Stan C. Smith
Savage by Stan C. Smith
1. What inspired you to write “Savage”?
Savage comes from two inspirations: First, my love of good, old-fashioned adventure stories that have a science fiction element to them. I started reading Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan, Pellucidar, John Carter of Mars, and much more) when I was ten, and that genre continues to feed my need even today. Second, my fascination for the days when early explorers and naturalists could travel to exotic places and discover numerous new species of creatures, as well as encounter all manner of dangers. The result of these two passions is this novel of an English gentleman naturalist who in 1868 travels to wildest new Guinea, where he encounters much more than he bargained for. He makes a discovery so astounding that he fears it may change the world in terrible ways. The more time he spends in the jungle trying to decipher what he has discovered, the more he fears he is gradually becoming a savage.
2. Why should I read “Savage”?
Because Savage is unlike any adventure, historical fiction, or sci-fi story you have encountered before. It will stimulate your sense of wonder and prompt you to reconsider what it means to be civilized. And it’s simply a ripping-fun read! My humble opinion, of course.
3. How do you define literary success?
My definition is simple, and it has not changed since I started writing in my spare time two decades ago as a middle school science teacher. To me, literary success is writing stories that make people feel the way I felt reading Tarzan novels when I was twelve years old. I’m talking about adults, not kids. My stories are written for adults (although teens seem to love them). When I find a good book in my favorite genre, it makes me feel the same sense of wonder I felt at twelve. I want my stories to make people feel that way. And the more people I can make feel that way, the more literary success I have achieved.
4. What motivated you to become an Indie author?
As stated above, literary success for me is making as many people as possible feel the sense of wonder I feel when I read a good adventure/scifi story. I’m 57 years old–I don’t have time to waste on the traditional route of publishing. I want to entertain readers now, not years from now. My approach is simple: make my books indistinguishable in quality from traditionally-published books (intriguing cover, zero typos, professionally edited), and then get them into the hands of readers as soon as possible. I want to have the final say on what my covers look like, because I know which covers make me want to read a book. I want to have the freedom to fix typos and other mistakes and immediately upload the revised versions of my books to online retailers. I want to price my books fairly (or even make them free for a period of time) if it helps get them into the hands of readers. So my answer boils down to two things: I want to get my books to readers fast, and I want to have control over the quality of what my readers get.
5. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Find your optimal conditions for creativity. Everyone has a time of day in which they are most creative. And everyone has a room or setting that most stimulates creativity. You will even find that you have an optimal ergonomic body position. And a certain drink to have in your mug next to you. And a certain level of background noise or music. Why? Because when have your optimal conditions for creativity, that’s when those ideas will come to you that take your writing from good to knock-your-readers’-socks-off awesome. Those little twists and details that make your story something special. For some people those flashes of brilliance tend to come when plotting the story. For others they may come during composition of the first draft, or perhaps during editing. For me, my optimal conditions for creativity are early morning, in my office, with window shades closed, sitting back in my comfortable chair with my feet up. There is a yellow legal pad in my lap, and not only do I write my outlines by longhand, but I also compose the first draft that way. I have a “mocha” next to me (my own homemade concoction that has lots of chocolate but no coffee). That’s it. That’s when my best ideas come. When I write in any other way, my words do not seem to pop, and eventually I will have to takes those words and look at them within my optimal conditions to make them pop. Everyone has their optimal conditions for creativity. Find them and put yourself into them as often as you can.
The Last Magic Man by Lee Hayton
1. What inspired you to write “The Last Magic Man”?
I was writing an earlier story in the Bitter Magic series-Nolan-that featured a magic woman. As Nolan was threatening her with execution, she claimed that she was the last of the magic practitioners. It was a deliberate lie on her part, designed to undermine the will of the oppressing army, but it made me think about who was the last person in that world who possessed magic. After pondering on it a while, the story of Andreas Parsons was born.
2. What motivated you to become an Indie author?
I lack the patience to deal with traditional publishing. When I submitted my first novel to a publisher, I waited for three months before I heard back that my book had been rejected. The thought of doing that with the other twenty publishers on my list and wasting months or years, made me reconsider my options. I formatted my book for Amazon instead, and had it published a day or two later. Now, I’m such a control freak that publishers can wrench control of my books from my cold, dead hands.
3. What do you do when you have writer’s block?
I usually switch to writing a completely different project to give my brain a wee rest. Instead of hammering away at my main work in progress, I’ll hit a short story or type up an amusing blog post. That way, I can still be producing something of value while all the ideas in a tangle at the back of my mind get a chance to work their kinks out.
If that doesn’t work, taking a long walk or playing a spell on Candy Crush [insert current obsessive King game here] gives me enough of a break to get a grip on where I’m going again. My last resort is to stare blankly at the wall and imagine going back to work in a corporate office. Brrugh. That’s enough to snap me out of any writing malaise!
4. How do you define literary success?
Having readers who experience my stories in exactly the way I intended them to. It’s similar to the electric buzz of feeling that happens when you meet a stranger at a party, and within two or three sentences you know that they “get” you.
So readers that get me-and lots and lots of money, of course.
5. What is your favorite place to write?
The sofa. I’ve attached a photo to demonstrate the exact setup that I require. A sheepskin, a rug, a leather sofa, a pile of small handheld electronics constantly charging, and two lambs-one to lean against and one to talk to. Give me all of that and I’m a happy bunny. Oh, and a laptop to type on. That comes in handy as well.