Interview with Stan Smith

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small town in New Mexico, Socorro. It was once the capital city of New Mexico, prior to the capital moving to Santa Fe, and the governor was General Lew Wallace, who wrote portions of "Ben Hur" while living in Socorro. So you might say that writing was in the air. My father was a professor of Geology at a small college, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology ("New Mexico Tech"), so I was exposed to science at an early age. Even though I didn't wind up as a scientist, the scientific method always informed the things I wound up doing later in life. I think that's why I gravitated toward science fiction as a genre.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing short stories in grade school. I was always interested in storytelling, either in writing or orally. My friends and I had a game we'd play, where one person would start a story with a sentence—such as, "There were three pints of blood on the living room carpet"—and the next person would follow with a subsequent sentence. Naturally, we came up with some pretty wild stories.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Growing up in New Mexico, I was interested in the phenomenon of cattle mutilations, something that happened with a strange frequency in the western states. There was never a good explanation for the mutilations, which consisted of organ removal—typically, the rectum, nose, heart and flayed skin. I wondered what—or who—in the world could be responsible for such actions, and filed that away for future exploration in the "writer's notebook" of my mind. When I read a book about UFOs and found that 65% of all UFO sightings were either into, out of, or over water, that was filed away as well. I had always been interested in marine biology, specifically the work being done by Dr. John Lilly with dolphins, and was amazed at the intelligence they displayed. Putting all those disparate facts together helped me to postulate an undersea civilization that rivals man for intelligence.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
"Traditional" publishing has always had gatekeepers, readers or editors who decide what's good enough to publish and support. I read stories about experiments done by people who were interested in seeing whether novels were being published because of their merit or because of authorship by "name" authors.The experimenters found that published novels by "name" authors, when submitted under another name, were rejected by publishing houses (sometimes the very publishers that produced the original novel). I realized then that "traditional" publishing was just as much of a crap shoot as "indie" publishing—but at least by being an independent author/publisher I was in control of the process. And while it's a lot more work to publicize your work on your own, at least you can get your book out in the world for people to see. The trick is getting it out in front of enough people to have it sell.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is a remarkable author's friend, providing a simple, straightforward way to format and publish to all the e-book formats. It's an incredible boon for someone like me who's not terribly savvy about the publishing business. Along with the formatting and distribution help, Smashwords is a great resource for marketing tips and tricks.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is being able to share my thoughts and ideas with other people. I trained as an actor before majoring in film writing in college, and a lot of my writing is based on principles I learned in acting school. I often "act out" what my characters are doing to ensure that what they're saying has some verisimilitude, so in a sense, I'm living their lives by proxy. And that's a real joy for an actor who's also a writer.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans are the people who make writing worthwhile. To know that you've reached someone with an idea or touched them emotionally is a great gift that your readers give to you as an author. That's why reader reviews are so rewarding; they let you know what you've done right and give you inspiration to continue working. Even the bad reviews are essential, because they tell you what you might be doing wrong in your writing and how you can improve in your next effort.
What are you working on next?
I have several ideas for both short stories and novels. The novel I'm working on now is a book that has the potential to be one in a series of stories about a man who retires from the FBI to become an Air Marshal who works in disguise as a flight attendant. In his travels around the world in that capacity, he has the opportunity to solve mysteries surrounding people he's met on the flights he works. I've also got a series of short stories on the "back burner" about a group of vampires that meets in the back room of a barber shop. These "Tales From The Belfry" are definitely not in the "Twilight" vein; being a vampire is hardly romantic.
Who are your favorite authors?
My reading choices are pretty eclectic. I like science fiction, of course, with Robert A. Henlein, John Wyndham, Theodore Sturgeon and Harlan Ellison among my favorites. In mysteries, I love James Lee Burke, Martin Cruz Smith, and Patricia Cornwell. Stephen King is a favorite (we share the same birthdate), as well as Dean Koontz, Whitley Strieber and Lee Child. I like any true crime books, and well-written history is always welcome. Michael and Jeff Shaara have written great historical novels.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The world and all its amazements is a great inspiration. My four dogs who want to eat their breakfast at 6 a.m. are also pretty powerful inducements.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Living on nearly 5 acres in Oregon means there's a lot of landscape to maintain, so that keeps me pretty busy. We live in Oregon wine country (200 wineries within 20 miles) so there's no lack of reasons to visit the surrounding countryside. And I love music; I play the guitar and piano for relaxation.
Published 2013-08-29.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Ghormundr's Death
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,590. Language: English. Published: July 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
A vicious beast stalks the village of Jarlsholm. Chief Ragnar and his men have no defense against the monster. A wandering minstrel arrives—the one they call Blind Boy—with a strange instrument and a talent for taming animals. Can this sightless Boy with the ruined face mean the end of the Ghormundr and the answer to the prayers of the villagers?
Tales From The Belfry: Carrie's Tale
Price: Free! Words: 5,480. Language: English. Published: April 3, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead
This is not your Young Adult "Twilight." The Belfry is a kind of club, inhabited by those who have been introduced into the world of vampirism—often not by choice. These are the stories of Gordon, Carrie, Stephen, "Doc", Harvey, Gus and Von Somogyi, unwilling members of an exclusive, immortal club. This is Carrie's story, a tale of lust, revenge, and a family lost because of it.
Tales From The Belfry
Price: Free! Words: 7,140. Language: English. Published: March 3, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead
This is not your Young Adult "Twilight." The Belfry is a kind of club, inhabited by those who have been introduced into the world of vampirism—often not by choice. These are the stories of Gordon, Carrie, Stephen, "Doc", Harvey, Gus and Von Somogyi, unwilling members of an exclusive, immortal club. Gordon's story is first, to be followed by the others in a few weeks.
Lark-Ellen, a short story
Price: Free! Words: 5,420. Language: English. Published: August 17, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
Teo Bojorquez tells the tale of what happened on the plateau of Xitapec, a story of love, loss, and unimaginable horror. "The jungle in the morning is a wonderful place: the stirrings of small creatures, the echo of birdsong, the sun filtering through a vaulted green ceiling—I had never loved it as much as I did then. I doubt if I will ever love it again."