Saturday, January 15, 2011

Interview & Giveaway with Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith with his 13 year-old daughter, Chiara.

Today I am so excited to welcome Andrew Smith here on my blog! Andrew is the amazing author of Ghost Medicine, In the Path of Falling Objects, The Marbury Lens and the upcoming Stick. You can read my review of The Marbury Lens here.

1. When did you first start writing, and was there something in particular that inspired you?

I can’t remember, honestly, when I first started writing, because I do remember that I learned to read by myself, at home, before I even started going to school, and also that I started writing stories and stuff like that as soon as I could form letters on paper. I really don’t know where the inspiration came from. It was just something that I did, that I always did, and still do (am taking time out from writing a current novel to answer these questions).

I suppose I believe, as some writers do, that there is this kind of consciousness out there that sends me stories and ideas and things that need to be written down. So, who can argue with that? I also love the way words go together – the way they look and take up space on a page. To me, words are very musical. They contain much more than their molecular components of letters and phonemes, and putting them together in certain ways creates a sort of energy, a release of something.

2. In regards to your own characters, who is your favorite and why?

This is a tough question because I am all of my (main) characters, so elevating one to favored status seems kind of self-absorbed and ignorant to other components of who I really am. The truth is that all my main characters are totally different parts of me.

Now that I say it, I realize how self-absorbed it really sounds. Oh well. I guess I can’t “be” anyone else.

I think I identify most closely with Jack Whitmore, the narrator of The Marbury Lens, but, as a reader would know, he’s a pretty messed-up guy. Well, actually, he’s incredibly messed-up. Still, what Jack goes through in the novel is very much what I went through, and felt like, when I was a teenager.

Not a pretty thing.

Jack rants about that ugliness, in fact – how much being a teenager sucks.

On the other hand, I really admire Stark McClellan, the main character in my next novel, Stick, because he has this genuinely accepting quality about him – not just toward the things going on around him, but to the individual differences that sometimes isolate people from one another and shuts them up in small cages of fear and mistrust. I think there’s part of me that can see through the fearful us-and-them kind of trap that a lot of people fall into, and Stark, who is actually a pretty heroic kid, is damned good at seeing through the bars on the cages.

3. What other genres (besides your own) do you enjoy reading?

As my own work may lead people to believe, my taste in reading is very eclectic. I do read a lot of YA titles, but I prefer to read adult fiction. Ghost Medicine is almost like a Western, I suppose. And while I can’t think of any Westerns I’ve read, I am particularly fond of the novels of William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy. I most admire the importance of setting in their work, and how setting bleeds into character, tone, and style. I guess you could say this is the most important molecular relationship in my own writing.

On the other hand, In the Path of Falling Objects is a kind of suspense-thriller. James Ellroy is one of my favorite authors who goes into these types of plotlines – very dark, very psychological, with gobs of sexual tension.

My most recent book, The Marbury Lens, is kind of my homage to Stephen King, I guess. I always wanted to write something that was really scary. I also wanted to make the style of the prose punchier and stripped-down – very minimal, which, again is a kind of iteration of my admiration for McCarthy and Ernest Hemingway.

4. If you could not be a writer, what would you be?

A corpse.

Unfortunately, my wife and kids like to eat. So I guess I have to keep writing.

5. As a reader I know how difficult it can be to name a ‘favorite’ book, would you mind listing your top three? (Past or present authors)

“Favorites” change for me from day to day. So, for today, based on my mood and where I’m at in my own work, I’ll list the following three:

In Our Time, by Ernest Hemingway
Child of God, by Cormac McCarthy
Light in August, by William Faulkner

6. What are some must haves when you sit down to write?

I must have absolute quiet. Thankfully, I live in a very rural, quiet location where we never hear traffic noises, sirens, and things like that. I don’t listen to music when I write, there can be no televisions on nearby (I don’t watch TV, anyway)… and generally I’m a bit of a tyrant if I’m working during the day and my family is all at home. That’s why I usually write at about 3:00 a.m., before anyone else is awake in the house.

7. If you became trapped as a character in a book or series, which would you choose and why? (Any book, any series, new or old)

Selfishly enough, I’d willingly trap myself in any of my books. As twisted as it sounds, I would really like to enter the terrible world of Marbury and become Jack in The Marbury Lens.

Andrew has kindly offered up a SIGNED copy of The Marbury Lens and will be popping by throughout the duration of the contest, so please leave him a comment or feel free to ask him a question!

