About William Bryan Smith:
William Bryan Smith was born in New Haven, CT in 1971. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Bennington College, and is a graduate of Mansfield University. The Late Great Thor McHugh is his fifth novel.
What inspires you to write?
I suppose I’m inspired by the great novels I’ve read. For example, when I read a book like Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, I’m reminded what the modern novel can be, how it can capture a moment in time (the waning days of WWII), but how it can also comment on the era in which it was written (1973). A great novel can be funny, thought-provoking, horrifying, and life-altering. In my own work, this is what I aspire to accomplish. When I read, I’m reminded that literature is a continuing dialogue between reader and author, it’s how we can commune with writers whose bones have long-since turned to dust. I want to add my own lines, my own words, to the dialogue.
Tell us about your writing process.
I start off with an idea for a character or a premise; I rarely consider plot. If the characters are fleshed out and round, and the premise is interesting, the plot should flow organically from the situation. I sit a while with these characters in my head before I turn them loose on the page. I try to write a little each day. I don’t force it. A paragraph or two–a page, page-and-a-half; that’s a good day. For me, writing is like walking across a frozen lake. I feel my way across. When it feels as though the ice is about to crack, I call it a day. It’s the old “writing only as far as your headlights can see” approach. It takes a while, but it gets you where you ultimately need to go. I confess when I get about 3/4 of the way finished with a first draft, I can usually see by then where the novel is headed. At that point, I’ll often draw up a very loose outline and gently direct the characters toward the ending I’m envisioning.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t talk to my characters; but I live with them for some time–often years. They’re apart of my internal universe. I spy on them while driving or standing in line at the supermarket. They’re with me in the shower and when I’m making dinner for myself. Every spare chance I get, I’m looking in on them. They’re apart of my psychic ant farm that I keep in my head. They need constant care and feeding.
What advice would you give other writers?
Read. Read every chance you get. Emulate your favorite writers. Read books on writing. Take courses. Then forget it all and just write. Don’t try to be the next Dan Brown, J.D. Salinger, or Hemingway. The world already has a Brown, a Salinger, and a Hemingway. Your own voice is just as unique, your perspective–your story–is just as special. Write. Start at the beginning and keep writing until you reach the end. Then put it in a drawer and take a few weeks to reconnect with the external world. Come back to your work and review it with fresh eyes. Revision is what separates the writer from the typist.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
While every novelist would like to reach millions of readers, and I’m certainly no different, I understand that what I write is quirky and certainly not mainstream. I’ve always been a fan of indie artists–indie filmmakers, indie musicians. Ultimately, while getting published is great, the work itself is it’s own reward. I’m grateful whenever a work of mine is published. Having your work read by even just one reader, makes the effort worth it.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Based on the popularity of Kindle, I assume we are heading toward a paperless publishing industry. The day of the initial print-run will be over. With online publishing, there will be more opportunities than ever for new authors; however, I think the future Fitzgeralds and Hemingways will find it increasingly difficult to have their voices heard over the din of bloggers, fan fiction, and online literary journals.
What genres do you write?: I write literary fiction; however, I like to tinker with the conventions of genre fiction like the detective novel, and science fiction.
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.