11 February 2013 - ORLANDO SMART-POWELL - Guest Author



ORLANDO SMART-POWELL

GUEST AUTHOR
 
G'day guys,

Today I welcome an emerging writer from Wisconsin, USA - Orlando Smart-Powell.  Orlando ...
 
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF.

            I live with my partner and three children in rural Wisconsin on a small farm teeming with poultry and waterfowl.  My mornings consist of working as a Speech-Language Pathologist and my nights, hunkered over my computer writing.    


  WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?

  I developed a love of reading at the age of nine after reading Peter Straub’s Shadowland.  The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty and Edgar Allen Poe’s the Tell Tale Heart came soon after.
      

But I knew I wanted to become a writer after reading Clive Barker’s works . . . The Hellbound Heart, Imajica and especially Weaveworld.
      
I was amazed at Clive Barker’s skill at creating such surreal worlds and to suspend the reader’s imagination before plunging them into a world of wonders.  I knew then that I wanted to do that too!          


WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?

I love playing God.  I love meeting new people . . . my characters.  There’s nothing like creating a character and seeing them come to life.  Before I write    a single word, my characters have been inside my head talking to one another for months.  By the time I sit down to write, I already know them inside and out.  They are the ones directing the story, not me . . . I’m just the one telling it.     

  WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?

 The hardest thing to me about writing is actually the ‘best’ thing about writing, which is the challenge.  They say that everything has already been done before.  Or you hear that there are no original plots.  But I disagree. With each novel that I write, I work to disprove those notions.  That’s my challenge.   


 WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A
      WRITER?

A writer . . . absolutely. 


WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?

 My novel Folsom on Fire won the Critique My Novel’s contest for 2012. Though what I think is really great, is when someone contacts you to say how  much they loved your novel, and when they say they are still thinking of about it days, weeks and months after reading that last line.    


WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?

Gods of Egypt, which is being edited as we speak, is a dark tale of fantasy and undying love.  If you’re a romantic, you’ll love it. 
If you love reading novels that gives you chills and makes you keep the nightlight on . . . you’ll be glad you picked it up.  While Gods of Egypt is being edited, I’m still at it . . . writing.  I’ve started a new literary novel that I’ve been wanting to write for the past year and a half.          


WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

            Words.  I love words.  Whether I’m reading or watching a movie, I often will reread a novel (or watch a movie again) just to listen to the dialogue or to study how a writer has phrased or described something.   


WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?

 I think it might just be easier to say that I don’t write Romance novels.  Now that isn’t to say that my novels don’t have romance in them . . . they do.  But whether I’m writing something Literary or in the realm of Fantasy, you’ll  find love, history, the occult, mainstream religion and so on intermeshed.  

The key, as Clive Barker has said, is to suspend belief immediately.  Once you’ve done that successfully, you’re free to blend genres and immerse your reader in a story they can’t put down. 


DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?

If you really love to write, then write.  If you want to write for anything other than crafting a fantastic story, chances are, your writing days will be short-lived.   


DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?

No. 

DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?

       I usually write at night when everyone is fast asleep.  But if I’m
  not writing, like I said before, my characters are usually chatting away in my head.  I often have to silence them.  I hope that doesn’t
 warrant a call to Bellevue for me.   


DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?

Not particularly.  I do prefer writing in the dark. 


WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?

My greatest joy is writing something that people love reading. 

 Copyright Clancy Tucker (c)
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?

A:  Literary . . . it’s Toni Morrison hands down.  Her writing is without equal in my humble opinion.  It’s hard not to read Morrison’s work and just think . . . wow!  Fantasy/Horror . . . Clive Barker absolutely.  Clive Barker is a master at taking images in his head . . . putting it down into words . . . and creating that exact same world in yours.    


WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?

One reader said my literary boldness of Folsom on Fire was akin
      to works that Toni Morrison would write.  Another reader stated that Folsom on Fire was as relevant as Harriet Beech Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin for issues regarding today’s world.  In both cases the reader pointed out how they loved my unique voice and drew power from those, Morrison and Stowe, who have made their writings priceless pieces of art.     

WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?

A:  With all honesty, I’ve only had great comments and reviews. 


WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT  HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?

I should hope so.  I say that because the reader should connect with the characters, places or events in the novel.  So if I, the writer, am not connecting with something or someone that I’ve written about . . . if there are no connections to my life in some way, I shouldn’t be writing that novel then.      

OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?

A:  My family.  My partner and my three kids are my world. 


DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED  BEFORE PUBLICATION?

Yes.  Thoroughly.  After I’ve edited my novel two, three or four times, it’s time for a fresh set of unbiased, heavily critical eyes.  Once they are done, it’s time to edit it one more time before publishing.     


DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.

A:  That’s a very easy question.  My perfect day is waking up and hanging out with the kids.  In the evening, spending time with my partner.  Then at night ... writing . . . writing . . . writing.   


IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
My partner, Nathan (and my kids).  Why?  Because he’s my best friend. 


WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?

More and more people are beginning to see that you emperors have no clothes.  



WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?

            To keep writing.  I’ve had an idea in my head for years on writing a mythology, but it’s a huge undertaking.  But again, there’s that challenge that I referred to earlier. 


WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?

Beloved.  Imajica.  The Bluest Eye.  Frederick Douglas’ narratives.  The Tell Tale Heart.  I chose Morrison’s works because they are art and  Embody everything writing should be.  Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart for it’s Utter creep factor.  Douglas for his unflinching views and unparalleled prose. Clive Barker, for no one can create a world of beautiful horror like he can.  

DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?

           In every single one of them. 


DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?

Absolutely. 


DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?

No.  Quitting is not an option for me.  May I borrow a phrase from a Frank Herbert’s Dune?  I think of writing as my ‘spice’ of life . . . and the  spice must flow. 


WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?

I can’t say that I have a favorite.  The joy to me about being a writer is the writing itself.  Each novel I write, I’m in love with.  If I’m not in love with it I shouldn’t be writing it.    
             

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.

Putting words down on paper makes one successful.  Many people say they want to write, but few do.    

WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?

I want the readers to come away understanding themselves a bit more.  I always tell people that I’m driven by the ‘Why’.  ‘Why’ we do this, do that or don’t do something.  When we understand our ‘Why’s’ I believe we understand our motives that drive us to love, hate, help, connive, protect, divide, overcome, fail and on and on. 


HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?

Once I get the idea of the novel in my head, the cover design follows easily. The cover of my novel, Folsom on Fire, has a leafless, foreboding tree that is aflame.  That tree is central to aspects within each character in the novel. It also gives a sense of life (tree) and death (fire), and also hope.


WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?

I’m already living it.  A wonderful family . . . check.  Great friends . . . check.Writing . . . check!


ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?

 If you like to write . . . then read.   If you LOVE to write, then write.  








 Clancy's comment: Go, Orlando! Sounds like you have the lot, man. Best of luck.

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