Interview with John M W Smith

Where are you from?
I'm from Oxford, in England.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve forgotten. A few years, I guess....
Tell us something about yourself.
I stood first in my school in the GCSE ‘O’ level exams, and then went on to do a BA(Hons) degree in History. I worked in publishing for 10 years, rising from a humble rep to a position where, the only person earning more than I, was the managing director. But I grew disillusioned with the corporate world, too much pressure, too many lies and bad politics and not enough time to do what I really wanted to do, so I turned my back on it and started writing and doing any old job to keep the wolf from the door, and am still hoping to see my ship come home one day, bearing aloft my name in lights for all the world to see.
What makes you tick?
Well...I swallowed this little clock a few days ago, you see, and ever since then I’ve been, seriously, I’m only being flippant because I don’t know quite what to say in answer to this question, and I am determined not to avoid any of the questions. Why should I? I’ve got nothing to hide! I find the company of women more interesting than that of men, because women are more interesting and more articulate. This is why I like writing for them, as I have done in my Wacky Stories series of books of short stories. So it’s the company of women that makes me tick. Also very good writers.
What inspired you to write?
I don’t think anything in particular inspired me to write apart from when I would read books and think to myself, “Well, I think I could do better than that....!” So that was my only direct inspiration. The other sort of inspiration comes from something deep inside, which one is born with, and which just has to find expression, and has got to be indulged, nurtured and developed as life without it would be unbearable.....the urge, the compulsion to write paints my entire existence in vivid technicolor. Without it my life would be in black and white. It really is that simple!
In what genre do you write?
Women’s Fiction (short stories), YA/Teen, and thrillers set in foreign lands under strange and unusual governments.
If more than one, which is your preferred genre?
I can honestly say that there is no one genre that I prefer above the others. It depends on what plot jumps up in my imagination, and then I decide which genre it would best fit into.
How do your write? Computer, handwriting?
I write everything in longhand on A4 ruled paper in a ring binder, in black ink. Then I transfer that first draft onto my computer and print it out, double-spaced. Then I edit it first with a red pen, then again with a green pen, then again with a purple pen, and finally with a blue pen. Each edit can involve sweeping changes, additions, deletions of entire pages and substitutions, and lots and lots of “polishing” as I want my prose to have rhythm, like a well written and catchy have an attractive cadence when it is read aloud, be easy to read, and have a hook thrown in as often as possible to keep the reader interested. I do not stop until I have achieved this to my satisfaction, and usually this editing process takes as long as it did to write the entire first draft, but I really enjoy it, it is truly a labour of love!
Where do you write?
At work. At home. On the pot. While I am watching TV or eating. In bed. Anywhere and everywhere. I carry a clipboard everywhere, as well as a ring binder with sheets of A4 paper. Sometimes I will pull over, stop my car and write a few sentences that have come to me as I was driving along.
What was your first Book and what inspired it?
I wrote a whole bunch of twist in the tale short stories for the weekly women’s weekly magazines in the UK, and when they were accepted by some of the most popular weeklies in the UK I was encouraged and I started to write more, and ended up with 6 volumes of short stories which would appeal to everyone, not just women. I love writing twist in the tale stories, and all my short stories have twists in them.
My twist in the tale stories were picked up by a Russian publisher and they are now all published in a number of volumes, translated into Russian with the English text included—they are used in Russia as English Language Teaching (ELT) aids for students, as well as being bought by the general public there on the strength of the stories alone.
Do you have a favourite book that you wrote? If so, which one?
This is like saying which one of your children is your favourite child. I cannot say I have a favourite child, they are all equally precious to me, as I worked very hard bringing them up....sorry, developing them and working on them and putting my heart and soul into their mean into writing them well. So please don’t ask which child...sorry, which book is my favourite...or my other books would kill me!
Where do you get the ideas for your characters?
My characters are amalgams of those characters I have found in the stories of other writers. They develop slowly, at a sub-conscious level, like good coffee slowly trickling through a percolator to produce a tasty and bracing hot drink. Also people I meet or strange people who act peculiarly and are written about in the Press.
What kind of books do you prefer to read?
I will read anything. Even the directions off the back of a medicine bottle if I come across one. I can’t help it, I pick up anything that is in print, a sweet wrapper, a magazine, a book, an instruction manual, anything. With books, I prefer those which quickly draw me in with the first sentence and then the first page. If I read two pages and find my mind is wandering, then I give up on that book. A writer is asking a reader for one of their most precious possessions; their time. So a writer had better make sure s/he is giving value for money and time!
What inspires your stories?
A desire to say something nobody has said quite in the way I would like to say it. In a way that I would like people to take note of, because I think they would be interested in what I have to say. Well, basically, a desire to “wow!” people.
Is there someone in your life that has supported your writing dreams?
Of course there is. But I’m not telling!
Do you listen to music while you write?
No. Never. Must have complete silence. Birdsong, rainfall, distant rumbles of thunder are all acceptable, though.
Any authors that have inspired you?
James Hadley Chase. Ian Fleming. Stephen King. William Dalrymple. V S Naipaul. Kingsley Amis. Fay Weldon. Doris Lessing. Jeffrey Archer. O’Henry. H H ‘Saki’ Munro. Frederick Forsythe. Richard Dawkins. Jim Corbett. Roald Dahl. Adam Mars-Jones, Ernest Hemingway. Edgar Allan Poe, and many, many others.....
Who makes your Book Covers?
I do. With a little help from my friends......or one friend in particular, who is far more skilled in art and design than I am!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t give up your day job. Only write if you can’t help yourself from doing so. Don’t “try” to write. If you have to try then give up. It must come to you as naturally as breathing.
What is your work in progress?
A Murderous Act In Iraq (just finished the first draft)
Do you have any hobbies that you try to fit in when not writing?
Walking long distances. Reading, and more reading. Daydreaming.
Have you travelled?
A lot! A heck of a lot. I speak three languages and can get by in a third.
Are there any other authors you would like to meet if you had the chance?
No. When you meet authors in person they are usually uninteresting. They are not in writing mode. They only truly come alive when they are writing, otherwise they are retiring types who do not usually enjoy the company of their fellow man.
Where can readers purchase your books?
Published 2015-10-15.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Strange Times; Wacky Anecdotes
Price: Free! Words: 27,000. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Biographical anthologies, Nonfiction » Relationships & Family » Alternative family
(5.00 from 1 review)
Over the past year I made a series of posts on my blog to relate incidents from my life so far. Encouraged by the interest that they aroused, I decided to compile them into a free ebook to reach even more readers and this, then, is the result of my efforts.
Learner Driver
Price: Free! Words: 1,320. Language: English. Published: January 7, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
Paul has so much to offer as a future husband that Maggie would be crazy not to fight for it---particularly as their attraction is mutual! But now, as Paul is giving her a driving lesson, it seems like Maggie has ruined it all. Will their budding romance survive the driving lesson from hell? This Wacky Story is intended to showcase this author's series of twist-in-the-tale short stories.