Stephanie Ann Smith [trudidog]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
Fairy tales. I wrote little stories for my parents, who were my first audience, especially my Mother.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I compose scenes in my head, especially while walking the dog. I also keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Everything, from websites to cereal boxes, from Shakespeare to TV.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Good characters, a strong plot.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
What well known writers do you admire most?
Herman Melville, P.D. James, Ross MacDonald, Ursula K. Le Guin, The Bronte sisters, Michael Cunningham, William Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath, William Butler Yeats, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Gertrude Stein, Nella Larsen, Frederick Douglass, James Fenimore Cooper.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
A character should have many sides; they must be complex, have strengths and weaknesses. Mine are composites of people I've known, usually.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Me. And my mother.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Not always. Sometimes.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
When I was in my twenties, I did, and won a few.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
Voice is a strange thing--but I think a good writer is always evolving.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
When I'm going to compose a first draft, I set a schedule--sometimes a chapter a week, sometimes a chapter every two weeks; I write everyday, for at least an hour or more. Good days, four or five hours.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I start in long-hand, and once the thing is well started, I move to compose on the computer. I don't print it out until I think I have something like a first draft, then I print it, put it aside and start something else. After a week or so I go back read the draft; if I think it's okay, I will give it to my readers.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
What has been your experience with publishers?
My first book publisher, Athenaeum was fantastic; my editor, Jean Karl (who has since passed away, sadly) was one of the best people I've ever met. My second book publisher, TOR also has one of the best editors out there, Dave Hartwell; my scholarly publishers, Cornell and Minnesota University presses have been wonderful; my short story editors all of them have been great. The publishers I've worked for were equally interesting: David Godine Publications, Western Imprints and the Conde Nast Corporation.
What are you working on now?
A novel titled Seastars, and a scholarly essay on Herman Melville.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Re-read them, throw out what is clearly not worth keeping and find a reader you trust to tell you what else you should chuck. In my opinion, learning how to pare down is the hardest lesson.
Stephanie Ann Smith