Sunday, September 25, 2016

Author Interview with Laney Smith

Here at Late Night we were very excited to interview Author Laney Smith
Everyone welcome Laney Smith!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Oddly enough, I never really wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to save everyone. When my dad asked me what would happen when I couldn’t save someone, that profound thought sent me to psychology. I wanted to be a criminal profiler. Throughout my life, my family and friends saw the writer in me and encouraged me to write a book. I blew that idea off. Now that I have done it, it blows my mind how addicted to this I am. I wrote a poem that won a place in an anthology when I was about twenty. I didn’t know then what I know now and I don’t even remember the title of that book, sadly. I also went on to write articles for a local newspaper. Fate kept trying to get me to wise up and kept putting these writing situations in my lap. I still missed it. Now, I’m in love with this and hate that I didn’t do it sooner. I can be everything I ever thought about being just by writing stories. This is insane fun.

How long does it take you to write a book?

This varies. I have two books that only took me a month, each, to write. I have also taken longer to write others. It just depends on how much time I have to write and how driving that particular story is. It usually takes me closer to two or three months. If I’m clowning around, it might take five or six months. Promotion sucks a lot of time out of authors. So, we don’t get to write as often as we might like. That’s tough. But, from start to finish, I can say a month to six months.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

If the story is especially gripping, I’m writing unless I’m sleeping. My family is incredibly patient with me when I’m locked in. They will throw food at me and they leave me be when they know it’s crunch time. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I will find a song that inspires a scene or storyline and I will listen to that song on repeat until that scene or storyline is written. I also have photos that inspire certain characters. It is not uncommon for me to have photos on my screen of the people that inspire characters. I try to create as much tangible sensory inspiration as possible. It helps me. 

How do books get published?

With a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Anyone can publish anything. The art is to make it something worth publishing. That takes a lot of investment, in terms of proofreading, editing and formatting. Otherwise, it’s just not going to do you any good, no matter how many books you publish. Createspace and other user friendly platforms help authors get their work out to the world.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Stories happen to me. Sometimes they’re worth pursuing. Other times, not as much. I know when it’s something because I write and I feel the excitement of “Wow! That’s intense.” Other times, I write and I just don’t feel it. I don’t feel like it’s going anywhere or I don’t feel like it’s as interesting as I started out thinking it was. As for where the information comes from, I was raised in a law enforcement household. I got to see a lot of what happens for the officers behind the scenes. That helped me write Derrick Decker’s character. For the other stories, I feel every author has to draw from personal experience, or the experiences of others. I love talking to people because you get to learn things you didn’t know. That helps you write things you don’t necessarily know. When all else fails, you can Google anything under the sun. 

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I started writing my first book in 2013. I published it in July 2014. That made me almost forty.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I like to do weekend getaways. There is something about going some place new and just existing for a few days. My kids are great about letting me write. So, sometimes, I shut everything down and we go do things they want to do. That has become my favorite thing to do. They give a lot and when I can make it all about them, I love that. 

What does your family think of your writing?

They are very supportive and patient. Since this started, they have been building a wish list. They’re convinced I’ll be a best seller tomorrow. So, they’ve got a list of things they want. It’s very cute to me. It touches my heart that they believe in me that much. I’m determined to prove them right. They deserve that for all of their support and patience. 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Probably that when you find what you’re meant to do, everything starts falling in line. When you are on the right path, you smile a lot more than you did before you found yourself. If I never sold another book, I’m thankful for the ride I’ve had to this point. It’s been incredible. However, I’m addicted to this experience, so I’m pretty sure I’m here to stay. I feel like I found myself and I’m having a blast. This is surprising to me because, as I mentioned before, I never saw myself as a writer. I fought it with all I had in me. That was a pretty silly thing to do. 

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have written seven books and three anthology pieces for two different anthology books. My favorite is tough to say. I love them all for various reasons. Lock Creek: One Year’s Time will always be my first. That book started everything. I look back and see things I could’ve done differently because as you do this more, you learn more. I plan to re-release One Year’s Time, eventually. For what it represents, however, I guess I would have to say that book is my favorite. It’s a maddening love story in the beginning. However, the pay off for what you wait for is richer than a lot of other love stories. By the time it gets where you want it to go, you’ve bonded with these characters in ways you wouldn’t have expected. You know them and they’re your best friends. It isn’t just a story, it is an experience. 

Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Read every day. You pick up so much from others and you don’t even realize it. It will come through in your own writing. I also think everyone should write as though no one will ever see it. You can edit things later. Don’t restrain yourself, worrying about how it sounds or what people will think. Write the story exactly as it comes to you. There is a reason it comes to you the way it does. The things you’re questioning just might be what puts you on the map. Be brave. Be bold. Write it. 

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

This is another addictive aspect of this whole experience. I do hear from readers. I do get the positive feedback. They send me photos of what they visualize the scenes to be, or photos of their book when it arrives at their door. They want to keep the story alive and want to know about when the next book will be out. I love to know that people read my work and have that kind of connection to it. I never specified a state that Lock Creek is in because I wanted everyone to feel like it is their hometown. I love that they do feel that way. 
Do you like to create books for adults?

I do. It tends to be more challenging, I think. Maybe that is my fascination with writing for adults. I wrote a short story for young adults/adults for the anthology, The Roses. That’s one of my favorite pieces. So, I’m not locked into writing only for adults. I just write and it is whatever it is. I tend to gravitate toward adult themes, I guess. 

What do you think makes a good story?

I like stories that are realistic – something I can believe. I don’t like it when I can predict everything about a story. You want certain things to be predictable. How you get there doesn’t have to be. In fact, the challenge, to me, is to see how unpredictable I can make it for the reader. I want to have fun when I read. I want to laugh, cry and feel like I gained something from those pages. I try to give what I would want to get.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

My current project is about a professional baseball player, Ryan Priest, who made some bad decisions in his past. He’s an MVP and his team makes it to the World Series. As far as his team mates are concerned, he reverts to his old ways and ends up costing them the World Series. Everyone turns their back on him and at thirty-five, he finds himself “retired.” Without a family of his own, he returns to his hometown of San Antonio. He makes friends with a seven year old disadvantaged boy who happens to be obsessed with baseball. This Priest is not the kind to hear confessions and ends up having to face the mistakes he’s made in his past. Ryan grows attached to the fatherless child and learns more about himself from the boy than all of his life experiences combined have taught him. Though Ryan has a beautiful girlfriend, he can’t help but find himself having feelings for the little boy’s mother. Though the little boy tries to unite his mother and his friend, when the sparks start flying, Ryan finds himself in another situation that could cost him even more than his career. This could cost him his heart. It is a love story, but this love story is not just between a man and a woman. It’s fun and I’m excited to get it written. 

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for the relentless support and friendship through this journey, so far. Without you, I would have no purpose for doing any of this. I promise I have not forgotten Lock Creek. I will never forget Lock Creek! Thank you for allowing me to entertain you, and for entertaining me, as well. I’m looking forward to a long future together.

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