Meet the Author: Tommy B. Smith

Happy Friday Everyone,

We made it to the end of the week! Pats on the back and high fives for everyone!

self-highfive

Today’s post covers my interview with author Tommy B. Smith, which will later be supplemented by my review of his book Poisonous. I’ve gotta say, he’s super talented, but let’s get to know him a little better first.

Tommy B. Smith

Tommy B. Smith - Author Photo 2018

Tommy B. Smith is a writer of dark fiction, author of The Mourner’s Cradle, Poisonous, and the short story collection Pieces of Chaos, as well as works appearing in numerous magazines and anthologies throughout the years. His presence currently infests Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he resides with his wife and cats. 

The Interview

Hi Tommy, thanks so much for stopping by. To keep things fresh, I like to ask my interviewees a random question to get the blood flowing. Alright, here’s yours! 

You’re in an amusement park. Which ride do you get on?

A rollercoaster. I like rollercoasters. Life is like a rollercoaster. Sometimes death is also like a rollercoaster, especially if you’re flung from a rollercoaster car or inadvertently decapitated or impaled due to a miscalculation of weight and momentum. 

Many things are like rollercoasters, really. Ups, downs, twists, and turns. But all of those speculations aside, I do enjoy rollercoasters. 

You’re preaching to the choir there! I am a rollercoaster junkie! The more dangerous, the better. Gotta love that adrenaline as you twist, turn, and flip upside down, right? 

 

Tommy and the Writing Process

 

Alright, so for starters, tell us a little bit about your writing.

I write dark fiction. Horror, much of it, but not always. Early in the journey of published material, I wrote horror and fantasy. The more vocal fantasy readers and publishers along that avenue didn’t appreciate my material much, finding it a bit too dark for their tastes, but I gained more of an audience with the horror fans. 

I wrote short stories for years, a combination of contemporary weird fiction and horror, which I sold to various magazines and anthologies until the publication of my rather violent slasher horror novella, Poisonous. 

The short story collection Pieces of Chaos collects a solid portion of my work from the formative years. 

My newest book is The Mourner’s Cradle, a tale revolving around themes of loss and cemeteries. It’s the tale of a widow’s journey through grief and peril into the cold remnants of a dead world. 

Wow, very interesting. I’ve actually added pretty much all of your books to my TBR since starting Poisonous (I plead the fifth!), as I have a love of dark fiction, but I get where you’re coming from.

Not all fantasy lovers will necessarily appreciate a darker fantasy, but its great that you can connect with another great audience. I have a lot of horror aficionado friends like myself, and we love a good scare!

Next question. How long have you been writing? 

As it stands, I’ve been a published and active writer for over twelve years now, but I’ve written since the beginning.

That’s great! I’ve been writing professionally for seven years, but have also been writing as early as I can remember. You’re definitely not alone!

So what’s the why behind your writing? 

It’s my method of diverting the inner floods into something worthwhile. I’ve always returned to it. I’ve carried many stories with me for a long time, more than I will likely ever be able to tell, but I can try.

I can totally relate to that. We authors have such great stories and experiences to share with the world, great pieces of ourselves that should be seen. I’ve had a plethora of stories for a while and can’t wait to share! All we can do is try. 

The writing muses come to everyone in a unique way. How do you find inspiration to write?  

Inspiration is easy. Friend and author Logan L. Masterson once said this when someone asked him where he got his ideas: “Ideas are everywhere.” 

This is truth. Inspiration is all around us. In our books, films, music, on the news, in our lives and speculations.

I agree 100%. I have found inspiration in a multitude of situations of normal life, from the gym, to down time at home, or out with friends. It’s all around us, that’s why I always have something to jot notes down with. 

Could you describe your writing style?

Versatile, I’ve been told. One reader remarked on my ability to write a story such as Epitaph for Sol and then another like Electric Presence, both with very different approaches and styles.

That’s great! Sometimes you’ve got to switch it up if the situation calls for it.

If you had to pick, what is your favorite part of writing?

Exploration. Writing. Creating. The creative process. I’ve heard some authors mention that they don’t like writing, but they like having written. For me, that certainly isn’t the case.

Totally. I love the entire process, mainly plotting and exploring new ideas, but I’m glad you’ve got that writing spark in you. It’s very apparent in your work. 

What kind of environment or setting do you write in most times? 

Usually I write in my office. Sometimes with music, sometimes without. Music doesn’t tend to affect the process for me. When I become immersed in the story, all else falls into the background.

Nice! I typically write in my bedroom with the door locked and ambient music turned up. Music influences me a bit more in the process, but I’ve got a great musical ear and tons of material on my YouTube playlists. That being said, I agree with you on immersion. Music doesn’t have to always be a factor. 

The answer to this one is probably pretty obvious, but I’ll ask anyways. What genre is your favorite to write in and why? 

Much of what I write assumes a darker slant, so becomes horror. I don’t always set out to confine myself within a specific genre, but horror, or dark fiction as a broader umbrella term, comes naturally.

You know, we have that in common. Pretty much everything I’ve written has had something of a darker edge to it. Maybe it’s just us, but its harder for me to enjoy stories without that great element to it. 

