Interview with Jasper Smithey

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An Interview with Jasper Smithey, author of Lion’s Heart & Lemongrass

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

Actually, yes, I am still in the process of revising my first novel, even though I started it thirteen years ago, and I hope to be releasing it in the next year or two. I don’t think I could ever abandon it.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Ideas rule the world, and I have to admit that the best ideas stand the test of time by simmering in the back of my mind years before landing on the written page. Nonetheless, I carry on a full-time career, where I engage daily in legal writing, and I have a wife and a twenty month old little girl who both occupy a great deal of my time. I squeeze my fiction writing in between those parts of my life, where father time is more of the culprit than the muses of inspiration.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?8bccc8_3525c84e8aea4416b544be9e5717ed96

I enjoy writing predominantly in gardens (especially botanical gardens), parks, and any place with the sound of running water, although I also find my self having to write in the car between destinations or on my patio at home. As for the medium in which I write, it is always with pen and paper. Call me old fashioned or an old soul–the physical connection between the mind, the hand, and the paper draws out the best in me.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

My beta-readers and editors are often my old writing group pals, former classmates–we stick together–and bloggers who volunteer their reading time. I have been fortunate enough to have tremendous support for my writing, although neither my wife nor many in my family are avid readers. I am not sure how that happened.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I am ambivalent about books and ebooks. I love the convenience of ebooks for both space and storage and find a great source of ebooks, but at the same time, I love dust covers and books for their traditional artwork, the feel of paper in my fingers, the scent of old books, and the words on a fixed page. I guess I’m straddling the fence and need to pick a side.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from any of your life’s stages?

The fantasy genre (and all its subgenres from complete other worlds to urban fantasies and everything in between) still remain my first love, but I also enjoy well written mystery novels, SciFi novels, historical novels, short stories, and poetry as well as literary classics from the 19th century, 17th century French literature, Medieval Italian literature. As for authors whose works I adore and have stuck in my mind, I would say I loved all the Mrs. Pickerell books by Ellen MacGregor in my childhood, I enjoyed the mastery of J. K. Rowling’s storytelling in my young adulthood, and the writings of David Gregory have piqued my interest in adulthood.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. You manage your own profile – what is your preferred platform and how much time do you spend doing it? Do you enjoy doing it?

I manage my own profile for the time being, a necessity really since I am just beginning to enter the professional writing world. Initially, it took weeks to create an author’s website, but now that I have established it, I find it does not take large amounts of time to keep it current. I would call the website my preferred platform and I don’t mind maintaining it, almost enjoy it sometimes.

I prefer a telephone call over a text, a letter over an email, and a play over a movie. The world advances though by leaps and bounds everyday, and social media has it place among it. Therefore, I do use social media to promote my works: websites, readers blogs, online retailers, and even Facebook. As times change, so must we change and social media holds tremendous power in reaching many individuals in short amounts of time.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next? 

Of course! If I receive the same question, I do strive to provide a consistent response. Nevertheless, I generally find that my replies to questions about my books or life, although all similar in wording, hold a common thread to them. Plus, I often forget where I stored my prior responses and have to craft new ones for questions anyway.

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