Interview with G. Ernest Smith

What do you read for pleasure?
I read G. Ernest Smith. He's brilliant! Did that sound too self-serving? Too shameless? No, really, I read a lot of stuff, history, science, but I read thrillers mostly. Names like David Baldacci, Tess Gerritsen, Lee Child, Jonathan Kellerman, Randy Wayne White, Tom Lowe, John Sandford. Once in a while, I take a break from thrillers and delve into some quality science fiction and fantasy with John Scalzi, Joe Haldeman, Elizabeth Moon, Lois McMaster Bujold.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I spill a bowl of alphabet soup over a snow globe. If I squint, I can make out words.

That sounded a lot funnier when it was still in my head.

Actually, I use a Kindle Paperwhite but I also have Kindle and Nook apps on my Android tablet phone.
Why do you write?
I'm a masochist, I guess. But seriously, there is tremendous reward in story telling. I feel a primal connection with all those who have come before me and struggled to craft thoughts with words. William Shakespeare, Herman Melville, Robert Heinlein, Tom Clancy. These people are all story tellers of the first magnitude. I fade to insignificance in their creative light, but to even be in the same profession is an honor to me. And the reward of seeing my words in glorious typeface and bound in a glossy cover is immeasurable. To me this beats any other measure of success.

My characters and plot twists spring from my mind onto the written page and are given life. If someone is entertained by my musings and mention it to me, that's all the reinforcement I need to write more. My fan base is small but very supportive.
What are you working on next?
A submarine epic. I got this idea from an account of Sir Francis Drake I read. I briefly wondered how he would have reacted to seeing a modern nuclear attack submarine.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to arrange and catalog my collection of tiny motel shampoos. Just kidding! I have two motorcycles and a 34 foot Catalina. I'm a private pilot although I'm currently without an airplane. I sold my Cessna 172 last year, and it has a new home now in South Carolina.

My wife and I enjoy eating stuff we shouldn't, going to the movies and traveling. She's also a writer and gives me tremendous support.
Where do you get your ideas?
A lot of what if's. I got the idea for Assassin Awaken after reading an article about the bloody rituals practiced by the ancient Aztecs. I thought, what if an Aztec warrior was set loose in modern day Tampa, Florida. How would he survive? What would he think of what he saw? Could he make the adjustments needed to fit in?

I got my idea for Look Down after reading about the Navy's magnificent airships of the 1930's, the Akron and the Macon. I thought, what if they were reborn and updated with advanced weapon systems and performing important military support missions from space.

The idea for Bone Maze came to me after I heard a story about my grandfather being attacked by a rabid fox in Ohio. It came up onto his tractor after him like a cruise missile, and locked its jaws onto his ankle. It scared the piss out of him, and he had to get a series of inoculations for rabies. I could imagine how frightening that must have been. I thought, what if someone could actually direct animals to attack people and not just anyone, but specific targets.
Are there any traps to avoid when writing creatively?
Sure. All of them! But really, I've never had writer's block, if there is such a thing, but when I was writing articles for a flying magazine, Florida Touch and Go, I used to get locked into a rewrite loop. I would write a piece and then say, “I can do better.” I would rewrite it and rewrite it and rewrite it. I couldn't stop. It was an obsession. I finally developed some discipline in this matter, and today I write it once and rewrite two times. If I can't say it in three tries, I just can't say it. Move on.

I also used to get bogged down in expository prose and description. I could bludgeon a story to death with too many words. I think I've finally conquered that devil. I streamline my stories so the action moves pretty fast and the reader stays interested. I think it was Elmore Leonard who said, “Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.” Good advice!
What's the best advice you've ever gotten when it comes to writing?
When I was a young man I had the good fortune to talk to one of the greats, Ray Bradbury. He was doing a series of lectures on the west coast and I caught up to him in Santa Maria at Allan Hancock College. He told in his lecture of the writing life and what it had given him. He did the screen play for Moby Dick, starring Gregory Peck, and had traveled extensively although he never flew. His greatest book is generally considered to be Fahrenheit 451. It won many awards, but what blew my mind was that he wrote the whole thing in about 8 days! He was on fire, he said. He was totally obsessed with writing it. He locked himself in his room and just wrote and wrote and wrote until it was finished. His wife understood the creative process quite well and knew what was going on. She just brought him food and coffee and stayed out of his way. Not all of his books came as easily, however. When I got to speak to him, I told him I was a writer too although I was new at it. He asked if I had a target audience or if I was writing primarily for my own entertainment. I was perplexed by this question. I said, I'm writing for myself although I would like to sell what I write. He said, “Good, you're on the right track. You have to write what you would like to read. If you can do that, you'll find others who'll like it too.”

