Thursday, October 29, 2015
Ralph's Rants does interviews with Aaron Smith
I interview Aaron Smith.
Hi Aaron, and welcome to Ralph’s Rants. How are you doing today?
I’m great, Ralph. Thanks for having me on Ralph’s Rants!
Aaron, tell us a little bit about your books and stories. How many novels do you have out now?
I’ve had seven novels published so far.
How many short stories?
At last count, I think I had thirty-nine short stories out, scattered across various anthologies, magazines, websites, and other formats.
Tell us the names of all of your novels.
My first novel was a science-fantasy story called GODS AND GALAXIES which is, thankfully, out of print. It was a good story and I’m proud of the plot, but I think I rushed it and wasn’t ready to be a published novelist yet. It was a clumsy attempt, prose-wise. Someday, I’d like to re-edit it and put it out there again. My second novel was Sherlock Holmes-related, though it didn’t actually feature Holmes! That was SEASON OF MADNESS, a mystery in which Dr. Watson of the Holmes stories teams up with Dr. Seward of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to solve the mystery of why seemingly random Londoners are suddenly going violently insane. I then did two vampire novels, 100,000 MIDNIGHTS and ACROSS THE MIDNIGHT SEA. Those did rather well for a while until the publisher went under. I hope to put those back into availability soon by self-publishing them and then write a third book in the series. My most successful novel so far has been the zombie horror story CHICAGO FELL FIRST,
which has had great reviews. It figures! The novel readers have liked the most is the one that was never intended to have a sequel or be part of a series! Over the past few years, my pride and joy as far as novels go has been my spy series, featuring American agent Richard Monroe. There are two of those out so far: NOBODY DIES FOR FREE and UNDER THE RADAR.
You seem to be a crime or spy novel author more than anything else, what do you consider to be your favorite genre to write?
At first glance, that’s a very tough question to answer, since I bounce from genre to genre a lot. I’ve written detective stories (most notably my Sherlock Holmes tales), quite a lot of horror, and also some science fiction, fantasy, and even a western, plus, as you mentioned, spy and crime stuff. So it’s hard to choose a genre. But, when I really think about it, something occurs to me. Almost everything I write contains some sort of mystery that must be solved for the story to reach its conclusion. Obviously, the Holmes stories are mysteries, but isn’t a spy untangling an espionage plot a sort of detective story too? My second vampire novel is about a human protagonist and his vampire girlfriend trying to figure out who committed a murder. My zombie novel involves a group of people piecing together a solution to the plague that’s turning human beings into hungry walking corpses. I guess the answer to the question would be that I am first and foremost a mystery writer, whether the story takes the form of the traditional Holmes-style detective puzzle or has a spy searching for answers or is a mystery covered in the dressings of a horror story. So I love all genres but usually plant a mystery at the heart of my stories.
What inspired you to write in the first place?
I spent a lot of my life looking for a creative outlet. Telling stories is something I seem to need to do, as if I don’t have a choice. But it wasn’t always about writing. I’ve tried many forms of art in my life. I wanted to draw comic books as a kid, but although I drew well I didn’t have the patience or discipline to keep going with that (I am absolutely in awe of the amount of work that goes into drawing comics!). Then I tried music, playing guitar and writing songs, but I think I was a bit too shy to put myself out there like that. Although, to digress for a second, that led to a number of strange adventures, as I wound up working for a band, setting up drums and stuff like that, and, most of all, being the one who remained sober and trying my best, despite the odds, to keep all the others, especially the singer, out of trouble! I might write a book about that someday. Anyway, I did some acting too, but I finally realized that my best creativity comes out when I’m working alone and at my own pace, so I settled on writing. What I love about writing is that the vast majority of a project is done by me, alone, and whenever I can fit the time into my day. It’s not until the story is done that editors, publishers, illustrators, and everyone else comes into the process, so I can make an almost-complete piece of work without having to worry about what part everybody else is playing in it. Writing suits my personality more than any other creative endeavor.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are many and I’m sure to forget someone, but … obviously Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, along with some other great mystery writers like Agatha Christie and Colin Dexter. Of horror writers, H.P. Lovecraft is my absolute favorite, and my favorite living horror writer is Clive Barker. Ian Fleming’s work is important to me and the James Bond stories have been a huge factor in my life, both as novels and in the movie versions. Being involved in a lot of pulp-related projects, of course I love Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard. And there are the classic science fiction writers, whose work I ferociously binged on when I was in my teens, and those would include Roger Zelazny, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, and, of course, Ray Bradbury. I also have to mention Stan Lee and many of the writers who followed him on Marvel comics, because comics were very influential to me when I was younger. And, well these aren’t really authors by strict definition, but they’re universe creators and my imagination wouldn’t be the same without the worlds they brought into being: George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry.
What was your actual first published work? And was it the first story you wrote?
My first published story was, “The Massachusetts Affair,” which appeared in Airship 27 Productions’ first volume of their SHERLOCK HOLMES CONSULTING DETECTIVE series. I was incredibly fortunate to have my first published work feature my all-time favorite character and one of the great literary icons, Sherlock Holmes. Having that happen was so encouraging. It wasn’t the first story I wrote. I had been experimenting with writing for a little while before that, although I’m not sure what I wrote first during that time. The first time I ever remember writing a story was way back when I was in the second grade and I tried to write an Indiana Jones novel during Miss Brunt’s math lesson! I didn’t get very far.
