Where did the month go? It seems like I say this every month, but it’s always true!
Today on our Monday Morning Author Interview we have Darian Smith. He’s the author of the Agents of Kalanon series, winner of the SpecFicNZ competition and a fast-paced story of a retired agent pulled unwillingly back into service to save the world. Let’s talk to him!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
In my teenage years. I actually started writing my first novel at 16. It was terrible, of course, but I definitely had the bug and there was no stopping me after that. My biggest problem, I think, is that I have more ideas than time to write them all.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I’m still most often working a day job as well so my writing schedule is mostly in the evenings. I’m a bit of a slow writer as I tend to edit as I go but when things are going well I spend an hour or two after dinner writing. Actually, if it’s going well it will be much longer than that and then I struggle to get up in the morning due to lack of sleep, but that’s a whole other issue!
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure I have much in the way of writing quirks, to be honest. I guess, perhaps because I come from a counselling background and often talk about how psychology theories can be used to create characters (and even wrote The Psychology Workbook for Writers to help others do this), you could say that a quirk of mine is doing a bit of psychoanalysis with my characters. Of course, healthy therapy makes for dull stories so they still get put through the wringer!
What does your family think of your writing?
My family are very supportive, although I don’t think fantasy is really their genre of choice. And my spouse is also a writer so my household is very understanding of the frustrations and wackiness that come from writing. It’s perfectly normal for me to come out of my office to complain that someone isn’t dying properly or won’t walk down stairs or whatever I’m stuck on in the scene. It helps having another writer in the house to bounce ideas off or just offer sympathy in those moments.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I quite often attend pop culture expos and fantasy conventions etc so I get to see some of my readers there. It’s really wonderful to hear that they’re enjoying my books. I’ve especially been thrilled recently to have had a couple of them reach out to me via email and social media to let me know how much they enjoyed my most recent book, Battle’s Legacy, just after it was released. Releasing a book is always a bit scary to having that feedback was really lovely.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I had absolutely no idea. Interestingly though, my Myers Briggs Personality Test suggests I’d be a good counsellor or writer. And I’m both. So I guess I just needed to wait and see.
What is the first book that made you cry?
I don’t know if this is actually the first one but probably the earliest I remember was one of the Black Stallion books. I don’t recall the title but it was toward the end of the series and (spoiler alert) Alec fell in love and then his girlfriend was killed in a car crash. I was young and very emotionally invested in this relationship. It was a shock.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I actually don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. There are certain things that readers of a particular genre want and they’re buying the book to get it so I think that’s an important promise to fulfill as a writer. For example, that the murderer is found out in a murder mystery or the couple gets together in a romance or the world is saved in an epic fantasy. But how you deliver it can be super original.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m friends with a lot of other New Zealand authors and we have a wonderfully supportive community here. I also met a group of fantastic writers through the SPFBO competition, which is an international thunderdome of fantasy fiction that happens every year. In my year, all of the finalists have become close friends and we have a group chat and keep in touch every day. They’re all wonderful for helping with edits, or marketing ideas, or just general support. It’s wonderful to have found people in an environment of competition who are actually all about lifting each other up.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Get into the e-book format as soon as possible! The writers who rode that first wave were smart.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Probably joining the local romance writers organization. Even though I write fantasy and not romance, I learned so much from them. Romance writers are publishing juggernauts. They know their stuff and I’d recommend any writer learn from them.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Home of the Heart by Adrienne Smith. Is that because I’m married to the author? Maybe. Haha. But it’s still a great book if you like small town romance.
What are you working on now?
Having just released the 3rd book in the Agents of Kalanon series, I’m working on plotting out the 4th but also writing a YA urban fantasy in the meantime that is set here in New Zealand and plays with a local legend. I’m enjoying both projects very much.
What do you have coming soon?
The YA urban fantasy should be out hopefully in the second half of this year, if not sooner.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I love to hear from my readers! I have a website, which is at www.Darian-Smith.com, and I’m also available on social media. Get in touch!
Thank you for coming by, it’s been lots of fun!