Interview with Rebecca Clare Smith

NUT AND BOLTS:

Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself? 

My name’s Rebecca Clare Smith. I write mostly fantasy, but occasionally I like to try something a little different because it’s always good to explore new techniques through different genres. Sadly it’s not a full time occupation yet. I’m determined, though, so hopefully I’ll get there. However, my day job is still quite fun. For one thing I get to wear fluorescent in public and be acceptable and for another thing I get to interact with lots of amazing people. I’m a lollipop lady. Of course, Americans would refer to me as a crossing guard but I like the cheerier alliterative term much better. Other than work, I spend my time chasing my two Westies and five cats around the house.

I’m from the UK; England to be exact; Yorkshire if you want to go further. The town I live in is very small. There’s one supermarket, no cinema and most of the occupants are farmers or publicans. Originally, I’m from a slightly bigger town where I was born and grew up. It’s also where I started writing.

Where you born writing or was there an “ah ha” moment when you knew that writing is what you were meant to do?

I’ve been writing ever since I remember. In fact, I’ve been writing since before I could write! Various family members were made to sit down and scribe my stories whilst I dictated the vague plots that meandered dreadfully off course. When I was six I wrote, illustrated and bound my first book. It was a story about My Little Ponies (which I was crazy about at the time) and pivoted around a rescue as most of my stories did at that stage. I was very proud of that little book.

Where are you at in your process? 

Currently, I’m writing something I’ve tentatively titled ‘Preying On Time’. Technically this would be the fourth complete novel but the other three are in an unfinished series that I intend to go back to when I have the time – provided nothing else falls in my lap! At the moment I’m halfway through my current project. It’s a sort of futuristic urban fantasy piece. I guess you could say it has a lot of influence from watching things like Doctor Who and the writing of one of my favourite authors.

Who do you like to read?  Favorite books and authors.

Kelley Armstrong has to be one of my favourite writers. She manages to combine fantasy with thrilling adventures that usually involve some kind of investigation. I love being able to get involved in a book by trying to work who did it before the characters get there and, even though I manage sometimes, Ms Armstrong always throws in a few surprises that leave me squealing. Naturally, I love No Humans Involved best out of her collection. Necromancy just rocks my boat.

RAVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO:

Tell us about your current projects. 

Right now I’m working on a futuristic urban fantasy novel. It includes some lovely necromancy and a dash of time travel, but this is the working description of it:

‘He was a witness. He was a dead witness. A smile curled onto Violet’s lips. It was the best news she’d heard all night.’

Violet Eonsen is a mage PI with a creepy secret in a future where werewolves and half-breeds aren’t just relegated to fairy tales. These beings are separated from society by prejudiced laws put in place almost a millennium before. The people of the future want to change that, but not everybody is willing to wait for time to take its course…

Dragged a thousand years out of his comfort zone, Simon has been mistaken for the person who kicked off the regulations segregating half-breeds and werewolves. Those who brought him here want him dead in an effort to change the past and erase their future. Without any abilities, Simon’s vulnerable to everything this world has to throw at him. Violet is the only one who can protect him.

Can she keep him safe and help him back home? Or is it too late to rescue the past?

Why do you write your specific genre?  Have you ever thought about dabbling in others?

I’ve tried to write in other genres but they just don’t give me the same thrill that fantasy does. With fantasy you never know quite what’s lurking around the next corner and basing it somewhere urban and real makes you feel like you could happen on a similar adventure when you’re simply getting your shopping. If it’s a choice between being Bridget Jones and Elena Michaels, I’d rather be the kick ass werewolf chick than a weight obsessed thirty year-old. I can do the latter in my own time.

THE ART OF WRITING:

Are you a pantser (fly by the seat of your pants) or planner?

I used to be a pantser but now I’m more of a planner where writing’s concerned. I like to have an outline of what I’m going to do and then I get on with it. The one thing I like to plan the most, though, is dialogue. My tendency is to write it out as a script with a few small pointers in between. I like to think that it helps it flow more in a real conversational way.

How do you write?  Do you listen to music?  Sit on the couch?  What works best for you?

Writing always needs the right mood for the right scene and what better to invoke that than the right songs? With Violet and Simon’s story I’m listening to a lot of Florence and the Machine, Feist and Adele. With other stories I’ve written, I’ve stuck to a lot of Norah Jones but the artists I mentioned before seem to speak more to my current work in progress. Perhaps that’s because they’re all strong female artists just like Violet, but I don’t know for sure.

Do you write in tiny stretches throughout your day or do you set aside blocks of time?

My day job is thankfully quite useful where writing is concerned. There’s a big chunk in the middle of the day where I can get some work done on my manuscript without bother from other people. On a night time an awful lot goes on in my house and we’re quite a noisy family, so it’s nice to take the opportunity to get some scribbling in when nobody else is around.

