Welcome to the two hundred and seventy-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with science-fiction (and more) novelist Joy V Smith. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Joy. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Joy: I’ve been writing since I was a little kid and made my own little books. I love to read, and I guess I wanted to create books too.
Morgen: I always love it when an interviewee says they loved writing when they were younger and it never went away. I did but real life took over and I hadn’t realised then that it what I wanted to do. Where are you based, Joy?
Joy: I live in Florida–inland where we’re safe from hurricanes, except for 2004 when Charley, Frances, and Jeanne came through and wreaked havoc. Downed trees and blue tarps everywhere. (We lost parts of our porch ceilings and eaves, but the insurance took care of that.)
Morgen: Ouch. We’re incredibly lucky here in the UK. We get the occasional mini-tornado which damages a street but that’s about it. The downside is that we’re not prepared; a light covering of snow and the country grinds to a halt… literally, only this week (our first snow of the year) there were motorists spending the night on two southern motorways. It’s crazy. Anyway… 🙂 What genre do you generally write?
Joy: My favorite genre is science fiction, but I write fantasy, romance, and children’s stories–and anything that catches my fancy. My last novel was a western.
Morgen: Which are coming back into fashion (as if they ever went away). What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Joy: I’ve had fiction and non-fiction published, including interviews. Some of my work is available online. I’ve never used a pseudonym, but I keep one on hand just in case.
Joy: My stories, articles, and interviews have been published in print magazines, webzines, and anthologies; and my SF has been published in two audiobooks, including Sugar Time. My books include Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook; Aliens, Animals, and Adventure, a collection of some of my reprinted stories available from Anthology Builder; and a children’s book, Why Won’t Anyone Play with Me?
My e-books include Hidebound, an SF adventure / romance; Pretty Pink Planet; Hot Yellow Planet; and Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure.
Morgen: Wow, you’ve been busy. I love your titles, by the way. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Joy: Too many to count! Early on I saved them, but now only if there’s something helpful or interesting in them.
Morgen: I’m still at the saving stage (nerdily cataloguing them actually) as I’ve only had 28. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Joy: A few minor contests over the years, including the Killer Frog contests.
Morgen: Ooh, I like the sound of that. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Joy: No, I’ve never had an agent though I’ve talked to one or two. “Get back to me when you’re ready to negotiate with a publisher…” I think they can definitely help an author find a publisher and protect their interests.
Morgen: I do think that once you’ve got one they (generally) fight your corner and earn their keep but it’s what you give up in the process. It’s great that authors have the options these days. Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Joy: I have four ebooks published through Smashwords and Amazon. I submitted them with some help from a friend and someone I hired to clean up a ms. I prefer to read paper; I don’t have an e-reader so when I have to read a novel or story collection–for reviews or pleasure–I read them on my computer.
Morgen: I’ve only just (three weeks ago) bought a Kindle and I love it but it’s still paperbacks at home for me. I have so many that I want to read, so why not? 🙂 How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Joy: All I can, though I’m not much of a brand yet.
Morgen: “yet” I like that. 🙂 Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Joy: I think some of my stories would make great movies, but I can’t picture my characters as actors… I don’t have a favorite…
Morgen: It’s funny. They’re both questions I’ve only asked recently and I’d struggle to answer them myself. Maybe I should try. 🙂 Did you have any say in the title / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Joy: They’re very important, and most of my titles have been accepted. However, a lot of generic titles have become popular through word of mouth. The book is most important, though a good cover is also important. I’ve seen some boring covers.
Morgen: Oh, me too and by some major publishers. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Joy: Right now I’m editing a novel and after submitting that, will edit the one waiting in the wings. Then I plan to publish an ebook story collection. I have a collection (reprints) available in print from Anthology Builder, and I haven‘t decided whether to use them.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Joy: I do not write every day, unless I’m really focused. I call it procrastination.
Morgen: The internet… social media… life. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Joy: I don’t think I’ve ever plotted or outlined a story. They wander off on their own.
Morgen: They do, don’t they and I love that. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Joy: I have two notebooks with names that I’ve collected, though I often grab whatever’s handy (a nearby book, including the phone book) for minor characters. No method for creating characters. They just grow…
Morgen: Do you write any non-fiction, poetry or short stories?
Joy: I write articles, interviews, and reviews. I am not a poet; however I wrote a cryptic poem for a quest story–The Princess Quest, which was written tongue-in-cheek. I suspect it doesn’t scan. Short stories are my favorites.
Morgen: Ding! Right answer. 🙂 Regular readers will know that I champion the short story. It’s what I started with, and went back to. I’ve never been on any poetry courses and it’s not my passion so mine probably doesn’t scan either although I enjoy writing dedicated limericks for my Facebook friends and I currently have over 700 friends so an average of 2 birthdays a day so two limericks a day – a great way to write every day. 🙂 Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Joy: I will always need to edit. I often edit as I write, at least at the beginning. If it’s a long story, I’ll have to go back over the later parts more.
Morgen: That’s partially why I like short stories, it’s quicker to do a complete run-through (I did four to my 117K chick lit (which then became 105K) and glazed over). Do you have to do much research?
Joy: For some stories, yes! For my last NaNoWriMo novel, I was surrounded by encyclopedias, atlases, and tourist books.
Morgen: Oh yay! I love NaNo. Four years in a row. I’d urge anyone to do it. Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc., do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Joy: I prefer silence. I focus on songs I like when they’re playing. Otherwise they’re annoying.
Morgen: 🙂 What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Joy: I do not like reading first person usually. I much prefer third person, except for Robert Parker‘s Spenser novels. I’m sure there are others. But what I do not like are stories written in the present tense.
Morgen: Third person past tense is most popular. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Joy: I want to share them all! (Some years back I culled stories that should not see the light of day.)
Morgen: I have loads of those although I hope they’ll just remain dormant rather than a complete cull. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Joy: All the research I have to do. After all, I’m writing fiction!
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Joy: Persevere and edit.
Morgen: and edit… and edit. 🙂 If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or invite three people, hiding the takeaway containers)?
Joy: I’d rather have a time machine and visit them. The fact that I don’t cook is irrelevant…
Morgen: Oh me neither. I have a sign a friend gave me: ‘I only have a kitchen because it came with the house’, and it’s so true. It’s the smallest room in the house (or certainly feels like it) – no room for a table so I spend little time in it. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Joy: So many, but I don’t keep track of them, and I can’t come up with any inspiring ones right now. There is a funny one about the government. (Nope, not partisan.)
Morgen: That’s OK. I do rater put you on the spot, sorry about that. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Joy: I do some editing, but I really don’t have time for that. I review books now and then.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? 🙂
Joy: I read, play with the dogs, and travel when I can; I love visiting historical homes and towns. Naturally, eating out is fun.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful?
Joy: My Favorites is full of links. I must cull them… But here are three I find useful:
Morgen: Lovely, thank you. 🙂 Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Joy: I visit forums now and then… And they’re sometimes useful for sharing info about markets.
Morgen: I belong to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and really they all serve different purposes. I’ve been invited to join some others I’ve never heard of… What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Joy: Even more opportunities. Possibly things we haven’t thought of yet. Hmm. I wonder if we’ll be able to make our stories into movies the way we self-publish today?
Morgen: There is a site called http://Animoto.org where some authors do. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Joy: I have three blogs:
My writing blog: http://pagadan.wordpress.com
My media blog: http://pagadan.livejournal.com
My house blog: http://pagadan.blogspot.com
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Joy: There’s too much doom and gloom and gore in books and movies! And don’t kill off my favorite characters. (I’m talking to you, Joss.)
Morgen: Like JK Rowling tried to then killed off another instead. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Joy: The first thing that crosses is my mind is: How do you find the time to do all you’re doing?!
Morgen: Late nights, early mornings and a part-time (hopefully soon-to-be-ex) job. I have a calendar reminder on my computer that tells me to go to bed at 9pm (with the hope of reading for an hour) but when it goes off I just laugh at it and click the ‘x’. I’m sure one day it’ll take offence and retaliate! Thank you Joy, it’s been great finding out more about you.
Joy was born on a farm in Wisconsin and still love barns and the smell of silage (“an acquired taste,” she says). She lived in Boston after graduating from college, and is now back in Florida (not retired) where she spent some of her childhood.
After selling wildlife habitat in the country, she bought a foreclosure earlier this year and had to replace the kitchen, among other things. They’d even taken the kitchen sink! Thanks to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which takes place each November, Joy’s now written three novels.
Morgen: Me too. 🙂
Update September 2012: My latest ebook is the story collection I was working on: The Doorway and Other Stories: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007SV1FB2. I’ve finished editing the novels, which I also mentioned earlier, and the western, Detour Trail, is coming out in early 2013 (February/March). And I’m now on LinkedIn, which has interesting forums, including NaNoWriMo and SF. Speaking of NaNo, I’m getting ready to write a sequel to one of my earlier stories, Velvet of Swords, in November. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my latest projects!
You’re very welcome, Joy.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
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