Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Aaron Smith -- Man of Midnight, Death, and Galaxies

Apparently Aaron Smith knows what he wants and goes after it. Even his bio on his blog would lead one to believe he's merely a practical man who would rather be writing than wasting time on stuff like bios and writing about writing. But, when asked about his own work, well, he opens up a bit. (Which is all the better for us.)

Want the low-down on what makes him tick? Then read on, my friend. Read on.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My latest novel, Nobody Dies For Free, was just released by Pro Se Productions. It’s my first spy thriller and features my new character Richard Monroe. Monroe is a CIA agent, recently retired, and looking forward to a peaceful life with the woman he loves. His happiness is destroyed, though, and he gets pulled back into the world of espionage, working in a way that’s even more secretive than his previous experience. He eventually discovers a connection between the mission he’s assigned to and the people responsible for the death of his wife, and sets out to avenge her. Nobody Dies For Free is now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.  

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

I’m sure there are some themes in my work that I don’t even recognize, but that readers might, since a big part of inspiration comes from the subconscious. But there are some I’m aware of. Many of my characters experience abrupt changes in their lives, with their routines suddenly going from mundane to every exciting. I also seem often to use a variation of the old theme of “boy meets girl,” which becomes, in my case, ordinary boy meets extraordinary girl. In my first novel, Gods and Galaxies, she’s from another galaxy. In one of my more recent works, 100,000 Midnights, she’s a vampire. I guess mystery is a big subject in my work too. When I’m writing detective stories about Sherlock Holmes or my own character Lt. Marcel Picard, or in the spy novel, or even in the upcoming sequel to the vampire book, there’s often a mystery to be solved.

Time is also something that comes up quite often in my work, specifically the different feelings brought on by thinking of different periods of time. I’ve always been fascinated by the way certain places seem to have retained the aura of a past decade, like a diner you come across on a rural road and you can see it hasn’t been remodeled of drastically altered since the fifties, or the way you can walk from room to room in a grandparent’s home and feel like you’re literally traveling forward or backward in time because of the accumulation of stuff that includes relics from every year since the thirties or even before. It’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words intellectually, so I guess that’s why it makes its way into my stories so often.

What would be your dream project?

Many of my dream projects are no longer available to even dream about, as I’ve seen some of my favorite fictional worlds become something I’d no longer want to work within. I used to dream of someday writing for Marvel or DC comics, but they just don’t portray their characters in a way that I feel is right anymore. I’m afraid the Star Trek I used to love has bitten the dust too. But one of my big dream projects has already been accomplished. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to write Sherlock Holmes stories, sticking as close as I can to the style of the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Four of them have been published so far, in various volumes of Airship 27 Productions’ series Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, and there was also my Dr. Watson novel, Season of Madness, which is obviously Holmes-related.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

I don’t think I’d change the actual stories much in any of my works. I’ve gotten better at certain areas of my writing style as I’ve written more and more, but I don’t think any of my stuff was ever so bad that I’d want to go back in time and drastically alter it. One thing that does bother me a bit, though, is that I had a tendency to rush my work in my first year or so of seriously writing and this led to some stupid grammatical mistakes making it into the final product a few times. I’d like to make those go away if I could.

What inspires you to write?

A few different things inspire me. Things I see or hear around me in daily life; admiration for the stories told by other writers or filmmakers or artists and the desire to do that too; and, maybe most importantly, the fact that writing is a way to expose myself, my mind, my ideas to the world…and it’s a way that’s easier for me in some ways than just being social, since I’ve always been more of a introverted person. What makes me laugh a bit when I think about it is that this very solitary profession of writing has actually made me more friends than anything I’ve done before in my life! I came into it partly because it was something I could do alone, but it’s introduced me to so many fellow writers, editors, publishers, readers, etc. who I’d miss terribly if they suddenly disappeared from my life. I guess what really inspires me is the fact that something new and surprising is always right around the corner for a writer. You throw yourself into that job and things happen, and you can never predict exactly what you’ll want to do or be asked to do or (hopefully!) be paid to do tomorrow.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Probably more than I’m aware of, as I think everything a writer reads has some form of influence on them. Of the ones that I know for certain had a strong impact on me, I can think of, off the top of my head, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Roger Zelazny, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Stan Lee, Bram Stoker, and Edgar Allen Poe. I’m sure I’ll think of a dozen more after I’ve finished here and regret leaving them out.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

It’s an art that becomes a science, but a different science for each individual writer, and a very flexible science. Art because it grows from dreams, scraps of ideas, questions that we feel the need to answer. But it’s a science too because there has to be a method that develops within the writer in order to tell his stories in the most effective way he can. Art is closely related to madness, in some ways; maybe it’s the bright side of insanity! But pure imagination, uncontrolled flights of fancy, can’t form ideas into a product that others can appreciate. So the method, or science, must mold those ideas into something orderly, using words to convey dreams and share them with others. Writing is art first, presented through a necessary science.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug? 

My most recent release, other than Nobody Dies For Free, was Quatermain: The New Adventures, from Airship 27 Productions, which I share with Alan J. Porter, as we each wrote a novella featuring the famous 19th century adventure character Allan Quatermain.

I also have two more novels coming out later this year. In August will be the sequel to 100,000 Midnights, called Across the Midnight Sea. I had a lot of fun revisiting the characters from my first vampire novel.

Then, in October, will be Chicago Fell First, a zombie novel and more of a pure horror story than any I’ve done before. I think it’s a little different, quite a bit darker than anything I’ve had published up to this point.