What are your actual aspirations as an author?
I would love to be able to write full-time and have it pay most of the bills, but that hasn’t happened yet. Beyond the obvious monetary aspirations, I just want to continue telling good stories and getting to work in different genres with different characters and be able to come up with my own ideas as well as occasionally work with some of the great concepts created by other authors.
Sherlock Holmes, by far! It’s like going home. Holmes has been a part of my life since I was ten, and the whole cast of characters, the setting, and the structure of the stories are so familiar to me that it flows very naturally once I have a concept in mind for the case he and Watson are going to deal with. Holmes is always my fallback character. I can’t always get my own stuff to flow well and I often grow frustrated when trying something new or wondering why one of my projects doesn’t sell or something, but there never seems to be a time when I can’t sink into Baker Street mode and visit Holmes and Watson and get a good story out of it.
What is your writing process?
I don’t know if I have one. Ideas float into my head and some of them die there while others become more solid and reach a point where they have to come out, like a child being born or, maybe, in some cases, like the alien bursting out of poor John Hurt’s chest! Then, when I have the time, I start writing. Every project is a little different as far as the steps that lead from beginning to end.
Do you plan out ahead, or just go with a loose plot idea and see where it lands?
I rarely plan in detail. I usually have a start, maybe a few middle pieces, and sometimes a finish in mind, but I never write strict outlines or anything, as I feel that takes the fun out of it. I like to watch the story unfold gradually as I write it.
When do you write? At night? During the day? Any free moment you get?
If it’s work day, I try to do a little writing either before or after work, depending on my schedule. If I’m off from the day job, I usually write in a series of short spurts throughout the day. I might write a few hundred words after I get up, then stop for coffee before writing another page, then watch a movie or read for a while and tackle another 500 to 1000 words in the afternoon. As much as I would like to sit down and write straight through for many hours and produce great chunks of work in one burst, that happens very infrequently.
Do you have ideas floating around in your head or do you sit down and hash things out before beginning?
There are always ideas floating around in my head. And I always try to capture them before they float away. I often have what I call my Columbo days, meaning I get hit with ideas when I’m not home and can’t write, so I end up finishing my day with all these little scraps of paper or cardboard in my pockets with scribbled little half-ideas, and then have to try to figure out what they mean when I get home. Eventually, those bits get hashed out into some sort of logical order and then I can begin.
How do you feel when you write an author’s two favorite words, ‘The End’? Relieved or annoyed because you want to write more?
Definitely relief! Don’t get me wrong, I love writing, but it really is a form of work, and hard work at that! The relief comes from two things, though. One: I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to do. Two: Now I can choose my next project, because there’s always another story I want to tell.
So what’s next for Aaron Smith? What books are you coming out with soon or are you currently writing?
I have a few things either coming out soon or currently in progress. I’ve been doing a series of Lovecraftian short stories for Pro Se Press, under the umbrella title of “Shadows over America.” The first one, “An Exodus of Worms,” is out now and I have written the next two installments. I have two more Sherlock Holmes stories in the publication queue at Airship 27 (my 7th and 8th) with another one being written now. The next one should be out fairly soon and that will be my longest Holmes to date. I’ve completed the first draft of my next Richard Monroe spy novel, which will be called (I’m revealing the title for the first time here) NEVER THINK TWICE. The next story I have coming out (very soon) will be in an anthology called SPAWN OF THE RIPPER, from a wonderful Canadian publisher called April Moon Books. This is a tribute to the Hammer horror movies of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. My contribution is called “The Blood-Soaked Sand” and features Van Helsing (based on the version played by Peter Cushing, who happens to have been my favorite actor). And, finally, I’ve recently been working on something featuring one of my favorite fictional characters ever, a project I’m just about as excited to be part of as I was about writing Sherlock Holmes. But … I am not yet at liberty to reveal the details (sorry!).
Lastly, where do you call home and what do you like to do in your spare time when not writing?
Spare time? I don’t understand! Seriously, though, I live in the beautiful town of Ringwood, New Jersey, which is a nice mountainous region that looks wonderful in the autumn and is quiet and countryish while still close enough to the major highways to not be an inconvenience (you’ll have to stop by someday when you’re on one of your motorcycle journeys, Ralph. It’s not too far away). When I’m not working the day job or writing, I try to find time to read or watch movies of various genres, all of which, of course, feed my imagination so I can write even more.
Thanks so much for being here, Aaron. I really appreciate it and good luck with all your projects. Feel free to leave any links to your books or websites below as well as Facebook, twitter or email addresses you might want fans of your work to have.
My Twitter ID is @AaronSmith377 I hope readers will follow me there, or, they can feel free to friend me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001125888963
Most of my work is available on my Amazon page at: http://www.amazon.com/Aaron-Smith/e/B0037IL0IS/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1374366653&sr=1-2-ent
My blog, which features information about my work as well as opinions and the occasional book, movie, or TV review, can be found at www.godsandgalaxies.blogspot.com
As always all of my own books are available at http://RLAngeloJr.com or http://tinyurl.com/ralphsamazon
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