist. What would happen if the fate of the kingdom rested in the hands of the three laziest boys in town? Brotherhood of Delinquents will be coming out this fall.
How do you stay motivated?
My greatest motivation comes from my fans. Every time I get an email asking me when the next book will be out, or when I see a review that ends with “Can’t wait for the next one!” I feel a little guilty that it isn’t done yet, but I am really excited to be able to tell my fans now that I’m almost finished.
I’m also motivated by where I get to spend my time. I have the greatest job in the world. I get to invent cool places and then spend my workday exploring them. Who needs a vacation? I can put in a full day walking through the multi-colored trees of the Methilien Forest, and then spend my evenings playing music among the Djin of the Anvil. I can barely contain my excitement that this is actually a job!
What has been the most challenging aspect of being an indie author?
Without a doubt, the hardest part for me is that I spend so much time alone, writing. In my previous career, I worked on extremely collaborative creative teams, working in the Hollywood special effects industry. So I really love the feeling of being on a team that works hard together to produce spectacular results, and with writing being such a solitary job, I really miss that sense of teamwork.
So to feed that part of my personality, I have to work extra hard to make sure I get to spend time with other people. That’s why I spend a lot of time working in high-schools and libraries, talking to fans, asking them for their feedback, and helping them to learn to be better writers themselves. I also spend a lot of time with other writers in my city, going to their readings, and going for coffee to chat about the things that we writers talk about when we get together. But I can’t tell you what those topics are, because it’s a big secret.
As a writer, what is the one thing you cannot live without? Why?
Interaction with my fans. It isn’t just about knowing that somebody is out there, reading my books and enjoying them. I literally rely on my fans to help keep my writing honest. I’ve been told that my characters sound like real teens, and that’s largely because I spend so much time with real kids that age, listening to them, and asking them to read my stuff before it’s finished. I can’t tell you how many times a teen as told me, “She wouldn’t say it like that, she’d say it like this…”
So I could live without a computer. I’d use paper and pen. And I could live without a moleskin, because I would just use my keyboard. But I can’t write if I don’t have a way to meet regularly and exchange thoughts with my readers. They really are the thing that keeps me going.
And pizza. I have a huge weakness for pizza, too.
You can purchase any of the Indie YA Books from amazon. Stay tuned for more Interviewing the Indies, happening all May long!