Okay, last one for this section. What is the hardest lesson you had to learn as a writer? 

Some readers will not like your work, even if you are a horror author and they are a horror fan and they love the type of story you might have written if you hadn’t written the one they’re reading.

And that’s quite all right. You can’t please everyone, and you shouldn’t try, but you can push on to learn and develop your craft, hone it to a fine razor’s-edge, and tell the stories you would tell in the best way you can.

That’s so true. Pleasing everyone is impossible. People will always have a different take on things, and that’s totally okay. All we can do is our best to enthrall and excite our readers.

 

Fun Facts About Tommy

 

Writing aside, lets get into some fun questions for a bit.

What is your favorite genre to read and why? 

I read across the spectrum and outside my genre, but probably read more horror than anything else, since I’m familiar with many names in horror and encounter their works more often, and also because I write and read about subjects which interest me. The only genre I don’t read is romance, but I don’t mind stories possessing romantic elements as long as there’s a bit more to it than just that.

That’s very eclectic of you. I’m the same way. If something sounds interesting, I’ll give it a chance, but I love my chills and thrills most of all. I also don’t read in the romance genre, though I understand its value to other readers.

What are you reading now?

Don’t Look Now & Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier.

Oh wow, sounds scary! I hope you enjoy it!

As far as tv shows and movies, what are your favorites? 

I’ve had many over the years. As far as shows still running, my wife and I always watch American Horror Story, and recently finished out the new season of Stranger Things. The original Halloween is one of my favorite horror movies. I enjoy most of John Carpenter’s other films as well. Of the new age of horror films, Mother! I found it interesting and quite original.

Wow, this is surreal. Everything you said I agree 100% with. Halloween is such an amazing classic!

Alright, how about music? What genre of music touches your soul? 

Intense music. I enjoy metal. I’ve also gone for some melodic soundscapes in recent years. I’ve been to numerous live shows over the years. Lately I’m listening to the new Arch/Matheos album, Winter Ethereal.

Oh wow, interesting. I never quite understood the metal genre, but maybe I’ll have to give some a listen sometime. A little change of scenery could be fun for sure! I’m all about the soundscapes!

Okay, last one. If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would you go? 

This year, the Carolinas, and as it happens, that’s where I’ve planned to be when October comes around.

Awesome! I hope there are some haunted places you can explore while there. I’ve been thinking about Branson for a writer’s retreat, but I’m not completely sold yet.

 

Tommy and His Current Works

 

All right, so as we wrap up this interview, let’s talk a bit more about your current works. Could you tell us about your newest book?

The Mourner’s Cradle is a tale of rain, ice, and dead legends, the journey of Anne Sharpe. Her husband, independent researcher Damon Sharpe, became transfixed by the ancient world and obscure Peruvian relics in particular. He’s spent the last months of his life on these obsessions, and now he’s dead.

Anne is alone in an empty house without answers. When an unwelcome visitor appears at her husband’s funeral, things begin to unravel. Anne’s fury comes out and ignites her desire to unearth the answers she seeks.

Oh wow, this sounds amazing. I think I’ll read this one of yours next.

How did you come up with the title for this book?

It’s a term which encompasses birth and death, first mentioned in the book Poisonous. 

What inspired you to write this book in particular? Is it part of a series? 

Some years ago, I found myself sitting at a lot of funerals, confronting loss and watching others do the same in their own fashion.  The Mourner’s Cradle begins in 1979-era St. Charles, which happens to be the same setting for Poisonous years later.

What kind of research went into writing your book?

Outdated research. I harvested archaeological and historical documents and books from the 1970s. Views and developments of that time were different, but unique to the period in which the book is set.

Wow, sounds like you did quite a lot of research! Well, I’m sure it definitely paid off in the end.

Was there a message in your book that you were trying to convey?

I don’t doubt there are messages throughout, conveyed by themes, circumstances, and the characters involved, but with my work, it’s more often a matter of painting a picture, a life, a world, with words.

Totally, I can understand that. I tend to do the same thing. I don’t really make a point to tackle social issues or convey a message specifically, but if it comes with the story, then so be it.

Are you working on any projects at the moment? What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Always. I’m wrapping up a story inspired by my visits to Louisiana. This one is southern horror. I live in the south, and I’ve considered that I should take advantage of that. Louisiana is fertile ground for horror. I’ve already written a couple of short stories based there, with Stealing Sight set in New Orleans and Alligator Death Roll in southern rural Louisiana.

I can’t wait to see your new titles! I’m sure they’re to die for (please excuse my cheesy humor lol)!

Well, it looks like we’re out of time. But before we go, one last important question. What advice do you have for new writers?

Constructive criticism can be an author’s valuable tool. Destructive criticism, not so much. Understand the difference between the two.

That’s a great way to see things. I couldn’t agree more!

That’s a Wrap!

All righty booksters, that wraps up my interview with Tommy B. Smith. It was really great getting to know him a bit better, and I hope you enjoyed our little session too!

If you’d like to learn more about Tommy B. Smith and his work, he can be reached at the following social media links below. Thank you all for stopping by, and have a great day!

Facebook

Website

Goodreads

 

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