I've always tried to do this. Write things I would like to read myself. Which means thriller genre mostly.
What other occupations have you had, and how did this influence your writing?
I've been forged out of the workaday existence of the middle class, and I know how the average man feels, what is important to him, for what he strives. I've been a Navy technician, a disk jockey, a computer programmer, a math teacher at the community college and a member of the Space Shuttle launch team. Now, I'm retired, but I still have a strong work ethic, and I treat writing like a job. I write something everyday. Sometimes it's not very good and I have to throw it away later, but I still force myself to do it.
Why do you say a good story should make you either laugh, cry or pee your pants?
Ha! Well, that''s just my way of saying a story should grab you. I try to read and write stories that do all three of those things. But keep in mind I have a weak bladder.
Published 2013-11-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Secrets: Tales of Deadly Deception
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 71,180. Language: English. Published: July 7, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
A collection of stories from master story teller G. Ernest Smith: Henry and Elam are two seniors who live together to save money. They live modestly and except for Henry's lust for a Lay-Z-Boy, they don't want for much. They decide to go out one Friday night to their favorite club for a good time but a madman with a gun has other ideas and soon they are caught up in a chaotic swirl of death.
Black Abyss
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 82,880. Language: English. Published: April 2, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Military
In this third installment of the Black Sheena saga the Coalition has fallen and the new government of the Citizens Republic has been formed by the Blacks. Sheena and Kag decide to go on a secret mission to the Yamagoochee System to gather intel. But days into their trip something goes wrong and they crash land on an uncharted planet where they find people living in the stone age.
Black Fury
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 90,540. Language: English. Published: April 14, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Military, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
In her capacity as supreme commander of the new military guard, she and the Blacks are trying to create a new nation on Sandow — The Citizens Republic — and with the help of the Al Yo'osh and the Billé Sanmo monks, she establishes the City of Promise. But General Teeg makes a bold attempt to abduct Sheena and puts the Blacks on their guard.
Black Queen
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 106,540. Language: English. Published: March 9, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Military
Her name is Black Sheena and she is hunted by the Five Star Coalition. She raids their shipments and opposes the ruthless men at the top. Whenever they try to tighten their grip on a people, Black Sheena is there to defend them. Whenever they try to put down rebels, Black Sheena is there to be their champion.
Dead Man: a short story
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,210. Language: English. Published: October 13, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
The year is 1950 and Hank Corman has a job to do. Surveillance. He's watching a diner in Newark, New Jersey. But the lead is bogus. The target of the investigation never shows. He decides to call it a day, but then he catches sight of someone he hasn't seen since the war. But what he's seeing can't possibly be. He saw this man die six years ago! He died in the skies over Nazi Germany.
Shields of PHLEGM
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 29,960. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
When mankind is threatened with oblivion, we must turn to a few good men, or maybe just one heroic sheep! This is the story of Levi, a fearsome quad ram, specially engineered genetically to do law enforcement.
Bone Freeze
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 90,350. Language: English. Published: July 16, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Disturbingly mutilated dead animals are being found in the mountains of Alaska and hunting parties are disappearing. There is something evil at work here and law enforcement has put a name to it. Anubis. Roy Bohannon is a man without a past. He finds himself fleeing through the Alaskan wilderness. Someone is trying to kill him. Why? He can't remember who's chasing him or what he's done.
Bone River
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 30,660. Language: English. Published: March 13, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Why are people mysteriously disappearing from the banks of the St. Johns River only to reappear with someone else's personality and memories? Bone Ramsey and his squad intend to find out.
Bone Hammer
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 89,790. Language: English. Published: January 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Adventure » Action
It's an ancient artifact called the Horrible Hammer and it can kill with but a single thought. When it is stolen, Bone Ramsey is hired to retrieve it, and with the help of his colorful squad of club bouncers he runs afoul of the FBI, the Miami mob and barely escapes certain death.
Deadly Apparition
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 98,570. Language: English. Published: July 24, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Adventure » Sea adventures
Commander Donald Castillo is the commander of the Virginia class fast attack nuclear submarine Kansas. On a mission to test a ground-breaking countermeasure something goes horribly wrong and Kansas disappears off the western coast of Scotland. The American and British navies perform an exhautive search but find not a trace of Kansas.
Bone Maze
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 88,150. Language: English. Published: November 22, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
(5.00)
Rebecca Wallace is a woman who enjoys doing volunteer work with seniors. One day she is tragically mauled by a Florida panther. Orlando detective Bone Ramsey is called in because he is one of the last people to see Rebecca Wallace alive. Another deadly attack happens and Ramsey sees a lethal pattern emerging. Someone or something is using the animals at the top of the food chain as hit men.
Look Down
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 89,880. Language: English. Published: July 8, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Military
(5.00)
The year is 2079 and Commander Eric Nyland commands the pride of the U.S. Navy, the USS Macon, an orbital weapons platform capable of striking anywhere on the earth. Nyland believes he is making the world a better place until he sees first hand a recent strike site.
Assassin Awaken
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 96,300. Language: English. Published: April 23, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Horror » Crime
(5.00)
He was an Aztec assassin and an enforcer for the emperor Montezuma. His enemies erased him from their world, but after sleeping for 500 years, he awoke to become a nightmare in the modern world and someone else’s problem.