Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Interview with author, Kim Smith

Kim, congratulations on the launch of your first published book, “Avenging Angel.” I know you’ve waiting a long time for this. Please tell us about your journey, where you’ve been and how you got here.

Ah yes. It has been a wild ride, I admit. I began seriously considering getting Avenging Angel published back in 2004. I hired an editor, and had it overhauled just to give it the best start I could. Then I began submitting it sometime in 2005 but although I received positive responses from agents who always asked for the full, I just couldn’t make the next step. In November, 2007, I finally found a small publisher who showed interest and subsequently signed with them. But after a long period of inactivity, whereby I felt my time would be better spent elsewhere, I cancelled my contract and went out hunting again. I think authors should know that it is okay to pull a book if they feel like things are not transpiring in the manner in which they think it ought to. I lucked out and went with Red Rose Publishing, and have been very happy and satisfied that I did.

What is Avenging Angel all about?

Avenging Angel is all about a bad week in the life of Shannon Wallace, a somewhat naïve, and zany woman who discovers her “bedroom ballet” collection of DVD’s are missing from her murdered boyfriend’s apartment. The detective in charge of the case, Salvador Ramirez, has a grudge against Shannon and she has to find those videos before he does. She is aided in her mission by her old college buddy, Dwayne Brown. Dwayne has a natural knack for aiding in a true Ethel and Lucy style, which makes for funny, moments where he is as much stumbling block as sidekick.

What prompted you to write this book and what makes it stand out among other books in this genre?

This book originated with an idea of what would happen if a two-bit hood started a PI business and pressed his old college buddy into service upon learning of her being down on her luck. The story really just grew and changed out of that idea. It is NOTHING like the original idea, but it has been a grand journey getting from point A to today.

What do you feel is has been your greatest strengths as a writer?

I would have to say my openness to change. I have always said if someone wanted me to make changes to my work, I would totally be willing to do it. I think that sort of flexibility and lack of attachment to our work can very well open doors sometimes. I have never been asked to make that supreme sacrifice either, but the thought that I might have to has helped loosen the stranglehold I had on my work.

In what way do you or don’t you see yourself in your main character, Shannon Wallace?

I actually see a lot of myself in Shannon when I was a young woman, pre-children. I was pretty innocent and naïve, sheltered and protected, and life, as it always does, played some hard tricks on me. I enjoyed writing about where I live, too. South Lake Mississippi is an invented town, but it is based on where I live, and if anyone reads the book and is from around here, they will know JUST where I am talking about in many ways.

Please tell us about the setting for your book and why you chose it.

I have always heard from others to write what you know. Well, I know this region. I was Memphis born, Memphis bred, and when I die I will be Memphis dead. There is very little that you can ask about this area that I cannot tell you. I wrote more effectively since I knew the setting so intimately. Maybe one day I will write a book set in a place far from here, but for now, writing from about where I sit, is a great way to go.

What has been your greatest challenging in writing this book or writing in general?

My greatest challenge in writing in general has been one of trust. Trust in my own knowledge, my trust in others to be fair in their critiques, my trust in the publishing industry. I have had it all shaken not stirred several times, but I have come back and been wiser, and learned that trust has to be earned. Now I know that I have to be a trustworthy person also, so that I can pay it forward and help someone else. I do enjoy helping aspiring authors get started, and help producing authors to get the word out about their work.

Every author has at least one turning point in their career. That moment when they know the path they must take and accept the challenge. Please tell us about yours.

It was when my husband plunked me down in front of a computer and said, “Now. Quit making excuses and write that book.” He is the one that was the final straw. My mother had begged me for years to write a book. She wanted to be published as much as anyone I have ever known, but then, publishing was a whole different animal from today. She didn’t know how to break in, and she never tried. I wanted to do it for her, and for me. When he bought the computer, he literally took my last excuse away.

When you’re not writing, what are you doing?

I am either working at my paying job, the one that pays my bills, or I am working at the job that doesn’t pay my bills but helps keep my kids in car insurance, which is photography and videography. We have had our own video production company since 1992. Running a business, putting in forty plus hours at my job as a network admin, and having kids and a hubby is pretty much all I have time for. The writing, radio show, and promotions are what keeps me sane.

What has been the most valuable advice you’ve received along the way? How has it shaped your path?

The most valuable advice I have ever received was to keep going. I have tried to quit writing on a number of occasions and it was my friends, and my family who believed in me when I had given up. So when I say I owe this book to my friends and family, I really mean it. Those words, “don’t give up”, mean the most to me. And I would encourage another writer in a minute with the same words. It’s your dream, isn’t it? Then, don’t ever give up.

Thanks so much for giving us a glimpse into your life and writing. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

I have had such a blast with this book and am working hard on the next two, so if you like Shannon’s horrible, awful, terrible, very bad, no good week in Avenging Angel, then you need to make room for the others to come. If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing!
* * *
About the author:
Kim Smith was born in Memphis Tennessee, the youngest of four children. After a short stint in a Northwest Mississippi junior college, during the era of John Grisham’s rise as a lawyer, she gave up educational pursuits to marry and begin family life.

She has worked in many fields in her life, from fast food waitress to telephone sales. “I always got the seniors on the phone who were lonely and wanted someone to talk to. My boss couldn’t understand why in the world I spent so much time talking to them and not enough time selling. That was when I realized I love people and care deeply about their lives.”

Writing was a dream, hidden but not forgotten, and soon Kim began to talk again of trying her hand at it. She played with words, and wrote several poems, one of which was picked up for an anthology

One day in the early nineties her husband came home with a desktop computer and sat her in front of it. “Now you have no more excuses,” he said, and she realized the truth in his words. Procrastination, now no longer an option, she took off on the pursuit of penning her first book. Though that book, a young adult fantasy, was lost due to unforeseen circumstances, she kept going, writing a historical romance, and another YA.

When she decided to try out her hand at mystery writing, she discovered her true love and niche in the writing journey. She has since had four short stories, and her first mystery novel accepted for publication.

Kim is a member of Sisters in Crime, and is a Coffeetime Romance and More author member. She still lives in the Mid South region of the United States and is currently working on her second book in the Shannon Wallace mystery


Morgan Mandel said...

About pulling a book from a publishing house - I hope I never have to do it. It does take guts, but sometimes it's a necessity.

Morgan Mandel

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Kim, this is a great interview! I love it because even though you think you "know" a person, there's always so much more to their story. I can't wait to read Avenging Angel, and wish you the best of luck with your new release!

Kim Smith said...

Morgan, how true! IT is our work, our babies, and we want only the best for it.

Aaron, thank you! I am looking forward to writing more for you~!

A. F. Stewart said...

Avenging Angel sounds like an interesting book; glad it finally found the right home.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Your story is inspiring, Kim. I bet a lot of writers are where you were, and appreciate hearing your success story. You're absolutely right: writers should never give up.

Big congratulations.

Cheryl said...

Best of luck with your book, Kim!


Kim Smith said...

Thank you all so much. It's been a very wild ride, but aren't they all? We just hang on and write what happens!