I’d like to introduce you to the eighty-fifth interviewee in my ‘Meet the Author’ series. She is Sammy HK Smith.
Hi, Sammy! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
Hi Susan! Thank you so much for this interview. Well, I started writing in 2011 and put a portion of my novel on Authonomy for some feedback. I met so many friends there, and the kind words and comments spurred me to write more. Since then I’ve written a dark dystopian novel Anna and started some other projects. My writing stalled for nearly 2 years due to health, work, and business . . . however, I’m getting back in the saddle soon!
Your fantasy novel In Search of Gods and Heroes (Book 1 of the Children of Nalowyn Series) was recently published. Can you tell us about the book and series? Who or what were your inspirations?
Hurrah! Finally it’s published! I say that because as you know, I’ve put it back several times because of . . . you know . . . life and things.
In Search of Gods and Heroes is the first book of an anticipated series. It starts by following the actions of Chaeli, a demi-goddess, but soon expands to incorporate a seer, a changeling, a healer, a prince and many more. The gods are restless, and when restless they cause trouble. The lives of the characters all become entwined, and it becomes clear that free will and destiny are blurred. Here’s the blurb:
Buried in the scriptures of Ibea lies a story of rivalry, betrayal, stolen love, and the bitter division of the gods into two factions. This rift forced the lesser deities to pledge their divine loyalty either to the shining Eternal Kingdom or the darkness of the Underworld.
When a demon sneaks into the mortal world and murders an innocent girl to get to her sister Chaeli, all pretence of peace between the gods is shattered. For Chaeli is no ordinary mortal, she is a demi-goddess, in hiding for centuries, even from herself. But there are two divine brothers who may have fathered her, and the fate of Ibea rests on the source of her blood.
Chaeli embarks on a journey that tests her heart, her courage, and her humanity. Her only guides are a man who died a thousand years ago in the Dragon Wars, a former assassin for the Underworld, and a changeling who prefers the form of a cat.
The lives of many others – the hideously scarred Anya and her gaoler; the enigmatic and cruel Captain Kerne; the dissolute Prince Dal; and gentle seer Hana – all become entwined. The gods will once more walk the mortal plane spreading love, luck, disease, and despair as they prepare for the final, inevitable battle.
In Search of Gods and Heroes, Book One of Children of Nalowyn, is a true epic of sweeping proportions which becomes progressively darker as the baser side of human nature is explored, the failings and ambitions of the gods is revealed, and lines between sensuality and sadism, love and lust are blurred.
Sounds intriguing. How many books do you have planned for the series? Are you working on one of them now?
Well, I think to do the multiple POV and characters justice, there will be 4 or 5 books. I’m working on book 2 now and have 40,000 words so far. Hopefully, book 2 will be out in 2015 – wish me luck!
You’ve written several other novels, including Anna. Will you be publishing those? Can you tell us about any of them?
Well, I’m thinking of editing Anna and when finished, depending on the market, I’ll have a better idea what to do with it. It spent time with an agent in London and we worked on making it darker and more intense, only for the market to change and leave me in the doldrums. Re-reading the manuscript, I need to polish a few areas before I know exactly what to do with it…
I’m half way through an adult, humorous novella about a bad-mouthed tooth fairy who lives in the world of Mythinia . I say adult as there’s an awful lot of swearing in the book! I’m making it my next project as I have some terrific illustrations by the talented Sabrina Cotugno to accompany the story . . . if anything, her artwork needs to be seen!
You are also a police officer, a publisher, and an editor. How do you find the time to write your own books? How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Frankly, over the last 2 years I haven’t had time at all to write. Not a word. However, I don’t begrudge the time spent on Grimbold Books and Kristell Ink. It’s a crazy place to work, but we have the best and most loveable team of authors 😀
When I do write, though, I really get in the zone. Anna took 3 months of writing, ISOGAH 9 months. I can become a little obsessed at times and forget to eat, drink and shower . . . it’s not a pretty sight!
After working as an editor and publisher, how did it feel to be a client? What was that experience like?
Surreal. Exciting. Amazing. Terrifying. I co-run Grimbold with Zoë Harris, and so she edited ISOGAH for me. She is amazing. While I’m happy to story edit, I’m the first to admit that I prefer to outsource copyediting to those with the experience and talent. I cannot thank her enough. We were on a tight schedule as I wanted to publish my book for my granddad, and as he’s 90, I didn’t want to procrastinate for too long!
As an editor and publisher, can you tell us a bit about the author/editor/publisher relationship? What do you like best about working with other authors?
I think the relationship an author has with their publisher is really important. I know people who are published by bigger presses (the big 5) and some of them have been left to fend for themselves and had their contracts dropped after just a few months of poor sales . . . .
We’re very committed to our authors, and have always described ourselves as a team. Every author we have on board supports one another – and they do so without us prompting or suggesting they do so. I think an author needs to trust their editor and publisher, and vice-versa. Of course there will be quiet times, hard times, but this is the long game we play! I love that I can trust every author on our team to help us and each other. That’s priceless.
I love sharing ideas, projects, platforms and software with our authors – and the way we’ll pop online to give each other a tip or a lead. Also, if an author wants to explore different marketing and publicity ideas – we’re there to help.
What is the most important advice you can give new authors?
I’m afraid it’s the well used phrase ‘write, write, write and read, read, read’. By reading (and even reading outside of your comfort zone) you can enrich your vocabulary, fire up the imagination and become an all-round better writer.
What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing or editing?
Favourite is getting those words out and just being in ‘the zone’. Introducing a new character, foreshadowing, good fight scene . . . love it!
What books or authors have most influenced you in your own writing?
Oh crikey! I’m not sure who has influenced my writing, but I’m a huge fan of Jacqueline Carey and Ian Irvine. I also love James Clemens and Fiona McIntosh. They all concentrate on writing character driven fantasy.
If I had a 10th of their talent . . . I’d be really happy.
Do you have a writing routine, a special place where you go to do your writing, or a certain time of day? Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind of music?
Well, when I do write it’s usually on my Macbook in the living room with my headphones on and a cup of coffee or tea by my side! The drink usually goes cold, mind.
I use Spotify and create playlists depending on what sort of scene I’m writing. I love movie soundtracks, and have a soft spot for Promentory from Last of the Mohicans!
Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sammy lives and works in the sunny county of Oxfordshire in the UK with her husband, 14 cats, 2 dogs and hamster, Georgeski. When time allows, she writes. In Search of Gods and Heroes is her first book, and the first of the Children of Nalowyn series.
Between working and writing, she studies for her B.A in Humanities (with a specialism in Classical Studies)
She enjoys reading (obviously!), mythology, music, films, and a host of other uninteresting hobbies.
She can be found on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sammyhksmith
Her website/blog is: http://www.sammyhksmith.wordpress.com
Her publishing company is: http://kristell-ink.com/our-signed-authors/sammy-h-k-smith/