INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS FLASHBACK: SUMMER OF PRO SE – Aaron Smith

 

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INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR

What
initially got you interested in writing?

I think I’ve always wanted to share the stories
that were in my imagination. I just took a long time to figure out that the
best and simplest way to do that was to write. I’d always been involved in some
sort of storytelling activity, either as a hobby or as an attempt at heading
toward doing it professionally. I made my own comic books when I was 8 or 9,
learned to draw quite well and intended to become a comic artist when I grew
up. Eventually, though, I got a bit too lazy to spend all that time practicing
artwork (being a teenager had something to do with that, I think), but the
creative impulse was still there. I later tried music; playing guitar and
writing songs. Then I spent several years studying acting and performing in
college and community theatre. But I eventually came to understand that all
these art forms were very collaborative and I happen to be the type of person
who works best alone. That was when I began to take writing seriously and start
to look into ways to actually make money doing it.

How
did you decide to make the move into becoming a published author?

Shortly after I seriously started to practice
writing, I came across an ad online looking for pulp writers. That’s how I
discovered Airship 27 Productions, which has been one of the more prominent
publishers in what’s now become known as the New Pulp movement. I replied to
the ad and was contacted by Editor Ron Fortier, who asked for a short sample of
my writing. I sent a piece I had written about a vampire having a conversation
with Adolph Hitler. Ron responded and told me that he liked the sample and
asked if I’d want to contribute something to one of Airship 27’s anthologies. I
said yes, of course, and it got even better when he invited me to do a story
for the first volume of the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective series.
I was amazed and extremely grateful to be able to write a story featuring my
favorite fictional character. So the Holmes story, “The Massachusetts Affair,”
was my first published work and I’ve since gone on to write many stories for
Airship 27, as well as for another great New Pulp outfit, Pro Se Productions,
and various publishers and markets outside the world of pulp.

What
do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

First and most importantly, since I’m writing
fiction, I want readers to be entertained. I want them to have fun reading my
stories, I want them to care about the characters and maybe identify with them
to some extent. I want them to laugh if I inject humor into a story, cry if
it’s tragic, or get a shiver if it’s horror. Most of all, I want them to
remember the story and, hopefully, look forward to the next book in the series
if there is one or want to seek out more of my work.

Occasionally, I’ve been told that there’s something
deeper in one of my stories, like a statement on human nature or morality, or
some phrasing that comes across in a way that strikes a reader’s heart in a
powerful way. I plead not guilty to all these charges! Seriously, I rarely
write to make a point or to play with words in poetic ways. But I suppose those
things might sneak in there sometimes, since anything I write is a product of
my mind and I’ll use almost any idea or method I can find to try to tell a good
tale. But my primary purpose in my novels or short stories is always to make
the reader enjoy the experience.

What
do you find most rewarding about writing?

Three things (not necessarily in this order):
first, the money. I love getting paid to use my imagination. I don’t make
enough to earn my entire living from writing, but I do get a nice royalty check
from time to time, and that’s always welcome. Second, being a writer makes you
look at the world in a very different way, because you can never predict when
material for a story might manifest around you. You might overhear something
said at the next table in a restaurant and think it would make a great piece of
dialogue, or you might watch the guy who’s cleaning out your septic tank and
start to wonder if a human skull would fit in that big hose they use and pretty
soon you have the beginning of a murder mystery. And you look at movies and
books differently because you start to simultaneously enjoy them as you always
did and analyze the storytelling methods at work. So writing forces you to
observe your surroundings in a new way. Third, people! I’ve met so many
wonderful human beings because of my writing. Anytime a reader says they
enjoyed my work, I get a thrill. I’ve made many friends because of my work,
including readers, fellow writers, editors, and illustrators. These are people
I never would have come into contact with had I not been writing. Even within
my own family, writing has its rewards. For example, there’s a cousin I hardly
knew until she started reading and enjoying my books and we suddenly discovered
we have common interests and similar taste in fiction and now we’re friends
instead of just people who happen to be related.

What
do you find most challenging about writing?

That’s constantly changing. Sometimes it’s hard to
keep working at it and maybe there’s a bit of burnout from time to time, while
there are other periods when I can’t seem to stop and words just pour out of me
at an incredible pace. I used to find dialogue very challenging, but it’s
become easier with time and practice. Maybe the greatest challenge is having
too many ideas and struggling to decide which ones to focus on. Also, editing
one’s own work can be hard, as it’s never easy to cut words or trim the excess
blubber from your stories.

What
advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?

First, you have to write. That means working at it,
finding the time to do it, and practicing as often as you can. Second, write
what you want and don’t feel that you have to follow trends. Don’t be afraid to
try different genres. And, finally, I’ll share the best piece of advice I’ve
ever received pertaining to writing. A few years ago, the editor of one of my
novels told me it needed a lot of work. Huge portions of text needed to be cut.
I had been too verbose with my writing on that story and a great deal of
editing was needed. I was upset. I didn’t know if I could bear to slice and
dice something I’d worked so hard on. So I contact Ron Fortier, who, in
addition to being an editor I’ve worked for many times, is also a good friend.
What he said to me was perfectly phrased and made me jump back in headfirst and
work on that story until the other editor thought it was almost perfect. He
said, “Love the story, not the words.” Such a simple statement cleared up all
my hesitation. The story is the important thing. That’s the heart of a writer’s
work. The words are just the tools we use to deliver the experience to our
audience.

Is
there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting
 about
you?

I hope I’m an interesting person in ways that go
beyond my writing. But, being a naturally introverted person, I think most
people I encounter don’t get to see what I’m really like. But when I do meet
one of those rare people who I allow to get close to me, I lose the
self-consciousness that comes from me always feeling a bit strange around less
familiar people and act like myself, without holding back from expressing my
opinions. I think what also might surprise people are the number of different
subjects I’m interested in. Of course I love fiction of all sorts, whether
books or movies or theatre, but I’m also very interested in facts and am just
as likely to be found reading a book on quantum physics or space exploration or
history as I am to be reading a mystery novel or watching a classic film. I’m
also very interested in religion and mythology, in all the ideas and concepts
people in different times and places have believed in. I’ve read a lot on those
subjects, not just on mainstream modern religions, but also the myths of the
ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Norse, Sumerians, and others, as well as having
studied some of the occult traditions of the world. But I’m interested in those
things as symbolism and as ideas that have influenced human behavior and
history, in ways both positive and negative. I don’t actually believe in the
doctrines of any sort of religion.

What
are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?

I have a blog at www.godsandgalaxies.blogspot.com
where I post the latest news about my writing, as well as opinions on various
things, a review of a book or movie now and then, and thoughts about my
experiences as a writer.

I have an Amazon page where most of my books can be
found:    http://www.amazon.com/Aaron-Smith/e/B0037IL0IS/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1374366653&sr=1-2-ent

People who enjoy my work can feel free to friend me
on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001125888963

Or they can follow me on Twitter, where I can be
found as @AaronSmith377