THE JOYS OF RAISING A CHARACTER

How do your characters come to life?

My characters drift in off the breeze. It feels like they were there all along and I didn’t make them up. They all have their own little quirks and over the years I’ve even seen a few of them grow up.

Which one of your characters remind you the most of you?

Jo is probably the character who reminds me of myself the most. She’s not in my current work in progress, but in the years I’ve spent writing about her she’s matured and changed a lot. Thankfully, she’s finally figured out exactly what her life is about and settled down to that idea.

Do you have any characters that are based on any of your friends?

There are a couple I’ve had based incredibly loosely on friends.

Do you characters like to listen to you, their creator, do they like to pull all the strings and write you into corners?

My characters listen to no one but themselves. They like to run the show and, even though I like to plan, they still drag the story off into their very own directions. But that’s what gives them their character.

BELIEVE ME IT’S REAL EVEN IF IT IS FICTION

World building is an art form, even if you book isn’t science fiction or paranormal.  How do you make your world believable?

I like to base mine in the real world with a few tweaks here and there so that the reader can relate to it. In my current piece that’s something I’ve had to think about a lot more than I ever had before. Things need to be futuristic, but with all of the change that has occurred in between now and the future I have to make sure it’s according to what happened in that world’s past. It’s a huge thing to try to keep in your head all at once, which is probably why I have so many pieces of paper floating around out there.

LET’S TALK FAVORITES (we promise not to tell)

How about a favorite scene?

My favourite scene is in a novel I wrote a while ago. It’s not published, obviously, but the scene is still my favourite. It involves a half-vampire trying to save his friend, but she’s had her hands nailed to the chair she’s sitting in and he’s terribly tempted by the stench of her blood in his nostrils. I love being able to show the true character and strength of my protagonists when the moment arises. And I’m also a little sadistic when it comes to the make-believe people I create.

INSPIRATION:

What keeps you going?

What keeps me going is the thought of having my writing bound with a stunning cover and my name underneath on sale in somewhere like Waterstones or WH Smith. That’s been a secret dream since I was very young. It’s only now that I could be close enough to reach it.

EDITING:

Do you love it or hate it?

I love editing. It gives me the opportunity to take a scarecrow scene and flesh it out until it looks and feels like it’s Miss World. In fact, it’s one of my favourite bits of writing a book.

How many drafts do you go through before you feel like it is done?

It’s done when it’s done. It can go through a lot of drafts or a few, but that doesn’t matter as long as the sense of polished completion is there.

MORE ABOUT YOU:

What is it like to know that a draft is finally done?

A finished draft is better than chocolate to a die-hard chocoholic. It’s an indescribable feeling of euphoria to know that something you’ve toiled over is complete and well crafted.

How many times have you wanted to chuck your computer at the next person who asks how it is going?

More times than I can count. It’s lovely that they want to know, but every five minutes it gets more than annoying. If I have an update, I assure you I’ll let you know, but until then just don’t ask!

Do you tend to laugh and cry when your characters do?

I smirk at characters jokes and, very occasionally, I’ll cry, but that’s usually after a merciless death scene involving a character that probably doesn’t deserve it.

How do you deal with writers block?

Writers block… I busy myself for a while until my mind set is a bit more neutral and then I plough on. There’s really nothing more you can do and sitting by a computer blubbering or spending your time hiding from the keyboard just won’t kick start anything.

What have you learned about yourself through your writing?

Perseverance. I can be a stubborn mare anyway, but writing has taught me that I need to keep going if I really want to get anywhere with anything. It might take me a long time, but in the end the journey will be worth the final outcome.

Is writing a novel easier or more difficult than you thought?

I’ve never considered it as an easy or difficult task. Writing a novel is simply a necessity of my life. I can’t survive without writing. It’s one of those things that you just can’t fight.

What strengths do you have that make you the next great author?

I have a cat… does that count as a strength? If so, I have five of them. If not then I’m really not sure. I think a great author, however, is somebody who keeps you thinking and doesn’t just lay the story out on a plate for you. I’m hoping that I achieve that with my writing and then I can be happy no matter what.

What is one piece of advice that you have received that you thought was good?

It’s not a piece of advice, but it is a quote from somebody considered one of the greatest thinkers of our time:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
— Albert Einstein

What advice do you have for others that are considering joining you on this rocky path?

Watch out for the lions and the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

NETWORKING:

Tell us where and how we find you.  Twitter, face book, blogs, websites, etc.

Twitter:  @jocastalizzbeth

Facebook: Rebecca Clare Smith’s Writing

Blog: Rebecca Clare Smith’s Journal

BOOKS OR SITES THAT YOU HAVE FOUND HELPFUL:

I have a lot of sites and blogs listed on the blogroll on my blog that are extremely helpful. I check then daily so they could be useful to other writers too.

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