Rules for entry:

- Contest runs January 15, 2011 to January 21, 2011 12AM EST.
- Open to US and Canadian addresses only!
- Leave a comment or a question for Andrew on this post and fill out the form below to enter, I will not be accepting entries through the comment section.


  1. Ohh I want to read Andrews books so much. I love your blog Andrew and I cannot wait to read your work!!


  2. I so want to read this book. I've heard lots of great reviews of this novel. I love imaginative YA...The crazier and more twisted the better!

    Thanks for the giveaway and for writing interesting books.

  3. Thank you both, Kristen and Mrs. DeRaps. Yes. Crazy and twisted.

  4. That's pretty brave that you want to live in your books. Books always sound so exciting but I'm too chicken to actually want to live in them! :) Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. I think I actually do live in them while I'm writing them (and usually for a while after that, too).

  6. Andrew - I have been wanting to read The Marbury Lens - Thanks for offering a signed copy - that is sooooo great!
    Do you base your characters on people that you know, on characteristics that you look for in people, or something else? I know that when I read I tend to associate some book characters with some people that I know - just wondering if you do that when you write them!
    Thanks again for the opportunity to win! Stop by The Wormhole sometime and check out my book blog. Happy reading - happy writing!

  7. oh I have heard great things about this book I cannot wait. Thank you for coming on, the interview was quite interesting.

  8. The reviews have been praising the Maybury Lens I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy.
    Thank you for coming on and I loved the question 4 ;)

  9. Hello, FB Friend! The Marbury Lens is getting lots of great buzz. Congratulations, Andrew! Can't wait to read it myself. Question: who came up with that amazing cover? Did you have some input? Or did they just surprise you with the perfect cover?

  10. i want a copy of the book, it would be so cool to have one signed, i hope you pick me

  11. I've been desperately wanting to read this one. It looks fantastic!

  12. Andrew, since you mentioned a corpse, have you considered writing any zombie stories?

  13. Beverly,

    I am checking out the Wormhole right now. As far as your question about characters goes, all of my protagonists are really drawn from my own personal experiences at different times in my life. So, to some extent, all my novels are largely autobiographical. I've had a lot of strange and enriching experiences growing up (all over the world), and the one bit of advice I always give young writers is to not rush into the pursuit of writing, but to turn OFF the TV, get outside, walk on ice, put themselves in places they'd never predict, and bump into things.

    So I don't think I'll ever run out of stories to tell.

  14. Kaya and Teri -- Thank you!

    And Janet -- this cover was done in absolute secret (unlike previous novels where I'd see drafts and concepts). It was the masterpiece of Rich Deas, creative director at Macmillan (and new dad -- congrats, Rich), and most people at the publishing house really consider it to be one of his greatest designs. The boy in the image is actually a friend of Rich's who has appeared on other book covers as well, and the photo was taken by a professional photographer who happens to be married to Liz Szabla -- my editor, and the person to whom I dedicated the book. (Love)

    I keep bugging Liz and Rich to let me have a peek at the cover for STICK (coming out this year), but they are being very mysterious about it. Believe me, it will be publicly posted as soon as they release that for my eyes.

  15. Hi Meredith --

    Um. Okay. Zombies. I think one thing people will find when they read my books (I hear this a lot from readers) is that I don't really write things that are much like anything else out there. So I like scary stuff, and monsters and stuff like that... but there are like ten thousand other writers out there doing the zombie, vampire, werewolf, angel, whatever thing.

    It's one of the reasons why I made the monsters in The Marbury Lens (Hunters and harvesters) different from what's out there. And there are some really disgusting new monsters in the sequel, too. (Hint)

    I am also currently writing another YA/Horror/SciFi with a different twist to the monster in that one, too.

    And Vivien and Dr. Davey (Davey is a character in The Marbury Lens -- and the sequel) -- Thank you. Good luck. And I hope you both DO read the book.

  16. I've heard different thing about The Marbury Lens, good and bad. And from everything I've heard, it only makes me want to read it that much more to see what all the hoopla is about.

  17. I have a feeling the "bad" stuff that you heard is a commentary on the content and the ideas expressed and (hopefully and egotistically) not the quality of the writing or the author.

    I'm happy the no-gray-areas reaction to the book makes you want to read it more.

    Still, it makes me wonder why people would ever bash a book because of the way it handles difficult content -- much less even give a moment's attention to someone who does.

  18. I always wanted to read his books!

  19. Never had the chance to read this, but I've heard A LOT about it :D

  20. I've heard that The Marbury Lens is a bit twisted (and you'd like to be trapped as the character, now I really want to read it). Marbury Lens sounds awesome. ^_^


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