Monday, August 5, 2013

Mad Scribblings Interviews Author Aaron Smith

Today I’m talking with Aaron Smith, a fellow Pro Se Press author whose book, Nobody dies For Free, just came out in June. Aaron was kind enough to answer a few questions about his influences and what makes him tick as a writer. Read below and be enlightened!

Q: When and how did you start writing fiction?

I think I was born with a writer’s brain in the sense that I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember, but it took me thirty years to realize I could actually be a writer! In 2008, I answered an ad that Ron Fortier had posted, looking for pulp writers for Airship 27 Productions. I wrote a short

sample piece—flash fiction is what it would be considered—although I don’t think I knew the term at the time. It was about a vampire having an argument with Adolph Hitler! Ron liked the sample and asked me if I wanted to contribute a story to his upcoming Sherlock Holmes anthology. I was blown away. My first writing job and it gets published and involves my all-time favorite fictional character!

So that started it and the ball kept rolling and I’ve been writing ever since and never want to stop.

Q: Who or what are some of your influences?

Well, I truly believe that all creative people are influenced on some level by almost everything they’re exposed to, whether it’s something they like or hate, but to narrow it down to books and other forms of entertainment, I’d certainly have to list the following writers: Ian Fleming, H.P. Lovecraft, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert E. Howard, Roger Zelazny, JRR Tolkein, Bram Stoker, Isaac Asimov, Stan Lee and all his collaborators, Agatha Christie, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. I should also mention the original Star Trek series, the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Otto Preminger, the Universal and Hammer horror movies, and a lot of the music I’ve listened to over the years which ranges from jazz of the ‘30s and ‘40s to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and the Beatles.        

Q; Your latest release, Nobody Dies For Free, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Tell us a little about it and where the inspiration came from.

I think it was inevitable that I would eventually write a spy novel. After all, I’ve loved the genre since I saw my first James Bond movie at the age of seven. So Nobody Dies For Free was inspired by a lifetime of enjoying that type of story and is influenced by the Bond novels and movies, the writing of Tom Clancy and John LeCarre, the Jason Bourne movies, Mission: Impossible, the British spy series Spooks, and Taken, which is easily my favorite action movie of the past decade or so. Those are the influences I’m aware of, but I’m sure other stories I’ve encountered, whether in books or in films or comics or wherever, played a part in the book coming together, too.

Nobody Dies For Free is the story of Richard Monroe. He’s been a CIA operative for years, loyal to his country and skilled in the ways of espionage. He’s been stationed in Paris for some years and fallen in love with a French woman. He takes early retirement and marries her, intending to stay in France and enjoy a danger-free life. But when we first see Monroe, he’s on the steps of the Paris Opera, cradling his dying wife in his arms. Somebody’s shot her. Monroe goes a little off the deep end after this and uses his skills to track down the assassin. He kills the hitman who shot his wife, but ends up being caught and thrown into a Turkish prison. He’s soon sprung and brought back to the United States where he’s recruited back into the clandestine services, but there’s a difference this time. He won’t be working for a publicly known agency like the CIA or FBI, but will instead be a lone agent reporting to a mysterious supervisor who will assign him to missions too secret or sensitive to ever be made public. Monroe’s mode of operation is staying as far under the radar as possible, using no gadgets or over-the-top technology, but relying instead on just a car, a gun, and his wits.

Nobody Dies For Free is my first full novel for Pro Se Press, a wonderful New Pulp company for whom I’ve done several short stories in the past. It’s available in print or as an e-book for Kindle or Nook.        

Q: What else do you have coming out that you’d like to talk about?

Just last week, the latest issue of Pro Se Presents magazine was released. In that, you’ll find the newest story to feature my detective character Lieutenant Marcel Picard. The last Picard story, which came out in the same magazine several issues ago, got some of the best reviews I’ve ever received for my work. Something about Picard, who is a former professional hockey player who now catches killers, seems to have really attracted a set of followers among the readers of New Pulp.

A few months ago, Airship 27 Productions released Quatermain: the New Adventures, in which Alan Porter and I each wrote a novella about H. Rider Haggard’s classic character Allan Quatermain.

And over the next few months, I have two more novels coming out. In August will be Across the Midnight Sea, which is the sequel to my first vampire novel, 100,000 Midnights.

Then, right around Halloween, my horror novel, Chicago Fell First will be released. This one’s about zombies and how a small group of strangers are brought together in the face of tragedy and chaos.

This has been my busiest year as a writer. It’s tiring at times, but it’s also great fun. 

Q: What about writing do you find the most challenging, and how do you deal with these issues?

As much as I love writing, I’ll admit that it has its rough points. It can be hard to find time to get the writing done when you have to work a day job (as most writers do, despite what you see in the movies), but the solution, I find, is discipline. Set a goal for yourself, say, a thousand words a day, and stick to it unless it is literally impossible not to. No excuses unless circumstances make it absolutely unavoidable.

Then there’s rejection, which can sometimes be hard to accept, but you have to keep in mind that the editor or publisher who rejects your story is judging a series of words on paper, not judging you personally. If he doesn’t like it, maybe the next editor will.

There are a lot of frustrations that go with writing, such as worrying that your books aren’t selling well enough, or having too many ideas to devote enough time to each of them (yes, sometimes too much inspiration can feel like a bad thing!), or the long periods of waiting between writing a story and having it come back from editing, and then the other waiting between preparation and publication. All these things can be hard to deal with, but I find that, most of the time, the good outweighs the bad. We writers are the brave ones who throw ourselves out there where the world can see all the crazy things that go on inside our heads. We give the most intimate thing imaginable to our audiences: the contents of our minds! And sometimes we get lucky and they give something back, like a nice review, a comment about enjoying the book, or just the simple act of buying a copy.

So yes, being a writer can be challenging, but it’s the peripheral stuff that’s hard, never the pure act of writing. That’s sheer joy, release, maybe even destiny for those of us who can’t imagine ever stopping. That’s why we do it, I think. At least I know that’s why I do it. The story has to come out and live beyond the womb that is the writer’s mind.

So I guess that’s the best way to deal with the difficulties. Just keep writing.

Thanks for your time Aaron and best of luck in all your future endeavors!

Here are a few links to find out more about Aaron's writing: